PHILADELPHIA — Daniel Ciampini and tiny Union College are thriving on college hockey’s biggest stage.
Ciampini broke a third-period tie with the second of his three goals to help Union beat Boston College 5-4 in the NCAA hockey semifinals Thursday night.
The Dutchmen (31-6-4) advanced to the final for the first time. They will face Minnesota — a 2-1 winner over North Dakota in the second semifinal— in the championship game Saturday night.
“When I came in here as a freshman, there were goals set, but our ultimate goal was not to win the national championship that year,” said Ciampini, now a junior. “It’s just been growing each year.”
Mat Bodie and Mike Vecchione also scored and Colin Stevens made 34 saves for Union, a liberal arts college in Schenectady, N.Y., with only 2,200 students.
Johnny Gaudreau, Steve Santini, Ryan Fitzgerald and Patrick Brown scored for Boston College (28-8-4), trying to make its fifth title game appearance in eight years.
Ciampini broke a 2-2 tie on a power play at 6:31 of the third period, tipping in Shayne Gostisbehere’s one-timer from the point.
“I got very, very lucky,” Ciampini said. “Shayne blasted my stick away there — it broke on the tip. It’s good that I can produce.”
Only 18 seconds later, Union’s Matt Hatch was given a major penalty and game misconduct for checking Scott Savage from behind into the boards, giving Boston College a 5-minute power play.
“We were pretty sure if we kill that, we get the momentum,” Gostisbehere said.
Sure enough, he was right.
The Eagles failed to score and, only seconds after the power play ended, Vecchione gave Union a two-goal advantage off a rebound after goalie Thatcher Demko stopped Kevin Sullivan on a breakaway attempt.
“They’re a great shot-blocking team,” Brown said. “I was in front and I couldn’t even see the puck because they had two or three guys in the lane every time.”
“We just never quite got in sync on that major penalty,” Boston College coach Jerry York said.
With Demko off for an extra attacker, Fitzgerald cut it 4-3 with 1:45 to go. Ciampini restored the two-goal margin with an empty-net goal with 1:09 left, and Brown completed the scoring on a power play with 4.2 seconds to go.
“There was never any give-up in us,” York said. “This particular senior class has done an incredible job for us. I’m very, very proud of them.”
Union is 21-1-1 when it scores at least four goals.
Gaudreau put the Eagles on the board less than 4 minutes into the first period, scoring on a rebound in the crease off Kevin Hayes’ initial shot for his NCAA-leading 36th goal.
Union tied it on Bodie’s slap shot from the top of the right circle 2:39 into the second. Eight minutes later, Ciampini put back a quick rebound off a faceoff win to give Union a 2-1 lead.
Santini countered for Boston College with 4:07 left in the second.
NOTES: Union also played in the 2012 Frozen Four, losing to Ferris State in the semifinals. ... Gaudreau is one of three finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award to be awarded Friday to the top player in the country. Gaudreau leads the nation with 80 points. ... The meeting was the second meeting between the programs. Union beat Boston College 5-1 in the first round of the tournament last year.
MINNESOTA 2, NORTH DAKOTA 1
PHILADELPHIA — Justin Holl scored a short-handed goal with 0.6 seconds left to give Minnesota a 2-1 victory over North Dakota on Thursday night in the NCAA hockey semifinals.
Minnesota (28-6-6) will face Union College in the title game Saturday night. Union beat Boston College 5-4 in the first semifinal at Wells Fargo Center.
Holl scored his first goal of the season, beating Zane Gothberg to the glove side with a shot just inside the post.
Sam Warning opened the scoring for Minnesota with 9:09 left, and Connor Gaarder tied it for North Dakota 32 seconds later. Adam Wilcox made 36 saves for Minnesota, and Gothberg stopped 26 shots.
Minnesota advanced to its 11th championship game and first since 2003, the year it won the last of its five titles.
North Dakota (25-14-3) entered the tournament as an at-large No. 4 seed in the Midwest Region and beat top-seeded Wisconsin and second-seeded Ferris State in double overtime.
After playing through two scoreless periods, Warning finally broke through on a second-chance backhand shot in the slot. But Gaarder countered, putting the puck between Wilcox and the post on his own rebound.
North Dakota nearly found the back of the net twice in the closing minutes of the second period. First, Drake Caggiula had an open net, but whiffed on an attempted shot. About a minute later, Gaarder had a one-time chance in the same spot and similarly couldn’t get his stick on the puck.
NOTES: The two programs last met in the NCAA tournament in 2012, when Minnesota won 5-2 in the regional finals. Minnesota is 3-2 vs. North Dakota in tournament games. ... The two former WCHA rivals didn’t meet in the regular season for the first time since 1946-47 after Minnesota moved to the newly formed Big Ten hockey conference this year. ... Minnesota has 146-130-15 lead in the series that dates to 1930.