Minnesota jumped out with an early lead on Union Saturday at the NCAA men's hockey National Championship. Justin Kloos scored at the 2:37 mark of the first period to give the Gophers an early jump on the Dutchmen. It is the fastest opening goal in the championship contest since 1993.
Before tonight Minnesota owned an 18-0-5 record when it opened the scoring, but tonight they fall to 18-1-5.
Down 2-1 midway through the first period, Union scored three consecutive goals in a span of 1:54 to gain a 4-2 lead. They never looked back.
"I thought we came out and had a real good jump," Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said after the game. "I thought we had great energy. I'm not sure the mental part of our game matched the physical part. We made a few mistakes tonight that we don't normally make."
"I think Coach explained it well," freshman Justin Kloos added. "It just got away from us. We hung out goalie to dry. He's been our best player all year, and for us to put him through that was kind of disappointing."
Adam Wilcox, a Hobey Baker nominee, gave up seven goals in tonight's contest, while recording 41 saves. The first period alone registered 16 saves for the net-minder and the tallies made little move from there as the Dutchmen through shot after shot at him.
The Gophers continued to show signs of life throughout the contest but never quite gained their footing against Union. Minnesota opened the scoring and held the only goal of the second period when Taylor Cammarata netted one early.
While Wilcox played his heart out for the Gophers, he was bested on the other end by Colin Stevens. Stevens made 36 saves on the night and gave up just four goals against Minnesota.
When the Gophers aimed to make a run in the third period the Dutchmen defense stood strong in front of Stevens, forcing him to make just six saves on seven shots.
Union's Rick Bennett wraps up the third year of his career as head coach with a national championship. In a fitting turn of events, the last coach to win a national title in such a short span with their institution was Don Lucia of Minnesota. He started with the Gophers in 1999-2000 and claimed a title in 2002.
"Union beat Boston College and Minnesota back-to-back, and they certainly earned their national title. Outstanding team," Lucia said of Union after the game.
Tonight's 7-4 win earns Union their first NCAA championship in its fourth tournament appearance, all of which occurred in the last four years. This season marks just their second Frozen Four appearance, as the ECAC's victory run continues.
Fellow ECAC Hockey member Yale won the national championship last year.
Minnesota came in to tonight's contest looking for their sixth national title and leave with the pursuit still underway. They took their 12th shot at the title game but once again, came up short.
"This is a great year for us," Lucia said of his team's season. "Disappointing. It always is when you lose your final game of the year, but to have the opportunity to play on this stage and get the experience. It's not just the freshman though; our seniors led the way. They've had tremendous years."
Minnesota gives up 4 goals in the first period, falls 7-4 to union in National Championship.