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College men's hockey: Bulldogs win penalty-filled Frozen Faceoff final

UMD players hold the NCHC postseason trophy aloft after defeating North Dakota 4-3 in the championship game Saturday night at Target Center in Minneapolis. Clint Austin / 1 / 7
Jared Thomas (22) of Minnesota Duluth dives for the puck against Zach Yon (7) of North Dakota during the NCHC championship game Saturday night at Target Center in Minneapolis. Clint Austin / 2 / 7
Minnesota Duluth defenseman Neal Pionk (4) skates into North Dakota goaltender Cam Johnson during the NCHC championship game Saturday night at Target Center in Minneapolis. Pionk was given a five-minute charging penalty. Clint Austin / 3 / 7
Minnesota Duluth scores against North Dakota goaltender Cam Johnson (33) during the NCHC championship game Saturday night at Target Center in Minneapolis. Clint Austin / 4 / 7
Minnesota Duluth goaltender Hunter Miska makes a save against North Dakota during the NCHC championship game Saturday night at Target Center in Minneapolis. Clint Austin / 5 / 7
Minnesota Duluth's Alex Iafallo (14) reacts to Joey Anderson's game-winning goal beating North Dakota goalie Cam Johnson during the third period of the NCHC championship game Saturday night at Target Center in Minneapolis. UMD won 4-3 to claim its first NCHC postseason title. Clint Austin / 6 / 7
Willie Raskob (15), Hunter Miska (35), Dan Molenaar (3) and Jarod Hilderman (12) react after defeating North Dakota 4-3 during the NCHC conference championship game at the Target Center in Minneapolis on Saturday. (Clint Austin / / 7

MINNEAPOLIS — Trevor Olson’s glory against his hometown Bulldogs was brief.

The Greyhound-turned-North Dakota Fighting Hawk tied the NCHC Frozen Faceoff championship game on a 5-on-3 power-play goal with less than three minutes to play, but Minnesota Duluth freshman wing Joey Anderson scored on a two-man advantage with a hair over 50 seconds left on the Target Center clock for a 4-3 UMD victory Saturday night in front of 10,297 fans.

“It felt good just tying up the game. Obviously it’s a huge rivalry game against a good Duluth team,” said Olson, a former linemate of UMD’s Dom Tominato while at Duluth East. “There were kind of those ups and downs the whole game. There were penalties on both sides. Obviously losing those two men late in the game there, it’s a kill we need to have. We’re not going to hold that against our guys. We killed off the penalties we needed to kill off and they got a lucky bounce there in front.”

The Bulldogs overcame 15 penalties for 33 minutes to win their first postseason conference championship since winning three games in three days to capture the 2009 WCHA Frozen Faceoff.

A total of 27 penalties for 57 penalty minutes were called in the championship game. All three North Dakota goals came via their 10 power plays — including two on 5-on-3s. Two of the Bulldogs’ four goals came from their six power plays.

The Minnesota Duluth men's hockey team celebrates with the Frozen Faceoff trophy. (Clint Austin / News Tribune)

Anderson put the game-winner through off the skate of a Hawks penalty killer. He credited the team’s composure after Olson tied the game on what was North Dakota’s third 5-on-3 advantage.

“Once they scored thet third goal, we all had to take a deep breath on the bench and make sure we stayed calm,” Anderson said. “We made sure we were turning the switch to get going again and get the next bounce and the next goal. We got a couple lucky breaks with the penalties and we ended up taking advantage of it.”

The Bulldogs head to the NCAA tournament as one of four No. 1 seeds. They’ll learn who, when and where they play at 11 a.m. today during the NCAA tournament selection show on ESPNU. This year’s regionals are in Fargo, N.D., Cincinnati, Ohio, Providence, R.I., and Manchester, N.H.

There’s a chance UMD sees North Dakota again if it lands in Fargo. That’s where the Hawks will be as the hosts.

“What did you think of that game?” UMD coach Scott Sandelin said. “I’m really excited for our team. We certainly earned that. It wasn’t easy for sure. This group has shown that all year long, a lot of character, resiliency.

“I’m really excited for our team, certainly our seniors, the guys who experienced defeat last year. To have the opportunity to win a league championship or playoff championship and move forward.”

UMD's Willie Raskob (15) is upended by Shane Gersich (19) of North Dakota on Saturday. (Clint Austin / News Tribune)

UMD scored three goals in the opening 2 1/2 minutes of the second period to jump ahead 3-1. The flurry came in a response to an uncalled spear of sophomore defenseman Neal Pionk as the horn sounded to cap a feisty — to say the least — first period.

Toninato finished a feed by Anderson just 90 seconds into the second to tie the game at 1-1. Seventeen seconds later, freshman wing Riley Tufte poked the puck away from Hawks sophomore defenseman Christian Wolanin to set himself up for a snipe that made it 2-1.

The Section 7A connection — Hibbing’s Adam Johnson from Hermantown’s Pionk — made it 3-1 just 2:28 into the second, but North Dakota pulled within one at the nine-minute mark of the period on a 5-on-3 power play goal by freshman center Tyson Jost.

Toninato admitted he was “a little heated” at the end of the first after the spear on Pionk went uncalled and that anger sparked the start to the second.

“The big thing is not getting frustrated and channelling it the right way,” Toninato said. “The guys did a good job with that. We came out hungry in the second and fortunate to get three quick ones there and we just kept playing from there on.”

