Raskob's game-winner sends UMD into region final
FARGO — A year ago Minnesota Duluth defenseman Willie Raskob set up forward Karson Kuhlman for the game-winning double-overtime goal against Providence in Worcester, Mass., to send the Bulldogs to the NCAA Northeast Regional final.
On Friday, in the West Regional semifinals at Scheels Arena, Raskob was the one recording the game-winner, scoring his fourth goal of the season 11:58 into overtime to give the Bulldogs a 3-2 victory over Ohio State.
Freshman goaltender Hunter Miska kept the team alive as Ohio State rallied for an upset. Miska made 40 saves, some of which could land him on SportsCenter.
"(Miska) played outstanding for us. Willie got a pretty big goal, too. Hunter played great. (Ohio State) just kept coming at us," coach Scott Sandelin said of another comeback for his Bulldogs. "It's what this team has done all year. We keep finding ways to win. This game was no different."
The top-seeded Bulldogs — who were a No. 4 seed and the last at-large team into the field a year ago — will now play in their third consecutive regional final at 5 p.m. today against second-seeded Boston University. The Terriers needed two overtime periods to beat third-seeded North Dakota 4-3.
The Terriers beat the Bulldogs 3-2 two years ago in the Northeast Regional final in Manchester, N.H., getting a late power-play goal to advance to the Frozen Four.
The Bulldogs used a strong second period to jump in front Friday, just as they did a week ago in Minneapolis in their NCHC Frozen Faceoff championship win over North Dakota.
Of course, just like in Minneapolis, it wasn't enough and late game-heroic were required to earn the win.
Senior center Dominic Toninato and freshman defenseman Nick Wolff staked the Bulldogs to a 2-0 lead, but junior defenseman Matt Joyaux and freshman defenseman Gordie Myer scored a couple of third-period goals for Ohio State to tie the game with 7:40 remaining in regulation.
"Hockey is a game of momentum. We felt we played a pretty good hockey game," said Buckeyes coach Steve Rohlik, who was an assistant under Sandelin at UMD for 10 seasons. "Overall when you're desperate you play a little better. Them having a two-goal lead, our guys talked about emptying the tank. We had a lot of confidence there."
Toninato — who scored 90 seconds into the second period of the Frozen Faceoff — only needed 49 seconds to put the Bulldogs on the board in the second period Friday.
Toninato took a pass from senior wing and linemate Alex Iafallo, skated into the zone and fired a laser from the top of the right faceoff circle past senior Matt Tomkins before the Ohio State senior goalie knew what was coming.
Iafallo, who later assisted Raskob on the game-winner, was credited with an assist on Toninato's goal, extending his career-high point streak to 12 games.
It appeared as if Toninato made it 2-0 nearly three minutes after he made it 1-0 when the Duluth East graduate took a rebound and fired it top shelf, but a video review showed the puck went off the crossbar, never crossing the goal line.
Wolff picked up his second goal of the season by beating Tomkins with a wrister from the point to make it 2-0 late in the second. The goal was the culmination of a sustained siege by Wolff, Raskob, and the line of freshman wing Riley Tufte, junior center Avery Peterson and junior wing Karson Kuhlman.
The five Bulldogs left the Buckeyes who were trapped in their own zone either chasing the puck or falling back on their heels to prevent a scoring chance, with Wolff's shot finally being more than Ohio State could handle.
The Buckeyes thought they were the ones to jump out to a 1-0 lead via their nation-best power play in the final three minutes of the first, but a video review wiped out that goal, too, after it revealed a highlight-reel behind-the-back save by Miska.
Miska's save was reminiscent of the one made by his counterpart on the UMD women's hockey team, Maddie Rooney, who made SportsCenter's Top 10 earlier this season with her behind-the-back save against Wisconsin in the WCHA Final Faceoff.
Rooney approved of Miska's moves via Twitter, calling it an "unreal save."
Miska had a number of unreal saves Friday before finally getting beat just over seven minutes into the third period by Joyaux, who took a pass in the middle that he sent cleanly past Miska for the first Buckeyes goal of the night.
Myer scored a similar goal 5½ minutes later, again getting a clean shot off. It was Myer's first collegiate goal and it came via a turnover by the Bulldogs in the offensive zone.
That's all the Buckeyes could get by Miska, who went right back to robbing the last at-large team into this year's field.
Miska made an especially stunning save in overtime, diving across the crease to get his stick on a shot.