For the fourth year in a row, the University of Minnesota Duluth is WCHA Final Five-bound.
Mike Seidel made that happen late Saturday night when he scored 4:07 into the second overtime to give the No. 3 Bulldogs a 3-2 victory over Minnesota State University-Mankato and a two-game sweep of their best-of-three WCHA playoff series at AMSOIL Arena in Duluth.
It was the junior right winger's 15th goal of the season and came off a rebound in the low slot. It also was the only time UMD led the entire evening.
"After I scored, I didn't know what to do -- I was exhausted," Seidel said of his first collegiate overtime goal. "Both teams had so many chances. We knew it was going to be a tough game because you don't expect anything less this time of the year."
Matt Leitner put the Mavericks (12-24-4 overall) up 1-0 on a power play goal with 55 seconds to go in the first period and maintained that lead until the 13:46 mark of the second period when senior right winger David Grun took a feed from junior center Jake Hendrickson at the top of the right facceoff circle and buried a shot past Minnesota State goaltender Austin Lee for his third goal of 2011-12.
The two clubs traded goals in the third period with Tyle Elbrecht capitalizing on a UMD turnover and striking at 3:54 and J.T. Brown getting the equalizer on the power play three minutes later. The sophomore right winger took a pass from senior defenseman Brady Lamb along the blueline, skated in a few steps, and teed up a slapshot that found its way through traffic and beneath Lee's outstretched glove hand.
The Bulldogs (24-8-6 overall) got a stellar goaltending performance from senior Kenny Reiter, who matched a career-high with 47 saves, including 16 in the first overtime, en route to posting his 51st lifetime victory -- the fourth most in team history.
"I just tried to keep everything in front of me," said Reiter, now 22-7-6 on the year. "And the guys did a nice job limiting second opportunities."
UMD, which has won six consecutive WCHA home playoff series, will open WCHA Final Five play with a semifinal clash next Friday afternoon at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.