UMD players celebrate after scoring a second-period goal against North Dakota on Saturday. (Clint Austin / News Tribune)

The Bulldogs were down a goal at the first intermission and, considering the circumstances, Sandelin and company had to consider it a win.

North Dakota took a 1-0 lead 11 minutes in on a goal by sophomore wing Brock Boeser via a cross-zone pass from Jost on the power play. The Hawks should have had more than that, though, after getting a 5-on-3 advantage for the first minute-plus of a charging major handed out to Pionk.

While Hawks junior defenseman Tucker Poolman skated to the bench injured, Pionk streaked into the Hawks zone for a short-handed chance that ended with him crashing through Hawks senior goaltender Cam Johnson.

Wolanin dove in to defend his goalie by delivering a few blows with his gloves to Pionk, which drew Toninato into the fray. When all was said and done, the only person on the ice not involved in the scrum was UMD freshman goaltender Hunter Miska, who was stuck watching on the other end.

After video review, Pionk received a major for charging while Wolanin and Jost for North Dakota and senior defenseman Dan Molenaar for UMD received roughing minors. UMD senior wing Alex Iafallo took a slashing penalty.

The Bulldogs, who already had taken three minor penalties in the opening 13:33, finished the first with six penalties for 15 minutes, but held North Dakota to 1-for-4 on power plays that spanned 8:57.

Minnesota Duluth goaltender Hunter Miska makes a save against North Dakota. (Clint Austin / News Tribune)

Shots on goal in the first period were 16-4 in favor of North Dakota — with 11 coming on power plays — while shot attempts were 42- 6 in favor of the Hawks.

“It was nice to get out of it down just one goal,” Sandelin said. “I thought our guys did a hell of a job. From our goaltender all the way through our killers. That’s not an easy situation to be in, certainly with their power play and some of the guys they have on there. To get out of it certainly gave our team a huge lift. Those are big moments in the game.”

The Bulldogs brought a five-game winning streak over the Hawks into Saturday’s title bout. It’s now six.

The streak dates to the 2016 Frozen Faceoff when UMD beat North Dakota in the semifinals. UMD swept the regular-season series this year, winning 5-2 and 3-0 Oct. 28-29 in Duluth and 5-3 and 4-0 Jan. 20-21 in Grand Forks.

Both teams were seeking their first NCHC postseason title. The Bulldogs were in the tournament championship a year ago, losing 3-1 to St. Cloud State. The Fighting Hawks were making their first championship game appearance in four trips to Target Center.

Iafallo, the league’s regular-season scoring champion, extended his scoring streak to 11 games with a pair of assists. He was named Frozen Faceoff MVP and enters the NCAA tournament with six goals and 12 assists in the last 11 games.

North Dakota........................... 1-1-1—3

Minnesota Duluth.................... 0-3-1—4

First period — 1. ND, Brock Boeser 16 (Tyson Jost, Christian Wolanin), 10:57 (pp). Penalties — Dominic Toninato, UMD (hooking), 1:16; Avery Peterson, UMD (holding), 9:52; Willie Raskob, UMD (tripping), 13:33; Neal Pionk, UMD (charging major), 14:25; Alex Iafallo, UMD (slashing), 14:25; Christian Wolanin, ND (roughing), 14:25; Dan Molenaar, UMD (roughing), 14:25; Jost, ND (roughing), 14:25.

Second period — 2. UMD, Toninato 15 (Joey Anderson, Iafallo), 1:30; 3. UMD, Riley Tufte 8 (Karson Kuhlman, Peterson), 1:47; 4. UMD, Adam Johnson 17 (Pionk, Iafallo), 2:28 (pp); 5. ND, Jost 16 (Trevor Olson, Boeser), 9:00 (pp). Penalties — Olson, ND (roughing), 2:04; Jared Thomas, UMD (tripping), 7:21; Brenden Kotyk, UMD (high sticking), 7:36; Rhett Gardner, ND (slashing), 11;50; Tufte, UMD (interference), 17:18; Jost, ND (interference), 18:01; Molenaar, UMD (hooking), 19:17.

Third period — 6. UND, Olson 6 (Wolanin, Jost), 17:14 (pp); 7. UMD, Joey Anderson 10 (Johnson, Pionk), 19:09 (pp). Penalties — Mike Gornall, ND (roughing), 4:01; Shane Gersicvh, ND (roughing), 4:01; Willie Raskob, UMD (roughing), 4:01; Nick Wolff, UMD (roughing), 4:01; Johnny Simonson, ND (high sticking), 7:16; Hayden Shaw, ND (checking from behind), 11:00; Cole Smith, ND (roughing), 14:38; Nick Wolff, UMD (roughing), 14:38; Parker Mackay, UMD (tripping), 15:49; Iafallo, UMD (hooking), 17:02; Austin Poganski, ND (interference), 18:08; Joel Janatuinen, ND (holding), 18:22.

Shots on goal — ND 16-9-10—35; UMD 4-15-4—23. Goalies — Cam Johnson, ND (23 shots-19 saves); Hunter Miska, UMD (35-32). Power plays — ND 3-of-10; UMD 2-of-6. Referees — Todd Anderson, Geno Bina. Linesmen — Sterling Egan, John Philo. Att. — 10,297.

Matt Wellens

College hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune covering the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs men's and women's teams, as well as the NCAA Division III programs at St. Scholastica and Wisconsin-Superior.

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