The University of Maine men’s hockey team was playing in its first NCAA championship game against Lake Superior State at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee.
The Black Bears had been to three previous Frozen Fours [1988, ’89 and ’91] but had been eliminated in the semifinals.
This time, a late third-period goal by Cal Ingraham and an overtime winner off the stick of the late Lee Saunders rallied UMaine past Michigan 4-3 in the semifinals.
The Black Bears then capped a remarkable 42-1-2 season with a 5-4 come-from-behind victory over Lake Superior State for the first of their two national titles.
“The rink itself and the magnitude of the game is one of the first things that comes to mind,” said Mike Latendresse, who was a sophomore left wing on that 1993 team. “We were confident in our abilities. We had some great leadership from [head] coach [Shawn] Walsh to [assistants] Grant [Standbrook] and Red [Gendron].”
In the final, the Black Bears again found themselves trailing.
After jumping out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Patrice Tardif and Chris Ferraro, Mike Bachusz’s goal late in the first period and second-period tallies by Clayton Beddoes, John Hendry and Wayne Strachan gave the Lakers with a 4-2 lead entering the third period.
Two critical things happened between the second and third periods that laid the groundwork for a three-goal, third-period comeback.
First, captain Jim Montgomery gave the team a memorable pep talk during which he told his teammates there was no doubt in his mind they were going to come back and win the game.
“He was a phenomenal leader and he still is,” Latendresse said. “He gave us what we needed heading into the third period. Leadership is a crucial part of a team. You can have great coaches but if you don’t have leadership in the locker room, there is a gap there. Jimmy was a really strong communicator.”
Secondly, head coach Shawn Walsh and his staff decided to change goalies, replacing Mike Dunham with Garth Snow. Snow had terrific puck skills and was like having a third defenseman.