BOSTON — Maybe when the years have passed and Carter Savoie looks back on his game-winning goal to send Denver to the national championship game at the 2022 NCAA Men’s Frozen Four, he’ll be able to describe how it felt.
On Thursday night, in the immediate aftermath of Denver’s 3-2 win over Michigan in the semifinal, he was speechless.
“No words to describe it,” Savoie said. “Best feeling ever.”
Savoie’s goal, his 23rd of the season, came 14:53 into overtime to eliminate Michigan and put the Pioneers in the national championship game for the 12th time.
Taking advantage of a Michigan turnover in Denver’s defensive zone, Savoie took control of the puck once it crossed the Wolverines’ blue line and dumped it into the corner to Bobby Brink on the right wing. As Savoie crashed the net with his stick aloft, Brink fired a pass that went through the legs of Michigan defender Garrett Van Wyhe and onto Savoie’s stick.
Savoie then sniped a one-timer toward the net; it was initially blocked by Michigan goalie Erik Portillo. Savoie was right there to bury the rebound and send Denver to the final for the first time since 2017.
“I tried passing it down to Bob, it hit his skate, and he ended up getting it back,” Savoie said. “Obviously, that pass Bob made was pretty unbelievable, right through that guy’s legs. Got the first shot, then got the rebound there.”
It was the 43rd assist of the season for Brink.
“(We) play together pretty much most of the year,” Savoie said about his linemate for that shift. “We’re really comfortable together. We know how each other plays. We’ve had some good games together and our chemistry just continues to grow.”
“It was time for (their) line to get one,” Denver coach David Carle said. “They came through in the biggest of moments to extend their season.”
Even more than 1,700 miles from home and playing in a building with plenty of Denver supporters (though outnumbered by fans wearing Michigan’s iconic maize and blue), the Pioneers could feel the love.
“It was unbelievable,” said Denver forward Ryan Barrow, who had an assist on Denver’s first goal of the night. “We’ve had unbelievable support this year. (To) be able to honor them that way was pretty surreal.
And of course the biggest ovation of the night was for the skater responsible for extending Denver’s season one more game and giving its fans reason to stick around Boston for two more days.
“When you have a group that supports you like that, it means a lot to us as players,” Savoie said. “It was really cool to see them in the stands and give us a big jump.”