Jason Gonzalez has covered an array of sports at all levels over the last nine years. He learned ice hockey, however, long before — during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah (his hometown). He got a close up look of legendary Gophers alum Herb Brooks and other Minnesota hockey greats. Jason has been with the Star Tribune since 2012.
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PHILADELPHIA — A better than average offensive effort still wasn't good for the Gophers to win a national championship.
Four goals surpassed their average of 3.49 goals per game. However, Union nearly doubled its usual offensive output of 3.81 goals per game in a 7-4 victory on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center in front of announced crowd of 18,742.
The Gophers' magic number all season had been three. At least three goals translated to a victory most nights, relying on a defense that consistently held opponents to two goals or less. The defense hadn't seen anything like Union's offense, though.
The Dutchmen scored four goals in the first period to take a 4-2 lead into the intermission. The Gophers were able to cut the lead to one on two different occasions, but two goals in the final two minutes of the game locked up a three-goal victory.
"The game probably got away from us in that little three- or four-minute stretch in the end of the first period where they scored the three goals," Gophers coach Don Lucia said. "I think some of that was just trying to hard, trying to do somebody else's job. But that's going to happen in a game of this magnitude. I couldn't be more proud of our kids for the year they had coming in. I certainly probably wouldn't have thought we'd be here on the last day of the year."
The Gophers' second-best defense in the nation had no solution to Union's strong presence in front of the net. An excess of second chances fed six Dutchmen's multi-point efforts, led by tournament Most Outstanding Player Shayne Gostisbehere's three points.
The Gophers' goals were scored by Justin Kloos, Sam Warning, Taylor Cammarata and Hudson Fasching. Kloos, Cammarata and Jake Parenteau each had two points in the loss.
Tournament tidbits from the NCAA:
- All-tournament team
Forwards: Daniel Ciampini, Kyle Rau, Sam Warning
Defensemen: Mat Bodie, Shayne Gostisbehere*
Goaltender: Colin Stevens
* Most Outstanding
- Down 2-1 midway through the first period, Union scored three consecutive goals in a span of 1:54 to gain a 4-2 lead. It is the fastest that three goals have been scored in a row in the championship since 1977, when Michigan and Wisconsin combined to score three goals in 1:04. The Dutchmen’s trio of goals in 1:54 matched the mark set by Colorado College in the 1957 title game, the last time the same team scored three in such a short span. The Tigers posted three over the duration of 1:54 in the third period. The record for three consecutive goals by one team in the title game is 1:45 by Colorado College, set in the third period of the 1950 championship.
- The combined six goals in the first period are the most in the championship since the 1963 final, when North Dakota (5) and Denver (2) totaled seven, which is the record for the opening frame. A combined seven goals in the first period has occurred three times (1956, 1961, 1963). The combined six goals are the most in any period of the championship since 1997 (North Dakota 5, Boston University 1, 2nd).
- The 11 combined goals are the most in the championship since 1991 (Northern Michigan 8, Boston University 7).
- The opening goal of tonight’s game was scored at the 2:37 mark of the first period by Minnesota’s Justin Kloos. It is the fastest opening goal in the championship contest since 1993, when Maine’s Patrice Tardif tallied just 28 seconds into the game. Maine went on to win 5-4 (Milwaukee).
- The 89 combined shots are the most ever in a championship game through the end of regulation. The record for the championship, including overtimes, is 96, set during the 1984 championship (Bowling Green 60, Minnesota Duluth 36, 4OT). The 89 combined shots are the second-most overall (regulation & overtime games).
- Union’s 20 shots on goal in the first period are the most for any team in any period of a championship game since 2005 (North Dakota, 23, 3rd). The 20 first period shots match the second-most all-time (Denver, 1961 & St. Lawrence, 1988). The record for first period shots is 22, recorded by Michigan Tech in 1956.
- The combined 35 shots on goal in the first period is the second most in a title game in any period. The record for combined shots in a period in the championship is 36, set in the first period of the 1956 championship (Michigan Tech & Michigan).
- Prior to tonight’s game, Minnesota owned an 18-0-5 record when it opened the scoring. Over the past four years, the Gophers are now 73-12-14 when scoring first. All-time in the championship, the team that has scored first is 51-16. Since 1994, the record is 15-6; since 2008, it is 5-2.
- Tonight’s attendance was 18,742. It is the sixth-best championship game attendance all-time.
- With an assist on Minnesota’s second goal of the game (10:03, 1st), Kyle Rau bumped his season total to 26, a career best in a single year, after posting 25 in back-to-back seasons. The helper also allowed Rau to match his season-long point streak of five games, as he now has seven over the span (3-4-7). Rau leads the Gophers with 40 points (14-26-40), his third consecutive 40-point season.
Rau has now recorded a point in seven of his eight NCAA Tournament appearances (3-9-12), as he was held scoreless against Boston College in the 2012 semifinals.
- Minnesota entered tonight’s championship with only six penalties for 12 minutes in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. The Gophers recorded eight penalties for 16 minutes in the championship to finish with 14 penalties/28 minutes. No champion since at least 2000 has taken that few penalties in the overall tournament (records prior to 2000 are incomplete in this area, or unavailable). The team with the next fewest penalties during that span was last year’s champion, Yale (15 penalties, 30 minutes). Minnesota entered tonight’s final averaging just 8.7 penalty minutes per game, fifth in the nation.
Gophers hockey national championship postgame video:
To view click on the players names