College Hockey:
Holl’s short-handed buzzer beater lifts Minnesota to title game

Minnesota celebrates Justin Holl’s goal in the final second against North Dakota (photo: Jim Rosvold).

PHILADELPHIA — Justin Holl scored with 0.6 seconds to play in regulation to lift Minnesota to a 2-1 win over North Dakota in the second NCAA national semifinal Thursday at Wells Fargo Center.

Holl’s goal, his first of the season, came short-handed on an odd-man rush. The senior defenseman jumped into the play and put a last-second shot though traffic past North Dakota goaltender Zane Gothberg, setting off a wild celebration that was interrupted by video review. The replay showed the puck entering the North Dakota net before time expired, confirming the call on the ice by referee Geoff Miller, who emphatically signaled a good goal.

2014 Frozen Four

Follow all of USCHO's coverage at Frozen Four Central.

“I think most of us were just focusing on getting the [penalty] kill and overtime,” said Holl. “[With] five seconds left I thought [I] might as well jump in, and it went in. I didn’t see the goal at the time. Everyone jumped on me I was dying on the bottom of the pile.”

After winning a key faceoff in the Minnesota zone with nine seconds to play, Kyle Rau’s initial shot was blocked by North Dakota’s Jordan Schmaltz, but the puck deflected onto Holl’s skate. Holl was able to kick the puck onto his stick for a desperation shot.

“That was a good, smart play by Justin,” said Minnesota coach Don Lucia. “He read it. Seconds were winding down and it was a good, smart move to jump into the play like he did.

“That’s a confident senior making a play like that. I’m really happy for him.”

“The last bounce of the puck went to them,” said North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol. “You get into these games, when you walk away on the end of it, it’s really important to know that you left everything out there. Our guys did that today.”

The teams were scoreless though the first 49:09, with stellar play from both goaltenders.

Gothberg ended with 26 saves with his counterpart, Gophers sophomore Adam Wilcox, making 36 stops.

“I’ve said all year that we are a good team with great goaltending,” said Lucia. “Adam showed that tonight.”

Both teams took advantage of second-chance opportunities to score midway through the third period, their goals coming just 32 seconds apart.

Minnesota’s Sam Warning broke the scoreless tie, lifting a rebound past Gothberg from a tight angle at 10:51. At 11:23, UND forward Connor Gaarder followed up on his initial shot to poke the rebound past Wilcox, also from a tight angle.

That set the stage for the last-second dramatics, with the Gophers getting the game winner while on the penalty kill ensuing from a holding call against Connor Reilly with 1:39 remaining.

After the game, Wilcox looked back to last year’s NCAA first round, when Minnesota lost to eventual champion Yale just nine seconds into overtime.

“It was unbelievable,” he said. “You could see on the bench the shock and disappointment. [North Dakota's reaction] kind of reminded what our team was like last year when we lost nine seconds into overtime.

“That’s the thing, this time of year things like that can happen [and] you have to take care of your chances when you get them.”

“I guess this was just another Minnesota-North Dakota game,” deadpanned Lucia.

Minnesota advances to the national championship game against Union on Saturday night.

The following is a self-policing forum for discussing views on this story. Comments that are derogatory, make personal attacks, are abusive, or contain profanity or racism will be removed at our discretion. USCHO.com is not responsible for comments posted by users. Please report any inappropriate or offensive comments by clicking the “Flag” link next to that comment in order to alert the moderator.

Please also keep “woofing,” taunting, and otherwise unsportsmanlike behavior to a minimum. Your posts will more than likely be deleted, and worse yet, you reflect badly on yourself, your favorite team and your conference.

North Dakota 2016 National ChampionsBNY Mellon Wealth Management