Goaltender interference overturns Minnesota Duluth goal against Providence

Minnesota Duluth’s Cole Koepke, right, celebrates a first-period goal that was overturned after review (photo: Melissa Wade).

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Billy Exell’s third-period goal put Minnesota Duluth up 2-1 in Thursday’s Frozen Four semifinal against Providence, but Exell appeared to have opened the scoring at 9:45 in the first.

When the game was tied 0-0, Exell’s stick found the puck with some traffic in the crease and the puck crossed the goal line — but after an official had blown the whistle. Although the play was reviewed, the rule is clear: Once the play is blown dead, nothing else matters.

Then at 16:40 in the first, Duluth’s Cole Koepke also got the puck past Providence’s Hayden Hawkey and this time there was no whistle. The light went on and an official indicated that a goal was scored, but after a lengthy review, Koepke’s goal was waved off. What could have been a 2-0 Duluth lead after the first was a 0-0 tie game.

After the game, the NCAA released a statement clarifying that a ruling of goaltender interference warranted overturning the goal. Duluth coach Scott Sandelin said that Providence got a bounce from the second no-goal call.

“The first one, I don’t think it really mattered,” said Sandelin, “but the second one was such a long delay and I didn’t think we responded in the way that I’d hoped. I thought we came out a little flat and they got a little momentum off it and I thought they rode that into the second period.”

“Any time you get a goal disallowed,” said Exell, “you don’t want to give them the momentum again. You think you’re getting the momentum. You just have to have a good shift after that, stick with it.”

While the Bulldogs scored first — for real — at 6:39 in the second period, Providence answered with a power-play goal at 11:17 and the score remained tied until Exell’s third-period goal.