The longtime Stanley Cup Playoffs slogan has been "History is Made." Tonight, that slogan belongs to the University of North Dakota.
Aaron Dell (Jr., Airdrie, Alberta) stopped all 22 shots he faced as the Fighting Sioux blanked Denver 4-0 in the Red Baron WCHA Final Five championship game and became the first team in league history to hoist the Broadmoor Trophy three years in a row. It was UND's 13th straight WCHA playoff victory, also a league record.
One night after blitzing Minnesota with six unanswered goals, UND was in control throughout tonight's final. Facing a Denver team that was coming off of three straight overtime games, the Sioux used an efficient performance to secure their fourth Broadmoor Trophy in head coach Dave Hakstol's eight seasons behind the Sioux bench.
"It's unbelievable," said Dell of UND's historic ‘three-peat'. "It's a feeling you can't even describe.
"We did everything right tonight. We came out, we had a plan and we executed it perfectly."
Goals 46 seconds apart by Brock Nelson (So., Warroad, Minn.) and Carter Rowney (Jr., Sexsmith, Alberta) late in the first period gave UND the only offensive it would require. Nelson was Johnny-on-the-spot to clean up a Dillon Simpson (So., Edmonton, Alberta) point shot on the power play, and Rowney converted a perfect pass from Mark MacMillan (Fr., Penticton, British Columbia) on an odd-man rush.
After Dell stopped all 10 shots he faced in the opening 20 minutes, freshman Michael Parks (St. Louis, Mo.) made it a 3-0 game with a power-play goal midway through the second period. That goal proved to be the back-breaker, as UND limited the ninth-ranked Pioneers to just 12 shots on goal over the final two periods.
"Maybe they ran out of gas just a little bit tonight with the amount of hockey they've played," said Hakstol. "That was one of things we had to try to exploit if we possibly could by being a real tough team to play against."
MacMillan provided the decisive blow 7:11 into the third period while short-handed. After stripping a defender of the puck at the DU blueline, MacMillan broke in alone on goalie Juho Olinuora and beat with a snap shot to the blocker side to make it a 4-0 game.
The short-handed tally punctuated a final period in which the energized Sioux registered 15 of their 29 shots and showed no signs of relinquishing their stranglehold of a lead.
"I felt like we were playing solid hockey. We weren't playing high risk in any way. All areas of our game were solid. Not spectacular, but solid," said Hakstol.
Dell was named tournament most valuable player after recording his ninth shutout and improving to 8-0 lifetime in WCHA playoff starts.
"Aaron carried the team this weekend," said Hakstol.
While Dell provided the steady goaltending, Hakstol said the Sioux played the well-rounded game that has typified the team's recent play.
"We came into today wanting to play a complete hockey game. We won the game through small details. We were plus-one at five-on-five, we scored two power-play goals and a short-hander, and we had very good goaltending. That's a pretty good formula for playoff time, especially going into a championship game"."
UND, likely a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, will learn its postseason fate during Sunday's NCAA Men's Hockey Selection Show on ESPNU. The broadcast begins at 11 a.m. Central.