With less than a minute remaining in regulation, Minnesota goalie Adam Hauser was pulled for an extra skater and Minnesota got the game-tying goal from Matt Koalska.
That marked the second straight year that a goal was scored with an extra man on the ice in the championship. Last year, North Dakota scored two extra-skater goals in the final four minutes of regulation to overcome a 2-0 deficit before falling in overtime to Boston College. In addition, Minnesota was eliminated last year by Maine in a similar fashion.
“We stressed the irony that last year, Maine scored the last-second goal and then won it in OT,” said Minnesota skipper Don Lucia.
In 2001′s East Regional in Worcester, Minnesota held a 4-3 lead when Michael Schutte scored the tying goal with just three seconds remaining in regulation. Robert Liscak scored the overtime game-winner minutes later to end the Gophers’ season. Both of those Black Bear players were named to this year’s All-Tournament team.
Who’s Minding The Store?
In the middle of the first period, a mixup resulted in an ultra-rare moment in a hockey game — both nets were empty while play continued.
In the Minnesota crease, Minnesota defenseman Paul Martin and Maine forward Ben Murphy got tangled up and Murphy fell to the ice, taking down Minnesota goaltender Adam Hauser in the process; the referee signaled a penalty. Maine goaltender Matt Yeats thought the penalty was on Martin while Hauser assumed it was on Murphy, and both goalies skated for the bench.
A Minnesota shot from the center line went wide of the goal as Yeats hastily returned to the net; on the penalty, Murphy was called for goaltender interference.
“Matty thought it was a call on them and started toward the bench,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead. “I’ve seen it before — both goalies hustle off. It was just lucky a goal wasn’t scored.”
With his go-ahead goal at 5:38 of the second period, Minnesota’s John Pohl became the nation’s scoring leader with 77 points.
However, Pohl’s name was oddly absent from the list of 10 Hobey Baker finalists, which is probably just as well for the Gophers — if Pohl had been included, he might have drawn votes away from teammate and eventual winner Jordan Leopold.
The last time the nation’s leading scorer was not a Hobey Baker finalist was in 1998, when Boston College’s Marty Reasoner led the country. Reasoner, like Pohl, played in the championship game that season, but BC fell to Michigan 3-2 in overtime.
Silencing The Crowd
Maine coach Tim Whitehead stressed to his players the importance of taking the decidedly Gopher-friendly crowd out of the game. So when Michael Schutte scored a goal early in the second period to tie the game at one, after the goal he skated to center ice and put a single finger to his lips as he stared at the crowd.
“It was very loud. It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,” said Schutte. “When I put my finger up, I was just having fun, playing on the road. It was a great crowd to play in front of.”
Unfortunately for Maine, the tactic was not particularly effective at that point in the game, as Pohl scored to regain the Minnesota lead just 51 seconds later. Schutte scored again in the early stages of the third, however, and quieted the crowd for a majority of the critical third period while Maine dominated play.
Minnesota accomplished what no team has done before — win a Hobey Baker Award and a national championship on the same weekend in front of the hometown fans.
“To do it here in St. Paul, in front of the fans, it was the most amazing feeling,” said Lucia.
John Pohl concurred. “That building was unbelievable.”
In 1998 Boston University’s Chris Drury won the Hobey Baker Memorial Award when the tournament was held in Boston, but the Terriers had been eliminated in the quarterfinals by New Hampshire. The last team to win the national championship at home, coincidentally, was also Boston University, in 1972. The Hobey Baker was first awarded in 1981.
Minnesota was in a position to create some more history, but came up just short. The women’s hockey team was the number-one seed in this year’s Frozen Four, but ended up in third place. No program has ever won both the men’s and women’s national titles in the same year.
In addition, Minnesota defender Ronda Curtin was one of three finalists for the Patty Kazmaier award, the women’s equivalent of the Hobey Baker. No single program has had recipients of both awards in the same year. Northeastern’s Brooke Whitney eventually won that award.
St. Paul Without Painter
Notably absent from this year’s tournament was NCAA statistics guy John Painter, who organized the ice hockey tournament each of the last several years.
At the beginning of this season, Painter took the sports information position with the University of Tennessee football program. During his tenure with the NCAA, Painter organized a Tournament record book that is an invaluable resource, and the source of many of the tidbits in this column. Painter has been succeeded by Marc Bedics.
Extra Tidbits From Overtime
Minnesota has been in six overtime games in NCAA play, with a record of 3-3. That includes a 4-3 overtime loss to Harvard in the finals of the 1989 tournament that was held — of all places — in St. Paul.
Before this game, Maine was a remarkable 7-1 in overtime games in NCAA Tournament history, including a 5-4 victory over Minnesota in last year’s East Regional in Worcester.
Five of the last seven NCAA title games have gone into overtime. Maine won the title in 1999 with a 3-2 overtime win over New Hampshire.
This game is the fourth-longest championship game in tournament history. At 76:58, it is surpassed only by Michigan’s 3-2 victory over Boston College in 1998 in Boston (77:51), 1991′s marathon 8-7 game of Northern Michigan over Boston University here in St. Paul (81:57) and a 5-4 Bowling Green win over Minnesota-Duluth in 1984 in Lake Placid (97:11).
F: Robert Liscak, Maine
F: Grant Potulny, Minnesota
F: John Pohl, Minnesota
D: Peter Metcalf, Maine
D: Michael Schutte, Maine
G: Adam Hauser, Minnesota
Most Outstanding Player: Potulny
“We were a little nervous [on Thursday]. I’m not sure why; maybe it was because it was the NCAA Frozen Four.” — Maine coach Tim Whitehead
“You are about to go on a thrilling ride.” — fortune Lucia received from a fortune cookie on a recent trip to a Chinese restaurant
“Questions for coach Leopo…. uh, coach Lucia.” — the NCAA’s Dave Fischer, conducting the postgame press conference.
“He’s been the coach all year. Just ask him.” — Lucia, in response.
“I’m tired. I’m hungry, like everyone else.” — Hauser, on why his postgame celebration may not have been as spirited as the other Gophers
“I find it ironic that the guy that won the Hobey Baker and the national championship in the same weekend is the last one to be asked a question.” — Pohl, when asked a question before Leopold
Minnesota will host a pep rally for the Gophers’ championship Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. Central time. Admission is free.