WCHA Final Five: North Dakota tops UMD 2-0
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Jason Gregoire and Evan Trupp scored late in the third period, lifting North Dakota to a 2-0 win over Minnesota Duluth on Thursday in the opening game of the WCHA Final Five.
Both goaltenders had been perfect until the final eight minutes of the game, when Gregoire got his team-leading 20th goal while the fifth-seeded Fighting Sioux were killing a penalty, and Trupp doubled his team's lead with less than two minutes to play.
"We live to fight another day, which is the name of the game in this tournament," said North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol. "We've had close, tough games with Duluth all season, and we knew this would probably be the toughest."
Brad Eidsness stopped all 22 shots he faced for his third shutout of the season, while Kenny Reiter had 32 saves in the loss for the 11th-seeded Bulldogs.
North Dakota (23-12-5) advances to play league champion Denver in Friday night's semifinals. Things are much less certain for the Bulldogs (22-17-1), who are on the bubble for an invite to the 16-team NCAA tournament field and likely won't know their fate until the selections are announced Sunday morning.
North Dakota dominated the first two periods everywhere except the scoreboard, out-shooting the Bulldogs 25-10 and controlling the play for long stretches. Reiter was up to the task, stopping everything the Sioux threw his way, including three through sweeping glove saves.
"Until the last 10 minutes of the game we were right there," said Reiter. "One bounce our way and it might have been different."
The Bulldogs thought they had taken the lead early in the third, when Cody Danberg batted a puck out of the air and it trickled past Eidsness. After a lengthy review, officials ruled no goal, saying that Danberg had deflected the puck with a high stick.
Minnesota Duluth won the WCHA Final Five a year ago, becoming the first team ever to win three games in three days to claim the title. But the Bulldogs entered this tournament having gone just 4-8 in the regular season's last dozen games.
The Sioux, by contrast, were one of the hottest teams in the nation entering the playoffs, winning their last seven games and scoring nearly five goals per game in the process.
"We looked a half-step behind, and they're a great defensive team," said Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin. "We didn't get a lot of chances, and when we did their goalie made the saves he had to make."
Wisconsin and St. Cloud State play in the tournament's other semifinal game, on Friday afternoon.