Justin Holl's Buzzer-Beater Sends Minnesota To National Title Game
by Mike McMahon/Staff Writer
PHILADELPHIA You’ll remember where you were when they played this game.
Minnesota senior defenseman Justin Holl scored his first goal of the season with 0.6 seconds left – it was a shorthanded goal – to lift the Gophers past rival North Dakota, 2-1, on Thursday night.
"I was just focused on getting a shot on goal," Holl said. "We were focused on killing the penalty. I figured I might as well jump in (the play) and (the puck) went in."
Minnesota will play Union in the national title game on Saturday night.
As time was about to expire, Kyle Rau entered the zone and tried to force the puck to the net. After a North Dakota defenseman blocked the shot with his leg, Holl kicked the puck to his own stick and fired a shot from the left circle that found its way around Zane Gothberg’s left pad, sending the Minnesota bench into a frenzy, emptying onto the ice to mob its new hero.
The play started in the Minnesota defensive zone with about nine seconds remaining.
"I was just hoping to get the nine seconds off without a shot on goal, just get us to OT," Minnesota goalie Adam Wilcox said. "I saw Hollsy shoot the puck, it went in, but I saw 0.0 and I did a half celebration and half, 'what's going on?' with my arms in the air."
After a short review, the goal stood.
"The last bounce of the puck went to them," North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol said.
He continued, "It's painful to have it end that way. ... There is a bit of a numbing feeling walking away like this."
After an entertaining 0-0 tie for the first 50 minutes, the teams traded goals 32 seconds apart in the third.
First it was Minnesota’s Sam Warning, who started Kyle Rau on a rush with a pass before going to the net himself. After Rau lost control of the puck on a wraparound bid, he managed to chip it to his teammate who promptly shoveled a backhander past Zane Gothberg.
On the next shift, North Dakota junior Connor Gaarder drives the net with the puck on his backhand as he entered the zone. Minnesota goalie Adam Wilcox made the initial save but Gaarder was able to knock his own rebound out of midair to tie the score.
With 1:47 left in the third period, Kyle Rau shifted his shoulders and Zane Gothberg bit on the fake, dropping to the ice to make a save off a shot that never came. With Gothberg out of position, Rau cradled the puck around his pad but North Dakota defenseman Nick Mattson was able to swipe it up ice before Ray could tuck it into the open net.
Mattson’s swipe sent Drake Caggiula on the rush at the other end of the ice, but he was held by Minnesota’s Mike Reilly, putting North Dakota on the power play with 1:39 left in the period.
North Dakota had its best chance of the power play on the first shift, when a Paul LaDue shot from the point seemed to be tipped in front, but Wilcox was able to corral it into his right pad.
That set the stage for Holl’s heroics.