Every goal is precious for U

by Michael Rand

The difference between heading into the third period of a hockey game trailing by one goal and two goals is dramatic.
Such was Gophers coach Doug Woog’s line of thinking — at least for a few seconds — after Minnesota’s 5-4 win in overtime over St. Cloud State in the semifinals of the WCHA Final Five on Friday.
Gophers defenseman Brian LaFleur, who scored the game’s first goal, added his second with barely more than a minute remaining in the second period to reduce the Huskies’ lead to 4-3. Minnesota used the momentum from the goal to score in the third period and eventually win in overtime.
“LaFleur’s goal was the most critical one of the game,” Woog said.
He paused for a moment, however, and amended his statement.
“Well, actually, Crowley’s goal [the OT winner] was the biggest,” he said.
Another second passed.
“And I suppose you have to throw (Casey Hankinson’s) game-tying goal in there, too.”
Woog then turned to LaFleur, who was seated next to him at the post-game press conference.
“We forgot about your goals already,” Woog said jokingly.
No Style Points
Gophers co-captain Mike Crowley celebrated being named WCHA Player of the Year on Friday by scoring the game-winning goal later in the evening against St. Cloud State.
Unfortunately for Crowley, his victory dance created almost as much commotion as his goal.
As he glided across the ice near the Huskies’ blue line, he toppled over onto his back and slid along the ice before crashing into the boards with a thud.
What at first glance looked like an innovative impression of a bowling ball turned out to be nothing more than a mistake.
“I fell,” Crowley admitted. “I just lost my balance. I did not try to do that.”
Stepping Up, Not Back
Colorado College coach Don Lucia didn’t just view a possible NCAA tournament bid as a reward for a good season — he saw it as another step in building the Tigers into a perennial power.
Four of CC’s top six scorers last season were seniors, leaving the team in an undesirable rebuilding role this season. Lucia was careful not to set expectations too high. Whereas last year’s team captured the Tigers’ third consecutive WCHA regular season title and was the NCAA runner-up, the team’s goal this season was simply to make the tournament.
“We didn’t want to take a step back,” he said. “We want to be one of those teams who are in the NCAA tournament year in and year out.”
After beating St. Cloud State 6-0 in the third place game of the WCHA Final Five, Lucia was confident his team would make the field. On Sunday the gut feeling became reality when the Tigers earned the No. 5 seed in the NCAA East Regional.
Slap Shots
ù The Final Five’s new scheduling format of having the home team play at night has to be considered a success after this weekend. The tournament drew 56,707 fans in its five games, the second-highest total in the eight-year history of the event.
ù The all-tournament team is as follows: forwards Kevin Hoogsteen (UND), Toby Petersen (CC) and Ryan Kraft (Min); defensemen Brian LaFleur (Min) and Curtis Murphy (UND); and goalie Aaron Schweitzer (UND). David Hoogsteen (UND) was named tourney MVP.
ù Look for continued hockey coverage over spring break on the Daily Online at http://www.daily.umn.edu.