North Dakota survives, faces Minnesota next

ST. PAUL — Brock Nelson scored an empty-net goal with 60 seconds remaining Thursday night, securing North Dakota’s 4-1 victory over St. Cloud State in Final Five action.

With its win, North Dakota advances to Friday’s 7 p.m. Final Five semifinal, against Minnesota.

The Fighting Sioux had to scratch and claw for three periods to sew up Thursday’s win over a desperate Huskies squad. Nelson put North Dakota up, 2-1, late in the second period, but St. Cloud State fought until the bitter end.

Finally, Nelson notched his empty-net score late. Then, with less than 30 seconds remaining, North Dakota’s Danny Kristo added another empty-net score for good measure.

Thus, St. Cloud State saw its overall mark drop to 17-17-5.

North Dakota, which improved to 23-12-3 Thursday, lost three of four regular-season matchups with Minnesota this winter.

Denver 3, Michigan Tech 2

Denver’s Jason Zucker lit the lamp at the 2:18 mark in overtime Thursday, handing the Pioneers a hardfought, 3-2 overtime triumph over Michigan Tech, in Final Five action.

Denver also got goals Thursday from Ty Loney and Luke Salazar. Additionally, goalie Juho Olkinuora aided DU’s effort by recording 27 saves.

Michigan Tech got scores from Ryan Furne and Blake Pietila and briefly led, 2-1, early in the third period, before Denver mounted a late charge.

Denver peppered the net to the tune of 44 total shots on goal en route to its narrow victory.