When the postseason game between two-time defending champions Minnesota Duluth and North Dakota began on Saturday night, it was 7:30 pm ET. Everyone was ready to play and watch some good hockey, but no one knew what a commitment that would be.
Because the game didn't last just three periods. It went into five overtimes, taking more than six hours to complete. Minnesota Duluth didn't just win the game that sent them to the Frozen Four, they won the longest hockey game in NCAA tournament history.
Third period comeback starts OT frenzy
The game, which had been 0-0 through two periods, started to pick up in the third. Minnesota Duluth scored two goals early in the period, and it looked like they were going to ride those into victory as time ticked down. But North Dakota pulled their goalie down 2-0 and cut the deficit in half with under two minutes left.
Then with their net still empty, team captain Jordan Kawaguchi completed North Dakota's comeback with just 55 seconds left, scoring the game-tying goal.
Then they went to overtime. And they kept going, OT after OT. Just a few minutes into the fifth OT, the game almost ended when a North Dakota defenseman clanked a shot off of the Minnesota Duluth goalpost. Minnesota Duluth answered by zipping up the ice and actually ending the game just 2:13 into the period.
North Dakota coach Brad Berry was pragmatic about the loss.
"It will probably go down as one of the most memorable games, even though we lost the game in overtime," Berry told the Grand Forks Herald after the game. "That's what sports is. I told the guys after the game, 'This is life. This is what life is. It's not fair.' At the end of the day, we could have argued all day who should have won the game. . . we felt we had a very good opportunity. We had a ton of opportunities to win the game. We felt it wasn't fair that we didn't win the game. But again, that's what sports is, that's what life is. You keep moving on."
Minnesota Duluth coach Scott Sandelin praised North Dakota for playing such a great game, and expressed a sentiment that everyone probably shared.
“Unbelievable game,” Sandelin told the Duluth News Tribune. “North Dakota shows their resolve, comes back, ties it. Then we play a marathon overtime and we get a big goal from a freshman that got some ice time later in the overtimes. I couldn’t be more proud of this group. I thought our guys played great. It was a great hockey game too. Two good teams going at it. We got the fortunate break and the goal. Thank God it ended.”
"Thank God it ended" is something probably everyone was thinking after a six hour and 12 minute game.
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