Top 10 Games Of The Decade


As we near the end of the decade, The College Hockey Blog is going to be rolling out a few top ten lists. Today’s list is the top ten games of the decade.

10. Wisconsin vs. Cornell, 2006 NCAA Tournament Regional Final

Wisconsin had a roaring start to the 2005-06 season, winning 18 of their first 22 games. Brian Elliot led the Badgers into the tournament with a 1.55 GAA, and their scoring was led by the two-headed monster of Joe Pavelski and Robbie Earl. After they dispatched Bemidji State via a 4-0 score, they ran into the defensive wall that was Cornell. Wisconsin and Cornell was a matchup of two of the top 4 defenses in the nation. Wisconsin led the country, allowing 1.84 GPG, and Cornell was 4th, allowing 2.2 GPG.

The game lived up to its defensive billing. Regional MVP Brian Elliot made 40 saves, and Cornell goalie David McKee made an astounding 59 saves. Neither team scored through 5 periods of hockey, and Wisconsin’s Jack Skille ended the game midway through the 3rd period OT. Wisconsin would go on to win the national championship in their home state.

9. Maine vs. Harvard, 2004 NCAA Tournament First Round

The 2004 Harvard team was nondescript statistically – 26th in offense, tied for 18th in defense – and, although they had 4 players with double digit goal totals, they only had one point per game scorer. Maine meanwhile came into the tournament with the nation’s highest winning percentage. They also had the nation’s best defense. Jimmy Howard led the nation with a 1.19 GAA. They were expected to roll. Someone forgot to tell the Crimson, who jumped out to 3-0 and 4-1 leads. But Mike Hamilton, Preston Ryan and Michele Leveille erased the lead. Finally, Greg Moore punched in the game winning goal. Moore was also part of another big comeback that year: in the gold medal game of the World Junior Championships.

The best part of that game though? Easily the name of Harvard’s goalie: Dov Grumet-Morris.

8. Alabama-Huntsville vs. Notre Dame, 2007 NCAA Tournament 1st round.

One year after the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history (more on that later) Alabama-Huntsville almost pulled off an upset of their own. The Chargers went just 7-11-3 in CHA play that season, but pulled off three upsets en route to the CHA title, 2 of them in overtime. The Irish, meanwhile, won 30 games, and a CCHA championship en route to the #1 overall seed. The Irish also had the nation’s best scoring defense, led by Hobey Baker candidate David Brown (1.58, .931).

Everything went according to plan as Notre Dame scored just 3:18 into the game, and Ryan Thang made it 2-0 just over a minute later. Hunstville responded by pulling their starting goalie and inserting Senior Marc Narduzzi. All Narduzzi did was make 49 saves from then until the end of the game. Hunstville got back into the game in the 2nd with goals by Dominik Rozman and Cale Tanaka. Then came roughly 50 minutes of scoreless hockey. In double OT, Ryan Thing fired a wrister over Narduzzi’s blocker to give him his 2nd goal and a Double OT classic win over UAH. That game was also the final one for Alabama-Huntsville coach Doug Ross, who spent 25 years as a Division 1 coach.

7. Air Force vs. Vermont, 2009 NCAA Tournament Regional Final

Both teams pulled off upsets in the 1st round; Air Force by knocking off #1 seeded Michigan, and Vermont by knocking off the hosts Yale. North Dakota native Paul Weisgarber kicked off the scoring just under 4 minutes into the game. No more goals were scored until the 3rd period when Josh Burrows and Dan Lawson scored to put Vermont in front. Just two minutes after Lawson’s goal, Sean Bertsch tied it up for Air Force. An apparent Viktor Stalberg goal with just 26 seconds left in the 1st overtime was overturned.

In the second overtime, Vermont’s Dan Lawson fired a shot that apparently went past Andrew Volkening for a goal. However, the teams kept playing for nearly 2 minutes. After a stoppage of play, the refs reviewed the tape. After 12 minutes of review, the refs gave Lawson and Vermont a goal, and the Catamounts were off to the Frozen Four.

6. Boston College vs. North Dakota, 2001 National Championship Game

It was a rematch of the 2000 national championship, which North Dakota won 4-2, and it did not disappoint. Down two goals with just over five minutes left, and after BC had been whistled for a too many men penalty, North Dakota coach Dean Blais – stop me if you’ve heard this before – pulled his goalie. North Dakota scored, and then Blais pulled his goalie again. North Dakota scored again to tie the game at 2.

The comeback was not meant to be however, as 4:43 into the extra session Krys Kolanos put a fabulous goal past Karl Goehring  to give Boston College their first championship in 52 years. BC goalie Scott Clemmensen also became the all-time winningest goalie in NCAA tournament history with that win.

5. Minnesota vs. North Dakota, 2007 WCHA Final Five Championship Game

The lone non-NCAA tournament game on this list was an absolute barnburner on the ice, if not on the scoreboard. The game featured 13 players who scored double digit goals, including Hobey Baker winner Ryan Duncan who led the nation with 57 points.

The game had a then record attendance of 19,463. Freshman defenseman Erik Johnson scored the first goal of the game midway through the second period. Just five minutes later, Sioux defenseman Taylor Chorney scored the equalizer on a 5 on 3 PP. Gopher forward Ben Gordon gave the Gophers the lead again on some nice puck movement by Blake Wheeler and former Gopher captain Mike Vannelli. Finally, the Hobey Baker winner tied it up for North Dakota.

