April 6, 2017 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Minnesota-Duluth Defeats Harvard On Iafallo's Last-Minute Goal

by Mike McMahon/Staff Writer (@MikeMcMahonCHN)

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CHICAGO — For the first time since winning the national championship in 2011, Minnesota-Duluth is heading back to the national championship game.

Alex Iafallo's goal with 26.6 seconds remaining was the difference for the Bulldogs, who came back from a first-period deficit to top Harvard, 2-1, in a national semifinal on Thursday night at the United Center.

"It was a good pass by Joey," Iafallo said. "We kept it in there at the blue line and that was pretty much the key to the goal. Raskob made a good play. We do it in practice all the time. So simple things like that, getting the puck to the net. I just had to shovel it in."

With the clock running down and the game appeared to be heading for overtime, Harvard had the puck pinned along the wall in its defensive zone as the seconds ran off the clock in the third period. UMD's Joey Anderson finally dug the puck out, working it to Willie Raskob at the left point. Raskob skated the puck to the left circle and threw it in front, where Alex Iafallo was able to tip it on his backhand and through the legs of Merrick Madsen with 26.6 seconds to play.

"I was kind of below the pile at the blue line, and I was hoping that we'd get a keep, and they happened to make a couple of keeps and it came to me and I just kind of held it for a second," Anderson said. "I saw (Iaffalo) passing through and saw Willie screening on the weak side, so I just threw a little pass over to him, and he did the rest from there."

Harvard then called its timeout and had an offensive-zone draw with 19.9 seconds remaining. Winning a draw, Alexander Kerfoot rifled a shot that UMD goaltender Hunter Miska turned away with a blocker. Continuing to pressure, Kerfoot found the puck on his stick again after it was rotated around the put and he fed it to Luke Esposito in the slot, but Esposito's shot hit the crossbar with 3.6 seconds left in the game.

"It was heartbreaking when they scored that goal with 26 seconds left. Everything happened so fast," said Kerfoot. "We had opportunities to score there at the end, hit a couple of posts. We took it to them. It just wasn't meant to be."

Harvard started the scoring, getting on the board at the 15:00 mark of the first period on the power play. With Kyle Osterberg off for a boarding penalty, Harvard defenseman Adam Fox found Alexander Kerfoot with a pass above the right circle. After skating towards the crease, Kerfoot found Tyler Moy for a one-timer on the backdoor.

Minnesota-Duluth found the equalizer just 3:24 later. Off a faceoff play, Dominic Toninato won the puck back to Joey Anderson, whose shot from the high slot somehow avoided traffic and dipped through Merrick Madsen's five hole, as he was moving back to his crease.

"I popped out in the middle," Anderson said. "I figured, get it past a couple guys, get to the net, and it happened to go right through them."

The teams then played a scoreless second period with UMD outshooting Harvard 13-10 with the teams also trading power plays.

At the 5:41 mark of the third period, a potential Harvard goal was disallowed. John Marino took the initial shot and it was followed up by Tyler Moy. The puck ended up in the net, but after a review, the goal was called back.

"I think watching it on the replay, it looked like the puck was in before he was able to blow the whistle," said Harvard coach Ted Donato. "They went and looked at it. The explanation I was given was that there was no audio on the replay. He thought the goalie at one point had it underneath his glove, and in his mind that's when the play was over.

"Everybody's trying to do their best. They went to the replay to try to get it correctly. Obviously, through my Harvard-colored glasses, it looked like a good goal. But everybody's trying to do their best out there."

With 11:42 left in the third period, Harvard's Viktor Dombrovsky had his backhand pass blocked by a UMD player and pushed to Adam Johnson, who tried to go low glove side on Madsen but he was able to extend his pad to the far post.

With just under four minutes to play, Lewis Zerter-Gossage fired a puck from the right hash mark that Miska stopped with his pad. As Ryan Donato tried to swipe at the rebound, the puck was directed off the skate of a UMD defender and slid through the crease, but wide of the net.

Minnesota-Duluth will face the winner of Notre Dame-Denver on Saturday night in the championship game.

"We made a play at the end to win," UMD coach Scott Sandelin said. "It's certainly exciting for our team and our program to be playing on Saturday night. It's kind of been our MO all year. Another tight game. Another one-goal hockey game. We're just real exciting to be moving on."

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