Union deals Gophers heartbreak in NCAA title game
PHILADELPHIA — Tiny Union College skated off with the biggest trophy in college hockey.
And the Dutchmen did it at the expense of two of the sport’s giants, toppling Minnesota for its first NCAA title after beating Boston College in the semifinals.
Union scored three times in a 1:54 span in the first period in a 7-4 victory Saturday, two nights after Daniel Ciampini scored three goals in a 5-4 win over Boston College.
"I don’t think anyone will call us Cinderella anymore," said Shayne Gostisbehere, who had a goal and two assists against the Gophers.
Union (32-6-4) won its final 12 games and went 16-0-1 in its last 17. The 2,200-student liberal arts college in Schenectady, N.Y., competes in Division III in all other sports.
"They came as advertised," Minnesota coach Don Lucia said. "We knew it going in."
After Minnesota took a 2-1 lead, Mike Vecchione tied it with 4:01 left in the first, Eli Lichtenwald gave Union the lead 57 seconds later, and Ciampini capped the spree with 2:57 to go.
"The staple of our team all year — we come in waves," Union captain Mat Bodie said. "All three of those goals were pack-of-wolf goals where we were just throwing the puck on net."
Bodie, Max Novak and Kevin Sullivan also scored and Colin Stevens made 36 saves.
"A little bit speechless right now," third-year coach Rick Bennett said. "Just happy for our school, for this program and the past players. It’s an unbelievable experience."
Justin Kloos, Sam Warning, Taylor Cammarata and Hudson Fasching scored for Minnesota (28-7-6). Adam Wilcox stopped 41 shots for the five-time champion Gophers.
"Both teams are better defensively than a 7-4 score shows," Bodie said. "It’s just one of those games where crazy bounces happen. We just wanted to stick with our process. We thought we were playing pretty well and great things happened."
Cammarata pulled Minnesota within one with the lone goal in the second period, but Novak restored the two-goal cushion on a deflection at 5:31 of the third.
Fasching cut it to 5-4 with a power-play goal with 3:40 left. Sullivan put it away with 1:22 to go, and Bodie scored into an empty net with 44.2 seconds remaining.
"Just one shift at a time," Bodie said. "This is the biggest game of our lives, hands down, but you’ve got to treat it like any other game. It was tough, I had people texting me, people calling me and stuff, and, you know, it was real tough to keep that mindset, but with our sport psychologist we were able to get that done."
Kloos opened the scoring on a rebound 2:37 into the first period. Gostisbehere responded by weaving through three opponents and beating Wilcox with a wrist shot to glove side at 9:26.
"He controlled the game," Lucia said about Gostisbehere. "From my vantage point, he was the best player on the ice tonight."
Less than a minute after Gostisbehere’s goal, Warning squeaked a bad-angle shot between Stevens and the pipe to put Minnesota up 2-1.
The Dutchmen took over from there.
Minnesota lost for the seventh time in the title game. The Gophers were making their first appearance in the championship game since winning their second straight title in 2003.
NOTES: The Dutchmen have competed in Division I since 1991-92. … Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren dropped the ceremonial first puck. Holmgren played for the 1974-75 Minnesota team that lost to Michigan Tech in the national title game. … The 2015 Frozen Four will be played at TD Garden in Boston.