FARGO, N.D. — Minnesota Duluth entered Friday night’s West Regional semifinal matchup with the nation’s second-longest winning streak, and Willie Raskob made sure that stayed alive.
Raskob tallied the game-winning goal at 11:58 in overtime to give the Bulldogs their sixth win in a row in a 3-2 victory over Ohio State Friday night at Scheels Arena.
But Ohio State didn’t give up without a fight. In the regional’s second overtime game of the night, the Buckeyes fought back to erase a two-goal deficit in the third, although it wasn’t enough to salvage their season.
“We’ve grinded through games,” Duluth coach Scott Sandelin said. “We’ve found ways to win, and tonight was no different. We obviously gave up the lead and played on our heels and relied on some good saves by our goaltender to stay alive. Fortunately, we made a play in the overtime to get the win, but certainly excited to be moving on.”
UMD’s Hunter Miska made 40 saves, blocking Ohio State’s fierce comeback effort.
“He was, by far, our best player,” Sandelin said.
Duluth’s Dominic Toninato put his team on the board first 49 seconds into the second period. Nick Wolff gave the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead with a goal at 12:41 of the second frame.
With his team’s season on the line, Ohio State’s Matt Joyaux answered back with a goal from the key at 7:09 of the third, while Gordi Myer tied the score at 2-2.
“It’s playoff hockey,” Ohio State coach Steve Rohlik said. “Two pretty good hockey games today. I couldn’t be more proud of my club. They emptied their tanks and gave ourselves a chance. Down 2-0, and our guys never quit. They never stopped talking positive on the bench and they believed we could win the whole time. Unfortunately, we came up a little short tonight. ”
Despite prime chances in front of the net, the Buckeyes couldn’t find a way to get pucks past Miska. The freshman goaltender is unbeaten in his last 16 appearances, going 10-0-3 since mid-January.
For Miska, Friday’s game wasn’t different than any other.
“I felt good,” Miska said. “I felt calm, just like any other game. I don’t look at it any differently, I just try to stop the puck.”
Duluth is unbeaten in 17 of its last 18 games and has a six-game winning streak that’s behind only Harvard’s 15-game run. Miska has proved to be a valuable asset in those victories.
“We knew [Miska] had a heck of a year,” Rohlik said. “That was the book on him was he was making a lot of stops. We were just trying to have net-front presence and try to get pucks to the net. As you can see from some of those replays, you can’t ask for better chances that what we had. He just flat out made some unbelievable saves.”
Duluth will face Boston University on Saturday in the West Regional final, with the winner clinching a berth into the NCAA Frozen Four. Despite a victory on Friday, Duluth knows it’s do or die against a determined Terriers team.
“Sometimes you don’t always win playing your best game,” Sandelin said. “To me, it’s about advancing and learning to get better. That’s what this group has done all year. We’re still playing, which is great. We’ve got to be a better hockey team tomorrow to continue and advance. Obviously, BU poses a big challenge because they’re a good team with tremendous skill.”