ST. PAUL (AP) -- Minnesota-Duluth played like a team whose season was on the line, and the result was at least a two-game extension of their year.
Junior Lessard scored in the waning minutes of the third period to lift the Bulldogs to a 2-1 win over North Dakota on Thursday night in the opening game of the WCHA Final Five.
Steve Czech's shot from inside the blue line hit traffic in front of the net, but Lessard corralled the puck and put a low shot past North Dakota goalie Jake Brandt with 5:13 to play.
"Actually (Czech's shot) hit me in the chest," Lessard said. "I didn't really see it, but it fell at my feet and I just tried to get a stick on the puck."
Minnesota-Duluth, which needs to win the tournament to make the 16-team NCAA field, admitted that they played with desperation.
During a scramble in front of the Bulldogs goal with :17.5 left in the game, the Sioux appeared to have tied the game, but after review the officials ruled no goal.
"We weren't good enough," said North Dakota coach Dean Blais. "We missed a couple of golden opportunities in the first and lost the momentum. We just didn't have much jump."
The crowd of 14,305 was the second largest for a Thursday night game in the history of the Final Five.
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