UMD's Toninato and Iafallo erase painful memory at Scheels Arena
FARGO — Saturday's West Regional championship of the Division I men's hockey tournament at Scheels Arena had to go into overtime. Not because it had to become the first regional since the tournament split into four to have all three games go into overtime.
It had to go into overtime for Minnesota-Duluth seniors Dominic Toninato and Alex Iafallo. The 3-2 win over Boston University for UMD was fitting for more than the fact the two seniors had lost 3-2 in back-to-back regional title games the previous two seasons.
Before this weekend's regional, the last memory Toninato and Iafallo had at Scheels Arena was a 3-2 overtime loss in the 2013 Clark Cup Final that ended their junior hockey careers with the Fargo Force.
"It would've been a little weird I guess, going out in OT both ways," Toninato said. "Just the group of guys we have is unbelievable this year. What we've accomplished so far I'm so proud of these guys, but we still got two more left."
Scheels Arena is one of the places Toninato learned to be a leader. He was the captain of that Force team, and he's the captain of UMD.
"It was fun to be back, obviously played a whole year here, was very familiar with the place and loved it here," Toninato said. "It was an awesome weekend and couldn't be prouder of the guys."
Scheels Arena is where Iafallo learned to handle adversity. He built himself back into a star in the USHL after tearing his meniscus at tryout camp three months before that USHL season started. He's the leading scorer on UMD.
"It's definitely special. I played here two years and playing one year with Dom, it's a great feeling to be back in here and win here," Iafallo said. "Just proud of the boys. This is incredible. It's such a good feeling. I don't even know what to say anymore."
They weren't about to end their collegiate careers at Scheels Arena, winning two overtime games at the West Regional to rid themselves of any painful memories from Fargo, and reserve a spot in Chicago for the Frozen Four.
Against Ohio State, in the regional semifinals, Toninato had the first goal of the game, while Iafallo had two assists, including one on the overtime winner.
Iafallo opened the scoring and had another assist on the game-winner in the title game against BU. He kept a puck from clearing by jumping up and knocking it back into the BU zone with his chest. It led to the power-play goal that sent UMD to Chicago and left Toninato and Iafallo with memories of celebrating on the Scheels Arena ice.
"I learned a lot (with the Force). It grew me as a person, it grew my game," Toninato said. "It was what I needed to make the next step. It definitely makes up for the last loss we had here, so it's a great feeling, and we're going to enjoy it."