Canada 3, USA 2, OT

By ALAN ROBINSON, Associated Press writer

     VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — With the flick of Sidney Crosby’s wrist, Canada found Olympic  redemption.

From the pall of a luger’s death, from a series of embarrassing glitches, from a first half so disappointing that Canadian Olympic officials prematurely conceded the medals race, from the men’s hockey team losing to the upstart Americans in a preliminary game.

All that was forgotten Sunday.

Canada is the Olympic champion in men’s hockey, and the whole nation can finally celebrate its Winter Olympics.

The national honor is served.

Canada survived one of the greatest games in Olympic history to beat the Americans 3-2 in overtime and cap the host country’s record gold rush in the Vancouver Games.

Crosby — The Next One, hockey heir to Canada’s own Great One, Wayne Gretzky — won it when he whipped a shot past U.S. goalie Ryan Miller 7:40 into overtime after the U.S. had tied it with 24.4 seconds left in regulation.

Canada’s collection of all-stars held off a young, desperate U.S. team that had beaten it a week ago and, after staging a furious comeback from down 2-0 on goals by Jonathan Toews and Corey Perry, almost beat the Canadians again.

With Canada less than a minute away from celebrating the gold medal, Zach Parise — the son of a player who figured in Canada’s finest hockey moment — tied it with Miller off the ice for an extra attacker.

The moment he scored, the groans of disappointed fans likely were heard from Vancouver to the Maritimes. But Crosby, scoreless the previous two games, brought back the cheers with his second post-regulation game-winner of the tournament, a shot from the left circle that Miller was helpless to stop. He also beat Switzerland in a shootout during the round robin.

It was close. It was nerve-racking. It was a game worthy of an Olympic hockey final.

Before the game, Crosby received a brief text message from Penguins owner Mario Lemieux that said: “Good luck.”

Now, Crosby joins Lemieux — whose goal beat the Soviet Union in the 1987 World Cup — and Paul Henderson, who beat the Soviets with a goal in the 1972 Summit Series, among the instant national heroes of Canadian hockey. At age 22, Crosby has won the Stanley Cup and the Olympics in less than a year’s time.

Minutes after the game ended, delirious fans chanted, “Crosby! Crosby! Crosby!” International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge paused before giving the final medal to Crosby as the crowd got even louder. Then he gestured with his right hand, calling for more cheers for Crosby.

As “O Canada” played, the Canadian team stood shoulder to shoulder, arms over each others’ shoulders. The U.S. team stood dejected, staring at the ice, many with their hands on their hips.

“Our team worked so unbelievably hard,” Crosby said. “Today was really tough, especially when they got a goal late in regulation. But we came back and got it in overtime.”

To win, Canada withstood a remarkable and determined effort from a U.S. team that wasn’t supposed to medal in Vancouver, much less roll through the tournament unbeaten before losing in the first overtime gold-medal game since NHL players joined the Olympics in 1998.

“No one knew our names. People know our names now,” said Chris Drury, one of three holdovers from the 2002 U.S. team that also lost to Canada in the gold-medal game.

Miller, the tournament MVP, was exceptional, and Parise scored a goal that — if the U.S. had won — would rank among the storied moments in American Olympic history.

With less than a half minute remaining and Miller out of the net and off the ice for an extra attacker, Patrick Kane took a shot from the high slot that deflected off Jamie Langenbrunner to Parise, who shot it off Canadian goalie Roberto Luongo’s blocker and into the net.

Parise is the son of J.P. Parise, who scored two goals for that 1972 Canada Summit Series team.

Three minutes before Parise scored, Kane — who also set up Ryan Kesler’s goal in the second period — knocked the puck off Crosby’s stick on a breakaway that would have sealed it for Canada.

Luongo didn’t outplay Miller, but still proved he is a big-game goalie — something he has never been previously — by making 34 saves in his own NHL arena. Luongo went 5-0 in the tournament and 4-0 after replacing Martin Brodeur following America’s 5-3 win the previous Sunday.

OK, you can exhale now, Canada. The quivers of fear created by the loss to the U.S. and the shootout over Switzerland are gone, replaced by the good-as-gold feeling that was a necessity for Canada to truly proclaim these Olympics a success.

Canada won its eighth hockey gold medal and only its second since 1952 — it beat the U.S. 5-3 in Salt Lake City in 2002. For the United States, considered on a tier slightly below the Canadians, Russians and Swedes when the games began, it was an immense letdown, especially since it was the best team from nearly start to finish. Nearly.

“It stings right now,” said Miller, who made 33 saves after giving up only a goal per game in the first five games.

“It’s devastating. It was the biggest game any of us have played in,” U.S. defenseman Jack Johnson said.

Requiring the United States to beat favored Canada two times in eight days was a monumental task; under Olympic formats used until the 1990s, when there wasn’t a true gold-medal game, the earlier victory and the Americans’ unbeaten record would have been enough for gold. The U.S. has never won an Olympics outside the U.S., with its two golds coming in 1960 at Squaw Valley, Calif., and 1980 at Lake Placid, N.Y.


CAN 1 – 1 – 0 – 1 – 3
USA 0 – 1 – 1 – 0 – 2

First Period – Scoring: 1, CAN, Toews (Richards), 12:50. Penalties: USA, Ryan (tripping), 14:02.

