Gostisbehere leads Union to NCAA Frozen Four title

Minnesota's Justin Holl (right) and Seth Ambroz celebrate Holl's game-winner against North Dakota in the semifinals.
Minnesota's Justin Holl (right) and Seth Ambroz celebrate Holl's game-winner against North Dakota in the semifinals. (YONG KIM / Staff)
Posted: April 14, 2014

Shayne Gostisbehere hopped over the boards and raced to the corner of the rink as the Wells Fargo Center horn sounded. The Union College defender tossed his stick, gloves, and helmet into the air after the Dutchmen knocked off Minnesota, 7-4, in the championship game of the NCAA Frozen Four.

He scattered his equipment on the ice alongside the gear of his teammates, who had done the same. The Flyers prospect started his week in Philadelphia with a Geno's cheesesteak and ended it with white confetti falling from the rafters of his likely future home.

Gostisbehere was drafted by the Flyers in the third round of the 2012 NHL draft. The 20-year-old should decide soon to either sign with the Flyers or return for his senior year at Union (32-6-4).

 "I'm not really thinking about that right now," said Gostisbehere, who was named the tournament MVP. "I'm just thinking about all the hard work we put in this year."  

Gostisbehere scored a goal and assisted on two more. He was on the ice for all of Union's goals and was on the bench for all the goals his team allowed. It was Union's first-ever title. Minnesota (28-7-6) has finished as runner-up a record seven times.

The versatile defenseman often plays like a forward. He's the leader of Union's power play and times his attacks wisely. And when he does, Gostisbehere has a slap shot like a cannon.

 "He's a special player. He kind of controlled the game back there," said Minnesota head coach Don Lucia. "From my vantage point, I thought he was the best player on the ice tonight."  

Max Novak gave Union a two-goal lead with 14 minutes left. The center tipped in a shot from the right wing. Minnesota's Hudson Fasching poked in a rebound with 3 minutes, 35 seconds left to cut Union's lead in half, 5-4.

But Union's Kevin Sullivan weaved around a defender and fired home the game-sealing goal with 1:22 left.

Gostisbehere showed flair early, spinning away from a Minnesota player near his own blue line. The crowd gasped, and Gostisbehere sped down the ice. His shot went high and out of play.

His redemption came midway through the period. He evened the score at 1 with a goal from just inside the left faceoff circle. Flyers public address announcer Lou Nolan - who is handling the same duties for the Frozen Four - pronounced Gostisbehere's name (GOSS-tiss-bare) with perfection.

Gostisbehere tacked on an assist later in the period, setting up Eli Lichtenwald for an easy goal. Minnesota's defense - which had allowed four goals just five times this season - had begun to unravel.

Union's Colin Stevens stopped 36 shots, perhaps none bigger than his second-period save against Nate Condon. The Minnesota left winger took a pass and broke toward the empty left side of the net. Stevens dropped to the ice, stretched out his pad, and raised it just a tad to stop the shot.


mbreen@phillynews.com

@matt_breen

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