Late Rodrigues goal sends BU to Frozen Four
From the outset this game was a war. There was never a dull moment, regardless of who you were rooting for. This game had everything from big hits, timely saves and clutch goals.
Minnesota Duluth killed off an early BU penalty, only one of two power plays in the entire game, despite being a very chippy contest. Matt Grzelcyk and Jack Eichel both got into scrums with UMD's Dominic Toninato. After the second little altercation, Eichel and Toninato were both given two minutes for roughing and that pretty much ended that, even though both were still jawing at each other from inside the box.
BU broke the scoreless tie on one of the strangest goals of the year. Brandon Fortunato and Evan Rodrigues where the only two Terriers left in the attacking zone as the Bulldogs looked to breakout. Fortunato made a play on the puck near the blue line to keep it in and the puck popped into the high slot. From the Rodrigues turned around an swatted at the puck and made great contact, enough to send it through UMD goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo leg's and into the back of the net. It was the first of two huge goals for Rodgigues on the afternoon.
BU hung on to that 1-0 lead and took it to the dressing room headed to the second period.
It took just 37 seconds for Duluth to tie things up in period number two. Willie Raskob fired home a shot from the point into essentially an empty net, as Matt O'Connor (27 saves) was stuck on the far post. It looked like he had no idea where the puck was and just never made a move over to get in front of the Raskob shot.
Less than three minutes later, BU regained the lead. Chase Phelps won a battle along the near wall allowing J.J. Piccinich to pick up the puck in the corner. Piccinich then took it behind the net and made a slick centering pass to Matt Lane who was stationed at the top of the crease. Lane corralled the puck and in a diving motion across the crease was able to tuck the puck in past a sprawling Kaskisuo. Lane just snuck the puck past the post and Kaskisuo's leg to make it 2-1.
Following the goal, Duluth took advantage of some sloppy play by the Terriers and hemmed them into their own zone for long portions of the period. Breakouts were tough and UMD did a great job of slowing down the Terries. BU was also very sloppy at times in their own end that lead to Bulldog chances.
The Bulldogs struck even again at the 7:31 marker. Kyle Osterberg raced in on the far side an let go an uncontested wrister from about the top of the circle. O'Connor got his glove on it, but didn't catch it and the puck went up over his shoulder and in slow motion rolled over the goal line to tie the game. It was Osterberg's seventh goal of the year, unassisted.
O'Connor bounced back from his two soft goals and stood tall on all of the grade-A Duluth scoring chances. Minnesota Duluth would not score again.
Momentum was certainly in UMD's favor in the second period, despite the tie score. Doyle Somberby helped change that trend with a massive open ice hit on Tony Cameranesi. It was a brutal check, but it was clean.
The Terries seemed to gain their legs in the third period, a common occurrence this year, but thats not to say Duluth didn't have chances. One shot actually corralled off O'Connor and landed on top of the net where Matt Grzelcyk froze the play. That send everyone in the stands into a nervous wreck, which was pretty much the case throughout the game.
At the 15:37 mark of the third, Evan Rodrigues drew a holding call behind the Duluth net as he was basically form tackled to the ice.
After a couple strong setups, Jack Eichel and Danny O'Regan fought for the puck along the near boards. Eventually, O'Regan came away with it, made a quick pass to Grzelcyk, who then found Rodrigues in the slot. From the top of the circle, he was pressured by Kyle Osterberg who attempted to block with a sprawling dive. Rodrigues pulled off his classic curl, drag and shoot, avoiding Osterberg's sliding body and stick. Rodrigues' shot ripped past Kaskisuo and Ahti Oksanen who was a screen in front and clanged off the center bar inside the goal. It was Rodrigues' 21st goal of the year, coming with just 2:24 left.
BU survived that last 2:24 in very large part to a huge save by O'Connor with just
37 seconds left. BU finally cleared after both teams took timeouts in the dying seconds with a face-off deep in the BU end.
With the win, BU advanced to their first Frozen Four since 2009. There, they will face the number two overall seed, North Dakota at 8:30pm on April 9th at Boston Garden.