MINNEAPOLIS — After nearly six periods of hockey, including a stretch of over 82 minutes that ticked by scorelessly, Minnesota’s Kelly Terry finally found a way to get one more puck into a net and give her team a 3-2 win over North Dakota at 18:51 of the third overtime.
The junior center spent much of her night keeping the opponent’s leading scorer, Jocelyne Lamoureux, off of the scoreboard, but delivered the ninth goal of her campaign when it mattered most.
“I’m just so proud of the team,” coach Brad Frost said. “I don’t know what it was like to watch; I know it was exciting. The pace slowed substantially as we went through the overtimes, but the same thing as all year, when our team is pushed and has their backs against the wall, they find a way to get the job done.”
Terry’s goal came 1:35 into a Minnesota (39-0-0, 28-0-0 WCHA) power play that was called after Megan Bozek was tripped at center ice.
The Gophers’ top power play unit was unable to decide matters, but Terry and linemate Rachael Bona found the energy for one more flurry around the net of North Dakota (26-12-1, 18-9-1 WCHA).
“I think I’ve got to give all the credit to my teammates,” Terry said. “Our power play has been working pretty hard in practice and everything and has come through with a few really good goals. I have my spot in front of the net and I just got a few whacks at it. Somehow, it slid in.”
Defenseman Mira Jalosuo had the second assist on the play.
“Give all the credit in the world to North Dakota, because they played one heck of a hockey game as well,” Frost said. “It’s sad to see one team lose in a situation like that.”
The primary reason that it took so long for a verdict to be reached was the play of both goaltenders. North Dakota’s Shelby Amsley-Benzie came up with 57 saves, and Minnesota’s Noora Räty made 50 stops of her own.
“There were so many chances both ways, and both goalies played absolutely tremendous,” Frost said.
“I was just saying in my head, I’m not done yet; this won’t be my last game,” Räty said. “I just said that time after time in my head, ‘I’m going to play next Friday.’ So that definitely kept me focused.”
After having her shutout string of more than 16 periods snapped in the first period, she had time to start another string of over 98 minutes.
“We just finished two full games, so pretty tired,” Terry said. “We’re preparing well and we have a lot of mental toughness on our team and something we work on, so we made it through.”
North Dakota exits having lost to Minnesota in four consecutive WCHA and NCAA tournaments over the past two seasons.
“I’m proud of our kids,” coach Brian Idalski said. “I thought we emptied the tank, gave all we had today. When it gets to that point where you’re in six period of hockey, it’s unfortunate anybody has to lose.”
Lamoureux said she thinks it is the longest game she has ever played.
“It’s exhausting for everybody,” she said. “It’s not easy. The last two overtimes, you’re playing high-percentage hockey. You’re not taking any risky chances. It’s tiring, but you give it your all in hopes that you win.”
Amsley-Benzie greatly added to that hope.
“Shelby was terrific,” Idalski said. “That’s extremely encouraging for down the road. She came into her own here in the last month when she was the starter, but really the last two weekends she’s been fantastic. You’re never really sure how your freshman goaltender is going to handle big moments like this, and we got a resounding she’s a solid kid and thrives in that moment.”
Seemingly a lifetime earlier, Minnesota scored the game’s first goal of the game at the end of the opening shift. Bethany Brausen came off of the bench on a line change and chipped the puck deep. Amanda Kessel collected it behind the goal line and relayed it in front to Hannah Brandt, and she finished with a low shot.
Although that was eerily similar to North Dakota’s fate a year ago when the teams met in an NCAA quarterfinal and it fell behind on the first shot allowed, the visitors were able to shrug if off this time.
“Last year, if they had scored early, we probably would have folded,” Idalski said. “But we answered back to take a little bit of a lead. I just thought we executed and played and competed with everything we had. It’s a tough game.”
North Dakota enjoyed an 18-7 advantage in shots on goal in the first period.
“They came out flying and we were a little bit on our heels,” Räty said. “They didn’t put their heads down after the first goal; they just kept pressuring us.”
UND struck back when a Minnesota defenseman missed the puck at the point, starting North Dakota two-on-one the other way. Meghan Dufault closed in on the net before giving the puck to Ashley Furia, who tucked the puck away for just her third goal of the season, but her second of the postseason, at 14:05. She had the first goal in North Dakota’s huge win over Wisconsin that earned it a shot at the NCAA tournament.
“I think that really helped the team bounce back after getting scored on the first shift,” Furia said.
“We were lucky that we got out of that first period just tied, 1-1,” Räty said.
The two teams traded power-play goals in the second period. North Dakota started the frame with the advantage, and it took just 29 seconds to capitalize. Michelle Karvinen’s feed parallel to the goal line along the edge of the crease hit Dufault on the backdoor, and she slammed it home for the 19th goal of her rookie season. Josefine Jakobsen had the other helper.
“[Dufault] had a lot of success this year against Minnesota for whatever reason,” Idalski said. “Nobody is going to let [the Lamoureux sisters] beat them. Everybody is going to be smart enough coaching wise to try to take those kids away. I thought Dufault did a great job of being someone who is opportunistic with a little more space playing with Jocelyne. She’s a terrific kid and has a pretty bright future for us.”
Minnesota drew even at 2-2 when Bozek carried around the net and Kessel finished on back side of the play 16 minutes into the second period.
A couple minutes later, freshman defenseman Milica McMillen of the Gophers was assessed a five-minute major for a check from behind, along with a game misconduct. Minnesota killed that power-play opportunity for UND that spanned that second intermission. The final 95 seconds of the advantage was wiped out when Lamoureux took down Terry on a short-handed rush by Minnesota.
“When we killed that off, that was unbelievable for our team to come together and not really give them that many opportunities,” Bozek said. “I think that was a momentum-changer.”
As regulation wound down, Bona got around the edge, and Jordan Slavin tripped her as she flew down the left wing. Minnesota had a chance on the resulting power play at the start of the first overtime, but Kessel was unable to lift the puck over the pad of a sprawled Amsley-Benzie.
“We gave them everything they could handle,” Lamoureux said. “I’ll be surprised if anybody gives them a game like that next weekend. It’s just disappointing. There’s not really any way to sum it up other than that.”
Not all of the 2,750 fans in attendance celebrated the final goal.
“We had quite a few fans there,” Lamoureux said. “It was a pretty packed rink, so it was a good atmosphere and fun to play in.”
Minnesota will face Boston College, a 3-1 victor over Harvard. The game will be played Friday in Minneapolis.
Frost said it was a relief to see the puck go in and advance his team to a Frozen Four that they will be hosting. The Eagles handed Minnesota its last NCAA tournament loss in a 2011 quarterfinal in Boston.
“A couple of our classes remember that butt-pasting pretty good,” Frost said. “It’s going to be a real exciting game. They’re an offensive, fast team. They get up and down the rink.”