UND finishes sweep of WCHA regular season, tournament titles
Senior forward Matt Frattin’s goal in double overtime against Denver in the Final Five Championship was his 35th tally of the season.[/media-credit]ST. PAUL, Minn. – It might be hard to envision a title celebration where the trophy goes ignored, but North Dakota’s seniors are making a habit of it.The Fighting Sioux won the MacNaughton Cup as Western Collegiate Hockey Association regular season champions and, Saturday night, claimed the Broadmoor Trophy after beating Denver 3-2 in double overtime in the Final Five title game. At the post-game presentation, the team crowded around the trophy, but not a player laid a hand on it.The one rule North Dakota has about hardware this season reads like something from an art museum: You can look, but you can’t touch.“It’s just kind of one of those things. We won the MacNaughton, and we decided as a senior class that we weren’t going to touch it,” UND senior Derrick LaPoint said. “Obviously winning the Broadmoor, we did the same thing. We’re saving it for, hopefully, the biggest (prize).”The top-ranked Fighting Sioux are eying a national title, and a win over the No. 5 Pioneers in a wildly entertaining game was an indicator they’re in good shape heading into the NCAA tournament.The drama began when Denver tied the game at 2 with 2:13 left in regulation on an Anthony Miani goal, forcing another 20 minutes of hockey – which would still not be enough.And then, as a certain clich? goes, WCHA Player of the Year Matt Frattin did what he was expected to do, scoring the game-winner 5:11 into the second overtime period.The pace of the game slowed visibly during the first overtime, and in burst of speed seldom seen since regulation, senior winger Evan Trupp flew into the Denver zone and dropped a pass to defenseman Chay Genoway. Genoway’s shot went off of bodies in front and came out to Frattin, who buried the puck before DU goaltender Sam Brittain could slide over.“Well, we’ve got a rule on our team, if you enter the offensive zone and Frattin’s on the ice, you have to give it to him,” UND head coach Dave Hakstol joked.The goal added to Frattin’s nation-leading total of 35 and also to his own personal highlights.“Definitely right on top – probably my biggest goal I’ve scored in four years of college here,” he said.The game-winning play was one of the few times Brittain didn’t get over in time in the game. The freshman goaltender made his share of huge stops, highlighted by an amazing second-period glove save while on his belly to rob UND’s Corban Knight.The Pioneers looked like they might end the game early in the first overtime, controlling play early in the period and swarming the Fighting Sioux zone. But as good as Brittain was, UND’s Aaron Dell was just as brilliant, finishing with 40 saves.“I thought the first overtime, the first eight or nine minutes, we played pretty well, had some great chances to score – probably carried the play,” DU head coach George Gwozdecky said. “Then we got a little soft and loose in our coverages, gave them a little space and time. Sam made a couple of just incredible plays to keep the puck out of the net.”The top two seeds in the tournament played like it all night, with Denver jumping out to an early 1-0 lead on a Dustin Jackson one-timer from the slot. The momentum shifted back in favor of the Sioux as the second period wore on, when UND took a 2-1 lead on goals by Danny Kristo and Brent Davidson.Lost in the overtime drama and phenomenal goaltending was the work of each team’s penalty kill units. DU (0-6) and UND (0-4) combined to go scoreless on the power play, with the Sioux managing just two shots on goal while on the man-advantage.North Dakota’s win was enough to lock up a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, while Denver earned a No. 2 seed and was placed in the same regional as the Fighting Sioux, setting up a potential rematch with a berth to the Frozen Four on the line.And while Denver fell short of the Final Five title after finishing second in the regular season race as well, senior captain Kyle Ostrow said playing this caliber of game can do nothing but good for the Pioneers.“We want to be in those type of games going into the tournament – close games,” he said.North Dakota will try to extend its 13-game unbeaten streak all the way to the end of the season as one of five WCHA teams in the NCAA tournament. Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha and Colorado College – which ended Wisconsin’s slim NCAA hopes by beating the Badgers two games to one in the first round of WCHA playoffs – also made the 16-team field.And while the Sioux still have one more lofty goal to achieve, Hakstol praised his players for the work they put in to get to this point in the season.“It’s easy to have goals – it’s not quite as easy to be willing to do the hard things day in and day out that give you an opportunity to achieve those goals,” he said.
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