The Frozen Four is in the books and was every bit as exciting as the Madness of March thanks to unheralded heroes and upsets that surely ruined more than a few brackets.
A favorite to advance to take on No. 1 overall seed Minnesota, Boston College got all it could handle from Union and was defeated thanks to a stunning hat trick.
The Golden Gophers themselves almost suffered the same fate against North Dakota, but a last-second goal—literally—saved the day.
Here's a look at the top performances from the two thrilling duels.
Justin Holl, Minnesota
Better late than never.
Justin Holl was a bit anonymous in the college hockey world—until last night. With his team tied up and extra time surely on the horizon against rival North Dakota, Holl nailed a shot with less than a second left to score the win, as captured by Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports:
That's not a bad way to score the first goal of the season for Holl, who was subsequently mobbed by his teammates after extensive postgame interviews:
It had been 45 games since Holl recorded a goal, so he gets the nod as one of the top performers from Thursday night.
Adam Wilcox, Minnesota
Holl stole the thunder from Adam Wilcox, who put together an elite night in front of the net to fend off a very aggressive North Dakota squad that was able to attempt more shots than Minnesota in each of the first two periods.
No matter, as Wilcox notched 36 saves, with just one blemish coming in the third period. All things considered, it was an elite performance from a goalie who has won 50 games over the course of his career.
Paul Charchian hit the nail on the head:
Wilcox told the press afterward he was just thankful to not be on the wrong end of the outcome, per Mike Wisniewski of the AP, via ABC News:
No one likes to go through that — the season ending like that. It's a disappointing way to go out. After the game you really think about what they could feel like, and that could've been your spot, so you just (feel) really fortunate you're able to move on.
We're playing the best hockey we have all year at the right time.
Mission accomplished for Wilcox, who has one final test in the tournament. If his recent play is any indication, Union is going to need the next guy to step up in a big way.
Daniel Ciampini, Union
Talk about a heavyweight throwdown set to occur in the title game.
Daniel Ciampini hoisted Union on his back and posted the first hat trick in the Frozen Four since 2008. Each time Boston College put together a rally, Ciampini was there with a response, including the late goal to essentially finish things off:
Ciampini quickly turned doubters into believers when it comes to Union's overall chances at the title:
Armed with the experience of an appearance in the 2012 Frozen Four and a scorer like Ciampini, Union has what it takes to pull off the bracket upset and take home the title.
Ciampini will just have to find a way to get past Wilcox.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!