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Updated: April 10th, 2014 11:04pm
What timing: Holl's first goal of season puts Gophers in title game

What timing: Holl's first goal of season puts Gophers in title game

by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com
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PHILADELPHIA -- Justin Holl figured he had nothing to lose.

With time running out in the third period and the Gophers and North Dakota tied at 1-1 Thursday in the semifinal of the Frozen Four, the senior defenseman jumped into the play and found the puck on his stick after Kyle Rau's shot was blocked by UND defenseman Jordan Schmaltz.

Holl shot. Then he hoped.

"I couldn't even see the net," he said. "I was just putting it through."

The puck beat North Dakota goalie Zane Gothberg to the far side for a shorthanded goal. The clock at Wells Fargo Arena had 0.6 seconds left on it when the puck crossed the goal line, although it was showing 0:00 after the goal.

The Gophers players began to celebrate but then they had to wait. The officials reviewed the goal to make sure there was time left on the clock.

When their review confirmed the Gophers had a 2-1 lead, Holl not only was the hero, he also had his first goal of the season. This was Holl's 38th game of 2013-14. It was only his eighth career goal in 141 games.

The Gophers will meet Union for in the Frozen Four championship game at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Minnesota is in the title game for the first time since 2003.

"I was saving it," Holl said, joking, when asked about getting his first goal at such a crucial moment.

Asked what went through his mind when he scored, Holl said: "I was just like, 'Did that really happen?' Obviously, it's the first goal of the year so it was a good time to get it."

Senior Nate Condon was among those who were not only ecstatic his team had advanced but also that Holl came away as the hero.

"I'm so happy for Justin right now that he scored that goal and kind of got the monkey off his back," he said. "I think I'd take one goal right now over 10 goals all season. So, it's a great way to end the game."

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
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