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-In a David vs Goliath Story, Union College Upsets College Hockey's Giant
With the annual Frozen Four college hockey tournament coming to an end, it was the Union (N.Y.) Dutchmen who, for the first time in their schools history, had the privilege of raising the Championship trophy. After defeating Boston College in the semi-finals, the Dutchmen handily beat the Gophers of Minnesota, winning by a score of 7-4.
Before the championship game took place, Minnesota took on their historic rivals, The University of North Dakota, which ended up in a buzzer beating victory for the Golden Gophers. As far as college hockey is considered, the U of M vs UND game is as good as it gets. No matter what the circumstances are, the game between these two storied teams is always one to remember.
Adam Wilcox, goaltender for Minnesota, had a career defining game with 36 saves, only letting one puck get past him. He made a series of incredible saves, putting the team on his back and leading them to this victory. The Minnesota kid from South St. Paul is sure to be a NHL goalie in his future. Although the two teams never seem overtly friendly on the ice, Wilcox showed his respect for his opponent.
"No one likes to go through that, the season ending like that," said Wilcox according to ESPN. "After the game you really think about what they could feel like, and that could've been in your spot, so you just feel really fortunate you're able to move on."
The game looked as though it was heading to overtime with 10 seconds left in the game and the faceoff taking place in the Gophers end of the ice. But, it was Justin Holl who stunned everyone after scoring a goal with only 0.6 seconds left on the clock, catching a rebound and ripping into the back of the net. It was as if ‘March Madness' was suddenly a hockey term.
In the Championship game, with over 18,000 people in attendance, Minnesota scored the first goal and at one point were up in the 1st period 1-0. The lead was short lived, with Union College leading the game 4-2 at the end of the 1st. From there, Union never lost the lead throughout the game, scoring a total of seven goals including a last minute empty netter.
It is amazing to think that after having such a great showing the game before, Wilcox could let in six goals. On his best night, the Gophers could only play with three men and he wouldn't let in six goals. He did do a good job making the first shot on most attempts so to say the blame should be on him is completely false, but something was clearly off.
You can blame the loss on goaltending, fatigue, off-play or whatever you want. The fact of the matter is Union College showed up to the Frozen Four determined to make history. They had made it to the tournament before, but were never able to take the title back to their school consisting of only 2,200 students: talk about an underdog story.
Adam Appelbaum may have said it best after the championship game, according to Sports Illustrated.
"We're getting time with these big-time schools that have 50,000 kids, playing them and beating them!"
Most people had not even heard of Union College before this tournament took place, now they stand on the top of the mountain that is college hockey.