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One perfect bracket in College Hockey Pickem 2016

TAMPA, Fla. — After 7,929 completed brackets and 15 NCAA tournament games, there was one perfect entry in College Hockey Pickem 2016.

It’s only the second season out of six that the contest has been around that there have been perfect brackets. In 2014, there were three when Union won the national championship.

Here’s the winning bracket, by user jac.

Just over 25 percent of entries correctly picked North Dakota as the champion.

Check your bracket and see how you did in a group here.

Most Outstanding Player Caggiula has been just that all season for North Dakota

North Dakota’s Drake Caggiula went for a hat trick in the third period but was denied (photo: Jim Rosvold).

TAMPA, Fla. — When Drake Caggiula scored twice in the Frozen Four semifinal contest and then added another two in the championship game to earn Most Outstanding Player honors, it should have come as no surprise to anyone. The North Dakota senior has been doing it all season long.

He recorded points in 31 of 39 games with an even more impressive 13-game streak to close out the season and, not coincidentally, a North Dakota national championship. Going into the Frozen Four, he had set a school record with a plus-minus of plus-41, then added another plus-5 to the total.

“We’ve had to rely on him this year,” linemate Brock Boeser said. “We definitely did this tournament.”

And Caggiula delivered.

His two goals against Denver in the semifinals staked North Dakota to an early lead, albeit one that eventually was erased. The dramatic game-winning goal was scored by linemate Nick Schmaltz, one that Caggiula set up.

In the title game, North Dakota held a 2-1 lead going into the third period, but arguably Quinnipiac had stolen much of the momentum, 20 minutes away from euphoria or agony. Caggiula struck at the 1:21 mark and then drove the decisive nail in the coffin barely more than two minutes later.

“It just goes to show he’s a big-time player,” Schmaltz said. “The type of style he plays really shows in the playoffs. His hardness and his compete [level] is undeniable. No matter what, he’s going to come out and play hard, whether things are going his way or not. He’s always going to find a way to help out the team some way.

“He made some big-time plays tonight.”

Not to sound like a broken record, but Caggiula has done that all year. He recorded 22 of his 51 points in the third period.

“Being a senior, it’s my job to lead,” he said. “All season long, my line has just been trying to drive the bus and lead in the right direction.

“Our line always says the third period has got to be our best period. Whether we’re up or down, we need to keep pushing and pushing. We take pride in that, and that’s why you can see our third-period results.”

Caggiula was quick to spread the glory of winning the Most Outstanding Player award to his linemates Boeser and Schmaltz on the famed CBS Line, as well as the rest of his teammates and coaches.

“It may be an individual award, but you don’t win it by yourself,” Caggiula said. “My teammates have been there. All four years, not just this year. They’ve helped me grow as a person and as a player.

“To win that award, it’s a special thing for me, but I couldn’t be there without my teammates and my coaches and family and all my friends, whoever supports me. So it’s an individual award, but at the same time it’s from everyone else as well.

That mindset is what has produced all of Caggiula’s results, according to North Dakota coach Brad Berry.

“He puts the team first,” Berry said. “That’s what makes him so successful. It just permeates through our group. If he does it, everybody else does it.

“He’s a great young man. I’m extremely proud of him, and I’m going to sadly miss him out of our program here. But he’ll always be a part of the family.”

A part of the family that helped bring an eighth national championship to North Dakota.

Key play: Boeser’s block results in North Dakota’s game-winning goal

Quinnipiac goalie Michael Garteig tries to knock down the puck after it hit North Dakota’s Brock Boeser (photo: Jim Rosvold).

TAMPA, Fla. — As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.

There was no lack of action on the ice in Saturday’s national championship game, and one of the key plays that jumpstarted North Dakota’s momentum came at 14:56 in the first when Quinnipiac goaltender Michael Garteig came out of the crease to clear the puck — or so he thought — which resulted in the second North Dakota goal of the night.

After Fighting Hawks junior Paul LaDue was sent to the box for tripping at 13:19, Quinnipiac went on the power play, but the tables turned quickly. North Dakota freshman Brock Boeser came barreling through the neutral zone as Quinnipiac struggled to take the puck down by the boards to the other end of the rink.

