FARGO, N.D. — For 40 minutes, the battle for the Fargo Regional title between old rivals North Dakota and Minnesota Duluth was deadlocked at 0-0. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 2-0 lead in just 80 seconds in the third period, only to have the Fighting Hawks tie the game with two extra-attacker goals in 47 seconds Saturday at Scheels Arena in Fargo, North Dakota.
By the time the game ended, it set a new NCAA record for longest game in tournament history at 142:13.
Luke Mylmok broke loose, skated in on goaltender Adam Scheel with a defender on him and beat him with a wrist shot 2:13 into the fifth overtime period for a 3-2 victory for the Bulldogs.
“I thought our team played great,” said Bulldogs head coach Scott Sandelin. “North Dakota again showed their resolve, come back, tie it. Then we play a marathon overtime and we get a big goal from a freshman that got some ice time later in the overtimes.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this group. I thought our guys played great.”
Sandelin started freshman goaltender Zach Stejskal over sophomore Ryan Fanti. For over 58 minutes, the move proved brilliant. Then, for 64:37 more, he shut down North Dakota 30 more times before cramping up and being replaced by Fanti, who made six saves over the next 17:36.
“We just felt he was ready to play and we felt he could do the job,” Sandelin said, “just like, going into the tournament, we felt Ryan (could be the guy). We’ve seen that all year. At the end of the year, they each got games hoping that maybe one of them would grab it and run with it. The best part for us is that we have two that can go in there and win games for us. We saw that tonight. I thought Zach played great for us tonight.”
Minnesota Duluth, the two-time defending national champion, advanced to its fourth straight Frozen Four.
Stejskal held the Fighting Hawks’ offense off the scoreboard until the 18:19 mark of the third when center Collin Adams banked a puck past him from below the goal line.
The Bulldogs (15-10-2 overall) iced the puck shortly after, giving the Fighting Hawks another faceoff in the offensive zone with Scheel again on the bench. Captain Jordan Kawaguchi set himself up in the right circle. When the puck came to him, he wasted no time burying it behind Stejskal at 19:03.
The common denominator on both Fighting Hawks (22-6-1 overall) goals to even the game was center Shane Pinto. On Adams’ goal, defenseman Jake Sanderson fed the puck over to Pinto along the left boards. Pinto one-timed the pass and Stejskal directed the rebound below the goal line, where Adams jumped on it.
On the second goal, assistant captain Matt Kiersted made a similar pass to Pinto, whose shot from almost the same place he shot from a minute earlier caromed over to Kawaguchi.
The Bulldogs broke the scoreless tie 3:21 into the third when winger Koby Bender won a puck battle in the corner to Scheel’s left. He threw the puck back to defenseman Hunter Lellig at the right point. Lellig fired a wrist shot that center Jackson Cates tipped out of the air and past Scheel.
Just 80 seconds later, assistant captain Cole Koepke blocked a shot from Fighting Hawks defenseman Ethan Frisch. The puck bounced out of the zone and Koepke drove hard past Frisch, got to the puck, skated in alone from the red line and beat Scheel with a wrist shot.
The Bulldogs appeared to score the game-winner goal 7:38 into the first overtime, but upon review, it was determined that Bender, who was driving the puck into the offensive zone, crossed the blue line without full control of the puck, negating the goal scored shortly after winger Kobe Roth.
Scheel stopped 51 for the Fighting Hawks.
Sandelin’s son, Ryan, scored an overtime goal for Minnesota State in their West Regional semifinal contest earlier in the day.