When the University of North Dakota faced off against the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs in the Midwest Regional Final it was 6:30 CT pm on Saturday, March 27, 2021. When the final horn sounded, it was 12:42 Sunday, March 28, 2021.
That’s not a typo. When the game was finally over, UND and UMD had played in the longest game in NCAA men’s hockey tournament history. The game lasted 6 hours and 12 minutes.
It wasn’t pretty. The game was a knock-down-drag-out fight. The game was scoreless until the third period when UMD junior forwards Jackson Cates and Cole Koepke scored back-to-back goals a minute and 20 seconds apart to take a 2-0 lead.
Who knew we were just getting started.
The Hawks didn’t fold or go away quietly into the night. Late in the third period, they pulled junior goalie Adams Scheel and kept pushing. Finally, the Fighting Hawks tied with the game with goals from Collin Adams and Jordan Kawaghuci. With 57 seconds left it was a tie game.
“Down two goals late in the game, our guys never thought that they were out of the game,” UND head coach Brad Berry said. “There was always a push back, a resolve there of trying to tie the game up and they did. That goes to the character of the locker room right there.”
The game would continue for about three and a half more hours. When it was over, it was a five-overtime marathon game. At the 2:13 mark of the fifth overtime, little-used freshman forward Luke Mylymok ended the longest game in NCAA men’s hockey tournament history with his second goal of the season.
“I thought we played well,” Kawaguchi said. “They’re a good team. We’re a good team. It’s two great teams going at it. Obviously, the score reflected it, the whole game reflected it. Either team could have won tonight. It happened that they did.”
During the intermissions, how did the guys to stay hydrated?
“For the last intermission, a couple of us had IVs going,” senior forward Jordan Kawaguchi said. “We were drinking Cokes just to get sugar in our system to give us energy. You know, pretty much anything that makes you feel that much better we were doing.”
“I consider this the national championship game,” Berry said.
Throughout his career, coach Berry has witnessed a lot of hockey games, first as a player (college and professional) and then as a coach. How did this game rank with Berry?
“It’ll probably go down as one of the most memorable ones even though they lost the game in overtime,” Berry said. “For us, I think it proves to us what we are, our culture. A team that never gives up. A team that is relentless. A team that fights to the very end. That’s what sports is.”
UMD head coach Scott Sandelin on his team’s win.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this group,” Sandelin said. “I thought our guys played great. It was a great hockey game. Two great teams going at it.”
The Fighting Hawks had a lot of opportunities, but were unable to close out the Bulldogs. In the end, they couldn’t find a way to punch through and win the game.
“I told the guys after the game, this is life,” Berry said. “This is what life is. It’s not fair. And at the end of the day, you could argue we should have won the game. We felt we had a very good opportunity. We had a ton of opportunities to win the game. We felt it wasn’t fair that we didn’t win the game. Again, that’s what sports is. That’s what life is. You’ve got to learn from the past. I think our young guys are going to put this in the back of their minds, as far as having this experience — which I think was positive to a standpoint that it added to our tradition, and our culture here of what we always are.”
With the loss, UND season ends with an impressive 22-6-1 record. With the win, UMD 15-10-2 moves on to the Frozen Four and will take on the UMass Minutemen.