WORCESTER, Mass. — The first game of the Northeast Regional can be summed up in two words: missed opportunity, especially for Minnesota-Duluth.
Between an annulled five-minute major penalty, two subsequent minors in the third period and 56 shots on goal for the Bulldogs, missed opportunity after missed opportunity plagued the Bulldogs’ efforts.
2016 NCAA Northeast Regional
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Ultimately, all history remembers is final scores, and all history will ultimately remember is not the blown opportunities, but the final score, a 2-1 Bulldogs victory in double overtime over the defending champion and regional top seed Providence Friars on Friday.
In the early stages of the second overtime, the Bulldogs finally took advantage. A puck went off Friars goaltender Nick Ellis’ shoulder and trickled around the crease. Karson Kuhlman pushed the puck into the net, sending the Bulldogs to the regional final.
“I’m going to remember the [goal in] second overtime more,” Minnesota-Duluth coach Scott Sandelin said. “But there’s no question, in these games, you don’t get a lot of opportunities. … [Those opportunities are] difference makers.”
After a rather uneventful first period, the second period began to heat up early. It started early, when Conor MacPhee launched himself into Kyle Osterberg, making contact with Osterberg’s head on the hit. After review, MacPhee was assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct, giving the Bulldogs the first real opportunity of the game.
But a minute later, the opportunity was mitigated. Dominic Toninato got whistled for a violent collision in the UMD defensive end, and, for two minutes, the man advantage was mitigated. Ultimately, following the minor expiring, the Bulldogs were not able to take advantage of the opportunity.
The third period, however, proved more fruitful for the Bulldogs. Early in the period, Tony Cameranesi received a feed off a battle in the corner. From the faceoff circle, he ripped a shot past Ellis, giving the Bulldogs the first lead of the game.
The lead, however, did not hold for long. On a breakaway, Ryan Tait put a shot on Kasimir Kaskisuo, who made the initial save. Steven McParland put home a rebound, tying the game for the Friars.
Past the halfway point, the Friars afforded the Bulldogs another advantage, with John Gilmour and Josh Monk taking penalties, effectively creating a four-minute man advantage. Despite pressure on net, the Bulldogs were unable to convert on either power play, resulting in yet another opportunity on which the Bulldogs were unable to convert.
The two teams were unable to convert in the remaining time in the third, and the subsequent first overtime period. The second overtime, however, provided a winner.
Despite setting a Northeast Regional record for saves with 54, Ellis took the loss for the Friars. With Kuhlman, Duluth knocked off the defending national champions, leaving the Providence faithful and their team feeling dejected.
“It’s pretty simple,” Friars coach Nate Leaman said. “We didn’t have our A game tonight. We got beat by a better team. Congratulations to Duluth, and that’s about it.”