DULUTH, Minn. — The battle of Bulldogs turned out to be a true dogfight in the first round of the 2001 Silverado Shootout.
Junior Lessard scored the game-winning goal with five seconds left as the University of Minnesota-Duluth defeated Yale 3-2 before 3,787 at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center.
UMD (7-11-1) will take on Boston College in the championship game at 7 p.m. CST on Saturday. The Elis (4-6-2) will face Miami at 4 p.m.
A scoreless first period included UMD outshooting Yale 8-3. The biggest play of the stanza came from Yale goalie Dan Lombard (29 saves), who poked away a breakaway opportunity at the 9:40 mark.
Duluth forward Tyler Brosz picked up a loose puck at mid ice and skated in on the Yale net with blueliner Michael Grobe on his tail. Lombard came out and sticked the puck away from Brosz, but Grobe was called for hooking, one of two Eli penalties (Mutter had the other) in the first 20 minutes.
The host squad took advantage of the fourth Yale penalty of the night in the second period. Nathan Murphy was whistled for slashing at 17:41, and Minnesota-Duluth pounced on the chance.
Almost a minute into the infraction, UMD won the faceoff and got the puck back to the top of the left circle. Defenseman Andy Reierson’s slapshot beat Lombard high on his glove side from the top of the left circle for his sixth goal of the year. Forward John Francisco picked up the assist at 18:39 on the only score of the period.
Duluth outshot Yale again (13-7) in the period, but this time there was much more offense on both sides.
UMD goalie Rob Anderson, who finished with 24 saves, might have been thinking about his first shutout of the year early in the final stanza, but Yale busted out of the locker room and played its best hockey of the night while outshooting Duluth 16-11 and lighting the lamp twice.
Midway through the period, Minnesota native C.J. Nibbe, playing his first game of the year, fired a shot off Anderson that was not controlled by the UMD goaltender. Eli forward Mike Klema, another resident of Minnesota, was in position to bury the rebound at 12:30 to even the score at 1-1.
Brosz gave the Elis a golden opportunity with a five-minute crosschecking penalty at 13:47. Fifteen seconds later, Jeff Dwyer fed captain Luke Earl who fired a hard wrister past Anderson from the right circle. The puck slid inside the near post to give the Blue a 2-1 lead.
Yale was still on the advantage when Bryan Freeman’s shot from the blue line bounced off the pads of Matt Mathias and kicked away from the Eli defenseman. Mathias picked up the puck and raced in alone on Lombard before firing a 12-footer at 17:09 to knot the score at 2-2.
But with 10 seconds left in the game, the home team won a faceoff in the Yale end and got the puck to Lessard, who fired the game-winner from 15 feet away on a shot that screened the Eli netminder and crossed the goal line with five ticks left.
Yale has not won a first-round tournament game since beating Wisconsin in the 1998 Badger Showdown in Milwaukee. UMD, which has never won the three-year-old Silverado tourney, is now 5-0 when leading after two periods.