FARGO – It took five overtimes and an unlikely hero, but Minnesota Duluth's quest for a third consecutive NCAA men's hockey championship remains alive and well.
Freshman Luke Mylymok scored early in the fifth OT and UMD won the longest game in NCAA tournament history, beating NCHC regular-season and tournament champion North Dakota 3-2 in a championship game of the Midwest Regional that ended early Sunday morning, more than six hours after it began.
Mylymok has only played in 11 games this season for Minnesota Duluth (15-10-2). But he beat Adam Scheel between the pads for his second college goal — a goal that came at 142 minutes, 13 seconds and sent the Bulldogs to their fourth consecutive Frozen Four.
Early in that fourth overtime, the game became the longest in NCAA tournament history, surpassing the previous mark of 123:53 from St. Lawrence's victory over Boston University in 2000. This game fell short of the longest game in college hockey history; UMass beat Notre Dame 4-3 in a conference tournament game that lasted 151:42 on March 6, 2015.
Third-seeded UMD — which didn't have to play Friday, getting a pass to the regional final when second-seeded Michigan had to bow out because of a positive COVID-19 test — remarkably has won its past nine overtime games in the NCAA tournament dating back to 1985. This one looked as though the Bulldogs might win in regulation after they held a two-goal lead for most of the third period. But North Dakota (22-6-1) scored twice 44 seconds apart late to tie the score.
After two scoreless periods, UMD appeared to take control with two goals within 80 seconds early in the third period. Jackson Cates scored at 3:21 of the third, and Cole Koepke doubled the lead at 4:41, blocking a shot near the blue line and then skating in alone for a breakaway goal.
But North Dakota managed to force overtime by scoring twice with Scheel pulled for an extra attacker. Collin Adams scored at 18:19 of the third period and, moments after UMD iced the puck attempting a long empty-netter, UND captain Jordan Kawaguchi tied it by one-timing Shane Pinto's perfect pass into a wide-open net with 55.5 seconds left in regulation.
It appeared the Bulldogs had won in the first overtime when Kobe Roth fired in a one-timer off a pass from Koby Bender. But after a lengthy review, officials waved off the goal, ruling that Bender was offsides before feeding Roth.
UMD did catch a huge break in the closing seconds of the third OT. With 5.6 seconds left, a puck sent in hard on goalie Zach Stejskal deflected off him and over his shoulder — only to land on top of the net instead of in it.
An already bizarre game took another turn early in the fourth OT when Stejskal departed, believed to be for cramps. He finished with 57 saves in 124 minutes, 37 seconds. Ryan Fanti came in cold — after six-plus periods of sitting — and soon had to make a glove save on RieseGaber.
Fanti finished with six saves for the Bulldogs, the first team to reach four consecutive Frozen Fours since UND did it from 2005 to '08.
Scheel stopped 51 shots for the Fighting Hawks, with 19 coming in regulation and another 32 over the five OTs.