West Regional | First
Holy Cross' historic upset sets up meeting
with Fighting Sioux for the Regional title
Cross 4, Minnesota 3 OT
Bartlett, T. McGregor
Sixsmith, J. Landry
Kaufmann, C. Harrington
Nappo, J. Landry
Tony Quesada, 60:46, 35 saves, 3 GA
Kellen Briggs, 60:53, 24 saves, 4 GA
HC 8/16; MN 11/22
Plays: HC 1-10; MN 0-7
GRAND FORKS, N.D.– Holy Cross entered
the 2006 NCAA West Regional as a team known for keeping
the puck out of its own net, albeit against fairly unknown
opponents. The Crusaders built upon that reputation heading
into Saturday night’s regional final after mounting
arguably the greatest upset in college hockey history, a
4-3 overtime triumph over No. 2 Minnesota on Friday at the
Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Tony Quesada, Holy Cross’ senior goaltender,
was the difference. Already the owner of Crusader records
aplenty, the Maine native assumed a legend’s status
against Minnesota by turning aside 35 shots from the nation’s
second-leading offense. His childhood dream was to be a
Golden Gopher. Instead, he will be remembered forever as
the villain who derailed Minnesota’s national championship
“My mom grew up in Minnesota, so every
year at Christmas time, I would get Golden Gopher stuff
– hats and shirts,” said Quesada. “So,
as a kid you just think, ‘Oh, that’s where I
want to play college hockey.’ To come out here and
play Minnesota, it’s just a great experience. And
beating them… It can’t get any better than that.”
The signs of trouble were apparent early for
Minnesota, which looked uninspired and imprecise from the
“We definitely didn’t play up
to our capabilities,” said Gino Guyer, the Golden
Gopher captain. “It just seemed like we lost a step
from where we were earlier in the season. We just never
got it back.”
Minnesota head coach Don Lucia compared it
to his 1995 Colorado College team that entered regional
play as a No. 2 seed, only to flame out against an upstart
Golden Gopher squad in quarterfinals.
“The big battle cry was, ‘Get
to the NCAA Tournament. Get there, get there, get there,’”
said Lucia of his former Tiger squad. “Then, when
we got there, we were emotionally flat. When I walked into
the locker room after the game tonight, there were some
tears but there were a lot of guys with blank looks. And
that kind of shows the emotion level where our kids were
at. For whatever reason, they didn’t have that zip.”
Tyler McGregor, Holy Cross’ leading
scorer, had plenty of zip. In fact, he had zip in reserve,
scoring a pair of goals including the overtime game-winner
just 53 seconds into the extra session. A right-hand shot,
McGregor took advantage of an opportunity on his off-wing
– and a fortunate bounce off P.J. Atherton’s
skate – to end Minnesota’s season.
“I was looking to make the pass across
but it hit the inside of the defender’s foot,”
said McGregor. “It caromed right back on my stick.
I didn’t even know where the goaltender was. I just
Minnesota’s Kellen Briggs was sliding
across to trace the pass’ intended path. Unable to
reverse his momentum after the deflection, Briggs watched
helplessly as McGregor slid the puck into an open net.
“When you get a chance like that, you
just don’t want to screw it up,” said McGregor.
“I couldn’t be any happier right now.”
McGregor said that he and his teammates felt
confident entering the game, fully believing they could
win. He compared the Golden Gophers to Mercyhurst, a high-flying
offensive club that his Crusaders toppled twice earlier
“They play very similarly to them,”
he said. “They play a real run-and-gun style. But,
we know that in playing a game like that, we’re going
to get our chances. We just have to capitalize on them,
and we did that most of the time tonight.”
No one was capitalizing early in the contest.
After a scoreless first period, Minnesota finally began
to seize momentum, doing so in much the same way an elephant
would gain momentum sitting on a lawn chair – steadily
but without grace. The Golden Gophers pushed the shots-on-goal
discrepancy to 21-11 despite less-than-precise puck movement
before Holy Cross responded at 8:49. Sophomore Dale Reinhardt
did the honors, one-timing a slick touch pass from
Blair Bartlett past Briggs.
