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Minnesota tops North Dakota on last-second goal

by Adam Kimelman

PHILADELPHIA -- University of Minnesota defenseman Justin Holl couldn't have picked a better time to score his first goal of the season.

Holl, a 2010 second-round pick (No. 54) of the Chicago Blackhawks, scored a shorthanded goal with 0.6 seconds left in regulation, giving Minnesota a 2-1 win against the University of North Dakota in the second semifinal at the NCAA Frozen Four.

Minnesota was killing a penalty in the final seconds of regulation when the Gophers' Kyle Rau broke the puck out of the zone. His attempted shot was blocked, but the puck came to Holl, who was trailing the play, and his shot from the slot beat North Dakota goalie Zane Gothberg.

"I think most of us were focused on killing the penalty and getting to overtime," Holl said. "It just developed where there was five seconds left and I said I might as well jump in and I did."

Sam Warning also scored for Minnesota, Rau had two assists and goaltender Adam Wilcox made 36 saves, including four on North Dakota's late power play.

Connor Gaarder scored for UND and Gothberg made 27 saves.

Minnesota advances to play Union College in the NCAA championship game Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET). Union beat Boston College 5-4 in the earlier semifinal.

When UND went on the man-advantage with 1:39 left in a 1-1 game, they felt things were going their way. Then in a flash the game was over.

"I think the momentum was kind of in our hands," said North Dakota forward Stephane Pattyn, who had two of UND's four shots during the late power play. "A couple close calls, couple good saves by their goalie. Puck going the other way, it hit a couple skates, hit a couple sticks, and it was in the back of our net."

The game was scoreless until midway through the third period, when the teams exchanged goals 23 seconds apart.

Until that point the goaltenders were the stars. Gothberg, a Boston Bruins draft pick, was at his best in the second period when he stopped all 12 Gophers shots, including a three-shot flurry while UND was killing a penalty midway through the period.

"Zane was very good for our hockey team," North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol said. "I felt like [Thursday] everybody did a pretty good job in chipping in with their roles. And certain his [Gothberg's] play was excellent."

Wilcox, a 2011 sixth-round pick (No. 178) of the Tampa Bay Lightning, was just a bit better. He also made 12 saves in the second, including a few on an early UND power play, and had an outstanding lunging save on a Colten St. Clair chance from right in front with 1:07 left in the first.

"We're a good team with a great goalie," Minnesota coach Don Lucia said. "Adam gives us a chance to win and he certainly did [Thursday]. That's what we've come to expect with him."

As emotional as the win was, the Gophers already had shifted focus to preparing for Saturday, including Holl, a senior who will play his final collegiate game.

"It's a great feeling [to score] but it doesn't mean anything if we don't do well on Saturday," Holl said. "We're looking ahead to Saturday."

Follow Adam Kimelman on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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