Monday, April 11, 2016

GR8NESS -- Grand Forks is Titletown

The Skate for Eight is complete. For the first time since 2000 and eighth time in team history, the UND men's hockey team is
national champions, once again. The Green and White beat Quinnipiac 5-1 to earn the title. (Photo: Grand Forks Herald)
Flashback to Thursday night.

A centering pass from the sideboards deflects off of Gage Ausmus' stick and through Cam Johnson's five-hole to the back of the net with just over nine minutes left to go in the third period. Game tied, 2-2.

Remember that feeling? DDC sure does and will never forget it.

Move forward to Saturday night.

Austin Poganski slaps home a rebound in the slot over the left shoulder of Quinnipiac goaltender Michael Garteig, giving UND a commanding 5-1 lead with just over nine minutes to go in the third period.

Quite the difference in feelings almost exactly 48 hours apart, huh? Remember that feeling? DDC sure does and will never forget it.

Sixteen years of frustration. Sixteen years of heartache. Sixteen years of pain.

Well worth it.

For the first time since 2000, the University of North Dakota men's hockey team stands above all as national champions, topping Quinnipiac 5-1. How sweet it is. Eight was worth the wait.

Big-Time Players

UND Fr. F, Brock Boeser celebrates his short-handed goal to give the
Green and White a 2-0 lead in the first period. (Photo: Grand Forks Herald)
In the postgame press conference following sophomore forward Nick Schmaltz scoring North Dakota's biggest goal in over a decade to give UND a Frozen Four semifinal win, head coach Brad Berry noted that big-time players, like Schmaltz, score big-time goals in big-time spots.  

Well, it doesn't get any more big time than the national title game and once again, UND's big-time players, the now legendary CBS line, showed why they truly fit the definition.

With UND up 1-0 with just under six minutes left in the first, Brock Boeser raced Garteig to a loose puck in the slot. Garteig won the race, but Boeser knocked down Garteig's clearing attempt and calmly buried a short-handed goal giving the Green and White a 2-0 lead.

UND Sr. F, Drake Caggiula
earned tournament Most
Outstanding Player honors.
QU made it 2-1 late in the first on a 5-on-3 power play and the two teams played an even second. In the third, UND's big-time players went to work.

With just 1:20 gone in the third, Schmaltz picked a loose puck off the end boards, skated to the circle at the right of the net and rifled a perfect, cross-ice pass, through two defenders to a cutting Drake Caggiula in the slot. The senior did the rest, beating Garteig to give UND a 3-1 lead. Then, just over two minutes later, Paul LaDue hit a streaking Brock Boeser with a ridiculous 100-foot stretch pass. Boeser carried in, spun and fed Caggiula again who buried UND's fourth goal.

Big-time players making big-time plays in big-time spots. The CBS... seven points (3 goals, 4 assists), a combined +8, Boeser and Caggiula all-tournament team, Caggiula, Most Outstanding Player. What an incredible finish for this line as they become UND legends.

The Celebration

Again, what a difference in feelings between 48 hours. From stress and heartache to elation and celebration.

The seconds ticked down. The anticipation grew. The memories filled DDC's mind.

The tic-tic-tic-tac-toe. Pogo's go-to move. Hrynkiw relieves Cam. Cam returns and shuts out four-straight opponents. Caggiula's windmill. Domination in Cincinnati. Schmaltz's game winner.

Then ...

Celebration. (This is the full game, but 1 hour 54 minutes in, the party starts)

As Caggiula skated through the handshake line, his eyes welled up, ESPN caught a candid moment from the senior playing in his last game, with albeit some choice language.

UND Jr. D, Paul LaDue kisses the national title. (Photo: Grand Forks Herald)
"Oh my God. Four (censored) years for this."

What a year. What a team. What a way to finish.

UND believed it. UND earned it. And once again, for the eighth time in program history, the Green and White raised it.

Thank you, gentlemen, for an absolutely incredible ride. 

Thank you all for reading.