The 1991 Division I men’s title game required three overtimes to determine a champion. When it was all said and done, fifteen goals were scored in the final game of the 1990-91 season. Two teams that were powerhouses throughout the season met in this final game: Northern Michigan and Boston University. The Northern Michigan Wildcats came into the game with a record of 37-5-4. As the WCHA regular season and tournament champion, the team was riding a staggering 25-game unbeaten streak. The Boston University Terriers were boasting a 28-10-2 record as the Hockey East tournament champions. The team only had one loss in the last twelve games.
In 1991, the national tournament teams were divided between East and West regions. Four east teams would face four west teams in the first round. Northern Michigan and Boston University were 2 seeds in the respective regions. This meant both programs received a bye in the first round. The Quarterfinal Round was a best-of-three series. In the quarterfinals, Northern Michigan swept Alaska Anchorage while Boston University swept Michigan sending both teams to St. Paul for the semifinals. (The Frozen Four title wasn’t officially coined until 1998.) The Wildcats defeated Maine 5-3 while the Terriers ran through Clarkson 7-3. This set the stage for one of the most thrilling title games in college hockey history.
Boston University got on the board quick – exactly one minute into the game – when Ed Ronan scored his fifteenth goal of the season. Before the period was halfway over, the Terriers would tally two more; one being Ronan’s sixteenth of the season. The score remained 3-0 at the first intermission.
Members of the crowd were likely wondering if this was the beginning of a blowout when it reality it was the polar opposite. Head coach Rick Comley lit a fire under the Wildcats as Dean Antos put them on the board 1:33 into the middle frame on a power-play goal. Mark Beaufait would score less than three minutes later for the Wildcats. They wouldn’t stop there. In fact, Northern Michigan scored three more unanswered goals during the period to make it 5-3 Wildcats at the second intermission. Two of the goals would be numbers 46 and 47 on the season for Scott Beattie.
It was a back-and-forth start to the third period. The Wildcats extended the lead to 6-3 on Scott Beattie’s hat trick goal just over three minutes into the final period. Dave Tomlinson stopped the bleeding and put the Terriers back on the board several minutes later. After another Wildcat goal, the score was 7-4 with less than eight minutes left in regulation. That’s when Boston University would kick it into another gear. Tony Amonte and Shawn McEachern both scored within three minutes of each other. Then with only 39 seconds left in the game, David Sacco scored the late-tying goal to make it 7-7. It was Sacco’s second goal of the night and would send the game to overtime.
Two overtime periods would end up scoreless. Then only 1:57 into the third overtime, Darryl Plandowski netted the championship-winning goal in the third overtime. It also give him a hat trick for the game. It was Northern Michigan’s first Division I men’s hockey championship. Boston University would need to wait four more years to win the program’s fourth championship trophy.
Both of these teams will meet this weekend for a two-game series in Marquette, Michigan. This will be Boston University’s first visit to Marquette since 1988 and first time playing at the Barry Events Center. Northern Michigan will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the championship this weekend. The historic 1991 team will be honored during the first intermission of the Saturday night game.
Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated (April 8, 1991)