Every year it seems the Frozen Four produces some of the most ridiculous, unbelievable drama you'll see in sports. That came true again Thursday night. In the second semifinal in Philadelphia, historic rivals from the University of Minnesota and University of North Dakota were deadlocked 1-1 late in the third period.
With 1:39 remaining in regulation, Minnesota defenseman and Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Mike Reilly was called for hooking giving North Dakota the rare power play late in an elimination game. UND had several opportunities but were robbed by Minnesota's star goalie Adam Wilcox, a Tampa Bay Lightning prospect.
A faceoff in Minnesota's zone with less than 10 seconds remaining, it looked like the Gophers would be best served to play safe defense, but they had an opening. With time ticking down, Minnesota defenseman Justin Holl carried the puck out of his zone and dished it to captain Kyle Rau, a Florida Panthers draft selection. Rau put a desperate shot toward the North Dakota net as he entered the zone, but it was blocked by the shinpad of the defenseman. The puck landed back on Holl's stick and in one motion, he let it go.
There was only 0.6 seconds remaining in the game when the puck crossed the goal line. Holl, a Chicago Blackhawks draft pick, beat the buzzer for a shorthanded goal giving Minnesota a stunning 2-1 victory and send them to the national championship game. The goal was reviewed by the officials and quickly confirmed.
The shock on the faces of the North Dakota players was one of those heart-breaking images in sports. Buzzer-beaters in hockey are rarities. To have one end your season is just crushing. Most of the players in green just stood around the ice, essentially frozen in disbelief.
The goal was the Holl's first of the season in 38 games played. What a time for it.
The Gophers, the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament this year, will meet No. 3 Union College, which defeated Boston College 5-4 in the first semifinal Thursday, in the final Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
(h/t @cjzero for video)