Second Period – Scoring: 2, CAN, Perry (Getzlaf, Keith), 7:13; 3, USA, Kesler (Kane), 12:44. Penalties: USA, Malone (high-sticking), 2:33; CAN, Staal (interference), 4:41; CAN, Toews (tripping), 8:25.

Third Period – Scoring: 4, USA, Parise (Langenbrunner, Kane), 19:35. Penalties: None.

Overtime – Scoring: 5, CAN, Crosby (Iginla), 7:40. Penalties: None.

Shots by Period
CAN 10 15 7 7 39
USA 8 15 9 4 36
Goaltenders (SH/SV) 1 2 3 OT Total
CAN, Luongo, 67:40 8-8 15-14 9-8 4-4 36-34
USA, Miller, 66:38 10-9 15-14 7-7 7-6 39-36




Power Play: CAN 0-2; USA 0-2
Penalties: CAN 2-4; USA 2-4
Officials: Referees-Bill McCreary (CAN), Daniel O’Halloran (CAN); Linesmen-Stefan Fonselius (FIN), Jean Morin (CAN)
Attendance: 17,748


Sunday in the WCHA

      All hail the MacNaughton Cup champion. Denver gained its first WCHA regular-season title since 2005 in dramatic fashion Saturday night as Rhett Rakhshani scored with 13 seconds remaining in overtime to defeat Minnesota State-Mankato 4-3 at the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato. On the same night the last two of the home ice spots for the league playoffs were taken by Minnesota Duluth and North Dakota.

      UMD blanked Minnesota 3-0 for the only shutout victory in the league for the weekend, North Dakota finished a sweep 3-2 at Colorado College, Wisconsin finished a sweep 5-2 at Michigan Tech, and Alaska Fairbanks finished a home-and-home sweep of Alaska Anchorage 3-2 in Fairbanks. Anchorage is 10-20-2 entering a final home series this weekend with UMD.

       Saturday’s victory kept UMD in the hunt for a spot in the Division I tournament, leaving the Bulldogs No. 13 in the PairWise Rankings. Also WCHA teams in the computer, No. 1 Denver, No. 3 Wisconsin, No. 4 St. Cloud State (and Bemidji State) and No. 7 North Dakota.

      The WCHA standings are further below. The way it looks, UMD can finish anywhere from second to fifth place, and the final standings won’t be available until next Sunday afternoon because Minnesota and Wisconsin don’t finish their series until a 1:07 p.m. game that day (U.S. Sychronized Skating at Mariucci Arena next weekend, really).

      A look at Saturday’s games:

      In Mankato, Minn., the Mavericks scored twice in the last 5:46 of regulation on goals from Eriah Hayes and Tyler Pitlick to get into a tie, before Rakhshani’s 19th goal of the season won for Denver. The Pioneers got a 10th straight win helped by two power-play goals.

     "It just shows how close our league is," said Denver’s Joe Colborne told the Denver Post. "[Mankato] played hard all weekend, and if not for a few bounces and a huge save by [goalie Marc Cheverie] there, it could’ve been a whole different weekend."

     At the World Arena in Colorado Springs, the Fighting Sioux got goals from Chris VandeVelde, Matt Frattin and Danny Kristo to lead 3-1 after two periods, and finished off their fifth straight win. Colorado College has lost four straight.

     “I don’t know how to explain (the winning streak). It’s happened every year I’ve been here. We have a great group of guys in the locker room and it starts there,” North Dakota’s Brad Malone told the Grand Forks Herald. “Our leadership has been great. I don’t know how else to explain it other than hard work and doing it together.”

     In Houghton, Mich., while WCHA scoring leader Blake Geoffrion sat out with a concussion, Wisconsin outscored Michigan Tech 10-4 in the series and outshot Michigan Tech 113-54. Aaron Bendickson had two goals Saturday for the Badgers.

     "I think Wisconsin is the best team we’ve played," Michigan Tech coach Jamie Russell told the Wisconsin State Journal, who had been swept at first-place Denver a week earlier. "Their [defensive] corps is outstanding. They know how to win. They’ve got seven senior forwards. They’ve got depth. They’ve got skill. They work hard. They’re hard to play against. They transition well. They take care of their own end. They’re a good hockey team."

     In Fairbanks, Alaska, brothers Brandon and Dion Knelsen scored goals 1:28 apart early in the third period as Fairbanks finished off Alaska Anchorage. Anchorage is 0-5-1 the last six games and Fairbanks 6-0-2 the last eight.

      The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner also reports that: Anchorage coach Dave Shyiak collected an unsportsmanlike minor and a game misconduct at 8:06 of the third period for throwing a water bottle while arguing with the referees for not calling a penalty after Anchorage left winger Tommy Grant was hauled down in front of the crease during a shorthanded breakaway. Shyiak had also stepped out on the ice to further argue with referees Brian Hill and Stephen McInchak.

       UMD-Minnesota game stories from the Twin Cities press available at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune here and the St. Paul Pioneer Press here. 

