GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson became known as "Mr. October'' for his many clutch hits in post-season play with the Oakland Athletics.
Meet the University of North Dakota's newest "Mr. March," junior wing Trevor Olson.
Olson, with but five goals to his name this season and eight in his three seasons at UND, collected his third game-winning goal in the last four games to lift the Fighting Hawks to a wild 6-5 National Collegiate Hockey Conference playoff sweep of St. Cloud State.
In what well may be the biggest goal all season for UND, the win sends the Fighting Hawks to the Frozen Faceoff in Minneapolis next weekend and moves them closer to securing an NCAA tournament berth for the 15th straight season.
Olson got his stick on a centering pass off the side boards from center Johnny Simonson, tipping it just under the cross bar as SCSU goalie Jeff Smith went low to cover the centering pass.
The goal, at 7:38 of sudden-death overtime, ended St. Cloud State's season (16-19-1) and gave UND (20-14-3) its 15th straight season of 20 or more wins. It also created bedlam in the stands among the 10,540 paying customers at Ralph Engelstad Arena as the defending national champs moved a step closer to earning a chance to defend the crown.
"I don't know what's going on,'' Olson said of his late-game magic recently. Of his five goals this season, four have been game-winners, tops on the team.
"I went however many calendar years without a goal and now all of a sudden they're starting to fall my way,'' Olson said. "Obviously a lucky one tonight.''
Olson stepped out from behind the net and reached out with the blade of his stick as Simonson pass rocketed toward the net. "I was just trying to get net-front, and then go to the bench,'' said Olson, who was thinking more of getting off the ice for a line change.
"I actually didn't get all the way there (front of net), I just threw my stick out there and it hit it and went upstairs.''
Olson said he didn't know he had scored the winning goal.
"I had no idea,'' he said. "It hit my stick, and I didn't see anything. I was going to the bench for a change and I saw the ref hammering down at the ice (signalling a goal), then they had the review (of the goal). It felt pretty good once they said it was a good goal.''
It felt absolutely great to UND and its fans as UND beat the Huskies for the fifth time in six meetings this year. The win also boosted the Fighting Hawks to No. 10 in the Pairwise rankings, which will be used a week from now to select the 16-team NCAA tournament field.
The game featured plenty of twists and turns, from early on, to Olson's unexpected winner.
St. Cloud State, leading 1-0 in the first period on a Nick Poehling goal, appeared to go ahead 2-0 late in the period on a Robby Jackson goal. Instead, St. Cloud State was called for having too many men on the ice, disallowing the goal, and also for an unsportsmanlike penalty on Blake Winiecki.
That wiped out the goal and on the ensuing UND power play, St. Cloud native Austin Poganski scored his 11th goal of the season at 19:16, squeezing his shot 5-hole on Smith for a 1-1 standoff after one.
But UND, now 14-0-1 when scoring more than four goals this season and now 15-1 when leading after two periods, was in for a wild ride in the third period.
Defenseman Jon Lizotte, a former Grand Forks Red River player, scored twice in the third period and Nick Poehling added his second of the game to offset Shane Gersich's 21st goal of the season for UND and give the Huskies a 5-4 lead at 13:16 of the third period.
Defenseman Christian Wolanin drilled a center point slapshot past Smith high on the glove side at 15:58 to tie it at 5, setting up "Mr. March'' Olson for the heroics.
"We're extremely proud of him,'' UND coach Brad Berry said of Olson. "He's a team-first guy and does all the right things here at the rink. He's a great teammate and it's great to see him have success, because whatever role he's given, he embraces it, and gives 100 percent.''
And "Mr. March'' isn't a bad role to have.
Berry said it was "huge'' for UND, in regards to the Pairwise, to not only win the series from the Huskies, but to do it two games and avoid the Sunday decider.
"Now we've checked the boxes, getting home ice, that was critical, it was a decisive point for us going on. Second one was getting down Minneapolis for the Frozen Faceoff. After that, we have 3 or 4 more boxes to check. We want to do that. We'll take one box at a time,'' Berry said.
Game notes: UND lost freshman center Ludwig Hoff with an upper body injury in the second period, and he didn't return to the game. His status will be evaluated next week ... UND outshot SCS 41-35 but lost faceoffs 38-34 as Jost, the NCHC faceoff leader, lost 11 of 19 faceoffs he handled ... Jost, Poganski, Olson and Wolanin all have two-point games with a goal plus an assist while Cole Smith and Simonson had two assists each ... The only UND players to finish on the plus side in the plus/minus ratings were Jost and Wolanin, both a plus-1 ... Jimmy Schuldt, one of St. Cloud's top defenseman, was a minus 4 for the second night in a row ... Gersich's goal in the third period came on a 3-on-0 breakaway after Huskie defenseman Jack Ahcan lost the puck in the neutral zone.