CINCINNATI -- Sophomore goalie Zane Gothberg repeatedly saved North Dakota in the third period and the first overtime. He didn't have to wait long or do much in the second overtime before he could finally celebrate.
Connor Gaarder scored off a rebound 1:28 into the second overtime Saturday night, sending North Dakota to a 2-1 victory over Ferris State and its 20th trip to the Frozen Four.
"A flood of emotions, I guess," said Gothberg, who had a career-high 44 saves. "Once Gaardy scored his goal, it's just craziness. Every hair on your body is just standing up."
Gothberg put North Dakota (25-13-3) in position for the NCAA tournament's Midwest Regional title. He did his most impressive work in the third period and the first overtime, when Ferris State had a 26-8 advantage in shots.
Ferris State (29-11-3) took its best shot and got nowhere.
"I thought that the shots we had were unbelievable," Ferris State's Garrett Thompson said. "I felt we carried the pace tonight in the first overtime and in the third period. It's just frustrating not to put one past him."
North Dakota is headed to the Frozen Four in Philadelphia for the first time since 2011. The seven-time national champions nearly didn't get into the tournament.
North Dakota got an at-large berth and the fourth seed in the Midwest when rival Wisconsin knocked off Ohio State for the Big Ten title. North Dakota beat top-seeded Wisconsin 5-2 in the regional semifinals Friday night.
Second-seeded Ferris State came up short in its attempt to reach the Frozen Four for the second time in school history.
"A little painful right now, as you can guess," coach Bob Daniels said.
The teams traded goals in the second period, and the goaltenders took it from there.
Ferris State went up 1-0 when Cory Kane skated in on Gothberg and took a shot that slid between the goalie's pads as he went to the ice to try to block it -- his only mistake on a very long night.
The Bulldogs lead the nation in penalties, averaging 17.1 minutes per game. They beat Colgate 1-0 in a penalty-filled semifinal, with goalie C.J. Motte making 35 saves. A penalty led to North Dakota's first goal.
Scott Czarnowczan got a 2-minute penalty for tripping, and North Dakota tied it with a power-play goal. Nick Mattson passed to Paul LaDue for a shot that Stephane Pattyn deflected past Motte to even it up.
Motte finished with 24 saves.
Gothberg had two saves during a Ferris State power play early in the third period. He stopped shots by Gerald Mayhew and Ryan Lowney, leaving the Bulldogs empty-handed and frustrated. Gothberg also had four tough saves in the final 3:35 of the third period, sending it overtime.
"The goaltending with Zane back there is the backbone of this team," Gaarder said.
After being outplayed in the first overtime, North Dakota came out committed to trying to end it fast. Gaarder was in front of the net looking for the puck to deflect his way.
"The rebound came right to me and I just kind of slid it right in there," he said.
The school with the second-most NCAA men's hockey titles -- Michigan has nine -- was moving on.
"We were put back on our heels by their team," coach Dave Hakstol said. "We were fortunate to make the play and get a break in overtime."