WCHA Standings Courtesy of College Hockey

                             Conference Only            Overall
Pts GP Record Win% GF- GA GP Record Win% GF- GA
1 Denver 40 26 18- 4- 4 .769 84- 60 34 24- 6- 4 .765 112- 79 2 Wisconsin 35 26 16- 7- 3 .673 105- 68 33 21- 8- 4 .697 134- 84 3 St. Cloud State 33 26 15- 8- 3 .635 88- 78 34 20-10- 4 .647 112- 94 4 Minnesota Duluth 31 26 15-10- 1 .596 82- 71 34 19-14- 1 .574 108- 94 5 North Dakota 29 26 13-10- 3 .558 81- 58 34 18-11- 5 .603 107- 74 6 Colorado College 25 26 11-12- 3 .481 83- 77 34 17-14- 3 .544 111- 95 7 Minnesota 24 26 11-13- 2 .462 72- 72 34 16-16- 2 .500 93- 94 8 Alaska Anchorage 18 26 8-16- 2 .346 60- 98 32 10-20- 2 .344 78-122 9 Minnesota State 17 26 8-17- 1 .327 69- 88 34 14-18- 2 .441 95- 98 10 Michigan Tech 8 26 4-22- 0 .154 56-110 32 5-26- 1 .172 68-134

UPDATED: UMD 3, Minnesota 0

Minnesota Duluth was desperately seeking a victory Saturday night to close its regular-season home schedule.

The No. 12-ranked Bulldogs needed one win to clinch home ice for the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs, but were on a three-game losing streaking in facing seventh-place Minnesota at the DECC.

UMD turned things around with a 3-0 victory before a sellout crowd of 5,411. Justin Fontaine pushed his team-leading goal total to 21 with two goals and sophomore goalie Brady Hjelle had his best collegiate start with 22 saves for his first shutout. The Bulldogs (19-14-1 and 15-10-1 WCHA) will be at home for the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

“There was definitely some urgency. We were tired of putting in the effort and losing games,” said Fontaine. “We came back after a good game Friday [in a 3-2] loss, cleaned up a few things defensively, pressured the puck and got rewarded.”

The shutout over Minnesota was the first by UMD at the DECC since 1980 and was just the third over the Gophers in 212 games in the series. Hjelle, a sophomore from International Falls, gloved Jordan Schroeder with 6:04 left in a scoreless first period and Schroeder put a shot off the left pipe a minute later. Hjelle gloved Schroeder at 1:45 of the second period blunting Minnesota’s chances at any momentum.

Minnesota (16-16-2 and 11-13-2) has been shut out five times this season. UMD led 37-22 in shots goal and Hjelle had 22 saves in a second straight start. North Dakota also clinched home ice with a sweep at Colorado College, so league champion Denver, Wisconsin, St. Cloud State, UMD and North Dakota will all start at home March 12-14.

“That’s definitely the best I’ve played. I was seeing the puck all night except for a blind save on Schroeder,” said Hjelle. “We cleared rebounds, we blocked shots, we had a carry over from Friday, when we played well.”

Goals 86 seconds apart in the second period gave UMD its first lead in four games at 2-0. Fontaine put in a rebound of a Jack Connolly left-wing drive at the crease at 8:17. Defenseman Brady Lamb followed at 9:43 from the top of the right circle, putting the puck past goalie Alex Kangas.

Eary in the third period, Hjelle gloved Minnesota winger Jacob Cepis on a breakaway. By that time, UMD coach Scott Sandelin had reunited the Mike Connolly-Jack Connolly-Fontaine line and the Bulldogs were persistent throughout. Mike Connolly and Mike Montgomery each had two assists.

“We had four or five Grade A chances and couldn’t finish, and that’s the tale of the tape,” said Minnesota defenseman David Fischer. “We’ve been shut out five times and that can’t happen in 30-40 game season.”

Kangas had a second strong game with 34 saves. He was pulled for an extra attacker with 3:03 left and Fontaine hit the empty net thirty seconds later for his 40th goal and 100th point in 111 career games.

Minnesota’s three-game win streak was over. It’s possible the Gophers could be back at the DECC for the WCHA’s first round.

“We were solid defensively, we didn’t give them much, we played with a lot of energy,” said Sandelin. “It was a great effort.”

UMD finishes the regular season at eighth-place Alaska Anchorage this Friday and Saturday.


Minnesota Duluth………….0-2-1—3

    First period – No scoring. Penalties – Cade Fairchild, Minnesota (unsportsmanlike conduct), 1:26; Mike Carman, Minnesota (high-sticking), 9:45; Jordan Fulton, UMD (interference), 10:04; Zach Budish, Minnesota (holding), 17:29.

    Second period – 1. UMD, Justin Fontaine 20 (Jack Connolly, Mike Montgomery, 8:17; 2. UMD, Brady Lamb 9 (Travis Oleksuk, Mike Connolly), 9:43 (pp). Penalties – Jake Hansen, Minnesota (cross-checking), 8:29; Kyle Schmidt, UMD (holding), 14:32.

   Third period – 3. UMD, Fontaine 21 (Mike Connolly, Montgomery), 17:21 (en). Penalties – Chad Huttel, UMD (slashing), 8:27; David Grun, UMD (slashing), 18:01

   Shots on goal – Minnesota 5-8-9—22; UMD 14-12-11–37. Goalies – Alex Kangas (14-12-1), Minnesota (36 shots-33 saves); Brady Hjelle (9-6-1), UMD (20 shots-20 saves). Power plays – Minnesota 0-of-4; UMD 1-of-4. Referees – Scott Bokal, Brian Thull. Assistants – Jared Moen, Chris Olson. A – 5,411.            



Final: UMD 3, Minnesota 0

Minnesota Duluth was desperately seeking a victory Saturday night to close its regular-season home schedule.

