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SAINT PAUL, Minn. – History was made Saturday night in the Xcel Energy Center as the University of Minnesota Duluth picked up its first ever National Championship in Men’s Hockey, edging the University of Michigan 3-2 in overtime. It was Kyle Schmidt’s goal 3:22 into overtime that gave the Bulldogs the win and sent the sellout crowd at the Xcel into a frenzy.
The Bulldogs improve to 1-1 in NCAA National Championship games and collect the schools third National Title on the year having already claimed the women’s hockey and Division II football National Championships.
Minnesota Duluth almost got the game started with a goal in the opening minute of action as Justin Fontaine just missed on a shot from right of the goal. A shot from Kevin Lynch was turned away by Kenny Reiter with just over 17 minutes remaining in the opening period; the shot came from the middle of the left faceoff circle. An apparent goal by Michigan was waved off at 15:40 left in the opening period as the puck squirted through Reiter; the goal was waved off initially and confirmed after a review. The officially ruling was that the whistle had blown prior to the goal. Chris Brown took a quick slap shot off the faceoff, out of the review, but Reiter stood tall keeping the Wolverines off the board with his big glove.
After a turnover at the Michigan blue line, Mike Connolly took a quick shot that was kicked away by Shawn Hunwick. On the back end of the play Ben Winnett, the goal scorer in Michigan’s win over UND, was called for interference, putting UMD on the power play. Minnesota Duluth was 3-6 on the man advantage in the semifinal win against Notre Dame. A quick wrister 38 seconds in from Jack Connolly hit the pipe as Michigan dodged an early goal. The Wolverines did a good job on the rest of the penalty kill not allowing many good scoring chances.
Jack Hendrickson got called for boarding at 9:22 putting Michigan on the power play. Michigan never got their attack going on the power play and just following the penalty, Chris Brown of the Wolverines got called for charging at 10:35 putting UMD on the power play once again.
The Bulldogs got a couple decent shots off on the power play but couldn’t fool Hunwick.
Michigan opened up the scoring at 14:42 when Matt Rust won the faceoff in the Bulldog zone and Ben Winnett took the puck and beat Reiter on his right from the slot. The Wolverines took the 1-0 lead into intermission after being outshot 12-8 in the opening period. The teams were a combined 0-3 from the power play with each team averaging just one shot each on the man advantage.
The Bulldogs didn’t take long to respond scoring at 1:49 in the second period, from Travis Oleksuk. Minnesota Duluth won the faceoff deep in the Michigan end and a deflection from a wrister was collected and beat Hunwick to his right. The Bulldogs had the first power play chance of the second period when Michigan’s Kevin Clare for hitting after the whistle at 4:10. Mike Montgomery came crashing down the left side board with the first great chance on the UMD power play but Hunwick stood his ground and did not allow a goal. The UMD power play was cut short as Brady Lamb was called for tripping at 5:41. After 29 seconds of 4-4 hockey Michigan went on the power play for 1:31. Louie Caporusso had a chance from the slot during the power play but Reiter ate up his shot.
Michigan had a great scoring chance following the power play as UMD tripped in their zone and Matt Rust almost scored from the right faceoff circle. The puck was deflected in the air and luckily there were no Wolverines in the area as UMD cleared the puck. A Wolverines turnover in their zone allowed UMD a chance on a break but the shot was saved. Mac Bennett was called for roughing putting UMD on the power play. The Bulldogs took advantage as Max Tardy scored his first goal of his career to give UMD the 2-1 lead. Tardy got a pass from Mike Seidel and took a shot from below the left faceoff circle, his initial shot was denied but he got his own rebound and put it past Hunwick.
A quick wrister from Caporusso was gloved by Reiter with about nine minutes left in the period as UMD held to their one goal advantage.
Moments later UMD went back on the power play, their fifth of the game, as Brown was called for obstruction interference at 12:06. Just as the power play was about to end Michigan picked up their sixth penalty as Kevin Clare was called for tripping at 14:08.
Mike Connolly almost put the Bulldogs up 3-1 as his shot from the just below the left faceoff circle was deflected by Hunwick and got stuck above the net. A double minor on Brown (UMD) and Hunwick (Michigan) were called for unsportsmanlike conduct. Caporusso served the penalty for Hunwick. At 15:12, Jack Connolly got called for slashing as the game moved to 4-on-4 hockey for fifty seconds. The Wolverines went on their third power play of the game, after the Clare penalty expired.
UMD killed off the penalty without much problem.
Jeff Rohrkemper tied the game at 2 all at 17:46 after an initial shot from was blocked. Rohrkemper scored his third goal of the season as he beat Reiter on a quick wrister from inside the hash marks. Assists from Derek DeBlois and Greg Pateryn were awarded on the Rohrkemper goal. In the last minute of play in the second Kyle Schmidt snuck down the left side boards and fired a shot on Hunwick, who was ready, denying the go ahead goal for the Bulldogs.
The second period saw three goals scored as Minnesota Duluth outshot Michigan 15-9 in the second period. Through two periods UMD was 1-6 on the power play and Michigan was 0-3. Michigan was in the penalty box for ten minutes in the second period alone.
J. T. Brown had a breakaway from UMD in the opening two minutes of the third period but Hunwick denied him as he drove hard to the net and crashed in to boards behind the goal. The Wolverines Mac Bennett went to the box for holding at 2:23 as Minnesota Duluth went on their seventh power play of the game. Michigan continued to hold UMD in check, as the penalty kill kept the score at two all.
The Wolverines got their chance to go on the power play at 9:19 as Brady Lamb was called for hitting after the whistle. It was the second full power play for Michigan in the game, but it only lasted seven seconds as J. T. Brown was taken down my Michigan’s Jon Merrill was called for holding at 5:27. M. Connolly had a chance from the slot twice during the 4-on-4 hockey but the first chance went high and Hunwick came up with a huge save on the second chance.
Minnesota Duluth drew another Michigan penalty as Kevin Lynch went to the box for boarding at 11:32. UMD went into the power play 1-8 on their previous chances. M. Connolly had a back hand chance in the slot during the power play but was denied. The puck got past Hunwick but was cleared off the goal line as the game stayed 2-2.
The biggest save of the power play came not by Hunwick but Reiter, who denied a 2 on 1 short handed chance by Michigan. Reiter slid to his left to deny Caporusso on the wrister. The rest of the period saw each team have a few chances but nothing as good as the Connolly or Caporusso chance.
UMD outshot Michigan 9-6 in the third period. The game moved to overtime for the 14th time in history, but just the second since 2003.
It was the second time in UMD history they went to overtime in a National Championship and the fourth time in Michigan history.
Justin Faulk nearly gave UMD the title in the opening minute of action in overtime as he went around three Michigan defensemen and tried to beat Hunwick on his right. Hunwick stayed on the near post as the game stayed deadlocked at two. Kyle Schmidt gave Minnesota Duluth its first ever NCAA National Champions with his eleventh goal of the year as he scored a goal in the slot 3:28 into overtime. Schmidt got a pass from behind the net from Oleksuk and beat Hunwick on his left.
Photo by Bryan Singer Photo Gallery