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FARGO, N.D. — Halfway through the third period, North Dakota’s Mike Gornall threw a check on Boston University’s Kieffer Bellows, shattering the glass onto the ice and into the stands.
Down 3-1, with his team’s season on the line in the West Regional semifinals, North Dakota coach Brad Berry called his players over to the bench so they could reset. After a 14-minute delay to fix the glass, UND erupted to score two goals against Boston University and force the teams into overtime.
But after a controversial no-goal call for UND in the first overtime in front of a roaring crowd, it was Boston University that clinched a wild 4-3 victory in double overtime Friday at a packed Scheels Arena.
“I’m sure they’re looking at shot totals and scratching their heads — how do you lose a game like this? — but our guys competed hard and stuck with it and didn’t get rattled and just a great win,” BU coach David Quinn said.
Charlie McAvoy scored on Cam Johnson (25 saves) at 11:48 of the second overtime to help the Terriers advance.
UND’s Dixon Bowen put the puck in the net at 3:48 of the first overtime. The electric crowd erupted but was silenced when the goal was waved off after a lengthy review. Just as soon as North Dakota thought it was moving on, it was again fighting for its life.
“When the glass broke, we were brought in as a team by coach, and coach said it was going to be one of the best comebacks in college hockey history,” UND defenseman Christian Wolanin said. “We battled, we did everything we could in a whirlwind of emotions. … It just didn’t end the way we wanted it to.”
BU knew its season could have been over, but it was determined that UND’s Ludvig Hoff was offside.
“Obviously when you thought they ended it, you’re obviously upset,” said BU goaltender Jake Oettinger, who made 56 saves. “But then you see them look at it. It took a long time, and we knew we might get another shot at it. We took advantage of the opportunity we were given.”
Oettinger’s effort allowed the Terriers to weather a determined North Dakota offense.
“Just an incredible hockey game,” Quinn said. “The ebbs and flows of it, obviously, they get the goal in overtime and everyone thinks the game is over. We thought that it might be an offside and it seemed like the longer it took [to review] the better chance that we were going to live another day. When the linesman buckled his helmet coming out of the box, we knew that we were going to get another chance. Obviously, when you get up 3-1, they really were throwing everything at us.”
Rhett Garner put UND on the board first at 17:04 of the first period on a pass from Joel Janatuinen in front of the net, while Boston University answered early in the second on a tic-tac-toe goal by Doyle Somerby.
BU’s Bobo Carpenter and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson each scored in the third, but Hoff and Wolanin answered right back.
For a UND team with three straight NCAA Frozen Four appearances, Friday’s result and disallowed goal was a heartbreaking end to the season. Nobody on UND’s roster had ever lost in an NCAA regional game.
“We only had one view of it, in between the intermission before we had to go out for the other overtime,” Berry said. “We looked at it. It was tough. To me, it was probably the right call. We didn’t have a clear, definitive view because on the box side, Hoff went into the zone and you can’t see form our side. But they took time to look at it, and there’s very credible people making the call and they made the right call.”
UND wasted no time putting the pressure on BU with an astonishing 145 shot attempts, compared to BU’s 67 — but Terriers defenseman Brandon Hickey was committed to making sure pucks didn’t make it to the net. The junior blocked 17 of UND’s attempts, as the Terriers’ defensive game and penalty kill units remained strong.
Boston University will face off Saturday night against the winner of the other West Regional semifinal between Minnesota Duluth and Ohio State. Although fatigue may be a factor after a lengthy battle against North Dakota, he knows his team is up for the challenge.
“Just so proud of our team,” Quinn said. “A lot of adversity, an incredible atmosphere. These three guys played in that [World Junior Championship] gold medal game up in Montreal but you’d be hard-pressed to say it was louder than this building — there was a lot more people in that building — but you’d be hard-pressed to find an atmosphere like this. It was a game we wanted to play in, that wasn’t just coach talk. Our players wanted to play in North Dakota in here to go through this experience. If you want to win national championships, you’ve got to beat great teams like North Dakota.”