MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn. – Playoff deficits don't mean anything to the Augsburg College men's hockey team.
Saturday, the Auggies earned their second-straight Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) Playoff comeback win to capture their second-straight conference tournament championship. This time around, second-seeded Augsburg (17-4-6) rallied from a 2-1 third-period deficit to earn a dramatic 3-2 win over top-seeded St. Thomas (14-8-5) at St. Thomas Ice Arena in Mendota Heights, Minn.
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Down a goal entering the final period, Max Pernhem scored just 49 seconds into the final period to tie things up. Late in the period Augsburg was whistled for a penalty, but killed it off to perfection. As the Auggies got back to even strength they went on a 3-2 rush toward the St. Thomas goal. Eli May attacked the net and slid the puck back to Corbin Chapman in the slot, who unleashed a wrister that hit the glove of UST goaltender Benjamin Myers, but he couldn't secure it. The puck popped over his glove and into the net to give Chapman his second goal of the game, and Augsburg an incredible 3-2 championship win.
The championship-game come-from-behind win by Augsburg comes on the heels of an equally dramatic semifinal win, where the Auggies twice rallied from two-goal deficits to beat Saint Mary's in overtime. And while Saturday's win didn't carry quite the same degree of difficulty, the stakes were higher, and the stunning victory sends Head Coach Chris Brown's program back to the NCAA Tournament via the MIAC's automatic bid for the second-straight season. Augsburg will learn its place in the bracket when the NCAA announced the field during a live online selection show Monday at 9 a.m. The Auggies brought the Ed Saugestad Cup - named for the legendary former Augsburg coach and presented to the Playoff champion - back to Minneapolis for the second-straight season.
Saturday's win cemented just the third MIAC Playoff title in Augsburg history, as the Auggies also won in 1998, and just one year ago. The automatic bid to the NCAA tourney gives Augsburg its fourth NCAA appearance in program history (1984, 1998, 2016). Ranked No. 10 nationally, the Auggies have built quite a postseason resume over the past two seasons with this year's two comeback wins, and last season's unforgettable three-overtime championship-game win.
Saturday's title game started a little slower than it finished. The two teams used the first half of the opening period to feel each other out, but the action starting picking up later in the period. Augsburg put the heat on with several good chances midway through, and St. Thomas ended with an impressive flurry of activity in the Auggie zone, but both defenses and goaltenders held strong to keep things scoreless over the first 20 minutes.
If the first period was the warm-up, the second period is when things really started getting good. Just 3:06 into the second St. Thomas star Michael Dockry put the home team up 1-0 with the game's first goal – his 11th of the season – with an assist coming from Tanner Barnes. However, that lead didn't last long as Augsburg took advantage of a power play five minutes later. Auggie senior Chapman cashed in on the man advantage with a game-tying goal, with assists going to Nate Flynn and Rory Vesel.
St. Thomas went right back to work to try to regain the lead. After several near-misses, Grett Gravelle gathered the puck in the slot and fluttered a shot over the goaltender's shoulder and into the back of the net to put UST back on top, 2-0, with seven minutes left in the second. Both teams kept up the pressure, each hitting a crossbar in the period's final minutes, but the score stayed 2-1 St. Thomas into the second intermission. However, Augsburg didn't waste any time tying it up and setting the stage for Chapman's heroic game-winner.
Nick Schmit had a 31-save performance in goal for the Auggies, with 13 saves in the final period alone, to improve to 10-1-2 in the net and help his team earn the win. Myers made 29 saves and allowed the three goals for the Tommies. Chapman was the offensive star of the night with two goals, and the only player with multiple points as five different Auggies and five different Tommies each notched a point in the title game. St. Thomas held a slim 33-32 edge in shots in an evenly played game. Augsburg went 1-for-2 on the power play, while UST was 1-for-4.
Fans can visit the tournament home page to re-live the 2017 MIAC Men's Hockey Playoffs. The page includes scores, stats, recaps, photos and more from an outstanding tournament. Fans can also continue the conversation on social media through the MIAC's Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts, using the hashtag #MIACMH.
2017 MIAC MEN'S HOCKEY PLAYOFFS
Quarterfinals | Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017 |
No. 5 Concordia 3, No. 4 Hamline 2 | Box Score | Recap |
Semifinals | Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017 |
No. 1 St. Thomas 2, No. 5 Concordia 1 | Box Score |
No. 2 Augsburg 5, No. 3 Saint Mary's 4 (OT) | Box Score |
Championship | Saturday, March 4, 2017 |
No. 2 Augsburg* 3, No. 1 St. Thomas 2 | Box Score | Photos (for sale) |
*Augsburg received automatic bid to NCAA Tournament