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Have you ever seen a team win a hockey game in sudden-death overtime, only to have the goal disallowed because of “inadvertent contact with the goalie?” Neither have I. Until now.
But first, the rest of the story. One of the great things about the annual run of holiday college bowl games is that you never know which will be the most entertaining. You also never know which conference will come out the best.
Some of my favorites:
Peach Bowl: It was almost condescendingly that Auburn, a power from the Southeast Conference, would put upstart Central Florida in its place. Sure, Central Florida, which was winless two seasons ago, was riding a 12-0 record as the nation’s only undefeated major college team and champion of the American Athletic Conference, and coach Scott Frost was already committed to leave for the job at Nebraska, his alma mater. So Auburn was a prohibitive favorite. But quarterback McKenzie Milton, shaky through the first half, looked like the Heisman Trophy winner in the second, throwing two touchdown passes and running for 116 yards to lead Central Florida to a 34-27 victory over Auburn. Frost leaves a team on the best of terms -- a 13-0 record, reason to lobby to not be ignored by the playoff selection committee, and with the biggest prize in the school’s history.
Rose Bowl: Oklahoma and Georgia battled through an epic that showed a good defense is...not apparent! Oklahoma led 31-14 but lost 54-48 to Georgia in two overtimes, as Jake Fromm (20-29 passing) outduelled Heisman winner Baker Mayfield (23-36).
Outback Bowl: Michigan led 19-3 over South Carolina, but took its foot off the gas and South Carolina came back to beat the Wolverines 26-19. The incredible part of that is that Michigan became the only one of eight Big Ten teams playing in bowl games this year — to lose! The Big Ten can hold its head up high after being the target of the nation’s football fans for going 7-1 in bowl games. Wisconsin, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State, Northwestern, Iowa and Purdue — Purdue! — all won their bowl games to give the Big Ten far and away the best record of any conference in the country.
EAST TIES BLAINE 2-2
Now for the odd call that decided a hockey game in overtime. Duluth East rarely has been in more overwhelming form than during last Saturday afternoon’s game against Twin Cities perennial power Blaine at Essentia Heritage Center. Joe Daniger was in goal for Blaine, and the Greyhounds nearly put him into the Hall of Fame.
East outshot Blaine 66-22. Shots were 19-8 in the first period, when Carson Richels scored the only goal — for Blaine. East’s Garrett Worth scored on a bank-shot off Daniger from behind the net for a 1-1 tie in the second period, when East outshot Blaine 25-6. But the Bengals regained the lead at 2-1 when he beat the lunging Parker Kleive to a loose puck. But Worth scored his second to tie it 2-2 before the second period ended.
The Greyhounds had a 14-6 edge in shots in the scoreless third period, and an 8-2 edge in the overtime, which featured only one goal, and it didn’t count. With 2:18 left in the 8-minute overtime, East charged the Blaine goal, and as a Blaine defenseman knocked an East player into Daniger, the Greyhounds scored. In the melee, Daniger’s helmet-mask thing flew off as he was knocked to the ice. The officials declared “No goal.”
The official ruling was “inadvertent contact with the goalie.” Based on what some people saw, there was nothing inadvertent about the contact, but it shouldn’t have affected the goal, which was already in the net. Regardless, East remains undefeated at 6-0-3, with games this weekend at Stillwater Friday night and at Minnetonka Saturday afternoon.
It is hard to imagine any team surviving the gauntlet of tying Cloquet 6-6; beating Centennial 5-3 on an empty-net goal; beating Marshall 3-2 in overtime; beating Lakeville North 6-5; and tying Blaine 2-2.
U.S. JUNIORS REACH SEMIS
Finishing second in their pool meant the U.S. Junior National players had to face Russia in Tuesday’s quarterfinal round. Russia had won seven consecutive medals of some color at World Junior Tournaments around the world. But this time, Team USA prevailed 4-2 with a spirited effort that included a goal by UMD’s Joey Anderson, one of five Bulldogs on the team, and its captain. Keifer Bellows, son of former North Star Brian Bellows, had two goals.
That puts the U.S. into Thursday’s semifinals against Sweden, while Canada faces the Czech Republic at 7 in the Buffalo, N.Y. event. The Czech Republic stunned favored Finland in a shootout in their quarterfinal match, which was impressive, but also reminds us all that a shootout is an awful way to lose in a world championship tournament.