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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


So sweet to repeat

(REUTERS) — Thomas Vanek came up big again for Minnesota — in the biggest game of his career.

The Austrian freshman sparked a four-goal third period for the Gophers, which gave Minnesota a 5-1 victory over New Hampshire and the NCAA hockey championship.

It was Vanek’s fifth game-winner this season and second in consecutive games after he scored in overtime Thursday night in a 3-2 semifinal victory against Michigan.


Barry Tallackson scored twice against New Hampshire, including an empty-netter, as the Golden Gophers became the first team to repeat as champions since Boston University won in 1971 and 1972.

Matt DeMarchi and Jon Waibel also scored, and Travis Weber stopped 26 shots as Minnesota outshot New Hampshire 45-27.

The Gophers (28-8-9) won the school’s fifth hockey title, joining Wisconsin and Denver with five championships — four behind Michigan’s record nine.

Sean Collins scored for New Hampshire (28-8-6), which was denied its first championship despite making its fourth Frozen Four appearance in six years and seventh overall. The Wildcats, in their only other title game, lost to Maine 3-2 in overtime in 1999.

Of Vanek’s 31 goals, 17 have come in either the third period or overtime.

“The championship means so much to me,” Vanek said, selected the tournament’s most outstanding player. “As for the third-period goals, I don’t know. When we’re tied or down, I just look at my linemates and say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to step up.’ And most of the time it works out.”

Vanek, the first European to play at Minnesota, capped a great individual effort to put the Gophers ahead for good 8:14 into the third period.

Driving up the left boards, Vanek cut to the middle, getting around New Hampshire defender Mick Mounsey. Drawing Mike Ayers out of position, Vanek got around the sprawled goalie and fired a shot that sneaked in under a diving Mounsey.

“It was a good play,” Ayers said, who prior to Vanek’s goal had stopped 29 of the 30 shots he faced. “When I went down, I thought he had a lot less room. It was a good goal-scorer’s goal.”

“He’s a difference-maker,” Gophers head coach Don Lucia said of Vanek. “And that’s why you work hard to recruit players like that, because if Thomas is playing at Michigan or some other program, maybe they’re sitting here. And one or two big-time players can make all the difference.”

The Gophers, who possess the nation’s No. 3 offense, wound up scoring three goals over a 5:20 span. Waibel, set up by Vanek, and Tallackson, stuffing in Gino Guyer’s pass through the crease, made it 4-1.

Tallackson then sealed the win by scoring into an empty net with 1:29 remaining.

It was the largest margin of victory in a championship game since Boston University beat Maine 6-2 in 1995.

“Give them a lot of credit,” Wildcats head coach Dick Umile said. “The better team won tonight.”

It was an unlikely outcome, considering how tightly contested the first 40 minutes were after DeMarchi and Collins traded first-period goals.

Ayers was solid in keeping New Hampshire in the game. His best stop came with under three minutes left in the second period, diving across the crease to stop Troy Riddle’s one-timer from the slot.

Weber was just as sharp for the Gophers. On separate chances through the first two periods, he stopped point-blank one-timers by Kevin Truelson and Jim Abbott.

The win seemed to catch Minnesota players off guard.

“We don’t even know what we did yet,” Gophers captain Grant Potulny said. “This year we weren’t supposed to win. Nobody thought we could do it. We battled and stuck with it.”

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