The No. 12-ranked Bulldogs have needed one win the last two weekends to clinch home ice for the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs, but were 0-3 entering a meeting with seventh-place Minnesota at the DECC.

That left UMD fourth in the league and in a 2-7 tailspin, having scored nine goals total the past five games.

The Bulldogs turned things around with a 3-0 victory over Minnesota before a sellout crowd of 5,411. Justin Fontaine pushed his team-leading goal total to 21 with two goals and sophomore goalie Brady Hjelle has his best collegiate start with 22 saves for his first shutout.

Goals 86 seconds apart in the second period gave UMD its first lead in four games at 2-0. Fontaine put in a rebound of a Jack Connolly left-wing drive at the crease at 8:17. Defenseman Brady Lamb followed at 9:43 from the top of the right circle, putting the puck past goalie Alex Kangas.

Fontaine then scored into an empty net with 2:31 to play. UMD led in final shots 36-20. Minnesota had a three-game win streak broken.

Denver, St. Cloud State and Wisconsin had already earned playoff home ice, while four teams were in contention for the final two spots. A win would give the Bulldogs 33 points, eliminating Minnesota. Fifth-place North Dakota could still overtake UMD in that instance, yet Colorado College could only match UMD’s point total, and the Bulldogs would prevail in a head-to-head tiebreaker.

A scoreless first period showed UMD leading 14-5 in shots on goal. However, Minnesota had the two best chances as goalie Brady Hjelle gloved Jordan Schroeder with 6:04 left and Schroeder then hit the left pipe a minute later. The best Hjelle save of the first two periods came on a glove stop at 1:45 of the second.

UMD led 26-13 in shots on goal through 40 minutes.

Minnesota never trailed in beating UMD 3-2 Friday, although the Gophers needed two third period goals to break a three-game losing streak against the Bulldogs. The oddest part of the game came midway through the third period as UMD changed lines and turned over the puck just as Minnesota’s Cade Fairchild came out of the penalty box.

Fairchild headed toward the UMD net on a breakaway and UMD defenseman Chad Huttel jumped on the ice to defend, but ran into referee Scott Bokal at the left circle. Both fell to the ice. That left the slot open and gave Fairchild a couple of extra seconds to line up the shot, and he scored past goalie Brady Hjelle for a 2-1 lead.

While an open-ice player-official collision is rare, WCHA supervisor of officials Greg Shepherd said Saturday his referee was not out of position.

“Scott had been at neutral ice and when [Fairchild] started his rush, Scott backed into the zone to get to the net in case of a goal,” said Shepherd, who was at the DECC on Friday. “He was backing up, getting to the net, and never saw the Duluth defenseman. Both got caught in a bad place.

“It’s a play I’d never seen before, to that extent, and was an unfortunate accident. No one feels worse about the situation than Scott Bokal.”

Shepherd said there’s no rule that allows stopping the game, or negating a play, in case of a player-official collision. A play would be negated only if a puck went into the net off the skate or body of an on-ice official, said Shepherd.

Shepherd said he explained the situation to UMD coach Scott Sandelin after the game.

Top-ranked Denver had a chance to clinch the MacNaughton Cup with a win Saturday at Minnesota State-Mankato.

UMD’s longest losing streak of the season was three entering Saturday’s game

UMD finishes the regular season this Friday and Saturday at eighth-place Alaska Anchorage.

It was Senior Night on Saturday, honoring defensemen Chase Ryan and Trent Palm, and forwards Jordan Fulton and Drew Akins.



Minnesota Duluth………0-2-1—3

    First period – No scoring. Penalties – Cade Fairchild, Minnesota (unsportsmanlike conduct), 1:26; Mike Carman, Minnesota (high-sticking), 9:45; Jordan Fulton, UMD (interference), 10:04; Zach Budish, Minnesota (holding), 17:29.

    Second period – 1. UMD, Justin Fontaine 20 (Jack Connolly, Mike Montgomery, 8:17; 2. UMD, Brady Lamb 9 (Travis Oleksuk, Mike Connolly), 9:43 (pp). Penalties – Jake Hansen, Minnesota (cross-checking), 8:29; Kyle Schmidt, UMD (holding), 14:32.

   Third period – 3. UMD, Fontaine 21 (Mike Connolly, Montgomery), 17:21 (en). Penalties – Chad Huttel, UMD (slashing), 8:27; David Grun, UMD (slashing), 18:01

   Shots on goal – Minnesota 5-8-7—20; UMD 14-12-10–36. Goalies – Alex Kangas (14-12-1), Minnesota (36 shots-33 saves); Brady Hjelle (9-6-1), UMD (20 shots-20 saves). Power plays – Minnesota 0-of-4; UMD 1-of-3. Referees – Scott Bokal, Brian Thull. Assistants – Jared Moen, Chris Olson. A – 5,411.




UPDATED: Decowski to UMD

    Andover star forward Cal Decowski has made a commitment to Minnesota Duluth. Decowski, 5-foot-7 and 160 pounds, is a 2010 Minnesota Mr. Hockey finalist and had 25 goals and 54 assists for 79 points this season. However, Andover’s season ended Saturday in a Section 7AA semifinal 4-0 loss to Duluth East at the DECC.

