SIMULATIONS: North Dakota, Minnesota State to play for national title after each team earns dramatic semifinal wins on Thursday

Jordan Kawaguchi (North Dakota-29) Andrew Peski (North Dakota-4) 2020 February 29 Western Michigan and the University of North Dakota meet in a NCHC contest in Grand Forks, ND (Bradley K. Olson)
SIMULATION: Hobey Hat Trick finalist Jordan Kawaguchi scored in a fantastic goaltending display as North Dakota advanced, 2-1, over Ohio State. The Fighting Hawks will face Minnesota State in Saturday’s national title game. (File photo: Bradley K. Olson)

USCHO, with the assistance of the talents of a message board member, “Fighting Sioux 23,” is running a postseason simulation of all tournament games. The following is the summary of simulations for the national semifinals that would have been played on Thursday in Detroit.

North Dakota 2, Ohio State 1

Hobey Hat Trick finalist Jordan Kawaguchi scored and goaltender Adam Scheel was outstanding as North Dakota outlasted Cinderella team Ohio State, 2-1, to advance to Saturday’s national title game where they will take on Minnesota State.

Kawaguchi’s goal in the first was the only tally of the opening period as the Fighting Hawks jumped to the early lead.

The second was a period of fireworks.

Westin Michaud gave the Hawks a two-goal lead but late in the frame Ronnie Hein one-timed a pass that beat Scheel to cut the lead to 2-1.

The Buckeyes nearly evened the game late in the second on a two-on-one with Carson Meyer and Quinn Preston, two guys no goaltender would want to see. But Scheel robber Meyer with a glove save to maintain the one-goal lead.

The third period was more of a chess match than a wide-open affair and despite a 7-6 shot advantage for Ohio State, the Buckeyes couldn’t draw the equalizer giving North Dakota a berth in the national title game.

Minnesota State 4, Boston College 2

Nicholas Rivera scored twice, including an empty-net goal late to seal a victory, as Minnesota State, appearing in its first-ever Frozen Four advanced past Boston College in Thursday’s first semifinal, 4-2.

The Mavericks never trailed in the game, jumping to a 2-0 lead and then fending off furious comeback attempt by the Eagles, searching for their first national title since 2012.

Minnesota State scored the first period’s only goal when Connor Mackey redirected a pass from Rivera past Eagles netminder Spencer Knight.

In the second Rivera expanded the lead on his first goal before BC’s Julius Mattila brought BC back within one. The Eagles had a late onslaught but Mike Hardman’s shot beat netminder Dryden McKay hit the post.

That set up wild third period.

Marc Michaelis continued his torrid NCAA tournament by expanding the lead to 3-1 before BC threw forward an offensive onslaught.

The Eagles posted the next nine shots, the final of which was a rebound that David Cotton buried to close the lead to one at 3-2.

Back and forth hockey dictated late, but with Knight pulled and less than a minute remaining, Rivera’s empty netter set off the long-awaited celebration for Minnesota State fans.