Junior Connor Gaarder scored the goal that sent UND to the NCAA Frozen Four on Saturday. You will always hear players talk about their teammates and how it was a team effort, and this time, it truly was a goal where all five guys on the ice made it happen.
Here’s a look at the play through screencaps, starting from the neutral zone.
NO. 1: Brendan O’Donnell gets the puck in the neutral zone. He has a forechecker on him, but he turns on the jets to get around him so he can dump the puck in the zone on his forehand.
NO. 2: O’Donnell does beat the Ferris State forward and he makes the right play by getting the puck deep. If he holds on to the puck for a second longer, or if he tries to carry the zone, an FSU forward is standing just in front of the blue line ready to force a turnover.
NO. 3 and NO. 4: At first, it appears that FSU is in position to win the race to the puck and start a breakout, but O’Donnell has far more speed built up than any of the Ferris defenders. In turn, O’Donnell is able to get to the puck at nearly the same time as Bulldog captain Scott Czarnowczan and make it a battle.
NO. 5: Under the heavy pressure of O’Donnell, Czarnowczan tries to make a hard turn behind the net with the puck. But with the poor ice conditions in Cincinnati, Czarnowczan falls and the battle for the puck moves to the halfwall, where there are three Bulldog players battling against O’Donnell and Gaarder for the puck. O’Donnell ends up finding the puck, and once he does, he chips it back to Nick Mattson at the blue line.
NO. 6: Here’s where Nick Mattson makes his key contribution to the goal. Mattson is aware that four Ferris State defenders are on the outside of the left dot (three are clear in the screencap below. The forth is out of the picture) and only forward Justin Buzzeo is on the other side of the ice. Mattson makes zero hesitation once the puck comes back to him and he moves it to his defensive partner Paul LaDue, who has a lot more space to shoot.
NO. 7: Now, it’s Paul LaDue’s turn. Buzzeo actually makes a nice play to be in position to block LaDue’s point shot. But LaDue changes the angle of the shot a little bit and still manages to get the puck to the net. You will see that forward Derek Rodwell is starting to move in position to make a screen on goaltender C.J. Motte.
NO. 8: LaDue launches his shot to the net. By this time, Rodwell has completely taken away Motte’s eyes. Rodwell also tries to deflect the puck, but he misses. Even so, without being able to track the puck, Motte kicks the rebound to a dangerous area. You can see Gaarder trying to get to the net for a rebound, too.
NO. 9: Gaarder is in position to grab the rebound and it comes right to him. Immediately, Gaarder knows what he’s going to do. He holds onto the puck as he skates across the crease trying to open up the goalie. Once he does, he swiftly slides it between his pads.
NO. 10: When all five guys do their jobs to a T and create a game-winning goal, Dave Hakstol smiles.