Looking back at the 2018 Frozen Faceoff
The Frozen Faceoff marks the final conference games of the season with half of the conference already in their offseasons.
Two teams came into the tournament as locks to make the NCAA playoffs, while the other two are trying to claw their way into contention.
Semifinal game #1: UND (4) vs SCSU (1)
Just like the final series of the regular season, overtime was necessary to determine a winner between the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks and St. Cloud State Huskies.
Patrick Newell got the scoring started in the Frozen Faceoff with a goal just under six minutes into the first period to put his Huskies up 1-0.
There was a momentum shift in the second period. The Hawks came out of the first intermission fast. They started putting pressure on the Huskies in their zone.
Nick Jones scored his 15th goal of the season to tie the game at 1-1 early in the second period.
SCSU quickly took the lead and momentum right back less than a minute and a half after Jones’ score with a goal of their own.
Heading into the final period, UND was down 2-1.
Once again, the Hawks came out of the gate fast after the intermission. They held that momentum for much of the period, and a UND power play goal was a result of that to tie the game late at 2-2.
Overtime was swift. Nick Poehling scored just 1:47 into the period to deliver the Huskies to the Frozen Faceoff championship game.
Like most of the season, the Fighting Hawks’ power play unit was the team’s Achilles heel. They went 1-5 and failed to even put a shot on the net on one of the attempts.
Cam Johnson played well in a losing effort. The senior goaltender played his best game since the 2016 NCAA tournament as he made several outstanding saves to keep UND alive.
The loss for UND means they would have to win the third-place game and get a lot of help to get to the NCAA tournament.
SCSU advances to the Frozen Faceoff championship game.
The Huskies’ defense shut down the UND offense most of the night. They did not allow more than nine shots in any period.
Semifinal game #2: UMD (3) vs DU (2)
Keeping the theme of the evening in the Excel Energy Center, game two of the night was another close contest with the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs and University of Denver Pioneers facing off.
The Pioneers got the scoring kicked off with a goal from one of their usual suspects, Henrik Borgström, his 22nd goal of the season.
DU held the 1-0 lead heading into the middle period.
Scott Perunovich scored the equalizer for the Bulldogs just 1:37 into the period tying the game at 1-1 after UMD goalie Hunter Shepard was kicked down by a teammate.
The tie was short-lived as the Pioneers took the lead back just under three minutes later making the score 2-1.
Things started to get wild towards the end of the second period.
Defenseman Blake Hillman was ejected for checking from behind along with a two-minute tripping penalty and an elbowing penalty from two of his teammates.
With all go the chaos going on around him, Pioneer goalie Tanner Jaillet stood tall and did not allow a score.
A late empty-net goal from DU’s Adam Plant cemented a Pioneer victory extending their lead to 3-1, which was the eventual final score.
The Bulldogs may have lost, but their defense was impressive allowing only nine shots on goal in the second and third periods combined.
UMD was now slated to matchup against UND in the third-place game with both teams’ NCAA tournament chances seemingly up in the air.
The Pioneers advance to the championship where the first-ranked Huskies await them.
Third-place game: UND (4) vs UMD (3)
Mathematically, both UND and UMD could advance to the national tournament even after losing this game, but UND realistically needed to win the game to advance and it showed in their play.
After two periods of play, the Hawks held a commanding 2-0 and were dominating the game for the most part.
late in the third period, UMD’s Nick Wolff was ejected from the game after a kneeing penalty and UND was awarded a five-minute power play.
Shane Gersich added another goal to the UND lead when he scored while on the power play with just over four minutes left in regulation to give the Hawks a 3-0 lead.
After committing another penalty, the Bulldogs finally got on the board when Mikey Anderson found the back of the net as UMD was short-handed.
A 5×3 goal from the Hawks was the final goal of the game giving UND a 4-1 victory over the Bulldogs, and third place in the Frozen Faceoff tournament.
Despite the outcome of the game, it was the Bulldogs who got a bid into the NCAA tournament. UMD plays the Minnesota State University Mavericks in the first round.
UND missed the tournament for the first time since 2002.
Championship game: DU (2) vs SCSU (1)
The competitors in the championship game were no surprise to anyone as SCSU and DU are perhaps the best two teams in the country.
DU got off and running right away scoring two goals in the opening period. One goal from Kohen Olischefski, one from Jake Durflinger.
Ryan Barrow added on to the lead with a goal in the second period just two minutes into play extending the DU lead to 3-0.
SCSU goaltender David Hrenak, who has been brilliant for the Huskies this year was benched after the third goal from DU in favor of Jeff Smith. Hrenak surrendered three goals on just ten shots.
Neither team scored again and the score remained 3-0 going into the third period.
With just over four minutes remaining in the game, Ryan Poehling put the Huskies on the scoreboard with goal cutting the DU lead to 3-1, but it was too little, too late.
A DU goal a minute later sealed the game and championship for the Pioneers, 4-1.
It was the first time DU has won the Frozen Faceoff as they lost in the semifinals the season before on their way to their national championship.
The Pioneers will ride the momentum into their first-round matchup with Pennsylvania State University.
The Huskies still won the first-overall seed in the tournament, and face Air Force in the first round.