ST. PAUL, Minn. — Kyle Schmidt scored 3:22 into overtime to give Minnesota-Duluth a 3-2 victory against Michigan in the Division I men’s hockey championship game Saturday night, the first national title for the Bulldogs.
Travis Oleksuk pulled Wolverines goalie Shawn Hunwick to the side and, from behind the net, fed Schmidt for a blink-of-the-eye tap-in to hand Michigan coach Red Berenson his first loss in a championship game.
Oleksuk and Max Tardy had second-period goals for Minnesota Duluth (26-10-6), which hadn’t played for the championship since losing in four overtimes to Bowling Green in 1984.
Ben Winnett and Jeff Rohrkemper scored for Michigan (29-11-4), which fell to 9-3 in title games. The Wolverines still have the NCAA record of nine, with two of those under Berenson.
This has been quite the school year at UMD on the hill above Lake Superior, just a 2 1/2-hour drive north from the Xcel Energy Center, with the football team winning the Division II championship.
The Bulldogs handed the Wolverines just their second loss all season when scoring the game’s first goal (22-2-3).
The Wolverines were denied the lead early in the first period when Chris Brown’s point-blank poke was waved off (the video review confirmed the official’s whistle came before the puck was pried loose from goalie Kenny Reiter), but they kept at it and scored 5:18 into the game when Winnett’s screened shot off the draw zipped past Reiter’s stick.
Winnett had only three goals during the regular season, but he scored in both games at the Frozen Four.
Oleksuk evened the score just 1:39 after the intermission when his rebound nicked the thigh pad of Mac Bennett, skipped over the Wolverines defenseman and into the corner out of Hunwick’s reach.
Then after Bennett was called for hooking, the second of five penalties on Michigan in the middle frame, Tardy scored the first goal of his college career to make it 2-1 after his first shot was knocked back by Hunwick’s stick. Then a “UMD! UMD! chant filled the sold-out arena, another reminder that this was essentially a second consecutive road game for the Wolverines after playing in front of a pro-North Dakota crowd in the semifinal.
In homage to the UMD players and their bleached hair — a team-wide fashion statement — one fan held up a sign that said, “Blonds have more fun.”
Michigan never looked fazed, though, just like their stone-faced, crewcut, 72-year-old boss on the bench. Berenson, who guided the Wolverines to national titles in 1996 and 1998, finished his 27th season coaching his alma mater.
Hunwick, the smallest guy on the ice at 5-foot-7 and 166 pounds, sure didn’t back down. The former walk-on got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for shoving J.T. Brown after the whistle following his shoulder save of Jack Connolly’s one-timer that sent the puck fluttering on top of the net. Hunwick had 40 saves Thursday night in shutting out the Fighting Sioux.
Connolly was doubled over in pain later in the period when Greg Pateryn’s blistering slap shot appeared to glance off his midsection. Rohrkemper gobbled up the loose puck and sent it in to tie the game.
Connolly, one of three natives of the city of Duluth (Tardy is another) in the Bulldogs’ lineup, hobbled off the ice and went to the training room but returned for the final frame.
After going 8-for-23 in prior opportunities in the NCAA tournament, the Bulldogs were 1-for-9 on the power play in regulation. The Wolverines, who killed all five penalties against North Dakota in the semifinals, deftly pressured the point men and kept UMD from getting many clean shots.
The slick-passing Bulldogs had a 38-24 shots advantage, but they weren’t consistently sharp with the puck and missed a handful of juicy chances. Connolly hit the crossbar in the first period, and Justin Fontaine’s close-range shot was stopped in the second. Connolly’s power-play chip was inches from the goal line in the third period.
The Bulldogs were the fourth consecutive Western Collegiate Hockey Association foe the Wolverines faced in this year’s tournament, beating Nebraska-Omaha, Colorado College and North Dakota to get here. Michigan left the WCHA in 1981 for the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.
|1954||Rensselaer||Minnesota||5-4 (OT)||1996||Michigan||Colorado College||3-2 (OT)|
|1959||North Dakota||Michigan State||4-3 (OT)||1998||Michigan||Boston College||3-2 (OT)|
|1977||Wisconsin||Michigan||6-5 (OT)||1999||Maine||New Hampshire||3-2 (OT)|
|1984||Bowling Green||Minn.-Duluth||5-4 (4 OT)||2001||Boston College||North Dakota||3-2 (OT)|
|1988||Lake Superior State||St. Lawrence||4-3 (OT)||2002||Minnesota||Maine||4-3 (OT)|
|1989||Harvard||Minnesota||4-3 (OT)||2009||Boston Univ.||Miami (Ohio)||4-3 (OT)|
|1991||Northern Michigan||Boston Univ.||8-7 (3 OT)||2011||Minn.-Duluth||Michigan||3-2 (OT)|