Minnesota-Duluth Outlasts And Ousts Boston In Battle Of The Squeakers

Minnesota Duluth sophomore forward Adam Johnson of HIbbing, MN, converted on this opportunity by firing in a goal over the shoulder of the BU goalie for the 3-2 OT win Saturday afternoon.  Minnesota-Duluth advanced to the Frozen Four in Chicago where they will face the winner of the game between Air Force and Harvard.

Minnesota Duluth sophomore forward Adam Johnson of HIbbing, MN, converted this power play opportunity when he fired a shot in over the shoulder of the BU goalie to score for the 3-2 OT win Saturday afternoon.  Minnesota-Duluth advanced to the Frozen Four in Chicago where they will face the winner of the game between Air Force and Harvard.

Saturday night’s game between two teams that each squeaked by their first round opponents was a grinder.  For the most part this game was about what wasn’t happening on the ice more so than what was.  Both teams played pretty good defense in the neutral zone, as well in their own zones.  BU seemed more prone to errors trying to move the puck through a well defended neutral zone than did Minnesota-Duluth; BU seemed to be able to connect a pass to an open man, but it was often enough not to the right team.  Eight minutes into the first, Clayton Keller seemed to say heck with this passing stuff I’ll try it alone.  He zigged and zagged his way to the net and fired in a goal for the 1-0 BU lead.  It seemed that might be it for the first with only twenty seconds left in the period when BU got the puck away in their zone and started to transition up the ice.  That was, until Alex Iafallo skated by the BU players, grabbed the puck at the point and headed to the net with the BU team going the wrong way up the ice at that point.  A BU player trailed Iafallo but didn’t make contact, as Iafallo shook him by going around the net.  With the defender trailing and the BU goalie slow to react to the other side, Iafallo made the wrap around goal to tie it at one apiece to end the first.  The second went a lot like the first, except with no magic skating through a pack, or catching the puck at speed with the other team going the wrong way, and it ended in the same 1-1 tie.  The defenses of both teams pretty well confounded their opponent on the ice; total shots on goal in the first were only seven for Minnesota Duluth and only five for Boston University, and in the second the shot count was identical to the first.  There was a stretch at the end of the second of about three minutes in which BU stepped up and managed to keep the action in the Duluth zone with good puck movement, but to no avail.

The third started out much like the first two.  After about nine minutes, BU picked up the pace and had the puck in the Duluth zone as they had at the end of the second, this time firing off a few shots, but they couldn’t convert.  As I watched it, I swear I thought to myself, “You guys have to convert or it’s worth nothing; all takes is one opening on the other side,”  Then twelve minutes into the third, two BU players were bringing the puck out of the Duluth zone and were well defended by three Duluth players who grabbed the puck, two passes and another Duluth player out in front of a defender who couldn’t make contact yielded a Joey Anderson shot from the face-off circle that he followed, perfectly timed to pick up the rebound and put it in to give Duluth the 2-1 lead, which given the pace of the previous thirty-two minutes had to make you wonder if that might be it.  At this point of the game Duluth focused on defense, which remained very tough in their zone and in the neutral zone, but they backed off pursuit of the puck in the BU zone a bit and only pressed it when it appeared they had the advantage to get to the puck, and backed off when it was apparent it would be contested, which gave BU some space in getting set up to get down the ice to the neutral zone.  Two minutes later BU again picked up the pace and kept the action in the Duluth zone, and with three minutes left in the game a couple of passes found Patrick Harper with a window to the net from the right circle and he converted the chance into a BU goal to tie it at two apiece, which is how it ended in regulation.  Only 1:38 into overtime BU’s Bobo Carpenter got too eager with his stick as a Duluth player was bringing the puck through the neutral zone, and he reached too far in, caught his skate and tripped him for a Duluth power play.  Despite two successful penalty kills in regulation, BU suddenly got concrete in their skates as if they’d been told they would have to skate two against five.  Duluth was far too smart not to take advantage, and two quick passes found Adam Johnson at the blue line.  From there he skated into the right side of the slot, BU’s Somerby was slow to respond and a seemingly wide open Johnson fired in the game-winning goal for the 3-2 OT game winner.  Minnesota-Duluth advanced to the Frozen Four in Chiacgo where they will face the winner of the late game between Air Force and Harvard.

The outcome of this game was not an upset in our pool as 24 of 46 participants picked Minnesota-Duluth to win this game; 17 had picked Boston University and five had picked North Dakota.

Harvard Hangs On To Ground Air Force And Advance To Frozen Four

Harvard sophomore Viktor Dombrovskiy, of Coquitlam, B.C. (in white with hands raised), exults after scoring the first goal of the game in the first period, which gave Harvard a 1-0 lead.  Harvard would never trail, but would have to hang on under immense late-game pressure to prevail over Air Force, 3-2, and advance to the Frozen Four to play Minnesota-Duluth on Thursday, April 6, at 3:00PM Pacific Time on ESPN2.

Harvard sophomore Viktor Dombrovskiy, of Coquitlam, B.C. (in white with hands raised), exults after scoring the first goal of the game in the first period, which gave Harvard a 1-0 lead.  Harvard then extended their lead to 3-0, and they would never trail, but would have to hang on under immense late-game pressure to prevail over Air Force, 3-2, and advance to the Frozen Four to play Minnesota-Duluth on Thursday, April 6, at 3:00PM Pacific Time on ESPN2.

This game started out for Harvard a lot like their opening game against Providence, with a screened Viktor Dombrovskiy firing in a shot to give Harvard the 1-0 lead at the mid-point of the first period; Harvard out-shot Air Force 14 to 10 in the period.  In the second things continued Harvard’s way.  Eight minutes into the period Ryan Donato took a pass, zipped through the defense, and wrapped the puck around the Air Force goalie to score for the 2-0 Harvard lead.  Only two minutes later, a pass found Tyler Moy with an opening on the goal, and he fired a shot for a goal and the 3-0 Harvard lead.

But Air Force gained great focus and Air Force coach Frank Serratore sensed that he had to get back in the game and put his full wallet on the table and pulled his goalie and added an extra attacker.  As a result,  a minute later Brady Tomlak scored on a delayed penalty to make it a game at 3-1.  On the immediately ensuing power play, Jordan Himley found the net and only a minute and a half after Harvard had made it 3-0, Air Force rewrote it to read 3-2.  The remaining eight minutes of the second and the entire third were a dog fight with Air Force not giving an inch.

In the third, Air Force held off two power plays, and then ignited to attack the Harvard zone, forcing Harvard to ice the puck over and over again, and then to win or neutralize the icing face-offs in their zone.  Air Force added an extra attacker with a minute and a half to go, and with the man advantage they were murder in the Harvard zone.  Their best shot at it came with twelve seconds remaining and Ryan Serratore at point blank range on the Harvard goalie, but Merrick Madsen denied Air Force one more point-blank time, and Harvard took home the 3-2 win.  Harvard advanced to the Frozen Four in Chicago to play Minnesota-Duluth on Thursday, April 6, at 3:00PM Pacific Time on ESPN2.

The result of this game was not remotely an upset in our pool as 35 of 46 participants picked Harvard to win this game, while only one picked Air Force, eight picked Western Michigan, and two picked Penn State.

That’s all for now.  Stay tuned, and go Terriers!

— Tom