WCHA Semifinal Day Game: UND(1) v. DU(3)

Posted by: dane

1st Period Notes 

Introductions this afternoon dominated by UND fans – very impressive contigency made the trip, which is all the more impressive with the kind of weather that currently plagues the upper Midwest. Wow, it’s loud in here. No matter who you are cheering for, a lively crowd is good for all parties involved. Let’s hope the hockey is up to snuff.

Oshie v. Mannino: first battle goes to Mannino, as he gloved Oshie’s first wrister (also UND’s first shot of game).

Phil Rizzuto “Holy Cow!” Moment of the Period:  Ref Todd Anderson called a penalty. Honorable mention:  UND finds itself amidst a scrum. Why does everybody pick on these guys?

Period ends in a scoreless tie. Here comes my favorite:  THE SMALL FRIES GAME! The music they play is the best part, it’s like half dentist office half your daughter’s xylophone recital. Beautiful.

2nd Period Notes

UND has now failed to capitalize on two 5-on-3 opportunities thus far in the game. Credit DU’s penalty kill, but also credit UND’s lack of T.J. Oshie on the powerplay (he was in the box for an unsportsman). Without Oshie, who is the unit’s primary catalyst, the line lacked firepower. It really felt like everybody kept passing back and forth to eachother, as if it say, “You take the shot, no you take the shot, etc.” One thing’s for sure, capitalizing on 5-on-4 powerplays is important enough come playoff time, doing so on 5-on-3’s should be a given. Let’s see if these successful penalty kills results in any change in momentum.

Yep, sure does. Goal – DU at 5:58 on the powerplay off the stick of Rhett Rakhshani. Take what I said about what UND didn’t do and that’s what Denver did. Good puck movement forced UND’s Jean-Phillippe Lamoureux out of position and Rakhshani lifted one over Lamoureux’s shoulder. The player in the box at the time of the goal was UND’s Joe Finley; bet he regrets taking a stupid stick chop penalty.

Second period comes to an end with a questionable decision by ref Todd Anderson to whistle UND’s Joe Finley for a two minute minor instead of a penalty shot. In all fairness, I’m not sure if the Denver player had separation, but it was close. DU coach George Gwozdecky disagreed, but he has to, that’s his job. Also at period’s end, the good people from FSN put up an interesting stat – this is Denver’s first appearance in the Final Five since 2005. I take that to mean either Denver had bad play-in weekends or it’s a product of the parity of the WCHA, because it wasn’t like Denver had hohum teams in 2006 or 2007. Any team with Peter Mannino in net is never hohum, it’s in the Geneva Convention.

Always a Final Five staple, Michigan Tech’s band deserves to be recognized. Hands down, they are the best band in the WCHA. They just did a rendition of Kansas’ “Carry on Wayward Son” that nearly brought me to tears. I pulled out my lighter. Not to mention they are pretty funny – my favorite was when they counted down the last 10 seconds of 10 minutes remaining in the period and then yelled “HALFTIME!”; classy group, these yuks.

3rd Period Notes

Goal – UND at 6:30 on a rebound by Taylor Chorney. This goal was willed into the net, as DU’s Peter Mannino made about five saves before Chorney beat the puck from his pads and stuffed it into the net. Talk about a crowd revived. With the game now tied with soon to be half a period left, the WCHA has to be pleased with the competitiveness and parity in the two games thus far. It’s always fun watching nail-biter hockey, and both games have been just that.

It’s official:  the momentum has shifted from DU to UND, dramatically.

3 minutes left, the game is coming down to the wire. Expect to see the benches be considerably shortened and look for star players to step up – that means UND’s T.J. Oshie and Denver’s Rhett Rakhshani. Puck just dropped, will keep you posted.

Goal – DU, at 19:40 unassisted by Anthony Maiani. Crazy, crazy play. Moments after withstanding a flurry of shots, DU’s Maiani picks up the puck and takes it end to end. He goes wide on Finley (smart move) and then floats a wickedly placed backhand in the top corner of the net, over a sprawled Jean-Phillippe Lamoureux. It was an amazing solo effort that paid in spades for Maiani and DU. Let’s see if UND can respond.

Game over, DU on to the championship. DU adds an empty netter for good measure. Off to interviews.

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