A couple of NCHC teams had last-minute heroics lead to favorable outcomes.
Western Michigan traveled to Denver to face the Pioneers. On Friday, the Broncos trailed 4-2 with under three minutes left when they got a power play. Coach Andy Murray pulled his goaltender for a six-on-four, and got a goal from Sheldon Dries at 18:11 to pull within one. The Broncos then had a few chances to get the tying goal, but Tanner Jaillet stood strong, and Matt Marcinew added an empty-netter at 19:34 to seal the win.
In the rematch Saturday, Marcinew scored a power-play goal at 9:43 of the third to put Denver up 2-0, but just 26 seconds later, Colt Conrad answered, making things tight down the stretch. Murray again pulled Hafner, and again the ploy worked, as Frederik Tiffels scored with just 20 seconds left in the game. After just missing on a shot that trickled wide that would have given the Broncos an outright win in the first overtime, Taylor Fleming scored on a surprise shot to give Western an extra point for winning the three-on-three overtime.
Miami also needed last minute heroics Saturday to beat No. 16 Bowling Green. After giving up a goal in the first period, Alex Gacek tied the game in the second period for Miami, and then Anthony Louis scored the game-winner with just two seconds left in the game on a one-time blast from the left faceoff circle.
Denver and Western Michigan weren’t the only teams to play an extra session this weekend. St. Cloud State and Minnesota-Duluth went the distance on Saturday in their rematch. Dominic Toninato gave Duluth a 1-0 lead in the first period, and then St. Cloud’s Joey Benik tied it in the second, getting his 100th career point in the process. The first five-minute overtime couldn’t decide anything, as Charlie Lindgren made three saves for St. Cloud and Kasimir Kaskisuo made two saves for Duluth. St. Cloud won the three-on-three session on a goal from Patrick Russell, getting St. Cloud the extra point in the standings. Lindgren made a season-high 38 saves, and St. Cloud is now in sole possession of first place in the NCHC, leading North Dakota by two points, though North Dakota has two games in hand.
St. Cloud also beat Duluth on Friday, 3-1, behind 28 saves from Lindgren and goals from Mikey Eyssimont, Kalle Kossila, and Blake Winiecki. Kossila is tied for 10th in scoring nationally with 28 points, and is third among NCHC players, trailing Drake Caggiula of North Dakota (30 points) and Omaha’s Jake Guentzel (32 points). St. Cloud’s offense is fourth nationally, as its power play.
The other extra session on the weekend is what allowed St. Cloud to pass North Dakota. Omaha rebounded from getting swept by Denver last weekend to beat North Dakota on Friday, 4-3 in OT. Rhett Gardner gave North Dakota an early lead with a power-play goal at 5:57 of the first, but Omaha’s Jake Guentzel answered at 15:31.
The second period featured early and late goals from Omaha. Ian Brady scored at 1:56 to give Omaha the 2-1 lead, but Troy Stecher answered at 16:08. Then Jake Randolph barely beat the buzzer, scoring at 19:59 to send Omaha into the third period with a 3-2 lead. Brock Boeser scored a power-play goal at 13:24 of the third to tie it, but Austin Ortega scored the game-winner in OT at 2:29.
North Dakota got the split with a convincing 5-1 win on Saturday, getting goals from five different players. Just as Omaha had used a late goal to spark a win on Friday, North Dakota used a late goal to get momentum. After Omaha took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Tyler Vesel on a power play at 17:55, Caggiula answered with a power-play goal at 19:53 to tie the game. Coltyn Sanderson then scored the game-winner at 3:33 of the second period, and Boeser gave North Dakota the two-goal lead with a goal at 6:08. Cam Johnson made 28 saves in the win.