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Duluth's Three-Peat Quest Alive, Outlast NoDaks in Five OT's

The University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs apologize if you had other late night plans Saturday. In an event thankfully ignored by mainstream American sports media, UMD kept their bid for a third consecutive hockey championship intact after a 3-2, five-overtime victory over rival North Dakota that saw players start to grow playoff beards towards the end. The marathon goes down as longest game in NCAA history at 142 minutes and 13 seconds. The game featured stellar goaltending throughout, the game scoreless until Duluth posted two quick tallies early in the third period. North Dakota rallied with two scores in the waning minutes of regulation, a missed shot at an empty net led to icing. The ensuing face-off in the UMD zone resulted in senior Jordan Kawaguchi's game-tying goal, sending the limited capacity crowd into a frenzy not heard anywhere in sports for more than a year. The Bulldogs thought they had booked their Frozen Four ticket at 7:33 of the first overtime. On a break Koby Bender found Kobe Roth who scored a would-be game winner. After further review, it was determined Bender lost control and crossed the blue line before the puck. It turned out the game was less than half over. A tense, historic battle was the order of the next couple hours, along with plenty of IV's and energy bars in the locker rooms. Duluth goaltender Zach Stejskal saved 57 of 59 shots before he cramped up and forced to the bench, relieved by sophomore Ryan Fanti. The game ended when freshman winger Luke Mylymok sped into the o-zone, his shot nutmegged a defender and through the five-hole of UND goalie Adam Scheel. The Bulldogs finally celebrated for real in front of partisan North Dakota fans who continue to wear outdated apparel. The run of top-ranked North Dakota ends after remaining in-state for the entire month, the Fighting Hawks hosted the NCHC tournament with the regional held in Fargo. UND easily made quick work of fourth-seeded American International College while Duluth advanced when protocols forced No. 2 seed Michigan out of the tourney. The night ended doubly sweet for Duluth coach Scott Sandelin, hours earlier son Ryan Sandelin scored an OT-winning goal for Minnesota State in their game against Quinnipiac. The official time of the contest was six hours, 12 minutes. Eliminate two hours and five minutes for intermission and the 142 minutes were played in just over four hours. It was a long ride home for a UND fan base that spans several states, funds saved up for a Frozen Four trip in Pittsburgh suddenly available like a stimulus check for beer and cigarettes.


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