March 28, 2009

 

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Courtesy of Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS - Freshman Mike Connolly's power-play goal with 6:21 remaining in overtime lifted Minnesota Duluth to a thrilling 5-4 come-from-behind victory over Princeton in their NCAA West Region semifinal tonight in front of 7,187 fans at Mariucci Arena.

The Bulldogs (22-12-8) forced overtime by scoring twice in the final 39 seconds of regulation, including tallying the game-tying goal with just eight-tenths of a second remaining.

Skating with an extra attacker, UMD freshman center Jack Connolly would stuff a shot in at the right post with 39 left on the clock before sophomore Evan Oberg would tie the game in miraculous fashion with a wrister from the lower right circle with a shade under a second to go.

The No. 2 seed Bulldogs, which have won their past six games after getting swept in their regular-season ending series to Alaska Anchorage, advance to Saturday's West Regional final against Miami University, with a berth to the 2009 Frozen Four at stake.

Connolly posted a game-high three points to pace the Bulldogs, scoring a goal and two assists, while MacGregor Sharp pitched in two assists.

Bulldog goaltender Alex Stalock recorded 27 saves, including nine in the extra session, to earn his 21st win of the season. His counterpart in net, Princeton's Zane Kalemba posted 30 saves.

Western Collegiate Hockey Association tournament champion Minnesota Duluth would notch the game's first score on a point-blank shot from senior captain Andrew Carroll 8 minutes, 17 seconds into the opening period, but Princeton (22-12-1) would roar back with three unanswered goals to open up a 3-1 lead midway through the second.

Brett Wilson tallied a pair of goals during the Tiger's run, including a power-play marker at 14:56 of the first to begin the run. Derrick Pallis would strike 1:42 into the second frame before Wilson would connect for his second score at 8:39 giving the ECAC school a 3-1 advantage.
 
UMD put a halt to the Tiger run 29 seconds later on a quick blast from Brady Lamb, pulling it to within one score at 3-2.

Region No. 3 seed Princeton regained a two-goal cushion on Brandan Kushniruk's shorthanded score at the 9:21 mark of the third giving it a 4-2 edge, but UMD was able to overcome the deficit in the waning moments to force the extra period and the eventual win.

The Tigers, which won a school-best 22 games this year dropped to 0-3 all-time in the NCAA tournament with the loss after earning their first at-large berth to the field of 16.

UMD's victory was its first in the NCAA postseason since 2004.