Saturday, April 9, 2011

Minnesota-Duluth Wins NCAA National Championship

In a final that had to get any Penn Staters watching juiced for 2012, Minnesota-Duluth's Kyle Schmidt capitalized on a tired group of Michigan skaters and a great feed from Travis Oleksuk at 3:22 of the overtime period to propel the Bulldogs to a 3-2 win over Michigan and the first-ever national championship for UMD.

This corner would have preferred to see the Wolverines take it to shut up all the Big Ten hockey haters out there (and with a 4-0 sweep of the WCHA to boot) - but as I've discussed, Duluth is a program that's been of great service to Penn State as we've gotten started, so no ill will there, congrats Bulldogs!

Seriously, this place is pretty sick. And it seems like Joe Battista spent some time with coach Scott Sandelin's Penn State alumna wife.

I've copy/pasted a recap of the game below instead of writing my own to deftly toe the line between "Penn State hockey blog" and "college hockey blog." Or maybe I'm just lazy, take your pick.

Most importantly from a Penn State perspective, this marks the official end of the season for every NCAA head and assistant coach out there. Expect the rumors to fly fast and furious from now until the hire date, which has always been given by Joe Battista as late April-early May.

In a related story today, Greg Carvel was cut loose by the Ottawa Senators. The Sens were long out of the NHL playoff chase, so it doesn't really affect his availability as far as our talking to or hiring him, although it seems as if our search has become focused on NCAA and junior coaches at this point.

The recap of the title tilt, from USCHO:
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs made history on Saturday night, winning the school’s first-ever NCAA Division I ice hockey championship 3–2 in overtime over Michigan.
Senior Kyle Schmidt, a Hermantown, Minn., native, buried a perfect centering feed from Travis Oleksuk at 3:22 of overtime, setting of an explosion of the 19,222 fans at the Xcel Energy Center, a crowd that was heavily tilted toward the Bulldogs.
The title is the first for Duluth, which has appeared in just one other championship game, losing in four overtimes to Bowling Green in 1984.

One the other side, Michigan, which was in search of its record 10th national title, put forth a valiant effort in the loss. The Wolverines, who upset North Dakota 2–0 in Thursday’s semifinal to reach the title game, were heavily outshot, 38–24. But as happened on Thursday, goaltender Shawn Hunwick (35 saves) turned in a heroic effort that, barely, was not enough.

The game began with somewhat sloppy first period. Carl Hagelin looked to give Michigan the lead just 4:20 in when he poked home a mishandled rebound of a Mac Bennett shot. Referee Tim Benedetto, though, ruled that he had lost sight of the puck prior to it entering the net, keeping the game scoreless.

Still Michigan jumped out to a lead late in the frame, scoring on an offensive-zone faceoff. Mike Rust won the draw back to one of Thursday’s stars, Ben Winnett. He tallied the game-winning goal in that game and kept the scoring touch going, firing a quick shot through a screen to beat Kenny Reiter (22 saves) at 14:42 for the 1–0 lead.

In the second, the Bulldogs drew even at 1:39 as Oleksuk buried a rebound of a blocked Brady Lamb shot, knotting the game at 1.

Midway through the period, Minnesota-Duluth took its first lead on what was a major momentum shift end-to-end. At 8:28, Bulldogs defenseman Drew Olsen picked a loose puck headed for the end out of midair with his stick, saving a goal. Thirty-one seconds later, Bennett headed to the box for hooking and the ever-dangerous Bulldog power play struck.

Using a makeshift power play unit, fourth-line center Max Tardy attempted a cross-crease pass that was blocked but ended up right back on the rookie’s stick. He made no mistake, burying his first career goal at 9:31 for a 2–1 lead.

But Michigan answered with a late goal as its own fourth line struck. Greg Pateryn’s shot for the left point hit traffic in front of Reiter. Jeff Rohkemper, with his back to the net, sent a high backhand shot on goal that Reiter never saw sending the game to the third tied at 2.

In the third, the amount of quality chances was lessened for each team, but that didn’t keep each goaltender from having to make their best stops of the game. It was Hunwick first who made a nifty glove save at 10:20 on Mike Connolly, who walked in untouched through the slot, firing a low snap shot.

Reiter, though, one-upped his goaltending counterpart when Hagelin and Louie Caporusso walked in on a short-handed two-on-one. Hagelin slid a perfect pass that forced Reiter to make an incredible sliding pad save on the senior Caporusso and keep the game tied at 2 through regulation.

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