Fueled by a bit of renewed urgency, Minnesota
evened the score at 13:15 while whittling away a Holy Cross
power play. Mike Howe’s persistence paid dividends
as the sophomore left wing one-timed a shot of the pipe,
secured the rebound, and then zipped a follow-up past Quesada
for a short-handed goal.
Alas, it was never meant to be an easy night
for the Gophers, and Holy Cross regained the lead just 31
seconds later, during a 5-on-3 power-play, on McGregor’s
first goal of the night – a blistering one-timer that
eluded Briggs’ blocker and paddle.
The goal sprung Minnesota’s Kris Chucko
from the penalty box but Phil Kessel remained incarcerated,
severing what was left of a high-sticking minor. It proved
to be a blessing in disguise for the Golden Gophers. Just
as Kessel’s penalty expired, sophomore Evan Kaufman
cruised unmolested through the neutral zone during a Crusaders
line change and spotted Kessel, whose sudden emergence turned
it into a Minnesota 2-on-1. Kaufman made no mistake, immediately
sliding the puck to Minnesota’s freshman phenom who
did what goal scorers are supposed to do – convert
on chances, no matter how unexpected. His shot between Quesada’s
legs evened the count at 2-2. It was Kessel’s 18th
goal and 51st point of the season
The score remained tied until 2:17 of the
final frame when Minnesota defenseman Alex Goligoski unleashed
another of his trademark sizzling wrist shots to beat Quesada
and give the Golden Gophers their first lead of the game.
But the Crusaders wouldn’t relent. Pierre Napert-Frenette,
Holy Cross’ captain, pounced on his own pipe rebound
five minutes later, shoveling the puck past Briggs to knot
the score at 3-3. Briggs had frozen on the play, evidently
thinking that the puck was either already in the net, whistled
dead or out of play.
The 3-3 deadlock remained until McGregor untied
it moments into overtime, scoring a goal that sealed an
upset for the ages – and left the vaunted Golden Gophers
being compared to Mercyhurst.
Dakota 5, Michigan 1
Toews, K. Radke
Spirko, B. Lee
Kaleniecki, M. Hunwick
Noah Ruden, 60:00, 28 saves, 5 GA
Jordan Parise, 60:00, 34 saves, 1 GA
MI 7/14; ND 9/18
Plays: MI 1-6; ND 2-4
NEVER IN DOUBT
There was never any doubt. Buoyed by a boisterous
Ralph Engelstad Arena crowd and Minnesota’s stunning
loss to Holy Cross, the Fighting Sioux of North Dakota stormed
onto the ice for Friday’s NCAA West Regional showdown
with Michigan and marched off with a succinct, convincing
and workmanlike 5-1 victory, knowing full well the opportunity
that lay ahead of them.
Playing its finest hockey of the season, North
Dakota will meet upset-minded Holy Cross on Saturday with
the Frozen Four at stake.
“We wanted to come in tonight and have
an opportunity to come back tomorrow and we did that,”
said Fighting Sioux head coach Dave Hakstol. “Now
we’ll prepare to face a very good Holy Cross team.”
Saturday’s game will feature the West
Regional’s top two goaltenders: Holy Cross’
Tony Quesada and North Dakota’s Jordan Parise, both
of whom boast saves percentages in excess of .920. Parise
surrendered just a single goal to Michigan on 36 shots,
once again acting as North Dakota’s backbone.
Michigan’s goaltending has not been
a backbone this season and the struggles continued against
North Dakota. Senior Noah Ruden was victimized twice in
the game’s opening eight minutes, essentially squashing
the Wolverines’ chances before either team had broken
Ryan Duncan struck first, tallying his fourth
power-play goal of the season to conclude a brilliant three-way
passing play at 5:01. The capacity crowd had barely stopped
rocking when the incomparable T.J. Oshie, who some felt
was unjustly robbed of WCHA Freshman of the Year honors,
zipped a shot past Ruden’s blocker and into the top
corner to make the score 2-0. Both North Dakota goals had
come on the power play.
What pulse remained for the Wolverines was
extinguished just four minutes into the second period when
North Dakota’s Travis Zajac spotted Drew Stafford
streaking into the clear during a Fighting Sioux penalty
kill. The sophomore from Winnipeg slid a long pass to Stafford,
who broke in alone on Ruden and scored in his return from
a deep thigh bruise suffered during the WCHA playoffs.
