Rumpel’s stick-to-itiveness key in lifting Wisconsin to Final Five title game

Nic Dowd’s arms went up in celebration and the St. Cloud State crowd in the Xcel Energy Center roared as the puck took a clear path to the net.

Then Dowd’s head flung back in disbelief and the people in the stands sighed disappointment when Wisconsin goaltender Joel Rumpel’s stick slid across the crease to block the puck’s route to the goal line.

2013 WCHA Final Five

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“I thought it was going in and my arms even went up,” Dowd said. “All of the sudden, the stick came across and I was like, ‘What the hell?’ I thought it must’ve been bad luck and the stick fell out of his hand.”

The score was tied at one goal apiece with 2:05 left in the first period Friday when it happened. The puck deflected wide left of the goal post, and although they had more chances to score over the next 42 minutes, the Huskies failed to score.

Wisconsin took the lead early in the second period and went on to win 4-1 to advance to the Saturday night’s WCHA Final Five championship game.

“It could’ve been a turning point for us,” Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves said.

Rumpel’s stick save of the season turned into hot controversy when video replays showed Rumpel appeared to toss his stick to make the save. If that was the case, the rules call for a penalty shot.

The officials spent between five and 10 minutes reviewing the play to determine whether it was an imminent goal. The ruling was that another player knocked Rumpel’s stick out of his possession.

“I believe [Rumpel] threw his stick. Great play by him. It was a desperation move because the puck was obviously going into the net,” said Dowd, who assisted on SCSU’s lone goal. “Did [Rumpel] throw it? Did he not? I think if you went and asked him, he’d say he was doing anything to keep the puck out of his net.”

Rumpel finished the game with 30 saves.

“It was kind of a weird play, I made that first save and the rebound slipped out to my right,” Rumpel said with a smile. “So I just kind of dove across and the puck hit the knob of my stick and knocked it out of my hand. The puck just squirted wide. I had a bit of luck on my side, but I’ll take it.

“It happened so quick that I didn’t really know.”