North Dakota 4, St. Cloud State 1: Brock Nelson scored two goals — his 24th and 25th of the season — including an empty-netter to lead the Fighting Sioux (are we calling them that again?) past the Huskies and into Friday's semifinals against Minnesota. The Xcel Energy Center should be a packed house for that one.
Corban Knight started the scoring for North Dakota at 7:40 of the first period, and St. Cloud's Ben Hanowski tied it with a power-play goal with 3:46 left in the first. Nelson put the Sioux ahead with 4:09 remaining in the second period, and that lead held, even with a strong push by the Huskies late in the third.
Aaron Dell stopped 29 shots in the win. the Huskies' Mike Lee finished with 24 saves.
The Sioux added a second empty-netter by Danny Kristo to finished off the Huskies.
Denver 3, Michigan Tech 2 (OT): Jason Zucker's goal at 2:18 of overtime gave the Pioneers the win in the first game of the Final Five on Thursday afternoon in St. Paul.
Tech goalie Josh Robinson made 41 saves, and had a 2-1 lead late in the third period. But Denver's Luke Salazar tied the game with 4:32 to play in regulation. Denver outshot Michigan Tech 44-29.
The Pioneers' Drew Shore assisted on his team's first two goals, the first by Ty Loney. Blake Pietila scored for the Huskies, and Ryan Furne put them up by a goal just 18 seconds into the third period.
On the game-winner, Zucker — the Minnesota Wild draft pick playing in his future home rink — was all alone near the left post and took a nice pass from the WCHA's top rookie, Joey LaLeggia, and fired past Robinson.
Denver will play Minnesota Duluth at 2 p.m. on Friday. Tech's season ends with a 16-19-4 record. The Huskies were 4-30-4 a year ago.
"We changed the culture," first-year coach Mel Pearson said. "We raised the bar." Said senior Brett Olson, who had won just 15 games in his first three seasons at Tech: "This season was huge for our program. At the beginning of the year we talked about bringing pride back to the program."