Mariucci Miracle: More Views

     Here are a couple of other newspaper views of Friday’s 5-4 Minnesota Duluth overtime win against Princeton in the NCAA West Regional semifinal at Mariucci Arena. From the Minneapolis Star Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press:

Roman Augustoviz, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Houdini would have been proud of this escape.

Minnesota Duluth scored twice in the last 40 seconds of the third period, including the tying goal with .8 of a second remaining in regulation, and then got a power-play winner from Mike Connolly at 13:39 of overtime to beat Princeton 5-4 in the second of two first-round NCAA tournament games Friday at Mariucci Arena.

After Princeton forward Cam MacIntyre got called for tripping at 13:23 of overtime, a pass from the left side found Connolly all alone near the right post, and he had most of the net to shoot at.

"I got open off the back post and was able to put it into an empty net," Connolly said.

UMD (22-12-8) will play Miami (Ohio) tonight with a trip to the Frozen Four at stake. The RedHawks advanced with a 4-2 victory over top-seeded Denver earlier.

The Bulldogs went into the WCHA playoffs as the seventh seed, but now they have won six games in a row. This game was by far the toughest.

With a minute left in regulation, Minnesota Duluth skated 6-on-4, with Bulldogs goalie Alex Stalock on the bench and with Princeton defenseman Matt Godlewski in the penalty box for tripping. Freshman center Jack Connolly — no relation to Mike — buried a short shot from the right side to cut the Tigers’ lead to 4-3.

But it seemed immaterial as the seconds kept ticking down.

The Tigers (22-12-1) blocked two UMD shots — where’s the horn? — before sophomore defenseman Evan Oberg’s 20-foot shot from the left circle found the top shelf. Time left: 00.8 seconds.

The Bulldogs had a second life.

"I did not see much," Oberg said. "A couple of guys were laying down in front of me and I just tried to get it over them."

Oberg called the game the biggest in all the players’ lives. "It feels unbelievable to come back and win," he said.

"Our bench kept saying, ‘It’s not done, we can do it,’ " UMD coach Scott Sandelin said. "And we got it done."

Andrew Carroll gave Minnesota Duluth a 1-0 lead, scoring on a rebound at 8:17 of the first period. Princeton tied it at 14:56 on Brent Wilson’s power-play goal, also on a rebound. That was the first goal Stalock had given up since the third period of the Final Five play-in game on March 19, which UMD won 2-1 over the Gophers.

In the second period, Derrick Pallis’ goal from the left point at 1:42 gave Princeton a 2-1 lead, making it the first time the Bulldogs had trailed in six playoff games. Wilson made it 3-1 Princeton on a low shot at 8:10, but the Bulldogs answered only 29 seconds later when freshman defenseman Brady Lamb scored from the left point.

Midway through the third period, UMD got its fourth power-play chance of the game. But horror of horrors for the Bulldogs, Princeton’s Brandan Kushniruk picked up a loose puck near the blue line, skated around a defenseman and banged the puck past Stalock for a 4-2 lead. The shorthanded goal came at 9:21 and it seemed to be insurance — until UMD’s last-minute comeback.

Bruce Brothers, St. Paul Pioneer Press

Minnesota Duluth added an exclamation point to its magical ride through the men’s hockey playoffs Friday night.

The Bulldogs, who two weeks ago were given practically no chance to make anything more than a token appearance in postseason play, produced one of the most astonishing comebacks in college hockey history to erase a two-goal deficit in the final 40 seconds of the third period, then added the winner in overtime to stun Princeton 5-4.

The Mariucci Arena crowd of 7,187 roared, hardly able to believe what it had just witnessed in the second game of the NCAA West Regional.

Neither could the players.

"Unbelievable," Bulldogs forward Andrew Carroll said. "It’s the best game I’ve ever seen, ever played in."

Said Evan Oberg, who somehow managed to score the tying goal with just eight-tenths of a second remaining in the third period: "This is the biggest game in all of our lives."

The superlatives were deserved.

UMD, which finished seventh in the WCHA regular season before knocking off Colorado College, Minnesota, North Dakota and Denver to win the conference playoff title last weekend in St. Paul, fell behind by two goals midway through the third period and began to look dead in the water.

As the game headed toward the final minute of the third period, even though UMD coach Scott Sandelin already had pulled his goalie for an extra attacker, Princeton’s players must already have been thinking of the match against Miami (Ohio) for a berth in the NCAA Frozen Four.

The Bulldogs (22-12-8) simply went after the Tigers like… well, Bulldogs.

"We knew we had it in us to come back," said forward Mike Connolly, who scored the winner on a power play in overtime. "It just took us longer than we hoped."

After the two goals 39 seconds apart forced overtime, each team went hard. The near-misses were numerous, and the officials had seemingly put their whistles away. But when Cam MacIntyre tripped UMD’s Jack Connolly after 13:23 of the OT, a penalty was called.

Just 16 seconds later, Justin Fontaine’s backdoor pass found Mike Connolly at the right corner of the net, and Connolly banged the puck into the back of the net to end it.

"He just made a great pass," Connolly said.

The final goal sent the Tigers (22-12-1) home, while UMD earned a spot in the regional final at 8 tonight against Miami.

"Pretty tough right now," said the Tigers’ Brett Wilson, who scored two goals. "Obviously, it’s a pretty empty feeling right now."

The Bulldogs scored first on Carroll’s rebound goal at 8:17 of the first period, but the Tigers led 3-2 through two periods. They appeared to wrap it up when Brandon Kushniruk beat Bulldogs goalie Alex Stalock short-handed midway through the third period.

"Guys in our locker room, we didn’t stop believing," Andrew Carroll said.

Stalock headed for the bench with 1:51 left, and Princeton’s Matt Godlewski took a high-sticking penalty at 18:55.

That gave the Bulldogs had a six-on-four edge in skaters. But, about 25 seconds later, they still trailed by two.

That’s when Jack Connolly found the puck on his stick on the right side of the Tigers’ net and knocked in a tight-angle shot to pull the Bulldogs within a goal with 39.4 seconds remaining.

Sandelin didn’t even bother to send Stalock back into the nets for the faceoff at center ice, and when the officials whistled a stoppage and moved the ensuing faceoff outside the zone, the clock showed 12.1 seconds.

UMD won the draw, got a shot that Tigers goalie Zane Kalembe gloved, then pushed the puck behind the net with about four seconds remaining.

A pass out and a shot went into a tangle in front of the net before the puck bounced to Oberg in the left circle. He drilled it, and every eye in the building swung to the clock on the scoreboard.

It read:00.8 left, and the score was 4-4.

There was more to come.