NCHC Roundup: North Dakota Wins Wild One to Sweep Series, Shore Up NCAA Spot
CHN Staff Report
Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson became known as "Mr. October" for his many clutch hits in post-season play with the Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees.
Meet the University of North Dakota's newest "Mr. March", junior wing Trevor Olson.
Olson, with but five goals to his name this season and eight in his three seasons at UND, collected his third game-winning goal in the last four games to lift the Fighting Hawks to a wild 6-5 NCHC playoff sweep of St. Cloud State.
In what well may be the biggest goal all season for UND, the win sends the Fighting Hawks to the Final Faceoff in Minneapolis next weekend and moves them closer to securing an NCAA tournament berth for the 15th straight season.
Olson got his stick on a centering pass off the side boards from center Johnny Simonson, tipping it just under the cross bar as SCS goalie Jeff Smith went low to cover the centering pass.
The goal, at 7:38 of sudden-death overtime, ended St. Cloud State's season (16-19-1) and gave UND (20-14-3) its 15th straight season of 20 or more wins.
"I don't know what's going on," Olson said of his late-game magic recently. "I went however many calendar years without a goal and now all of a sudden they're starting to fall my way. Obviously a lucky one tonight."
Olson stepped out from behind the net and reached out with the blade of his stick as Simonson pass rocketed toward the net. "I was just trying to get net-front, and then go to the bench," said Olson. "I actually didn't get all the way there (front of net), I just threw my stick out there and it hit it and went upstairs."
The game featured plenty of twists and turns, from early on, to Olson's unexpected winner.
St. Cloud, leading 1-0 in the first period on a Nick Poehling goal, appeared to go ahead 2-0 late in the period on a Robby Jackson goal. Instead, St. Cloud State was called for having too many men on the ice, disallowing the goal, and also for an unsportsmanlike penalty on Blake Winiecki.
On the ensuing UND power play, St. Cloud native Austin Poganski scored his 11th goal of the season.
Tyson Jost and Brock Boeser bookended a goal by Patrick Newell of the Huskies to give UND a 3-2 lead heading into the third period. But UND was in for a wild ride in the third period.
Defenseman Jon Lizotte, a former Grand Forks Red River player, scored twice in the third period and Nick Poehling added his second of the game to offset Shane Gersich's 21st goal of the season for UND and give the Huskies a 5-4 lead at 13:16 of the third period.
Defenseman Christian Wolanin drilled a center point slapshot past Smith high on the glove side at 15:58 to tie it at 5, setting up "Mr. March" Olson for the heroics.
"We're extremely proud of him," UND coach Brad Berry said of Olson. "He's a team-first guy and does all the right things here at the rink. He's a great teammate and it's great to see him have success, because whatever role he's given, he embraces it, and gives 100 percent."
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Western Michigan scored three goals in the third period to snap a tie game and defeat Nebraska-Omaha, 5-2, to even the best-of-3 NCHC quarterfinal series.
Wade Allison scored 52 seconds into the final period, and Hugh McGing and Michael Rebry tallied later to help the Broncos pull away for the victory at Lawson Arena.
The line of Hugh McGing, Colt Conrad and Wade Allison combined for 10 points on four goals and six assists. With the exception of a late goal by Michael Rebry, the line was responsible for every other goal. McGing and Conrad both finished with career-highs, with McGing scoring two goals and tallying an assist for three points. Conrad finished with three assists and a goal for the first four-point game of his career. Allison had a goal and two assists.
"I thought we started very poorly," WMU coach Andy Murray said. "I thought the first 10 minutes they came out with much strong puck pursuit, their skating had us back on our heels, we turned a few pucks over. So we need to figure out why that would happen. Before the game, our intensity in the locker room was not the level we would expect.
"Our passing was as bad tonight as we've seen in a while, but Nebraska-Omaha has to get some credit for that. Our passing has to be better and it will be."
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Minnesota-Duluth did what it was supposed to do, and what most people figured it would do, in sweeping Miami this weekend in the teams' best-of-3 NCHC quarterfinal series. But it sure didn't come easily.
The Bulldogs needed a third-period goal and then overtime to win 5-4 on Friday, getting the winner from Dominic Toninato.
Saturday, the Bulldogs were again down in the third, then exploded for two goals in a 2:12-span, plus an empty netter, to put Miami away.
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Denver won its 13th straight game by disposing of Colorado College, 4-0. It was the 14 straight win over its in-state rivals.
Senior netminer Evan Cowley made 17 saves on the night in registering his second consecutive shutout while sophomore forwards Logan O’Connor and Troy Terry scored two goals apiece.
“Colorado College came out with a lot of energy tonight and were forechecking extremely hard in the first few minutes,” Denver coach Jim Montgomery said. “We weathered the storm early and slowly but surely started to take the game over by executing well and playing solid, Denver-style hockey. It’s great to end our home schedule with a good team win like this and we’re looking forward to the challenge of competing for another Frozen Faceoff Title next weekend in Minneapolis.”