EAST LANSING, Mich. — Sixty-five minutes just wasn’t enough to decide a winner between the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs and the Boston College Eagles in Friday night’s Ice Breaker Invitational.
From the first drop of the puck to the final buzzer, the game was back-and-forth, up and down, and just about everything in between. Everything, that is, except an official win for either team.
The Bulldogs rallied from a two-goal deficit for a draw at the end of regulation, the five-minute overtime period ended, and the game went into the books as a 2-2 tie. However, this being a tournament, someone needed to emerge from the game victorious.
You know what that means — shootout.
Each team had one man get the puck past the opposing goaltender in a five-man shootout round, so they reverted to a sudden-death shoot-out — next goal would win the game.
That puck came off Ben Eaves’ stick. Game over, Eagles in the championship.
“I thought our goaltender played very, very well during the course of the game,” Eagles coach Jerry York said. “We got an outstanding performance from Ben Eaves; I thought he was on the top of his game.
“I was very pleased with our third period,” Bulldog coach Scott Sandelin said. “I think it showed a lot of character. I thought we played a very solid third period; we did a very good job to get back into the game. As the game went on, we got better.”
The Eagles jumped out to an early lead on Ben Eaves’ goal at 12:55 of the first, then added chance after chance. Despite opportunities to cushion the lead, the first period ended 1-0.
The second period gave the Eagles another chance to add to their single goal when the Bulldogs took a bench minor for too many men on the ice, and this time they capitalized. Stephen Gionta took a shot from a bad angle which bounced off Bulldog netminder Isaac Reichmuth’s mask and under the crossbar for the second Eagle tally.
The third period was a different story.
Just 33 seconds into the third, UMD’s Brett Hammond managed to jam the puck under Eagle goalie Matti Kaltiainen’s pads to cut the Eagle lead in half. Then, at 6:55, came exciting hockey moment number one: a penalty shot was awarded to the Bulldogs, and Junior Lessard was chosen to take it.
Lessard skated toward the Eagles netminder, puck on his stick, and barely backhanded it into the net between Kaltiainen’s skate and the post to knot the score at two. And that’s the way regulation ended.
During the sudden-death overtime, both teams realized how long five minutes could be as they traded chances to end the contest. Kaltiainen left a rebound bounced six inches outside the crease, but no Bulldog was near enough for the shot before Kaltiainen pounced on it.
Gionta hit the back of the net with just over a minute left in the extra period, but referee Steve Piotrowski waved it off due to a man in the crease, leaving the result to the shootout.
“Duluth impressed me as a team,” York said. “Scotty Sandelin’s doing an excellent job there.”
“It feels like a loss with the shootout, but I’m very proud of our team,” Sandelin said.
Minnesota-Duluth will face Michigan State in the consolation Saturday at 5 p.m., while the Eagles will compete with Findlay in the Ice Breaker championship at 8.