ST. PAUL, Minn. - The opportunities were aplenty for the University of North Dakota men's hockey team in Thursday's Frozen Four semifinal.
The goals were not.
Despite outshooting Michigan by a two-to-one margin, the Fighting Sioux (32-9-3) dropped a 2-0 decision to the Wolverines (29-10-4) at Xcel Arena.
Michigan goalie Shawn Hunwick saved all 40 shots he faced in the game, and the Wolverines added an empty net goal in the last minute to shock the Sioux, who were the top-ranked team in the nation entering the tournament.
"We played extremely hard," Sioux head coach Dave Hakstol said. "We didn't leave anything in the tank. But we couldn't get one past their goaltender."
Hakstol said the Sioux, led by fifth-year senior Chay Genoway and Hobey Baker finalist Matt Frattin, appeared to be a team on a mission to win a title.
"Regardless of how, I didn't think it was gonna end," he said. "I mean, just going to be bluntly honest. I don't think anybody in our locker room considered the option of losing down the stretch. Period."
Up until Thursday, UND was in a dominant stretch.
The Sioux were undefeated in their last 15 games, going 14-0-1 with an 11-game winning streak.
"Our team had to play more in our zone than we had all year," Michigan head coach Red Berenson said. "That was a great team. They proved it, they just couldn't score ... The best team doesn't always win, but in one game? Absolutely, and we found a way to do that (Thursday)."
The Sioux got the first two big opportunities in the first period, getting a pair of power-play opportunities.
Matt Rust was whistled with an elbowing penalty at 3 minutes, 37 seconds of the first, and Scooter Vaughan was forced to the box at 6:02 of the first, but the Sioux couldn't capitalize.
At 13:26 of the first, the Wolverines got their only goal past UND goalie Aaron Dell.
Michigan's Ben Winnett made an attempt on goal that was stopped, but the Michigan senior forward got his own rebound and beat a sprawled out Dell with a wrist shot shot high on the UND goalie's glove side.
That was all the Wolverines needed.
The Fighting Sioux dominated play for much of the second period, outshooting Michigan 11-3.
Many of UND's best opportunities came in the second period.
Berenson wasn't surprised that Hunwick was able to come up with the big save.
"That's what he's been doing all year," he said. "He almost got us to the Frozen Four last year."
UND continued to get chances in the third period. A power play late in the third almost produced a goal. In the final minutes, the Sioux pulled Dell and Vaughn added an empty-net goal.
Despite winning the both the WCHA regular season and postseason titles, UND's Derrick LaPoint said the season didn't live up to expectations.
"I'd have to say, honestly, no," he said. "We failed at what we were trying to do. We were trying to win a national championship and we didn't do it."
Hakstol has led the team to five Frozen Fours in seven years but has not been able to come away with a national championship.
"We came in with our own expectations," he said. "I don't know what the expectations were in terms of you can label whoever you want as a favorite or an underdog. There's four - I said it (Wednesday), there's four real good teams that have come into this tournament. I feel like we had a good hockey team and we played extremely well down the stretch. We've built that over time through the season and we played a pretty good hockey game tonight."
Minnesota Duluth 4, Notre Dame 3
The power play was the difference for the University of Minnesota Duluth men's hockey team.
The Bulldogs converted on 3 of 6 power-play chances to topple Notre Dame 4-3 in the other Frozen Four semifinal.
Conversely, the Fighting Irish managed on a meager two shots in its five opportunities on the power play.
UMD had to dig out of a pair of first-period deficits.
Notre Dame's Jeff Costello struck with a wrist shot just 49 seconds into the game.
But the Bulldogs evened the score at 3:04 as J.T. Brown scored on the power play.
Once again Notre Dame took a lead on T.J. Tynan's goal at 9:46 of the first. Bulldog Kyle Schmidt tied it at 2-2 and UMD added a power play goal at 13:31 of the first and another in the second period to take a 4-2 lead.
Notre Dame did its best to cut into that lead in the third period. The Irish scored a shorthanded goal just 2:05 into the third and continued to put pressure on Bulldogs goalie Kenny Reiter.
ND outshot the Bulldogs 15-2 in the final period to take a 34-21 shots on goal advantage for the game.