Saturday, March 26, 2005
Meeting is teams' 3rd straight to go to OT
MINNEAPOLIS -- Evan Kaufmann's goal 1:46 into overtime gave Minnesota a 1-0 win over Maine in the opening game of the NCAA West Regional.
Kaufmann, a freshman, took a pass from Garrett Smaagaard and blasted a rising shot from the top of the crease, finding a gap on Maine goaltender Jimmy Howard's stick side.
The goal was the only blemish on an otherwise spectacular day for Howard, who had 37 saves in the loss. Kellen Briggs had 25 saves for Minnesota in his fourth shutout of the season.
With the win, Minnesota (27-14-1) advances to face either Cornell or Ohio State in the regional final on Sunday. Maine finished the season with a 20-13-7 record.
It was the third consecutive NCAA tournament meeting between the Gophers and Black Bears to go to overtime. Maine beat Minnesota 5-4 in overtime in the first round in 2001, and Minnesota won 4-3 in overtime in the 2002 NCAA championship game.
Minnesota had more shots and more high-quality scoring opportunities in the first 60 minutes, but the Gophers were repeatedly foiled by Howard. His most impressive save may have come with the Gophers on a three-on-one break in the second period. With an unobstructed route to the net in front of him, Minnesota's Kris Chucko blasted a point-blank shot that Howard corralled with a sweeping glove. On the ensuing faceoff, Kaufmann got a low shot off that Howard had to dive to deflect away.
Maine's best scoring chance early came midway through the game when forward Jon Jankus hit the pipe with a long-range shot that fooled Briggs.