Senior forward and Hermantown native Kyle Schmidt scored the game-winning goal at 3:22 of overtime to give Minnesota Duluth a 3-2 win over Michigan and its first national championship Saturday night at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Two of the Bulldogs' goals came from local guys, Duluth native Max Tardy, a fourth-line freshman, scored his first career goal. Travis Oleksuk had the other UMD goal and assisted on Schmidt's game-winner. Oleksuk's and Schmidt's linemate, freshman J.T. Brown was named the tournament's most outstanding player.
Freddy's Three Thoughts of the Game:
1. The best team: When Michigan knocked out North Dakota on Thursday, Wolverines coach Red Berenson said that sometimes the best team doesn't win the title and made the comparison to 1997 when his team was upset in the semifinals and UND won the championship. But Saturday, UMD coach Scott Sandelin said, "The best team wins. I believe that. Maybe not (the best team) talent-wise." With all of the focus on the lawfirm line of Connolly, Connolly & Fontaine, the Bulldogs got contributions from other areas: the second line of Schmidt, Brown and Oleksuk; Tardy on the second power-play unit; and a pretty hot goalie in Kenny Reiter (22 saves).
2. Marrying man: Most of the Bulldogs bleached their hair for the postseason, giving themselves a blonde (and sometimes orange) look this weekend. One player who didn't was Schmidt, the hero of the game. The reason he stayed away from the peroxide? He's getting married this summer. When asked if he thought his natural-brown hair was the reason he got the game-winner, he said, "Yep," and got a roar of laughter from the assembled media. But then he added, "I think it was more the other guys on my line than me. I was just in the right spot at the right time. So blonde hair, just the tips, either way, I think I would have buried that one, and luckily I did."
3. Minnesota nice: The last time the Frozen Four was held in St. Paul, Minnesota defeated Maine 4-3 in overtime. It was home for Minnesota Duluth and its 17 Minnesotans (12 in uniform Saturday). "It's great for the players, the coaches, everyone," Schmidt said. "It's been way too long a time coming for everyone in Duluth, the Twin Ports, Up North." It was the first national title for Duluth. "Wow. Pretty special," Sandelin said. "I am so extremely proud of these guys. ... But to do something the school's never done, as I said a couple of days ago, it would mean everything. And not just for these players, but for the alumni, the program and city."
OT: A few more notes ... It was the 15th overtime game of the season for UMD, who had a 7-2-6 record OT games. ... Berenson didn't, uh, appreciate the fact that Duluth had nine power plays (it scored one PPG) and his team had four: "I can't tell you what I really think. I mean, you can't talk about refereeing and penalties, but when one team gets nine and the other four, it doesn't add up." Later: "Every time a player falls down it shouldn't be a penalty, not in NCAA championship hockey." ... Next year's Frozen Four will take place in Tampa, Fla. When that was announced during the game, most of the crowd of 19,222 booed. "This is one of the best venues you could have in this tournament, if not the best," Sandelin said of St. Paul. "It's a hockey city. It's a great building and a great atmosphere."
So that's it for the 2010-11 college hockey season. See you around the blog.