Boeser got his stick on the puck, sending it toward Quinnipiac’s net, dodging defenseman Devon Toews in the process. Garteig came out to the top of circles to clear the puck, but Boeser had other ideas and blocked it, eventually scoring the short-handed, game-winning goal and his 27th of the season.

 

“I saw the goalie come out so I kind of read what way he was going to go — he kind of gave it away a little bit,” Boeser said. “Then it hit my shin pad, I knocked it down with my stick and I took it to the net which was wide open.”

When asked about the play during the postgame news conference, a somber Garteig summed it up by virtually not saying anything at all.

“I’d actually rather I prefer not to talk about it,” he said bluntly.

North Dakota’s Brock Boeser had an empty net to shoot at on his first-period goal (photo: Jim Rosvold).

Boeser didn’t care about his individual key contribution and said he was just happy his team won.

“I don’t really think about it in that way,” he said. “I just think about winning in national championships — it’s an unreal feeling and I couldn’t have done this with a greater group of guys.”

Notebook: Unstoppable North Dakota prevails over immovable Quinnipiac

North Dakota’s Rhett Gardner cuts the net after the championship game (photo: Jim Rosvold).

TAMPA, Fla. — Although North Dakota led 2-0 late in the first period of Saturday’s national championship game, a five-on-three power play goal in the last two minutes gave Quinnipiac some momentum. At the end of the first, both teams had reason to be happy about the score.

Entering Saturday’s game, Quinnipiac was undefeated when it ended the first period trailing, going 6-0-2 on the season, defeating Rensselaer, Dartmouth, Princeton, Connecticut, Cornell and St. Cloud State. Quinnipiac was also 2-2-3 when trailing after two, having beaten Rensselaer Feb. 19 and Dartmouth on Jan. 29

North Dakota also had a strong record, going 17-1-3 when leading after one. North Dakota’s lone loss after leading in the first period came in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff, when the Fighting Hawks lost to Minnesota-Duluth.

North Dakota carried its 2-1 lead into the third. Entering Saturday’s contest, the Fighting Hawks were 26-0-2 when leading after two periods. North Dakota also had a streak of 75 straight games without a loss when leading after two, going 70-0-5. Their last loss when leading after two was in November 2013.

First rookie win

North Dakota’s win marked the first time a rookie head coach has ever won the national championship.

“It’s not about me,” said North Dakota coach Brad Berry. “I feel blessed and fortunate to be in this position. I’ve been here for 10 years, and now I’m the head coach. Nothing changes for me.”

Jeff Sauer was the only head coach to win an NCAA title in his first year with a team when Wisconsin won in 1983, but he had coached at Colorado College for 11 years before that. Other rookie head coaches to make the NCAA championship game were John Mariucci (Minnesota, 1953), Gino Gasparini (North Dakota, 1979) and Dave Hakstol (North Dakota, 2005). Tim Whitehead reached the championship in his first year coaching at Maine in 2002 but had previously coached at Massachusetts-Lowell.

Special teams a wash

Quinnipiac had six power-play chances in the game, including the first four. North Dakota had only two power-play chances, one midway through the second and one in the third. Quinnipiac’s lone goal was a quick strike on a five-on-three power play at 18:53 of the first.

North Dakota didn’t score a power-play goal, but Brock Boeser’s singular effort for a short-handed strike at 14:16 of the first period, which proved to be the game-winner, meant special teams were a net zero.

Game-winning rarity

In the first 68 NCAA championship games, only two game-winning goals had been short-handed.

Boeser made it three with his first-period goal Saturday.

Cornell’s Dan Lodboa in 1970 and Rensselaer’s George Servinis in 1985 had short-handed goals that ended up as the championship game-winner.

