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Evan Marinofsky | NCAA.com | March 26, 2022

5 memorable storylines from first round of 2022 DI men's college hockey regionals

The best goals from first round action in 2022 DI men's ice hockey tournament

The first round of the 2022 DI men's college hockey regionals didn't disappoint. Two-straight days of hockey from 12 p.m. ET through 9 p.m. ET provided some incredible moments. The fun part is that it was never boring. 

The really fun part is all the memorable moments and storylines to follow through the regional finals and into the Frozen Four. 

THE BRACKET: Click here to view the full 2022 bracket

Before the regional finals get underway on Saturday, let's take a look back at the five most memorable storylines from the first round. 

1. No. 4 seeds put No. 1 seeds on the ropes

There were no big No. 4-over-No. 1 upsets. That doesn’t mean some weren’t close. 

And in this year’s case, three of the four were one-goal, down-to-the-wire games. Even in No. 1 Michigan’s 5-3 win over No. 4 AIC, the Yellow Jackets threw all it had at the Wolverines in the third period to make things close. 

Let’s start with No. 1 Western Michigan and No. 4 Northeastern. I thought this was going to be the upset of the first round because of the play of Northeastern netminder Devon Levi and I was oh-so-close to being right — Levi was terrific, stopping 34 of the 36 shots he faced. 

Cole Gallant scored in the first period to put Western Michigan ahead 1-0. After battling all game, the Huskies finally broke through when Aidan McDonough squeaked one past WMU goalie Brandon Bussi to tie the game, 1-1. Luke Grainger won it in OT for the Broncos, but even with the game-winner, Levi was inches away from making an incredible stop. 

SCOREBOARD: Keep up with the action

In the game between No. 1 Minnesota State and No. 4 Harvard, the Mavericks opened with three-straight goals to make it 3-0. But the Crimson fought back with two of their own to make it 3-2. Even after Minnesota State made it 4-2 off a goal from Ondrej Pavel, Casey Dornbach brought Harvard to within a goal late in the third period. 

No. 4 UMass Lowell shared in Harvard’s ability to come back. With Denver up 2-1 midway through the final frame, Connor Sodergren tied it for UMass Lowell with a little over five minutes to play. It took a goal out of mid-air from Cameron Wright to get Denver the 3-2 win. 

2. Chaos at the end of North Dakota vs. Notre Dame

Adam Karashik looked like he had just scored one of the greatest goals in Notre Dame hockey history.

With 10 seconds left in a 1-1 game and while killing a penalty, the Fighting Irish pushed play towards the North Dakota end. The puck bounced around the net front and as time expired, Karashik swooped in and slapped the puck over North Dakota goalie Zach Driscoll. 

It was called a goal on the ice. It also looked to have crossed the line, according to ESPN’s timer on their scoreboard. After a lengthy review, the league disagreed and called it no goal. 

Notre Dame defeats North Dakota in OT thriller

Overtime was to be played. 

Notre Dame wasted no time in notching the win. Less than two minutes into the extra frame, Graham Slaggert stepped off the half-wall and sniped one over Driscoll to give the Fighting Irish a 2-1 win. 

The last 10 seconds of regulation plus the small chunk of overtime played proved that tournament hockey doesn’t need much time to create chaos. 

3. Lots of overtime heroics 

It wouldn’t be playoff hockey without overtime. Out of the eight games in the first round, three needed overtime. Three other games — Denver-UMass Lowell, Minnesota State-Harvard, Quinnipiac-St. Cloud State — were extremely close to needing overtime. 

The first overtime game was Notre Dame and North Dakota, which we already touched upon earlier. 

College hockey fans at the Worcester, Massachusetts regional were treated to a ton of extra hockey. First, Western Michigan and Northeastern needed an extra frame. The winner from Luke Grainger was a really tough one for Levi to give up after he gave the puck away behind the net. 

Watch: Western Michigan defeats Northeastern with OT wraparound goal

Still, what an incredible almost-save from Levi. And then to make the next one with his back turned? Insanity. 

In the second Allentown game, which was between Minnesota and UMass, Ben Meyers played the part of being the hero when he snuck into prime ice in front of the UMass net and scored, sending the Golden Gophers to the regional final. 

But the most impressive thing from Minnesota on Friday night wasn’t the overtime goal — it was how the Gophers got there. 

4. Minnesota showed amazing resilience in win over UMass  

Minnesota entered Friday night’s game as the No. 2 seed in the Worcester regional. That was about the only advantage it held over UMass. 

Because the regional was roughly 50 miles from Amherst, the UMass faithful showed up in droves, making it a home atmosphere for the Minutemen. Along with that, UMass won the national championship last season. The Minutemen are an experienced group. 

UMass channeled that energy into two goals less than a minute apart in the second half of the first period. The Minutemen looked to be running away with it. 

Minnesota mounts the comeback to secure first round OT victory

But the Gophers kept clawing back. First it was Ryan Johnson in the final two minutes of the first to bring Minnesota to within a goal. Then, down 3-1 late in the second, Tristan Broz tipped one past UMass goalie Matt Murray. 

Matthew Knies, whose impact was felt all over the ice Friday night, tied the game on a snipe with 6:43 to play in the game. 

That led to Meyers’ winning the game in overtime a little bit later. 

Minnesota was college hockey’s hottest team in the second half, but the tournament is a whole different animal. The Golden Gophers proved they belong on Friday night. They’re going to be a handful for Western Michigan in the regional final

5. Ryan Fanti was spectacular

Brian Halonen, Michigan Tech’s most impactful offensive player, was ejected less than five minutes into Thursday’s first-round matchup between Michigan Tech and Minnesota Duluth. 

Even without Halonen, Michigan Tech found ways to generate offense. The Huskies finished with 28 shots and spent the majority of the second half of the third period pinning Minnesota Duluth in its own end. 

The reason Michigan Tech never found the back of the net: Ryan Fanti. 

LIVE UPDATES: Follow the entire tournament from start to finish

Minnesota Duluth’s wonder boy in net stopped all 28 shots he faced and increased his shutout streak to three-straight games. That’s now 83 straight saves for Fanti over wins against Denver, Western Michigan and Michigan Tech. 

Time after time on Thursday, Fanti came up huge for the Bulldogs. If Minnesota Duluth is to go on yet another run, it’ll need Fanti at this level. 

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