The Minnesota Golden Gophers had to kill off a penalty in the final minutes of regulation against North Dakota, but instead of surviving long enough for an overtime period, defenseman Justin Holl scored his first of the season with under one second left.
The NCAA tournament you would most associate with thrilling buzzer-beater shots is basketball’s March Madness. But on Thursday night, a desperate winning shot at the Frozen Four rang across the hockey world as the Minnesota Golden Gophers advanced to the final in a most unplanned way.
The game couldn’t have been any tighter. Minnesota’s Sam Warning opened the scoring with just over nine minutes left in the third period and North Dakota’s Connor Gaarder tied it back up just 32 seconds later.
The Golden Gophers had to kill off a penalty in the dying minutes of regulation and just when it looked like overtime was on the way, Justin Holl provided the miracle Minnesota needed for the 2-1 win. A defenseman who was picked in the second round of the NHL draft by Chicago in 2010, Holl’s shorthanded winner with less than one second left was his first goal of the season.
You can see it around the 1:18 mark of this highlight video:
Minnesota advances to play Union in Saturday’s final at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center.
It was a storybook night for hockey fans in the state of Minnesota. Not only did their team get to the NCAA final, but homegrown, underdog talent John Curry made an incredible return to the NHL and made 43 saves to help the NHL’s Wild knock off the powerful St. Louis Blues.