     From Andover coach Bill Thoreson, a former Wisconsin-Superior captain, on his senior first-line forward:

     “He’s the best player that’s ever played for Andover. He’s been a great leader on and off the ice, in-season and out of season, and been a great example for the youth in the community to follow. He’s been a true champion as a person and player ever since I’ve known him. He’ll be great for the Bulldogs. He’s not going to bring size, but he’ll bring a huge heart and passion for the game.”

      A Decowski profile at sports reads, in part:

     A three-year varsity player who was his team’s second-leading goal scorer (13 goals) and its top point producer (33 points) last season, Decowski is, by all accounts, a tireless worker and fierce competitor.

      All of these things shed some light on Decowski, although it’s difficult to understand how an undersized player who only recently has been courted by Division I colleges, made such a meteoric leap in one season to one of the state’s leading scorers.
      Decowski can’t explain it either.

      "I don’t really know what it is," he said. "I’ve been doing the same things I’ve always done. The pieces have just kind of fallen together this year.

      "I think it’s just kind of everything. I just kept working hard, kept pushing through and kept gaining experience. It just all kind of came together."


Saturday in the WCHA

       Top-ranked Denver can smell the finish line and is within two points of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season MacNaughton Cup championship. On a Friday night when all road teams won in the league, the Pioneers claimed a ninth straight victory, 3-1 at Minnesota State-Mankato, and can clinch the league with a Saturday victory. Wisconsin and idle St. Cloud State are locked in a battle for second and third place, while there is still much to be decided in the race for the remaining two home-ice positions. The standings are below.

     Wisconsin won 5-2 at Michigan Tech, surging North Dakota won 3-2 in overtime at Colorado College, Minnesota won 3-2 at Minnesota Duluth, and out of conference, Alaska Fairbanks won 7-4 at Alaska Anchorage.

      UMD remains fourth in the WCHA, but now is just two points ahead of North Dakota, four points ahead of Colorado College and five ahead of Minnesota. The Bulldogs took a big hit in the PairWise Rankings computer, dropping four spots to a tie at No. 16, so are on the outside looking in regarding the NCAA tournament as of today.

     Here’s a look at Friday:

     At the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato, Tyler Ruegsegger, Joe Colborne and Matt Donovan scored goals for Denver, and goalie Marc Cheverie put his record at 20-3-3. Nine straight wins is Denver’s best streak since 2005.

     “I thought that Mankato had us on our heels,” Denver coach George Gwozdecky told the Mankato Free Press. “They created some chances down low and we got mixed up in our coverages. (Cheverie) made some great saves. We were a tad more opportunistic than they were.”

      In Houghton, Mich., after one period Michigan Tech led 2-1. Wisconsin went on to outshoot the Huskies by a season-high 63-22 and had third-period goals from Jordy Murray, Brendan Smith (15) and Andy Bombach. Brett Olson (18) had a Michigan Tech goal and and goalie Kevin Genoe made 58 saves.

     “To some degree, everybody stepped up tonight,” Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves told the Wisconsin State Journal. “Not having Blake [Geoffrion, team scoring leader out with a concussion] was a factor, but I think, as we hoped, a lot of guys stepped up and covered some ground for him.”

     At Colorado Springs, Colo., late heroics gave North Dakota a fourth straight win. Brad Malone scored with 1:42 left in the third period and Matt Frattin scored 2:09 into overtime. The Sioux outshot Colorado College 42-28.

     “I think that at the start of the year, we were on the other end of these games,” Malone told the Grand Forks Herald. “We kept staying positive. We knew the hockey gods would turn our way and the bounces would start to come. We kept working hard, kept working hard and never questioned anything.

     “Now, the bounces are starting to come our way and it’s happening at the right time, so we’re pretty excited.”

     At Sullivan Arena in Anchorage (where UMD finishes the regular season), the Seawolves led 2-0 in the game’s first 10 minutes, then fell apart. Fairbanks scored on seven of 19 shots on goal. Kevin Clark (19) had two goals for Anchorage.

     "Just two things to say," Anchorage coach Dave Shyiak quickly told the Anchorage Daily News as the Seawolves left the arena and headed to the airport for a flight to Fairbanks. "Lots of guys didn’t play well tonight. They were the better team.’

        Game stories on Minnesota’s victory at the DECC are from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune here.

        And the St. Paul Pioneer Press here and read what supervisor of officials Greg Shepherd has to say.

WCHA Standings Courtesy of College Hockey

                          Conference Only                    Overall
Pts GP Record Win% GF- GA GP Record Win% GF- GA
1 Denver 38 25 17- 4- 4 .760 80- 57 33 23- 6- 4 .758 108- 76 2 Wisconsin 33 25 15- 7- 3 .660 100- 66 32 20- 8- 4 .688 129- 82 St. Cloud State 33 26 15- 8- 3 .635 88- 78 34 20-10- 4 .647 112- 94 4 Minnesota Duluth 29 25 14-10- 1 .580 79- 71 33 18-14- 1 .561 105- 94 5 North Dakota 27 25 12-10- 3 .540 78- 56 33 17-11- 5 .591 104- 72 6 Colorado College 25 25 11-11- 3 .500 81- 74 33 17-13- 3 .561 109- 92 7 Minnesota 24 25 11-12- 2 .480 72- 69 33 16-15- 2 .515 93- 91 8 Alaska Anchorage 18 26 8-16- 2 .346 60- 98 31 10-19- 2 .355 76-119 9 Minnesota State 17 25 8-16- 1 .340 66- 84 33 14-17- 2 .455 92- 94 10 Michigan Tech 8 25 4-21- 0 .160 54-105 31 5-25- 1 .177 66-129

Updated: Minnesota 3, UMD 2


The Minnesota Gophers characterized two one-goal home losses to Minnesota Duluth in November as the most agonizing of the season. Those defeats helped keep Minnesota on an early-season downward spiral.

