Jordan Kawaguchi is one of the top NCAA free agents now eligible to sign with National Hockey League clubs. (University of North Dakota photo)

Jordan Kawaguchi is one of the top NCAA free agents now eligible to sign with National Hockey League clubs. (University of North Dakota photo)

Jordan Kawaguchi’s NCAA career ends with five-overtime thriller

The all-time Chilliwack Chiefs great suffered hearbreak in a playoff loss to Minnesota-Duluth

Jordan Kawaguchi’s NCAA career is done.

The all-time Chilliwack Chiefs great did his best to save the season for his University of North Dakota (UND) Fighting Hawks, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a 3-2 loss to Minnesota-Duluth in the longest NCAA men’s game in history.

The two teams wouldn’t have ended up in overtime, much less five overtimes, if not for Kawaguchi’s late-game heroics. Gooch’s crew trailed the Bulldogs 3-1 with less than three minutes to play, and UND coach Brad Berry pulled goalie Adam Scheel (former Penticton Vee) with 160 seconds remaining to give his team an extra attacker.

After Collin Adams scored to get the Hawks within one, it was Kawaguchi’s turn.

RELATED: Kawaguchi matches Ast mark with four point night

RELATED: Chilliwack Chiefs alums in the hunt for NCAA men’s hockey title

The UND captain buried a feed from linemate Shane Pinto at 19:04.5, sending the game into lots and lots of extra time. Four overtime periods came and went without a decision. The game lasted six hours and 15 minutes total, finally ending when seldom-used freshman forward Luke Mylymok slipped a five-hole shot through Scheel at 1 a.m. North Dakota time.

An emotionally and physically drained Kawaguchi had to handle the post-game press conference.

“I thought we played well. Two great teams going at it and the score and the overall game reflected it,” he said, eyes read and bleary from tears and exhaustion. “Either team could have won it, and it just so happened they did.

“Those are my brothers and my family in there, and that’s pretty much all I said to them (after the game).”

After playing the near-equivalent of two games in one night, Kawaguchi wasn’t ready to turn the page and start thinking about the future, but just because his NCAA days are done doesn’t mean the Abbotsford product doesn’t have plenty of hockey in front of him.

The 23-year-old will be a free agent target for National Hockey League clubs, and he is now free to sign on the dotted line.

Several articles and blogs list Kawaguchi as one of the top free agent options, and while his slightly undersized frame and good-but-not-great skating might eventually hold him back, he does have a chance to play at the very highest level.

Kawaguchi spent five seasons at UND, collecting 45 goals and 126 points in 136 career games. Prior to that he spent our seasons with the Chiefs and left as the BCHL club’s all-time points leader.


@ProgressSports
eric.welsh@theprogress.com

Like us on

chilliwackChilliwack Chiefshockey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fire crews battle a large wildfire north of Highway 1 at Yale Road West on Thursday, April 15, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Firefighters battle wildfire in Chilliwack near Hwy 1

Helicopter dropping water on large wildfire in Chilliwack at Yale Road West, north of highway

web
Fire breaks out inside Mission Walmart

Customers, staff evacuated as firefighters investigate

Japanese Canadian citizens being transferred into waiting trucks outside Hope Station House. NNMCC L2021-2-1-004. Photographs courtesy of the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre
Fight continues for historic Hope Station House

Ombudsman report and stop work order come alongside district’s move to remove heritage status

Lift equipment is driven away from a fire in an adjacent unit on Industrial Way in Chilliwack on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack firefighters deal with heavy smoke, extreme heat in challenging industrial fire

Crews successful in containing fire to 1 unit in industrial building, adjacent units suffer smoke damage

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Dr. Bonnie Henry – in a B.C. health order that went into effect April 12 – granted WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce workplace closures with COVID-19 spread. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
24 workplace closures being enforced in Fraser Health under new COVID-19 order

WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce closures if COVID-19 has spread to 3 or more employees

Maple Ridge Fire and Rescue were conducting training operations at Gold Creek Falls when a firefighter broke their leg. (Eileen Robinson photo - Special to The News)
Firefighter suffers broken leg during swift water rescue practice in Golden Ears park

A training exercise at Maple Ridge waterfall on Wedesday results in mishap

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

Most Read