PITTSBURGH – In the past three NCAA tournaments, Minnesota Duluth has thrived in one-goal games, winning six of them while compiling a 9-0 record and winning a pair of national championships. Thursday night, however, not extending a one-goal lead was like playing with fire for the Bulldogs.
Garrett Wait, a former Gophers player from Edina, scored 14 minutes, 30 seconds into overtime, giving Massachusetts a 3-2 victory over Minnesota Duluth in the second NCAA Frozen Four semifinal at PPG Paints Arena. In the process, the Minutemen overcame the Bulldogs' one-goal, third-period lead and prevented UMD from playing for its third consecutive national championship. Minnesota Duluth's nine-game overtime win streak in NCAA tournament play, dating to 1985, also ended.
Instead of the Frozen Four finishing with an all-Minnesota final, UMass will play St. Cloud State, a 5-4 semifinal winner over Minnesota State Mankato, in the championship game on Saturday night. Thursday's results guarantee there will be a first-time national champion.
Wait scored on a rebound of a Bobby Trivigno shot after a turnover by the Bulldogs in their zone. Massachusetts controlled the overtime period, outshooting UMD 13-2.
"It was pretty cool," Wait said. "It's something everyone dreams about. Now we've got another game to focus on, so we can't get too high."
Cole Koepke and Tanner Laderoute scored for Minnesota Duluth (15-11-2), which was trying to become the first team to advance to four consecutive national championship games. Zach Stejskal made 25 saves for the Bulldogs.
"I just told them to be proud of the accomplishment," Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin said of his team's NCAA success. "It's such a difficult thing to do. They don't know this feeling."
Zac Jones had a first-period goal and Anthony Del Gaizo scored in the third for UMass (19-5-4) to tie it 2-2. Matt Murray made 36 saves.
The Bulldogs answered Jones' power-play goal at 15:33 with Laderoute' s rebound goal at 17:50. Koepke gave UMD a 2-1 lead at 10:59 of the second.
The Bulldogs held UMass to one shot on goal in the first eight minutes of the third period. However, the Minutemen's second shot of the period tied the score 2-2 at 8:25, when Del Gaizo scored on a rebound.
"After the second period, I urged the players that it was going to take more," Minutemen coach Greg Carvel said. "We kept rolling four lines the whole game. … When we realized how well we could play, the game got lopsided."
In overtime, UMass tilted the ice, and the Bulldogs looked exhausted.
"We couldn't get out of our zone," Sandelin said. "When you play defense, you run out of gas quickly."
The Minutemen kept up the pressure, and Wait sent his team into the championship game, ending Minnesota Duluth's reign. The Bulldogs pride, though, still was there.
"It's been awesome," senior Nick Swaney said of UMD's four-year run. "It's kind of hard to describe it. … We came back here [to the Frozen Four] every single year. It's a testament to the culture we have on Duluth."