April 9, 2017 PRINT Bookmark and Share

UMD 'Left It All Out There'

 (photo: Neil Ament)

(photo: Neil Ament)

by Jashvina Shah/Staff Writer (@icehockeystick)

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CHICAGO — Minnesota-Duluth had played in 25 games decided by a goal or less entering Saturday’s national championship contest. Seven of those games resulted in ties. Fourteen of those games were victories — including the last four, which included an NCHC championship game, regional wins over Ohio State and Boston University and a semifinal win over Harvard.

And instead of fearing the close contests or dreading the overtime games, the Bulldogs thrived in close-game situations. And for almost the entire year a special kind of magic followed them. And the Bulldogs always believed that they could tie the game, send it into overtime and win it.

On Saturday night, they felt no differently.

“There’s no doubt in this room everyone trusted each other and there was no panic,” senior Willie Raskob said. “Just another intermission where we were down two goals, there was no doubt in the room.”

This situation was a little different. UMD had surrendered a hat trick to Jarid Lukoseveicius and the Bulldogs entered the third period trailing, 3-1. They had just 20 minutes left to fight for their season. But UMD responded with its best period of the tournament, attempting 34 shots to Denver's eight. Nine of UMD’s shots were taken from around the net.

“The belief in this room was there and we truly thought we were coming back and we were going to win this game,” freshman forward Joey Anderson said. “The way we played out there really proved that and there wasn’t one guy in this locker room that doubted it for a second. I couldn’t be more proud of how we went out there and did that.”

The Bulldogs created several scoring chances but each attempt was thwarted either by Denver’s Tanner Jaillet or a shot that flew just wide of the net.

They just couldn’t find the goal.

“You just couldn’t get frustrated,” Raskob said. “Obviously we had those chances, their goalie played awesome they played great team defense.”

Finally, with 5:21 left in regulation, Anderson hit a post and Riley Tufte took advantage of an out-of-position Jaillet and slammed the puck into the open net to make it a one-goal game. There was still hope.

“We’ve been in these positions before and just play with all of our hearts,” senior Alex Iafallo said. “We came into the whole year and we trusted each other and even through that last [period] we thought we were going to get the one in the end."

But this time, the magic ran out. The Bulldogs couldn’t find the game-tying goal, despite a number of close calls in a frantic final two minutes. They had turned the game around, taken it to Denver, out-working the Pioneers for 20 minutes — something that didn't seem likely after the first 40. But for the first time since Jan. 13, UMD lost a one-goal game.

“We worked our ass off and just bounces didn’t go our way,” freshman defender Nick Wolff said. “But all that matters is we played hard in that third period and left it all out there.”

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