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Quite a series last weekend for the UMD hockey Bulldogs. UMD went up to Bemidji Saturday night and beat the Beavers 2-1 to gain a split of the weekend rivalry set.
Yes, the Bulldogs lost a tough and intense 2-1 game to Bemidji State in the second overtime Friday night at AMSOIL Arena. If you were among the 5,000-plus fans who walked out into the bitter cold night after the Friday game you were a witness that the Bulldogs lost, but afterward there was some confusion.
Media sources from the Duluth News Tribune to television sportscasts said it was a 1-1 tie, and a tough one at that. But we watched as Zach Whitecloud, a freshman from Brandon, Manitoba, skated up the right side in the first minute of the second overtime. Gerry Fitzgerald carried down the middle, passed to his left to Brendan Harris, who immediately passed across the slot and Whitecloud shot off the pass to beat goaltender Hunter Miska at 0:59.
Turns out, the game stands officially in the eyes of the NCAA and the Pairwise ratings folks as a tie. There is reason for the confusion, even though it seems as though the UMD official release, which didn’t name the winning goal-scorer or even say that the goal was scored, might have been trying to ignore the defeat.
Same with the newspaper account, which only after a whole story about it being a 1-1 tie mentioned in a note that the teams played an “exhibition” second overtime afterward and Bemidji scored.
Here’s the reality. Nobody likes ties, not the coaches, fans, players or NCAA, so they have overtime. The NCAA made the decision that there must be a 5-minute sudden-death overtime, skating 5-on-5, after a tie game. If it remains tied, each league can do what it wants. The National Collegiate Hockey Conference, of which UMD is a member, decided to have a 5-minute 5-on-5 sudden-death overtime, followed by a 5-minute 3-on-3 sudden-death overtime, and if it is still tied, then there would be a shootout.
By NCAA rules, if a game is tied after the first 5-minute overtime, then it goes into the books officially as a tie, but for purposes of league standings, an extra point can be won by a second overtime or a shootout.
So your eyes weren’t deceiving you. Bemidji State won Friday’s game 2-1 in double overtime, but we’ll allow UMD and the News Tribune (wink-wink) to pretend it was a tie.
High Schools Take Over
Big games are everywhere during the holidays, and especially in high school hockey. Section 7AA is particularly loaded this season, with Grand Rapids, Duluth East and Elk River all deserving to be ranked among the top six or eight teams.
Grand Rapids went down to the Edina Invitational last week and defeated Edina, then beat top-ranked Eden Prairie, before losing to Elk River in the third game in three nights. Fantastic show for the Thunderhawks.
East, meanwhile, got past one huge rivalry last week when the Greyhounds beat Cloquet-Esko-Carlton 5-0 at Heritage Center. East outshot the Lumberjacks 44-24 and took a 2-0 lead when Brandon Baker and Alex Robb scored in the first period.
Ian Mageau roared in and cut across in front to beat goaltender Eric Newman in the second period, Nick Lanigan and Luke LaMaster scored in the third and the Hounds looked to be in midseason form.
This East team has depth and balance, and appears to have a teamwork-first attitude rather than prominent egos, which will make them even more tenacious than their style seems to favor.
Next up for East is another huge rivalry: Thursday night at 7 p.m. against Marshall at Mars-Lakeview Arena. Last year, the biggest surprise of the season came when Marshall hammered East in their long-awaited battle after Marshall had moved up from Class A to AA to compete with the bigger schools. This will be their first meeting since then, and Mars-Lakeview isn’t big enough to contain all the fans who will try to get in.
That game, by the way, will be a tune-up for Marshall before their Hilltopper Classic tournament next week, which will bring in some prime opposition, including Hermantown, Cloquet, and Delano – the No. 1 rated team with an explosive first line.
Wild Up, Vikings Down
The Minnesota Wild are on a franchise record winning streak. They won their eighth straight game by whipping Colorado 2-0 Tuesday night to strengthen their hold on second place behind the equally hot Chicago Blackhawks in the division.
The Wild, however, have four games in hand on the Blackhawks, and the way they’re playing, it would be beneficial to make up those games as soon as possible.
On the other side of the Minnesota sports scene, the Minnesota Vikings must have been confused by all the bye weeks, etc., because they took last Sunday off, when they were supposed to be playing the Indianapolis Colts at US Bank Stadium.
No excuses, but the Vikings have dropped from 5-0 to 7-7 by a horrendous 2-7 slide, and there are two games left. Saturday night, Christmas Eve, as you’re counting sugar plums or whatever’s fashionable at your house, the Vikings will be in Green Bay, playing a Packers team that Aaron Rodgers has brought back from life-support with a four-game winning streak to reach 8-6.