Minnesota is making comeback heading into March. The Gophers never trailed in beating No. 12-ranked UMD 3-2 Friday night in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association men’s series opener before a sellout crowd of 5,385 at the DECC.

Minnesota (16-15-2 and 11-12-2 WCHA) has won three straight games, while UMD (18-14-1 and 14-10-1) has lost three straight and is 2-7 the last nine.

While UMD had a couple of goals off Minnesota skates in the earlier sweep, Minnesota’s winning goal, credited to winger Jacob Cepis, appeared to go off the skate of UMD defenseman Drew Olson with 5:01 to play in a mad scramble in front.

“We had a lot of those bounces go against us earlier and it’s nice to know our hard work is giving us some bounces now,” said Minnesota defenseman Cade Fairchild, a junior from Duluth.

Fairchild was part of the craziest sequence of events of the night. He came out of the penalty box as UMD turned the puck over on an ill-advised line change. As Fairchild zoomed down the slot, UMD defenseman Chad Huttel prepared to defend, but collided with referee Scott Bokal. Fairchild saw he had a couple of extra seconds and converted his breakaway with 10:47 to play.

UMD’s Travis Oleksuk responded 82 seconds later on a power-play rebound from the crease to make it 2-2.

“We played a good, basic 60-minute game. We killed a five-minute penalty, we scored on two power plays. We deserved better than we got,” said Oleksuk, who had the overtime-winning goal at Minnesota on Nov. 20.

Minnesota had the only goal of the first period as center Nick Larson put on a burst of speed down the slot, got a Jake Hansen past, and put a shot high past goalie Brady Hjelle.

When defenseman Brady Lamb was called for a boarding major penalty midway through the second period, the Bulldogs were able to defuse Minnesota. And althought Oleuksuk missed a wide-open net with 1:40 left in the period on a power play, winger David Grun connected  on the same power play with 3.7 seconds to go. He stuck in a rebound at the left edge.

“I’m not disappointed at all in our effort,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. “But when a referee runs into one of our players, that typifies how things have been going lately. We made two mistakes and the official gets in the way. I’d like to see us hit the net a little more, but really I liked everything but the result.”

Sandelin changed his four forward lines after two losses at North Dakota a week earlier. The Bulldogs had mustered just seven goals total the previous four games in going 1-3.

In the final period, UMD outshot Minnesota 14-4 and 34-24 for the game. Hjelle was pulled with 1:06 to play but there was no equalizer. Minnesota goalie Alex Kangas was solid with 32 stops.

“Earlier we found a way not to win, and those two losses [to UMD] stuck in our craw as much as any,” said Minnesota coach Don Lucia. “We just have to keep digging, and persevering and give ourselves a chance to win.”

The loss kept UMD in fourth place in the league, while Minnesota, in seventh, drew within one point of sixth place, and five behind the Bulldogs with three regular-season games to play. 


Minnesota Duluth………….0-1-1—2

    First period – 1. Minnesota, Nick Larson 3 (Jake Hansen), 12:59. Penalties – Jacob Cepis, Minnesota (interference), 8:00; Jordan Fulton, UMD (interference), 18:50

    Second period – 2. UMD, David Grun 4 (Fulton, Rob Bordson), 19:56 (pp). Penalties – Fulton, UMD (roughing), 3:27; David Fischer, Minnesota (slashing), 6:21; Brady Lamb, UMD (5-minute boarding major), 11:11; Mike Carman, Minnesota (interference), 17:57.

   Third period – 3. Minnesota, Cade Fairchild 4 (Jordan Schroeder), 9:13; 4. UMD, Travis Oleksuk 8 (Lamb, Mike Connolly), 9:25 (pp); 5. Minnesota, Jacob Cepis 6 (Nick Leddy. Hansen), 14:59. Penalties – Oleksuk, UMD (hooking), 4:09; Fairchild, Minnesota (roughing), 7:05; Mike Carman, Minnesota (hooking), 10:21. 

Shots on goal – Minnesota 10-10-4–24, UMD 11-9-14–34. Goalies – Alex Kangas (14-11-1), Minnesota (34 shots-32 saves); Brady Hjelle (8-6-1), UMD (24 shots-21 saves). Power plays – Minnesota 0-of-4; UMD 2-of-5. Referees – Scott Bokal, Brian Thull. Assistants – Jared Moen, Chris Olson. A – 5,385.



Final: Minnesota 3, UMD 2

After three straight one-goal losses to Minnesota Duluth, the Minnesota Gophers continued a late-season surge with a 3-2 victory to open a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series before a sold out crowd of 5,385.

No. 12-ranked UMD (18-14-1 and 14-10-1 WCHA) is 2-7 the past nine games and has lost three straight. Minnesota (16-15-2 and 10-13-2) has won three straight games.

Winger Jacob Cepis got the game winner with 5:01 to play in a scramble at the left edge of the UMD crease. UMD never led but rallied to tie at 1-1 and 2-2, scoring twice on power plays.

