As one of the four seniors on the North Dakota roster, Drake Caggiula has seen much during his time in the program, including two heartbreaking losses in previous Frozen Fours.
But Caggiula received the perfect ending to a stellar four-year career as the forward's two goals in the third period helped the Fighting Hawks defeat Quinnipiac 5-1 in Tampa to win their first title since 2000 and eighth overall.
Caggiula forever cemented his name in the Grand Forks record books as he became the eighth UND player to win the Most Outstanding Player award, thanks to his four goals in the 2016 Frozen Four.
“It's a special feeling. It may be an individual award, but you don't win it by yourself. My teammates have been there. All four years,” Caggiula said on the honor. “It's not just this year. It's been four years. They've helped me grow as a person and as a player.”
Flashy goals have become a staple for Caggiula as he could have a highlight reel all his own from this postseason. But Brad Berry, who became the first to win a national championship as a rookie head coach, quickly pointed out how much the leadership of Caggiula and his unselfish behavior has resulted in a successful career for the forward.
"You heard him. The personal side, when you talk about maybe he should have shot for the hat trick goal or sign a pro contract here and there, it's not about that. It's about the team. He puts the team first.
"That's what makes him so successful. It just permeates through our group. If he does it, everybody else does it."
Caggiula produced one of his best years yet in his final season dressed in the North Dakota kelly green. Entering the national championship on Saturday night, Caggiula strung together a 12-game point streak that included scoring a goal in every NCAA tournament game for the Fighting Hawks.
His two goals in the third period brought his career total to 62 and were also Caggiula's 24th and 25th of the season as part of the popular “CBS” line. Along with teammates Brock Boeser and Nick Schmaltz, the CBS line finished with seven points against the Bobcats, four of which came from Boeser, to add to their six points on Thursday night. The UND trio also combined for a plus-17 rating in Tampa.
“Well not just him but Schmaltz (Nick Schmaltz), him, and I really mesh well together. Drake can make huge plays and Schmaltz can make huge plays," Boeser said in the locker room after the victory. "Drake is a tremendous player and he can do anything since he’s a hard worker. It was an honor playing with them.”
The effort put forth by Caggiula and his linemates was much needed with UND barely clutching to a 2-1 lead going into the third period. Much like they have done all season, Caggiula emphasized the importance of not taking the foot off the gas pedal, which resulted in finishing the year 27-0-2 when leading after two periods.
"Our line always says the third period has got to be the best period, whether we're up or down, we need to keep pushing and pushing," he said. "And our line always talks about our third period's our best period. And I think we take pride in that, and that's why you can see our third period results."
The one result Caggiula didn't get? The forward couldn't quite complete the hat trick despite a few chances, particularly one with less than six minutes to play.
“My linemates gave me some crap for that one. They said make sure you score for the hat trick. And I saw Boeser there, and I wanted to get him a goal. But I probably should have shot that one," he said. "But I don't think our team ever let up."