The longer the delay, the more confident each team became.
It was the first round of the 2011 NCAA tournament, overtime between UNO and Michigan, and video of a potential goal by Michigan’s Kevin Lynch was being reviewed. Michigan was confident the ruling of no goal was going to be overturned. UNO was sure the length of the delay proved conclusive evidence wasn’t available.
After 10 minutes, the ruling came down.
“That one is always going to burn in the back of your mind,” said former UNO goalie John Faulkner, who may or may not have kept the puck from crossing the line. “But I’m not dwelling on it as much as I used to.”
Michigan and UNO renew acquaintances for the first time since that March 25, 2011, meeting in St. Louis. A lot has changed since then. But six UNO seniors remember the events pretty well.
“We don’t really talk about it, but we definitely know it’s there and would like a little vengeance,’’ captain Michael Young said. “But you want to forget about it, too.”
UNO, after leading Michigan 2-0 that day, felt like it was re-establishing control in overtime.
But Lynch flicked a shot at Faulkner. Faulkner stopped it, but the rebound bounced off the shin guard of UNO’s Alex Hudson and back underneath a sprawling Faulkner’s left leg, which covered the goal line. The puck disappeared briefly, then Faulkner kicked it out front. Hudson sent it back down the ice.
Standing next to Hudson was Young, then a freshman.
“I was right there looking for it,” Young said. “From where I was, there’s no way it went in. I’m biased, but I still don’t think it went in, from every replay I’ve seen.”
According to NCAA rules, “conclusive” evidence is needed to overturn a call. And it was concluded that the puck had crossed the line.
“It was definitely a long 10 minutes,” said Faulkner, now an assistant with the Omaha Lancers. “I didn’t think it crossed the line. Seeing the video, it’s tough to say. It was a tough way to lose a game, especially in a tournament like that.”
It got tougher over the next couple of weeks, as Michigan eventually moved on to the NCAA championship game, losing to a Minnesota-Duluth team that the Mavericks had beaten 5-2 in early March.
“I’ve gotten over it,” UNO coach Dean Blais said. “It took about a year, but I got over it. It wasn’t easy, because Michigan went right on to the NCAA finals. That was tough to take at the time.”
Instead of perhaps making a run to the title game, UNO’s season was over. The Mavs are 38-41-8 since, including 5-5 this year, and haven’t returned to the NCAA tournament.
Michigan, which had a 22-year NCAA tournament streak end after going 18-19-3 last season, is back on top — ranked No. 2 with a 6-1-1 record.
“They won’t have a weak line,” Blais said. “For us to beat them, we’re going to have to execute and play our best game of the year — which we’re capable of doing. If you can skate, you’ve got a chance, and we can skate.”
UNO’s mad march through November is half finished. The Mavs are 3-1 after series against Denver and North Dakota, with the Wolverines and No. 8 Miami (Ohio) coming up. And they are also a bit of a surprise in tying for the lead in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference with nine points (3-1).
So getting back at Michigan would be nice, but there is a lot more at stake than righting a perceived wrong from three seasons ago.
“It’s not revenge,” Blais said. “It was a while ago. We just have to keep remembering how we won three of the last four games against two really good teams.”