Center Nick Larson put on a burst of speed down the slot, got a Jake Hansen past, and put a shot high past Brady Hjelle with 7:01 left in the first period. Alex Kangas was busy with 11 saves, many around the crease, including stopping Jack Connolly in close.

   UMD coach Scott Sandelin changed his four forward lines after two losses at North Dakota a week earlier. The Bulldogs had mustered just seven goals total the previous four games in going 1-3., and were 2-6 the last eight.

 Minnesota’s Jacob Cepis thought he’d scored at 8:00, but although the puck went into the net, he also crashed in Hjelle and was given a minor for interference.

Midway through the second period, UMD had to kill a five-minute Brady Lamb boarding penalty. Getting out of that still trailing by only a goal gave the Bulldogs a lift. Winger Travis Oleksuk missed a wide-open net on a power play with 1:40 left, but winger David Grun converted with a mere 3.7 seconds left in the period. There was one second left on a UMD man advanatage, which came after Minnesota Mike Carman barreled into goalie Brady Hjelle.

     Duluthian Cade Fairchild, a Minnesota defenseman, came out of the penalty box to score on a breakaway with 10:47 left in the third for a 2-1 lead. On the play, referee Scott Bokal collided with UMD defenseman Chad Huttel which didn’t help UMD’s cause.

     Travis Oleksuk countered 12 seconds later, putting in a rebound for a 2-2 tie in front of goalie Alex Kangas. But Minnesota’s Cepis was credited with the game winner with 5:01 left following a hustling play at the left edge of the crease. The puck likely went in off a UMD defenseman.

 UMD led in shots on goal 34-24.

USA 6, Finland 1

By Bob Condotta,  The Seattle Times

VANCOUVER, British Columbia. — The United States did its part to set up a potential rematch with Canada for the gold medal Friday afternoon.

And it did so with shocking suddenness and ease.

An American team expecting a tough semifinal matchup with Finland instead got its biggest breather of the Winter Olympic men’s hockey tournament, scoring six goals in a span of 10:42 of the first period and then coasting to a 6-1 victory at Canada Hockey Place.

The U.S. now awaits the winner of the Canada-Slovakia game Friday night for Sunday’s 3:15 p.m. gold-medal game. Canadian fans here have been hoping for a rematch since the Americans beat the host country 5-3 Sunday.

It will be the first time the U.S. has played for the gold medal since 2002, when it lost to Canada 5-2 in Salt Lake City.

Before that, the last time the U.S. had played for the gold was the 1980 Miracle on Ice team that won it all.

The United States has not trailed in the tournament and has outscored its five foes 22-6.

Finland didn’t score until just 5:14 remained and after the U.S. had replaced starting goalie Ryan Miller with Tim Thomas.

The Americans used their speed to set up scoring chances early, and made them pay off with some help from some shoddy Finnish goaltending.

Ryan Malone of the Tampa Bay Lightning got it rolling, scoring just 2:04 into the game into an unattended net after Finnish goalie Miikka Kiprusoff left the crease to try to clear a puck.

Instead, it went right to Malone, who nailed a slap shot to start the rout. It was a bad day for Kiprusoff, who allowed three more goals in a span of less than four minutes midway through the period before apparently pulling himself out of the game.

Kiprusoff plays for the Calgary Flames and is sixth in the NHL in save percentage. He entered this game first in the tournament, having allowed just four goals on 75 shots.

But he gave up four goals in seven shots against the United States before departing.

The second and third U.S. goals each came on power plays, giving the United States a 3-0 lead just 8:36 in.

Goal No. 4 came at the 10:08 mark, unassisted by Patrick Kane. Kiprusoff then left the ice, replaced by Niklas Backstrom.

Kane also scored the fifth goal for the U.S. with 12:31 gone. Kane, who has 25 goals for Chicago this season but had just one in the tournament before busting out for two against Finland.

The Americans then scored again 15 seconds later, this one from Paul Stastny.

The United States didn’t score again, playing passive the last two periods and the teams ended tied in shots for the game at 25, though the U.S. led 13-4 in the first.

Finland plays for the bronze medal Saturday against the Canada-Slovakia loser.


Scoring By Period

FIN 0 – 0 – 1 – 1
USA 6 – 0 – 0 – 6


First Period – Scoring: 1, USA, Malone (unassisted), 2:04; 2, USA, Parise (Stastny, Rafalski), 6:22 (pp); 3, USA, E. Johnson (Pavelski, Malone), 8:36 (pp); 4, USA, Kane (unassisted), 10:08; 5, USA, Kane (Rafalski), 12:31; 6, USA, Stastny (Langenbrunner, Parise), 12:46. Penalties: FIN, Niskala (interference), 5:59; FIN, Lydman (boarding), 7:02; USA, Rafalski (kneeing), 19:48.

Second Period – Scoring: None. Penalties: FIN, J. Ruutu (roughing), 7:52; FIN, J. Ruutu (misconduct), 7:52.

Third Period – Scoring: 7, FIN, Miettinen (Lepisto), 14:46 (pp). Penalties: FIN, Backstrom (interference), 0:22; USA, Malone (high-sticking), 2:43; FIN, Lepisto (high-sticking), 8:29; USA, E. Johnson (interference), 13:37.