“That shorthanded goal was the killer,”
said Michigan’s Andrew Ebbett. “It was costly.”
Michigan answered with a power-play goal from
sophomore Chad Kolarik just 22 seconds later, but the Fighting
Sioux piled on with another goal at 14:39 from Jonathan
Toews to put the game out of reach. Zajac added an insurance
marker late in the third period to close out the scoring
– and the Wolverines – on a late night in the
Red River Valley that stretched to 11:45 p.m. before the
final horn sounded.
“From our perspective, we didn’t
feel like it was a 5-1 game,” said Michigan head coach
Red Berenson. “But it turned into it. North Dakota
got a great start and got the crowd into it. We had to come
up with an upset effort and we didn’t do it.”
The North Dakota effort was complete in every
fashion, especially special teams.
“This time of year, specialty teams
is all about execution,” said Hakstol. “And
tonight, we won the special teams battle.”
INCH's Three Stars of the Night
T.J. Oshie, North Dakota
goal and an assist, several solid hits and a plus-2
rating. Freshman wunderkind continues to impress.
Tony Quesada, Holy Cross
Thirty-five saves to upset Minnesota. Enough
Tyler McGregor, Holy Cross
Two goals including the overtime game-winner
and an assist to upset Minnesota. He’s that
straw that stirs Holy Cross’ Powerade.
SEEN AND HEARD AT THE RALPH
• A massive crowd was both seen and
heard at the Ralph. The announced attendance for each game
was 11,153, breaking the previous single-game attendance
record for a West or Midwest Regional of 9,540 set at Minnesota’s
Mariucci Arena in 2003.
• There was a complete sellout of hotel
rooms in greater Grand Forks which eased after Minnesota’s
stunning loss. Word is that there is a lot of traffic moving
east on I-94 tonight.
• Michigan’s Red Berenson on the
Holy Cross upset of Minnesota: “Anything can happen
in a game, but that’s the biggest that I can remember
in 20 years of college hockey.”
• With the victory in goal – his
54th as a member of the Fighting Sioux, Jordan Parise moved
into a second-place tie with Lefty Curran on the University’s
all-time goaltender victories list.
• North Dakota’s T.J. Oshie took
over the nation’s lead in game-winning goals with
his marker against Michigan. It was his ninth GWG of the
season, a UND record.
• The REA staff used its press box in
addition to two rows of seats in two sections to house the
gathered media on Friday.
• Michigan’s Andrew Ebbett on
North Dakota’s stable of forwards: “That’s
the best group of forwards we’ve seen this year.”
the losing teams. Answering the media’s questions
can be difficult after bitter defeats like these, but both
Minnesota and Michigan handled the post-game media scrum
with class and dignity.
college hockey, which took a giant step forward with Holy
“The reality is, their win tonight was
good for college hockey,” said Minnesota head coach
Don Lucia. “These leagues and these teams are getting
the NCAA’s game management crew who collected the
puck that was Tyler McGregor’s game-winning goal and
presented it to him after the game.
is responsible for starting games this late? Is it television?
Any on-deadline sportswriters were bitter with the midnight
the media member who asked Berenson about whether it’s
fair to have a team playing in the regionals on its home
ice. Ice is ice. Isn’t it time to put this argument
to rest? Would you prefer playing at some neutral rink with
200 people in the stands? Kudos to Berenson for handling
the question with tact.
“Is it fair? No. But there’s not
a better environment than an on-campus rink,” he said.
the sound crew at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Maybe we’re
just getting old, but can you please turn the volume
down a little bit. The fans and the bands are enough. We
don’t need woofer-popping commercials and music that
distort because of the extreme volume. It’s not adding
Everyone thought it would be Minnesota tasked
with toppling the Fighting Sioux in Grand Forks. Instead,
it will be upstart Holy Cross. The game amounts to a goaltending
and special teams battle, with North Dakota entering as
the obvious favorite.
The Fighting Sioux wins if Parise plays well
and the offense generates chances similar to those it generated
The Crusaders win if Quesada plays brilliantly
and they stay out of the penalty box. Despite holding Minnesota
scoreless on seven chances with the man advantage, playing
with fire tomorrow will likely leave Holy Cross looking