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Minnesota uses Holl goal in final second to propel themselves to title tilt

Justin Holl of the Minnesota Golden Gophers celebrates his game winning goal against North Dakota in the 2014 Frozen Four semifinals Thursday.
Justin Holl of the Minnesota Golden Gophers celebrates his game winning goal against North Dakota in the 2014 Frozen Four semifinals Thursday.Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The first period in the second semifinal that featured North Dakota and Minnesota was without a goal or a penalty in its first fifteen plus minutes from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Shots in the first period ended up in North Dakota’s favor by a 12-9 count. Ten different North Dakota players had shots while eight Minnesota players had shots in the first twenty minutes.

At 1:04 in the second period, Minnesota’s Seth Ambroz drew the game’s first penalty as a minor for tripping. The minor gave North Dakota’s power play a chance to go to work. However, Minnesota’s penalty kill proved the better of the two units on the ice, as the game was still scoreless in the second period’s opening stages.

North Dakota would be called for too many men on the ice at 11:45 of period number two, giving Minnesota its first power play chance of the night. Minnesota, however, couldn’t find much in the way of offense, so North Dakota was able to kill off the bench minor.

Shots were even at twenty-one as a few minutes remained on the clock in period two, but it was the goaltending (North Dakota’s Zane Gothberg and Minnesota’s Adam Wilcox) that got the top billing and was the lead story in the game to the end of forty minutes.

Sam Warning scored the game’s first goal at 10:51 of the third period (nope, no misprint) on even strength as he threw in a rebound off a Kyle Rau shot.

Seconds later, at 11:23, UND’s Connor Gaarder would answer as he put his own rebound in the net on even strength. Dillon Simpson and Jordan Schmaltz assisted Gaarder on the goal that put UND back on the front foot.

As the minutes and seconds ticked down towards sixty minutes played, it became essentially clearer that overtime was going to be needed to separate the two teams from both victory and defeat. That’s just what the fans in Philadelphia were seemingly in for.

At 18:21, Minnesota’s Mike Reilly was cited for holding, giving UND a crucial late power play. North Dakota couldn’t convert, and it was Justin Holl who prevented overtime from happening when he scored at 19:59 to send the Gophers to the national title game. Kyle Rau and Brady Skjei assisted Holl in the shorthanded winner.

Shots on goal finished 37-28 to North Dakota, while Minnesota was 0-1 on the power play and North Dakota was 0-2.

Minnesota faces Union for the NCAA title on Saturday night.