Holy Cross stuns Minnesota; North Dakota advances

Updated: March 25, 2006, 10:19 AM ET
Associated Press

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- University of North Dakota fans might have adopted Holy Cross for one night, but the honeymoon is over for the Crusaders.

Drew Stafford's short-handed goal highlighted a banner night for special teams as UND defeated Michigan 5-1 on Friday night in the second game of the NCAA West Regional semifinals.

The win vaults UND into Saturday's regional final against Holy Cross, which upset top-seeded Minnesota 4-3 in overtime in the first semifinal with the crowd firmly behind the Crusaders. The winner earns a berth in the Frozen Four in Milwaukee.

"To have all those thousands cheering for us made it a lot easier," Holy Cross goalie Tony Quesada said. "But we know we won't get anything like that tomorrow night."

Tyler McGregor scored 53 seconds into overtime to give Holy Cross a shocking victory over Minnesota, the Crusaders' first playoff win in 36 years of hockey.

"We were pretty aware that in the media we weren't supposed to win this game," McGregor said. "But in our locker room there was a very different attitude."

It was the second goal of the game and 26th of the season for McGregor, who scored after his passing attempt was blocked by a Minnesota defenseman and the puck bounced back to him. Gophers goalie Kellen Briggs had no chance on the play.

"Briggs was playing the pass like you would expect him to, but the puck came back to me and he didn't have time to recover," McGregor said. "It was a pretty open net."

The Crusaders were seeded No. 4 in the region and had played just one team in the regular season that made the postseason. It was their first game ever against Minnesota, one of the most powerful programs in the country.

"I'm in shock and have no emotion," Gophers captain Chris Harrington said. "I can't believe it happened."

Quesada kept Holy Cross in the game during regulation, making 35 saves. His play helped keep the Gophers scoreless on seven power-play opportunities.

The Gophers appeared to have worn down the Crusaders by the third period, taking a 3-2 lead on Alex Goligoski's goal at 2:17. Minnesota then killed off a 5-on-3 Holy Cross power play.

Crusaders forward Pierre Napert-Frenette tied it at 3-all at 7:53 of the third period, poking in a rebound after the puck came to rest in the crease.

Dale Reinhardt also scored for Holy Cross (27-9-2).

Mike Howe and Phil Kessel added goals for Minnesota (27-9-5).

"We didn't play poorly," Gophers coach Don Lucia said. "In fact, we competed real hard but Holy Cross was pretty good. They have a good goalie, good special teams and their top two lines are very skilled."

Five players scored for North Dakota in the nightcap. Stafford celebrated his return to the lineup by scoring his seventh short-handed goal of the season, tops in the nation.

"Drew is very important because he plays in all situations," UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "He brings a certain level of calmness and good stability."

Stafford, who missed the last four games with a knee injury, gave the Sioux a 3-0 lead in the second period. A pass from Travis Zajac allowed Stafford to skate in alone on goalie Noah Ruden.

Goalie Jordan Parise had 34 saves for the Sioux. Ruden finished with 28 stops for Michigan.

"The puck seems pretty big right now," said Parise, who was the MVP of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association tournament and has three shutouts in his last eight games. "But everyone in front of me was chipping in to."

The Sioux scored a pair of power-play goals in the first period. Ryan Duncan scored at 5:01 after a pair of nifty passes by Kyle Radke and Jonathan Toews, and T.J. Oshie scored at 7:28.

"This a great home ice environment here, so we didn't want to give up the first goal and we did," Michigan coach Red Berenson said. "We had to come up with an upset effort and it didn't happen.

It was Oshie's team-leading 24th goal. He scored his ninth game-winning goal of the season, a UND record.

Toews scored his 20th goal of the season to give the Sioux a 4-1 lead at 14:39 of the second period. He knocked down a high rebound with his glove before firing the puck past goalie Noah Ruden.

Travis Zajac scored the other goal for the Sioux in the third period, converting a pass from Oshie after Oshie stole the puck at center ice and fought off several checks.

The Sioux (28-15-1) killed off six Michigan power plays, four in the first period. Chad Kolarik scored while the Wolverines (21-15-5) were skating with a man advantage in the second period, 22 seconds after Stafford's goal.

"That's the best group of forwards we have faced this year," Kolarik said. "They buried their chances and we didn't."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press