March 21, 2009 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Stalock, Sharp lead Bulldogs past UND

by Dan Myers/CHN Reporter

Alex Stalock has led UMD to the WCHA final.

Alex Stalock has led UMD to the WCHA final.

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Following Denver's 3-0 win over Wisconsin earlier Friday at the WCHA Final Five, Denver head coach said playoff hockey is all about your goaltender.

Following Friday night's second semifinal of the night, Minnesota-Duluth goaltender Alex Stalock proved it. Again.

Stalock stopped all 31 shots against North Dakota Friday night, leading the Bulldogs to a 3-0 win of their own. The victory advances UMD to its first ever Final Five championship game, and first playoff championship game since 1985, before the current format even existed.

The win also kept alive Stalock's incredible playoff run — Duluth has not trailed in any of its four postseason games this season — and the junior netminder has allowed just three goals over that span. All four of those games have been on the road.

"I think we've found a nice little groove here on the road," said UMD forward MacGregor Sharp, who has been in a groove of his own of late. The senior center opened scoring 5:10 into the game with his 22nd goal of the season. It was his 10th goal in as many games. His assist on Duluth's empty netter was his 16th point over that same period.

"Sharpie's goal was a huge lift for us," said Bulldogs head coach Scott Sandelin. "I thought we played a much better game from start to finish."

The goal was a heads up play by Sharp, who worked hard to retrieve a dumped-in puck stopped by UND goalie Brad Eidsness behind his own net. Either Eidsness didn't see Sharp, or there was a miscommunication with his defenseman.

"I'll take that any day," Sharp said afterwards.

The goal was big for UMD — not only did it give it a 1-0 lead, the goal came while killing a penalty. Killing penalties was something the Bulldogs were effective at Friday, killing all five UND power play opportunities, including a five-minute kneeing major early in the second period.

The victory also all but locked up an NCAA tournament berth for the Bulldogs, assuring the WCHA will have three teams in the tournament beginning next week.

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