ST. PAUL, Minn. — With around five minutes left in the third period, the “Hobey Baker” chants began to fill the Xcel Energy Center.
North Dakota senior Matt Frattin, one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, scored the game-winning goal to beat Colorado College 4-3 in a WCHA Final Five semifinal game Friday night.
“For the first two periods we had a tough time getting our legs going,” said Frattin, a first-line right wing. “In the third period, we got our adrenaline going and our line thought we needed to get it going.”
It was Frattin’s national-best 34th goal of the season, a one-timer in the low slot on a feed from Evan Trupp behind the net that gave UND the win.
UND advances to play second-seeded Denver in the championship game at 7 p.m. CDT Saturday.
“With a few minutes left, I found myself with a little smile on my face because it was a heck of a game,” Sioux coach Dave Hakstol said. “I expect tomorrow to be a great hockey game. We have an equal or greater challenge tomorrow against Denver.”
CC had plenty of chances to tie the game late, especially with a late power play on a cross-checking call on Andrew MacWilliam with 2:54 to go. The Tigers had a lot of pressure in the zone but few shots made it all the way to the net. Meanwhile, UND had trouble clearing the puck, with two clearing attempts landing out of play.
Two minutes and 44 seconds was all it took for Danny Kristo to let those who follow the WCHA know he’s back. The sophomore right winger, who missed 10 games because of a case of frostbite on his right foot, skated the puck up the ice past the benches on his first even-strength shift.
Kristo pulled back and fired a wrist shot over Joe Howe’s left shoulder for his sixth goal of the season. It was Kristo’s first points since he assisted on three goals Jan. 29 at CC.
Stephen Schultz tied the game at one 18 seconds into CC’s first power play with Jaden Schwartz and Gabe Guentzel assisting.
The CC power play went 2-for-4 Friday. Since Jaden Schwartz’s return from his fractured ankle on Feb. 18, the Tigers have gone 14-for-47 on the power play (30 percent). Schwartz has two power-play goals with nine assists on the PP during that stretch and has been on the ice for 13 of the 14 goals.
Rylan Schwartz’s goal at the 5:29 mark of the second period put the Tigers up 2-1. Officials reviewed the goal because Schultz toppled Dell, but the puck had already crossed the goal line when contact was made and the goal stood.
UND tied the game with 5:05 left in the second when Andrew MacWilliam brought the puck below the goal line to Howe’s left and passed it out front for Brent Davidson, who beat Howe glove side.
Brock Nelson was ejected early in the third period on a checking-from-behind call that sent Gabe Guentzel to the ice. He received a five-minute major and a game misconduct, but it was the Sioux that went on the offensive less than two minutes after the penalty.
Frattin brought the puck into the zone but was hauled down by Rylan Schwartz. Frattin’s body went flying into Howe as a result and knocked the goaltender out of position. Brad Malone grabbed the loose puck and flipped it into the open net at the 8:30 mark of the period.
Frattin got an assist on the play and his point streak is at 12 games.
“Trupp’s been using that back door all year,” Frattin said. “We read each other well and I had my stick down on the ice. He made a pass back door and I one-timed it.”
The Tigers tied things on a gritty play by Rylan Schwartz with 8:50 left in the game. UND’s Jake Marto deflected Nick Dineen’s swat towards the net, Rylan Schwartz knocked the puck down and dived to the far side of the crease to put it past Dell while falling to the ice.
“I knew I had to get one back for us,” said Schwartz. “I made a bad pass in our end and then a penalty in the other end a few minutes before.”
And then came the Frattin goal three minutes later.
Trupp found Frattin streaking up the middle, and Frattin went top shelf before Howe could get turned around with 5:40 left in regulation.
Howe stopped 34 shots for the Tigers and Dell finished with 18 saves for the Sioux.
Saturday’s crowd of 15,008 was made up of fans dressed mostly in green.
“We got the crowd in it,” Frattin said. “It was like playing at the Ralph today.”
Rylan Schwartz added: “We knew they had a huge fan base and it would be tough to play in. It’s fun to play in but it was tough, too.”