The Gophers had a 41-25 shot advantage over the game, and North Dakota goalie JP Lamoureux certainly had an inspired effort. But of course no one in attendance will remember the game for the talent on the blueline, Lamoureux’s great game, or North Dakota rolling out one of the best lines in the history of college hockey.

3 and a half minutes into OT, Blake Wheeler dove to try to prevent icing. He not only prevented icing, he scored a championship goal.

4. Michigan State vs. Boston College, 2007 National Championship Game

Coming into the 2007 title game, Boston College was on fire. They had the most explosive player in the country in Nathan Gerbe. They were so loaded offensively in fact that they moved Brian Boyle to the blueline. Barry Melrose approved. They scored 6 goals in the national semifinal game against North Dakota. It was going to take a miracle for 3 seed Michigan State to win the national championship.

Enter Jeff Lerg. The Sophomore, all 5’6″ of his asthma suffering self, had 29 saves in one of the better goaltending performances of the decade. It capped off one of the best postseason runs ever.

Brian Boyle scored 6:50 into the game, and BC held that one goal advantage until 9:53 of the third when Tim Kennedy tied it up.

Michigan State seized the momentum and pushed on, although they couldn’t crack Cory Schneider. With less than a minute left, Michigan State had a 3 on 1, but Justin Abdelkader’s shot hit off the crossbar. Then, with just 18.9 seconds left, Abdelkader finally got one past Schneider to give Michigan State their first title in 21 years.

3. Minnesota vs. Maine, 2002 National Championship Game

This game earned its spot on the list with the help of possibly the greatest tribute video in the history of the internets. The 2002 Frozen Four is one of the first ones that I have personal memories of, and it is still the one that featured the best atmosphere. Having it in The Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, one of the best facilities in the country helps, as does having the hometown Gophers in the title game (just watch starting at 2:00 of that video)

Keith Ballard started off the scoring with a power play goal in the 1st (better memory than two handing your own goalie, eh?). Maine’s Michael Schutte scored in the second, capped of by a shh-ing of the crowd to celebrate. Not a minute later John Pohl fired a wrister passed Matt Yeats. Then, Schutte scored again for the Black Bears (no shh this time) to tie it at two. With less than 5 minutes left, Robert Liscak put Maine in front.

Minnesota pulled their goalie and called time out. Clearly it worked, as Adam Koalska put one home, setting off the great celebration alluded to above.

The two teams went into overtime, which lasted quite awhile. Each team had their fair of chances, with Hobey Baker winner Jordan Leopold actually putting a shot off the pipe.

With just over three minutes left in OT, the puck fell at the stick of Grant Potulny, and the Grand Forks native hacked it into the back of the net, giving the Gophers the national championship.

Adam Hauser had 42 saves in the win. The Gophers would go on to win the national championship again the next season, defeating New Hampshire in the final.

2. Minnesota vs. Holy Cross, 2006 NCAA Tournament First Round

This game needs no introduction. The Gophers entered the 2006 NCAA Tournament as a threat to win the national title. Instead they ran into Tony Quesada. Quesada made 35 saves for the Crusaders as they made the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history.

Holy Cross got on the board first, via a Dale Reinhardt goal. The Gophers, in truth, looked out of it from the opening faceoff. The Crusaders and Gophers traded goals until an Alex Goligoski blast gave the Gophers the lead.

Pierre Napert-Frenette then tied it for the Crusaders.

Less than a minute into overtime, Holy Cross’s Tyler MacGregor, who led the team in scoring that year, scored one of the most serendipitous goals in hockey history. Driving down the left side of the ice, he tried to slide a pass across, but it hit off defenseman PJ Atherton’s skate….and went right back to MacGregor, who hammered it home to give the Crusaders the victory.

1. Boston University vs. Miami, 2009 National Championship Game

Perhaps this is a bit of recency bias, but I can’t remember a crazier game I’ve ever watched.

BU, one of the top ranked teams all season, took a lead with just 5 mins left in the 1st period via a Chris Connolly goal. Gary Steffes scored a goal early in the 2nd to tie it for Miami.

Miami scored two 3rd period goals to take a 3-1 lead with just over 4 minutes remaining. BU pulled Kieran Millan to help set up the goal to put them within one, as Zach Cohen slid in a backhander. Then with just 17.4 seconds left, Hobey Baker winner Matt Gilroy slid a pass to Nick Bonino to tie the game.

BU obviously had the momentum, and it showed by the winning goal. Colby Cohen fired a slapshot on net, which hit Miami’s Kevin Roeder, who was diving to block it. The shot took an awful bounce, fluttering just over Miami goalie Cody Reicard’s shoulder to give BU the national title in stunning comeback fashion.

Feel free to leave your picks for games in the decade in the comments, or otherwise you can e-mail me and/or hit me up on the twitter machine.

Special thanks goes out to USCHO, YouTube and INCH writers Mike Eidelbes, Joe Gladziszewski, James Jahnke and KenMcMillan for the write-ups/audio that I utilized to help me get game details correct.