ST. PAUL, Minn. – Freshman Zac Larraza’s first collegiate goal and sophomore Sam Brittain’s school-record 67 saves lifted No. 3 seed Denver to a 4-3 double overtime victory against No. 2 seed Minnesota-Duluth in the longest game in WCHA Final Five history Friday afternoon at the Xcel Energy Center.
The Pioneers advance to the WCHA Final Five championship game Saturday evening.
Shawn Ostrow added a goal and an assist and Jason Zucker and Dustin Jackson each scored a goal for the Pioneers (25-12-4).
Mike Seidel tallied two goals and Jack Connolly added another for Minnesota-Duluth (24-9-6) and Kenny Reiter made 45 saves in the loss.
“I’m proud of our guys for the fact that after giving up a three-goal lead, we came back and played pretty well in the overtimes,” DU head coach George Gwozdecky said. “We’re obviously pretty excited to be back in the championship game and we’re looking forward to whoever we’re playing.”
Larraza won the game for Denver with a backhand goal at the 8:14 mark of the second overtime. Larraza caught a John Ryder (Colorado Springs, Colo.) rebound, moved the puck to his backhand and beat Reiter.
Ostrow gave Denver a 1-0 lead at 8:01 of the opening period when he picked up a loose puck at the Pioneers’ blueline, looked off teammate Scott Mayfield on a 2-on-1 and sniped Reiter stick-side. Nate Dewhurst knocked the puck off a Bulldog stick to start the play.
Zucker made it 2-0 with a breakaway goal at 3:26 of the middle frame. Nick Shore intercepted a UMD pass in the Denver zone and found Zucker open at the Bulldogs’ blueline.
Jackson cleaned up an Ostrow rebound to put the Pioneers up 3-0 at 6:02 of the second. Jarrod Mermis also assisted on the Denver goal.
Seidel added two second-period goals, including a power-play goal, at the 10:57 and 13:45 marks to cut Denver’s lead to 3-2.
Connolly tied the game at 12:48 of the final period when he picked up the puck in the high slot and beat Brittain glove-side.
Minnesota-Duluth outshot Denver 70-49 and went 1-for-4 on the power play. The Pioneers went 0-for-5 on the man-advantage.