Boeser’s goal also was the 10th short-handed goal in a national championship game:

1963 Ernie Dyda, North Dakota
1970 Dan Lodboa, Cornell (GWG)
1978 Tony Meagher, Boston University
1983 John Johannson, Wisconsin
1985 George Servinis, Rensselaer (GWG)
1986 Jeff Parker, Michigan State
1990 John Byce, Wisconsin
1995 Bob Lachance, Boston University
1997 Matt Henderson, North Dakota
2016 Brock Boeser, North Dakota (GWG)

Successful finalists

Quinnipiac and North Dakota entered the championship game with a combined 65 victories, the most for finalists since 1996.

Michigan was 32-7-2 and Colorado College was 33-4-4 entering the game 20 years ago, which the Wolverines won.

The last time a title game matched teams with more victories was 1993, when Maine was 41-1-2 and Lake Superior State was 32-7-5.

CBS Line

North Dakota’s vaunted CBS line came up big for the Fighting Hawks. Leading 1-0 in the first but playing short-handed, Boeser intercepted an attempted pass from Michael Garteig, settled the puck behind the goaltender and fired it into the open net.

Boeser also got assists on North Dakota’s first goal, third goal and fourth goal. Drake Caggiula had two goals, and Nick Schmaltz had one assist, a critical one on the early strike in the third that put North Dakota up by two.

“He’s been a special player for us all season long, and big players come through in big games, and he definitely stepped up today,” Caggiula said of Boeser. “He’s a helluva player, helluva kid. It was an honor to play on his line all season long.”

Boeser and Caggiula were both named to the all-tournament team, and Caggiula was named Most Outstanding Player. Other players on the all-tournament team included Quinnipiac forward Travis St. Denis, North Dakota defenseman Troy Stecher, Quinnipiac defenseman Connor Clifton and North Dakota goaltender Cam Johnson.

Caggiula became the eighth North Dakota player named Most Outstanding Player. Others included Lee Goren (2000), Matt Henderson (1997), Tony Hrkac (1987), Phil Sykes (1982), Doug Smail (1980), Al McLean (1963) and Reg Morelli (1959).

“It’s a special feeling; it may be an individual award, but you don’t win it by yourself,” Caggiula said of the MOP. “My teammates have been there all four years, not just this year. They’ve helped me grow as a person and as a player. To win that award, it’s a special thing for me, but I couldn’t be there without my teammates and my coaches and family and all my friends who support me.”

Martin St. Louis makes an appearance

Former Vermont and Tampa Bay Lightning star Martin St. Louis was a big presence at this Frozen Four. He was interviewed by ESPN’s arena emcee during the first period and talked about enjoying the game and getting his kids in to see it.

With about 3:19 left in the game, St. Louis carried the NCAA championship trophy down around the lower bowl and was shown carrying it on the video screen.

High marks for Tampa

Tampa got high marks for its performance as host for the second time in four years. Many fans at the Frozen Fest outside the venue talked about how nice it was to walk around in sunny, 80-degree weather.

The championship game drew fans in force, with an announced attendance of 19,358, the third-highest attendance ever for an NCAA hockey championship. The 2010 game at Ford Field in Detroit holds the record (37,592), and the 2007 championship in St. Louis (19,432) is second.

“I’d also like to thank the city of Tampa,” said Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold. “I think they did a phenomenal job here with hosting the Frozen Four again. Hopefully they’ll get the opportunity to get it back here again.”

Berry agreed: “Great hosts, professionally done, and they treated us great here.”

North Dakota pulls up

Leading by four goals with under five minutes to play, it seemed North Dakota pulled up a little bit. Caggiula had a chance for the hat trick all lined up off a great pass from Schmaltz, but held his shot, and with more pressure on the shift, North Dakota’s vaunted line seemed content to move the puck around the zone, rather than push for a sixth goal.

“My linemates gave me some crap for that one,” said Caggiula. “They said to make sure you score for the hat trick, and I just saw Boeser there and I wanted to get him a goal, but I probably should have shot that one. I think that was just a bonehead play by me.”

The curse of ‘Shipping Up to Boston’

During Thursday’s semifinal, the Boston College band played “Shipping Up to Boston” seemingly every break in the action. It wasn’t enough to help the Eagles overcome Quinnipiac.

