SAINT PAUL, Minn. – With five minutes left in the third period of North Dakota’s game against Colorado College on Friday night, WCHA MVP Matt Frattin netted his 34th goal of the season to send the Sioux to the Final Five title game against Denver.
Saturday night, Frattin waited a little longer before he sent the UND faithful home happy.
Frattin one-timed a rebound past Denver goalie Sam Brittain 5:11 into the second overtime period to give North Dakota a 3-2 victory and a clean-sweep of the WCHA team championships.
The Sioux, who won the conference regular season crown, became the first team since Minnesota in 2004 to win back-to-back Broadmoor Trophies, and only the second team to achieve that feat in nearly two decades.
“It’s probably the biggest goal I’ve scored in my four-year career here,” said Frattin, who was awarded for his efforts with the Final Five MVP award.
The Hobey Baker finalist now boasts a national-best 35 goals entering the NCAA tournament, where North Dakota will be a No. 1-seed and learn it’s destination and opponent tomorrow morning.
The Sioux are 11-0-1 in their last 12 games and have their first 30-win season since 2003-04, but, for the majority of the game, it was the Pioneers who looked like the top team in the country.
Denver came out flying, putting ten shots on goal in the opening period and holding a 20-8 advantage in shooting attempts en route to a 1-0 lead on a Dustin Jackson goal five minutes in.
And, even though the Pioneers had to rally to tie the score and force overtime, DU threw a total of 91 shots towards Sioux goalie Aaron Dell, 42 of which found their way on net, a clear measure of their dominance at times throughout the contest.
“Certainly, Denver had the better of the opportunities through the first 60 minutes,” Sioux coach Dave Hakstol said. “Tonight’s a game that could have gone either way. There were some great plays on both sides of the ice, and goaltending was outstanding.”
But North Dakota, who is known as a gritty, solid team defensively, stayed true to form and did what the best teams do come playoff time. The Sioux blocked 31 shots, killed all six Denver power plays and delivered so many hits that the crew at Xcel Energy Center will have to break out the white paint to cover up the maroon marks left from DU jerseys.
“They’ve got a very good team, and it’s not often you can miss a couple of key players and not miss a beat,” Denver coach George Gwozdecky said of the Sioux, who were missing star-forward Jason Gregoire all weekend. “It tells you about their depth, how well they play together and what a great job the staff has done to keep the team focused and playing well.”
Danny Kristo, fresh off the shelf because of severe frostbite, factored in on both UND goals in regulation. He was credited with a goal to get the Sioux on the board after a loose puck deflected off a Pioneer skate, then made a perfect breakout pass to spring Brent Davidson into the Denver zone, where he beat Brittain to give North Dakota a 2-1 lead.
Anthony Maiani knotted it up with 2:13 remaining in the third, and after a back-and-forth first overtime that was filled with highlights by both goalies, Frattin was able to end it.
But the Sioux has bigger goals in mind, which was evident when they didn’t touch the Broadmoor Trophy during the awards ceremony.
“Obviously it’s a tremendous accomplishment for our team,” senior captain Derek LaPoint said. “We’re saving [the touching of the trophy] for hopefully the biggest one.”