O’Gara’s Yale Bulldogs zapped Minnesota with a 3-2 overtime triumph, while Gothberg backstopped a 2-1 North Dakota victory over Niagara in Friday’s semifinal action at the West Regional in Grand Rapids, Mich.
O’Gara had a hand in the first goal of the tournament, garnering credit for the secondary assist on Kenny Agostino’s icebreaker. The freshman defenseman thus upped his season and career output to six points—all helpers—in 34 games.
Minnesota ultimately forced sudden death by deleting a 2-0 deficit, but the Bulldogs won the opening draw and pounced on a Gopher gaffe, allowing Agostino to set up Jesse Root for the clincher. Being on the top defensive unit and in action for that shift upped O’Gara’s final rating of the day to plus-two.
Gothberg took the nod for UND in part two of the doubleheader at Van Andel Arena and neutralized all but one edition of a 16-shot salvo in the second period. He let the opening strike trickle between his boots via Jason Beattie’s twig at 6:27, but did not blink again for the remaining 33 minutes and 33 seconds of action.
Gothberg repelled Niagara’s next 18 bids, and his skating mates reversed the deficit in a span of 57 seconds. Andrew MacWilliam slugged home the equalizer with 1:56 gone in the closing frame, and Danny Kristo buried the eventual decider at 2:53.
With the winning decision, Gothberg improves to 9-4-3 on the year, though it is unclear whether the hot hand will scrape the blue paint again on Saturday.
Either way, the Bruins are guaranteed to see one of their draft picks go to the Frozen Four for the second consecutive season. Current P-Bruins defenseman Tommy Cross was the senior captain of Boston College’s championship team in 2012.
Saturday’s victor in Grand Rapids will engage the winner of the Northeast Regional on April 11 in the national semifinals. UMass-Lowell faces New Hampshire in that regional’s final on Saturday in Manchester, N.H.
Hanson Comes Through for Providence
Christian Hanson nailed the second and final equalizer in regulation and then buried the deciding shootout goal to give the P-Bruins a 3-2 triumph at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pa.
Hanson’s line had an answer for each of two power-play conversions via the Penguins’ Dylan Reese. Bobby Robins buried a setup by Justin Florek for a 1-1 knot late in the first period before taking his turn as the playmaker with the lone helper on Hanson’s regulation tally at 4:58 of the third.
One drawback from the action was an imbalance in special teams’ success. While authorizing Reese’s two goals on five opportunities, the Baby B's whiffed on each of seven man advantages, including a full two-minute five-on-three bestowed with 8:12 remaining in regulation.
More open opportunism during that segment could have saved them the bonus action and denied a conference rival a point.
Come what may, with 26 regulation/overtime saves and seven in the shootout, goaltender Niklas Svedberg responded to his allotment of support well enough to improve to 7-0-0 in the month of March and 32-7-2 on the season.
Stingrays Turn to Postseason
The victory ensures that the Stingrays will finish sixth in the ECHL’s Eastern Conference, unable to catch or be caught by anybody. They will most likely face either the Gwinnett Gladiators or the defending Kelly Cup champion Florida Everblades in the opening round of the playoffs.
Malcolm Subban and the Belleville Bulls will seek to snap a 2-2 deadlock with the Mississauga Steelheads when they host Game 5 of their first-round OHL playoff series Saturday night. Subban allowed as many goals within Game 4, a 5-2 loss finalized by an empty-netter, as he had in the Bulls’ first three postseason ventures.
The other three major-junior teams with a budding Bruin have already progressed to the second round, each having swept their respective best-of-seven quarterfinal series. Seth Griffith (London) and Cody Payne (Plymouth) await their conference semifinal opponents in the West, as does Anthony Camara (Barrie) in the East.