The lively Pepsi Center boards played a large role this weekend, as pucks going in hard to the boards came out fast and far, leaving some strange scoring chances for teams off the goal line, including Mike Carman’s winning goal against Air Force Saturday and Ryan Duncan’s against Minnesota Sunday.
In the overtime of the championship game, a Sioux shot came off the back boards, over the top of the net and into the goal crease, where Minnesota netminder Jeff Frazee finally dove on it and cleared it away with his stick.
With the Frozen Four here next year, teams will need to take note.
Man on Bench
Minnesota seemingly was about to be called for too many men on the ice in late in the third period when Mike Vannelli was hit with a puck as he tried leaving the ice. Instead, with Vannelli’s right skate already on the Gopher bench, the play was simply whistled dead.
The official paid attendance was 11,217, with gate attendance estimated at 9-10,000. Total paid attendance for the three-game regional was 33,549, a new record.
Minnesota vs. North Dakota
Despite playing each other more times than either has played any other opponent — 296 — the Sioux and the Gophers had never previously played for a berth to the Frozen Four.
And after tonight, the Gophers may still hold the advantage all-time, 136-120-11, but the Sioux hold the edge in NCAA tournament play: 2-1.
The last time these teams met in the NCAAs was in 2005 in the national semifinal in Columbus, Ohio. The Sioux won that one 4-2.
Previously, the Gophers beat the Sioux in 1979 for the national championship on a game winner by Neal Broten, a legendary goal in Gopher hockey history that was nearly duplicated by Blake Wheeler’s winning goal against the Sioux in overtime a week ago.
“We had some chances in overtime. This week it was their turn to make the play,” said Lucia on the overtime winner by Chris Porter of North Dakota.
All Regional Team
F T.J. Oshie, North Dakota
F Mike Carman, Minnesota
F Chris Porter, North Dakota
D Robbie Bina, North Dakota
D Mike Vannelli, Minnesota
G Philippe Lamoureux, North Dakota
“The first half of the game yesterday, I couldn’t stop a beach ball.” — Lamoureux.
“I think our health hurt us at the end. We’ve got a couple guys going in for surgery,” Minnesota coach Don Lucia.
“I think we played hard until the final goal.” — Vannelli.