During the break between the second and third periods, Quinnipiac’s band busted out its own version of that tune. It didn’t help, either, as North Dakota struck for two goals in the first 3:41 of the third en route to its 5-1 win.

North Dakota downs Quinnipiac 5-1 for first championship since 2000

TAMPA, Fla. – Drake Caggiula scored his 24th and 25th goals of the season and Cam Johnson made 32 saves as North Dakota captured its first NCAA men’s ice hockey national championship since 2000 and its eighth overall.

North Dakota’s Brock Boeser made it 2-0 on a shorthanded goal when he was able to block a Quinnipiac clearing pass. Bobcats goalie Michael Garteig came way out of the net to sweep the puck away, but Boeser was able to knock down the puck with his stick blade and sent the eventual game-winner into a wide-open Quinnipiac net at 14:16 of the first period.

After a scoreless second period, North Dakota took a 3-1 lead at 1:21 of the third when Nick Schmaltz fired a pass horizontally from the left wall to find Caggiula on the right side of the crease.

Caggiula scored again at 3:41 to make it 4-1 after Quinnipiac defenseman Devon Toews pushed Boeser wide on a breakaway. Boeser was able to spin around Toews and sweep the puck back to the trailing Caggiula who was driving up the slot. Caggiula scored the goal-mouth tap-in low on the left side.

Austin Poganski then gave North Dakota a 5-1 lead on his 10th goal of the season as he roofed the puck over Garteig at 10:41 of the third period.

A late first-period power-play goal by Quinnipiac had cut the North Dakota lead to 2-1 when Tim Clifton roofed a one-timer on a 5-on-3 man advantage.

North Dakota Freshman Shane Gersich tallied his ninth goal of the season at 11:56 to make it 1-0 as he collected a rebound off the pad in of Garteig and went around the goalie to knock it home.

Announced attendance was 19,358, the third-largest championship game in NCAA men’s ice hockey history.

More coverage to come at USCHO.com.

North Dakota maintains 2-1 lead over Quinnipiac after two

TAMPA, Fla. – A scoreless second period kept North Dakota in the lead, 2-1, in the NCAA men’s ice hockey national championship.

Both teams had power plays in the period. Quinnipiac is 1-for-4, while the Fighting Hawks failed to score on their only opportunity.

North Dakota leads in shots on goal, 25-22. Both teams had nine shots in the second period.

Quinnipiac narrowly missed tying the game when Sam Anas hit the post on a 2-on-1 about eight minutes into the second period.

A late first-period power-play goal by Quinnipiac cut the North Dakota lead to 2-1 when Tim Clifton roofed a one-timer on a 5-on-3 man advantage.

North Dakota’s Brock Boeser had made it 2-0 when he was able to block a Quinnipiac clearing pass. Bobcats goalie Michael Garteig came way out of the net to sweep the puck away, but Boeser was able to knock down the puck with his stick blade and put it into the empty Quinnipiac net at 14:16 of the first period.

North Dakota Freshman Shane Gersich tallied his ninth goal of the season at 11:56 to make it 1-0 as he collected a rebound off the pad in of Garteig and went around the goalie to knock it home.

North Dakota leads Quinnipiac 2-1 after one period

TAMPA, Fla. – A late power-play goal by Quinnipiac cut the North Dakota lead to 2-1 at the end of one period.

Tim Clifton roofed a one-timer on a 5-on-3 man advantage with 1:07 left in the first period to put Quinnipiac on the board. He took the pass from defenseman Connor Clifton, who swept across a face-off won back to him by Travis St. Denis.

On the penalty kill, North Dakota’s Brock Boeser was able to block a Quinnipiac clearing pass and came in alone to chase down the loose puck. Bobcats goalie Michael Garteig came way out of the net to sweep the puck away, but Boeser was able to knock down the puck and calmly put it into the empty Quinnipiac net at 14:16.

Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold took his time out after the goal.

North Dakota Freshman Shane Gersich tallied his ninth goal of the season at 11:56 to make it 1-0 as he collected a rebound off the pad in of Garteig, skated laterally and swatted it in before Garteig could get his pad across.

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