2011 Frozen Four National Championship Recap - Minnesota-Duluth 3, Michigan 2 (OT)
Minnesota-Duluth, welcome to the Champions Club.
After a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory over Michigan on Saturday night at the Xcel Center in the Twin Cities, the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs finally received what was for them a long time coming — a college hockey national championship.
It was only the school’s second championship game appearance. UMD lost to Bowling Green in 1984. This time, 27 years later, the boys from Duluth finished the job.
Senior Kyle Schmidt played the role of hero as he buried a shot that was set up perfectly from Travis Olesksuk three minutes into overtime. As soon at Schmidt lit the lamp, the mostly pro-Bulldog capacity crowd went into pandemonium.
As with any championship game, there is celebration for one side and heartbreak for the other. Michigan gave a valiant effort but it came up just shy. The Wolverines were heavily outshot again, this time 38-24, and goalie Shawn Hunwick played another game for the ages with 35 saves, but this time his effort was just a tad bit short.
The game got off to a sloppy start and looked as though it was going to be another typical Michigan win. The second hero from the semifinal win over North Dakota, Ben Winnett, kept his scoring touch going by lacing a quick shot through a screen to beat goalie Kenny Reite, who ended up with 22 saves for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs answered in the second period with a rebound goal from Travis Oleksuk to tie the game at 1.
Then later in the period, the Bulldogs took their first lead of the contest when fourth liner Max Tardy scored his first career goal off an attempted pass that was deflected back to him and past Hunwick for a 2-1 Bulldog edge.
The Wolverines answered later in the second period with a goal from their fourth liner Jeff Rohkemper with an absolutely ridiculous backhand shot that not even Martin Brodeur could have saved. The extraordinary display of stickhandling skill sent the game into the third period tied at 2.
There was no scoring in the third period but that didn’t mean there weren’t chances on both sides of the rink. The end-to-end action in the third period just proved how much both teams wanted this title and how great the game of hockey is.
This thriller went into overtime when the stage was written for Schmidt and he finished it off with a game winner that doubles as a national championship winner.
It was a storybook ending for the Bulldogs who could not have found a better way to win their first national championship: in overtime, in their home state, against the school that has won the most collegiate hockey titles of all time.
By Alex Bausch
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