DULUTH, Minn. — No. 3 North Dakota’s victory over Minnesota-Duluth Saturday night featured an impressive comeback, solid goaltending, and spirited play from a struggling team going against one of the nation’s best. However, what people will probably remember most about the game is the late goal that didn’t count.
With six attackers pressing in the Fighting Sioux (20-5-5, 15-4-2 WCHA) zone, UMD (5-21-2, 2-17-2 WCHA) appeared to have tied the game just as the buzzer sounded. Jon Francisco had poked a loose puck past goaltender Andy Kollar and into the net, moments after Kollar had smothered the puck for what would have been a faceoff. The goal judge turned the red light on, but referee John Seidel waved it off. As a result, North Dakota wins 4-3 and sweeps the weekend series.
It also appears both head coaches heard different explanations why the goal was waved off.
“The referee said the light went on before the puck crossed the line”, said North Dakota’s Dean Blais.
“All I know is that the red light came on, he [Seidel] said it might be malfunctioning,” said UMD’s Scott Sandelin, “I can’t accept that; it’s disappointing.
“He never blew the whistle [after Kollar controlled the puck], he said he blew the whistle, then there should have been time left on the clock and there should have been a faceoff.”
It was also disappointing to most of the 4,987 who attended the game at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center. Some fans littered the ice with garbage to protest the referee’s decision.
Yet many of those same fans cheered Seidel’s decision to let a controversial first-period Bulldog goal to stand. UMD took a 2-1 lead after Nate Anderson deflected in a Francisco centering pass. With a Sioux defender hounding him, Francisco charged along the left faceoff circle and shoved the puck through the crease, and Anderson sent it in off his skate for his 14th marker of the season. After a brief protest by North Dakota, the referee allowed the goal to stand.
After the game, Sandelin wondered if the disallowed goal was an attempt by the referee to make up for allowing the Bulldogs second goal to stand.
“Maybe it evened up,” he said, “maybe Nate’s goal wasn’t a goal.”
Senior winger Wes Dorey and Kollar were the stars on the ice for North Dakota. Dorey scored UND’s tying and winning goals late in the third period, while Kollar stopped all 21 Bulldog shots he faced after relieving starting goaltender Karl Goehring at the beginning of the second period.
Goehring allowed all three UMD goals on only nine shots. North Dakota outshot Duluth 43-30.
It was a game UMD appeared to have in its back pocket, although things didn’t start out its way. The Fighting Sioux took the game’s first lead in the opening minute. Jeff Panzer and Ryan Bayda led the charge on a two-on-one break. Shortly after crossing the Duluth blue line, Bayda sent the puck to Panzer on the right wing side. Bulldog goaltender Rob Anderson raced out of his net to challenge Panzer, and appeared to have him beat. Anderson saved Panzer’s shot as he sprawled across the ice, however the puck rolled over the sophomore netminder, and Bayda flipped it into the open net for his 15th goal of the season.
After that, Duluth owned the first period. Drew Otten tied the game on a power-play at the seven minute mark. The sophomore right wing scored his seventh tally of the season after he slammed a rebound of a Tom Nelson shot through Goehring’s five-hole.
That was followed by Nate Anderson’s skate-deflection goal at 13:30.
UMD would make it 3-1with two minutes remaining in the opening session thanks to Francisco’s 11th goal of the year. Francisco and Nelson skated in on a two-on-one, and Francisco fired it in from the slot after receiving Nelson’s pass from the left faceoff circle.
Quinn Fylling narrowed the gap for the Sioux at 6:39 of the second period when he scored his fourth goal of the season.
Then came Dorey’s heroics.
Dorey tied it at the 12:37 mark of the third shortly after a faceoff in the Bulldog zone. Center Kevin Spiewak won the draw and sent the puck immediately to defenseman Chad Mazurak in the high slot. Goaltender Rob Anderson stopped Mazurak’s shot, but a big rebound bounced to his right side. Anderson dove after the puck, but Dorey shoved it underneath his airborne body and into the net.
Dorey’s game-winner also came with help from his center. Spiewak controlled the puck in the corner and sent a pass to Dorey, who skated behind the UMD net and went out in front to the slot, where he fired a wrist shot that beat Anderson.
“I just got some great help from my linemates,” he said. “Spiewak made a great play out of the corner and I put it in top shelf.”
However, UMD wasn’t done yet. The Bulldogs pulled Anderson for an extra attacker with just over two minutes left to play in regulation. Otten appeared to lead the charge. He caught a North Dakota clearing attempt, and followed that with a backhander that went just wide of the goal, and moments later fired a turnaround shot that Kollar knocked away.
Otten says considering the effort his team put in, it was a tough loss.
“It has to be the most frustrating loss of the year; it really hurts.”
Along with holding the lead for most of the game, UMD also shut down a key element of the Sioux’s attack. The Bulldogs held North Dakota scoreless in its three power-play opportunities. UND came into the game with a 23.9% power play success rate.
Blais credits UMD with good work between the blue lines for much of its success.
“There was not a lot of room in the neutral zone,” he said, “they clogged it up pretty good.”
Otten says that shows how well his team can play.
“We know we can play with any team in the country, it’s just a matter of puttin’ together a full 60 minutes worth of effort.”
The loss extends North Dakota’s unbeaten streak against Minnesota-Duluth to 12 games. It also gives Sandelin an 0-4 record against his old team since taking over as UMD’s head coach at the beginning of the season. Sandelin was an associate head coach at North Dakota before he began his duties in Duluth.
UMD also learned Saturday it has likely lost the services of Judd Medak for the rest of the season. The Junior forward is expected to be out 4-6 weeks due to a separated shoulder suffered in Friday night’s game.
Minnesota-Duluth hits the road next weekend for two games at Michigan Tech. North Dakota returns home for a two-game series against Wisconsin.