Up and Over
Minnesota-Duluth Gets It Done In the Extra Sessions
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CHICAGO When Minnesota-Duluth was about to enter overtime with Boston University in the West Regional final, no Bulldog panicked.
“We just said look we were here last night, we’ve been here all season, rely on those experiences in the past and come together and try to find a way to win this game,” senior Willie Raskob said.
The Bulldogs had been in there — 11 times overall and twice in the playoffs. Their previous game, a win over Ohio State, had also gone into overtime.
“The first overtime against Ohio State was probably the most scared I’ve ever been in my hockey career,” Raskob said. “Being a senior I was a little worried we weren’t playing our best hockey of the time.”
The nine regular-season overtime games, and the playoff game against Miami, prepared the Bulldogs when both their regional matches put their seasons on the line in overtime.
“At that point it’s do or die,” freshman defenseman Nick Wolff said. “It’s going to tell us our season, our fate. So we’re going to do the best, anything in our power and will to score the next goal and fortunately both goals turned out our way.”
The regional games marked the second and third time over Minnesota-Duluth’s last four NCAA tournament games the Bulldogs went into overtime. Last season they escaped with a 2-1 double overtime win against Providence.
“Just make simple plays, whether it’s getting the puck out on the wall and not trying to go out of our way to make a hit,” senior captain Alex Iafallo said. “Trying to stay positive on the bench is one thing that I took away. [You] can’t get too down on yourself.”
But the Bulldogs won both of their overtime games in the regionals, bringing them to 3-0 in extra-frame games in the playoffs. Through the regular season and postseason, the Bulldogs played in 12 overtime games — the most in the country.
“Four periods is a lot and it takes toll on your body,” Wolff said. “It takes a toll on your mental game but obviously it gives you experience into playoffs and those are the games we really need to win — one-goal games, really intense games, that come down to the end. It obviously gave us a lot of experience and a lot of strength and confidence coming into playoffs with that kind of mentality.”
The Bulldogs haven’t lost an overtime game this season and are 5-0-7 in those situations. Minnesota-Duluth is used to playing in close games this year — 25 of the team’s contests have been decided by a goal or less.
“We play a lot of good teams, our league is very tough to play in so there’s going to be a lot of tight games like that,” Iafallo said. “We’ve just been resilient all year with those and we got to keep doing that this weekend.”
The adversity has prepared the Bulldogs well for playoffs and, while they’re hoping no more games go into extra frames, they’ll be prepared if they do.
“When you win one and you win another one you kind of get the feeling that you can go into overtime and win games,” Raskob said. “Regionals, going into it, it was probably almost more calm because we know what type of team we are, we know what we have in the room and we know we have the ability to pull out games like that.”