PHILADELPHIA — When Justin Holl’s shot from the slot beat Zane Gothberg to give Minnesota a 2-1 lead over North Dakota with 0.6 seconds left in regulation, the entire Minnesota bench reacted with predictable emotion, pouring onto the ice and piling on top of the team’s unlikely hero.
When the goal stood upon review, the Gophers celebrated again, swarming together in the corner of the ice, a moving mass of maroon and gold and emotion. And more emotion.
“I think we’re coming down a little bit now,” senior captain Nate Condon said before Minnesota’s Friday practice. “It’s great how it happened last night.
“Last night, I think it was great feeling we were all just excited in the moment, kind of just taking it in. Hopefully the next game we have doesn’t go down to the last point-six seconds like that.”
After such an emotional ending, how does a team regain its focus and prepare for a championship game?
“We’ve got to have a good practice with the guys on the ice and keep to our schedule and our regimen,” said senior defenseman Jake Parenteau. “If we stick to our game plan, we’re going to have a good showing on Saturday.”
The lateness of the game — it ended at 11:08 p.m. — complicates the Gophers’ recovery.
“Not many of us were able to get to bed until late because we didn’t get back to the hotel until 12:30,” said junior forward Kyle Rau. “But I think when you wake up this morning and realize that tomorrow you get to play for a national title, I think you better start getting your mind ready to go because, if not, you’re going to come out and lay an egg.
“I think like Jake said, we’ll try to have a good practice and get back to our normal routine right away.”
It’s a challenge for the coaching staff, too.
“It’s nice to have a day off in between,” coach Don Lucia said. “Obviously, it was a late night last night so the most important thing we have to do is to spend the day recovering. That’s where Cal [Dietz], our strength coach, comes in.
“I didn’t even crawl into bed until 3 in the morning. You’re eating your postgame meal, it’s 12:30 in the morning, you get back up to your room at 1. It takes a while to decompress, and here we are back at the rink at 11, but that’s another topic.”