Shoots, scores, bedlam.
“Kind of surreal,” Holl said.
Whether it was fate, destiny or a gift from the hockey gods, the NCAA’s Frozen Four delivered a dream scenario — long-standing rivals back nose-to-nose after a forced separation by the greed of conference realignment. What we witnessed in the atmosphere and action represented the best of what college sports offer.
This one was as close as close can get. Scoreless after one period. Scoreless after two periods. Neither team was able to crack a pair of brick-wall goalies, Gothberg and the Gophers’ Adam Wilcox.
The two teams battled for every inch of ice, every loose puck. Players fought and scrapped and traded extra shoves after the whistle. They dived to block shots. Neither was willing to back down. It was passionate, gut-check hockey.
North Dakota did everything right. The Gophers were just a split-second better.
Both teams generated scoring chances, but the goalies engaged in a wonderful duel to stymie the offenses. Wilcox’s finest moment came in the final minute of the first period when he made a sprawling kick save to rob Colten St. Clair.
Gothberg responded in kind with several bang-bang saves in the second period, even losing his mask during one flurry.
“It was a roller-coaster,” Wilcox said.
These two teams just seem to bring out the best in each other. It’s been that way for decades. The fact that so much was at stake this time only increased the drama and made their emotions particularly raw afterward.
“I can’t say that I don’t like ending North Dakota’s season,” Condon said. “It makes it a little extra special because they are that close and they are our rivals.”
They’ve had some real doozies over the years, but No. 291 will stand the test of time because of its finish. Down to his last second, Justin Holl chose the only option available. He fired the puck toward the net and hoped for the best.
And something crazy happened.
Chip Scoggins firstname.lastname@example.org