Title loss in '84 still stings Bulldogs

  • Article by: CHRIS MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 8, 2011 - 12:03 AM

Minnesota Duluth is in the NCAA Frozen Four title game for the second time, and its first appearance still is a sore spot for the Bulldogs.

UMD, which beat Notre Dame 4-3 on Thursday at Xcel Energy Center in the semifinals, lost 5-4 in four overtimes to Bowling Green in the title game in 1984 in Lake Placid, N.Y.

"I remember that game -- I was there," current UMD coach Scott Sandelin said. "But I didn't play in it."

Sandelin was a defenseman for North Dakota, which lost to UMD 2-1 in the semifinals on an overtime goal by Bill Watson, now one of Sandelin's assistants. The Bulldogs were ranked No. 1 in the nation and led Bowling Green 4-3 with two minutes remaining when a harmless dump-in -- Duluthians will tell you the play was clearly icing -- hit a flawed spot as it rang around the boards, where UMD goalie Rick Kosti waited. The puck banked in front of the net, and John Samanski tied the score. Gino Cavallini scored the game-winner in the fourth overtime.

Watson winced a bit in the UMD locker room Thursday when the game was brought up.

"Obviously we got 26 new kids and it has nothing to do with them, but yeah, it's another kick at the can," he said. "There are a lot of fond memories when the old teammates get together.

"It still hurts big-time, and it did for three or four months. The next year, as good as we were, we started out losing three of our first four before we finally straightened out."

Watson won the Hobey Baker Award that season, 1984-85. And UMD added a high-scoring freshman sensation, a guy named Brett Hull. Still, the Bulldogs lost to eventual national champion Rensselaer in the Frozen Four semifinals. And that game went only three overtimes.

He knows their pain

North Dakota was a big favorite to win the Frozen Four. Michigan coach Red Berenson admitted it, and seemed to feel for the Fighting Sioux after beating them 2-0 in Thursday's second semifinal.

"That was a great team," he said. "It reminds me of 1997 when we were the best team, and we just didn't win it. The best team doesn't always win.

"They've got to be stunned. They are a better team than we are, but in one game, can you win it? Yes, you can. I know. I've been on the other side of it."

Said Wolverines senior forward Scooter Vaughan: "No one expected us to win, but we had no doubts in this room."

Sioux freshman injured

North Dakota freshman center Brock Nelson was immobilized and taken from the ice on a stretcher in the first period after crashing into the end boards back-first as he was hit attempting to shoot. A North Dakota spokesman said Nelson had a "lower body injury" and was taken to a hospital as a precaution.

Etc.

• The Hobey Baker Award will be announced Friday at a 6 p.m. ceremony at Xcel Energy Center. The finalists are North Dakota winger Matt Frattin, Miami (Ohio) center Andy Miele and Boston College winger Cam Atkinson.

• The crowd of 19,139 was the third-largest semifinal crowd in Frozen Four history. The top two were last year's semifinals at Ford Field in Detroit and the 2002 semifinal at Xcel involving the Gophers. Tickets were going for twice face value on many Internet sites, but with North Dakota eliminated, it's likely many tickets will be available.

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