Shots by Period
FIN 4 7 14 25
USA 13 9 3 25
Goaltenders (SH/SV) 1 2 3 Total
FIN, Kiprusoff, 10:08 7-3 x-x x-x 7-3
FIN, Backstrom, 49:52 6-4 9-9 3-3 18-16
USA, Miller, 48:29 4-4 7-7 7-7 18-18
USA, Thomas, 11:31 x-x x-x 7-6 7-6





Power Play:FIN 1-3; USA 2-5
Penalties: FIN 6-20; USA 3-6
Officials: Referees-Daniel O’Halloran (CAN), Marcus Vinnerborg (SWE); Linesmen-Petr Blumel (CZE), Shane Heyer (USA)

Gold Retro Jerseys for Sale

      Minnesota Duluth will wear its gold, retro jerseys a final time this weekend at home against Minnesota and then hand them off to the highest bidder, according to team equipment manager Chris Garner.

      The jerseys, worn in one series last season, and once so far this season (against Wisconsin) received critically high-grades from fans and will be available for bids Friday and Saturday at the DECC. Proceeds will go to the UMD hockey program.

     Further down is a St. Paul Pioneer Press story on Minnesota’s mood heading to Duluth this week as the regular season nears an end.

Here’s the scoop on the jersey auction:

-Silent Auction format at sites in the DECC concourse.
-UMD will except cash, check and credit card.
-The auction starts when the gates open Friday and ends as the puck drops to start the third period Saturday-The bidding for each jersey starts at $150.
– Individual winners will be determined and announced during Saturday’s third period and will receive a tag with a player’s name and number.
-At the end of Saturday’s game, will take their jersey tag next door to Paulucci Hall to redeem the jersey from UMD’s players
-Jerseys from all 26 current players on the 2009-10 roster are available along with four players from 2008-09, Evan Oberg No. 4, Matt Greer No. 16, Josh Meyers No. 17, and Andrew Carroll No. 20. And players will be available to sign jerseys

Brian Murphy, St. Paul Pioneer Press

Staking a 36-game season on the fate of one series seems incredibly shortsighted, unless one considers what looms for the Minnesota Gophers this weekend in Duluth.

Despite lurching between the win and loss column for four-plus months, the Gophers still can finish this maddening season with a winning record.

They remain in contention for home-ice advantage in the first round of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs, although they need teams they are chasing to stumble.

And revenge is there for the taking if the Gophers can turn the tables on No. 12 Minnesota Duluth, which has made life miserable for its downstate rivals.

The Bulldogs (18-13-1, 14-9-1 WCHA) swept the November series at Mariucci Arena and have won three straight, eliminating Minnesota in the first round of last year’s WCHA Final Five.

This season’s defeats were especially painful for the Gophers. They blew a pair of 2-0 leads, losing the first game in the waning seconds of overtime and the rematch after a puck ricocheted off a defender’s skate in the final two minutes.

Drama is typical in this tight series. Eleven of the past 12 games have been decided by one goal.

Asked this week whether the Gophers owe the Bulldogs, center Jordan Schroeder perked up.

"Yeah, definitely," he said. "They’ve won the past three. I know we were up 2-0 in our building both games and they came back to beat us, so we’re definitely looking to get some revenge."

Conventional wisdom says the Gophers (15-15-2, 10-12-2) are catching up with Minnesota Duluth at a convenient time.

 They swept Colorado College last week, dominating the Tigers at both ends in Minnesota’s most complete performance of 2009-10. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs are clinging to fourth place in the conference, having lost six of their past eight after North Dakota swept them last week in Grand Forks.

During its recent skid, Minnesota Duluth is averaging just 2.25 goals per game — one goal less than its prolific offense has averaged this season.

"You’re so consumed in worrying about yourself, you’re not worried about the other team," said Gophers coach Don Lucia. "You can play well and lose in this league. They’re a good team."

Comprehending postseason scenarios for the seventh-place Gophers is like staring at a Picasso with 3-D glasses. Numerous possibilities exist.

Minnesota is three points behind Colorado College and North Dakota, who face each other in Colorado Springs.

A weekend sweep would leave the Gophers three points behind the Bulldogs and achingly close to a top-five finish and a playoff series at Mariucci Arena depending on who survives the clash between the Tigers and Fighting Sioux.

The Gophers, who play host to No. 3 Wisconsin next week to finish the regular season, might peer into the matrix but they steadfastly refused to play the what-if game publicly.

"We’ve got to win on Friday and go from there," Lucia said. "We’re not going to get caught up in we have to do X, Y and Z over the last four games. I think over the next two weeks … you want to play well.

"Whether home or away, if you’re playing well (entering the playoffs), it’s not going to make that much of a difference. It’s how you’re playing."

It would be hard to top last week’s showing, which included Alex Kangas’ first shutout of the season.

The Gophers outscored Colorado College 10-4, outshot the Tigers 77-52 and had 10 players score goals, including four defensemen, while 14 registered points.

"I think some guys are more confident," said Schroeder, who leads the team with 26 points. "Everyone was moving their feet, scoring goals. Kangas was playing well. That’s what you need to win."

Matson update: Lucia said sophomore winger Taylor Matson, sidelined since early January ankle surgery, has resumed skating ahead of schedule and might rejoin the team at practice next week.

Ideally, Lucia said, Matson would test his ankle during one of the final two games against the Badgers and be available for the postseason.