Sioux Hold True To Reputation
by Scott Stone/CHN Reporter
MADISON, Wis. North Dakota had been in this situation before. Going into overtime in an NCAA tournament regional championship knotted at two for the second year in a row. Two different years, the same result.
The Midwest region's No. 1 seed, North Dakota overcame a 2-0 deficit going into the third period to tie the game at two, then tallied 1:47 into the overtime for a dramatic comeback win over No. 3-seeded Wisconsin 3-2 on Sunday night.
North Dakota punched its ticket to the Frozen Four for the fourth consecutive season and will move on to Denver to take on Boston College in the national semifinals on April 10.
"It was our goal to get back to this point," said North Dakota forward Ryan Duncan, who netted the game-tying goal. "It's an unbelievable experience tonight and we're definitely happy to be going back to the Frozen Four."
For the second night in a row, as well as numerous times throughout the season, senior goaltender Jean-Philippe Lamoureux came up large when his team was being outskated. North Dakota was out shot heavily again, just like against Princeton a night earlier, but Lamoureux stopped 41 of 43 shots.
"It's probably one of the most incredible wins I have ever been apart of," said Lamoureux, a Hobey Baker Award finalist. "I just wanted to make sure I left everything out on the ice. It could have been my last period of my college career and I didn't want have any regrets. I wanted just to control my focus and my effort and positioning and I felt if I did that, I would give the guys a chance."
Down 2-0 going into a third period is not a position many teams want to be. Up to this point in the game, it looked like Wisconsin was well in control. After a scoreless first period that saw a disallowed goal and the Badgers hit two posts, including one that convinced the goal judge to turn the goal light on, Wisconsin finally broke through with a Jamie McBain goal.
Then Wisconsin got a break on a goal credited to Cody Goloubef. On the power play, Goloubef blasted a slap shot from the blue line that whizzed by the net and pounded off the boards. Off the boards, the puck bounded back to the front of the net and hit Lamoureux on the back of the arm and to the back of the net to give Wisconsin a 2-0 lead with just 39 seconds left in the second.
"They got a lucky break on the second one. That goal could have been demoralizing for our team and a two goal lead going into the third to add on top of that one," said Lamoureux. "We had to regroup collectively and it's a position we have been in before."
The third period was all North Dakota and the senior captain got it going. At 3:33 of the third, Rylan Kaip got the Fighting Sioux back in it after a Matt Frattin shot hit him in front. With the puck at his feet, Kaip spun around and slid a shot that bled through Wisconsin goalie Shane Connelly's 5-hole and trickled into the net.
"He's our captain and our leader and he made an outstanding play and scored a greasy goal and it was a huge one," Duncan said of the Kaip goal. "We just needed to get that first one by Connelly because he had our number the rest of the night."
And just 47 seconds later, the stunned partisan crowd at the Kohl Center went into a silent stupor as Duncan notched the game-tying goal. The game went to 2-2 when Duncan and North Dakota received a bounce of their own when he rung a slapshot off the far left elbow of the net and past Connelly.
"T.J. (Oshie) made a great play and they had been doing a great job blocking the net all night," said Duncan. "I just tried to get the puck at the net and I don't know how it clanked off the post and ricocheted into the net. I was definitely surprised to see it go in."
In the overtime, Kozek sent the Fighting Sioux to their fourth straight Frozen Four. After a Robbie Bina shot that hit him in traffic bounced to his feet, Kozek took a swipe at the puck while being hit and beat a heavily-screened Connelly to the left of the goal, sending the North Dakota bench into celebration and a stream of red for the door.
"I kinda just saw the puck laying there at about the hash marks and I took a whack at it," said Kozek of the game winner. "I heard someone tell me that it skipped off the ice and I really wasn't trying to put it anywhere and I was just fortunate that it went in for us."
LAMOUREUX NAMED TOURNAMENT M.O.P
Jean-Philippe Lamoureux joined teammates Duncan, T.J. Oshie, and Chay Genoway on the tournament all-tournament and was named at the tournament's most outstanding player. Also on the all-tournament team were Wisconsin's Jamie McBain and Mike Davies.
BC ONE MORE TIME
For the third year in a row, North Dakota will take on Boston College for a chance to get to the national title game. The Eagles have ended North Dakota's season for the last two seasons in the national semifinals. The two teams played to a 0-0 two period tie back in October that was shortened due to the arena ice melting.
"The two programs know each other well," said North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol. "We seem to find a way to find each other at this time of year. We'll turn our focus to that as soon as we get back to Grand Forks, but it's gonna be a heck of a game."
MORE FREE STUFF
The NCAA loves to give great presents to participants in their championship tournaments. One of last year's mantras for North Dakota after making it to the Frozen Four was they wanted to get a lot of free stuff. For the third year in a row, more free stuff will be coming their way.
"It's unbelieveable and it never gets old," said Duncan of being back in the Frozen Four. "We're looking forward again to the free stuff. It definitely feels good to get free stuff whenever you can."