Minnesota Ties Colorado College 4-4
Tigers Tally Three in Third to Tie
Minnesota closed out the first half of their season with a 4-4 tie to Colorado College and sits second in the WCHA standings heading into finals week. However, much like Saturday night’s tie almost felt like a loss because of giving up a three goal lead, the team may feel like they’ve squandered their soft schedule by losing nine points in their first 12 conference games.
Minnesota jumped out to a terrific first period getting goals from Tom Serratore driving to the net and forcing one home, Erik Haula tipping in a Kyle Rau shot from a face-off play while on the man-advantage, and then Seth Ambroz getting a seeing-eye goal after he traded places with Nate Schmidt on another face-off play. The Gophers controlled play most of the opening period, despite Colorado College tying them in shots 11-11, and were playing their best hockey since a their season opening series against Michigan State. After the first 20 minutes, the Gophers looked to be in great shape for their first WCHA sweep of the season.
Then 8:30 into the second period the Tigers got on the board to make it 3-1, as Rylan Schwartz tallied a power play goal, beating Adam Wilcox up top from the right wing circle. Minnesota lost their rhythm in the middle of the second losing battles all over the ice until Travis Boyd created a turnover and an opportunity for two defensemen playing forward. Mike Reilly rushed up the ice on a two-on-one rush with Justin Holl and while the Tiger defenseman blocked any potential pass, Reilly took advantage of the space to beat Josh Thorimbert cleanly putting Minnesota up 4-1 at 15:41 of the second.
The Gophers let the Tigers back into the game again early in the third. Ben Marshall didn’t get all of a one-timer opportunity while on the power play and then compounded the mistake, stepping up on the play and giving away a short handed odd man rush. Alex Krushelnyski didn’t let him off the hook, beating Wilcox to make it 4-2 at 4:14. Less than two minutes later Krushelnyski made it 4-3 as he was uncontested driving the net to pounce on a Wilcox rebound at 6:01.
The Gophers shortened their bench in the final 10 minutes and struggled while playing a conservative dump, change, and trap style down the stretch. Minnesota seemed like they might be able to hold on for the win until Krushelnyski fired a pass from the corner across the front of the net to an open Schwartz who buried the puck past Wilcox for his second goal of the night with just 24 seconds remaining. Neither team threatened in the overtime as it seem Colorado College was happy to secure a point and Minnesota didn’t want to end up giving away a series split.
While the Gophers will be on an NCAA mandated break for finals until December 25, the team starts the second half with three important pairwise games at Mariucci Arena. Air Force, Boston College, and Notre Dame will all likely be ‘Teams Under Consideration’ at the end of the year and Gophers will have an opportunity to improve on their 3-2-1 record against TUC so far this season.
Minnesota’s final 16 WCHA conference games only include seven road games and one of them will be the neutral site Hockey City Classic. The Gophers also welcome both Denver and North Dakota to Mariucci in the second half of the year, and avoid trips to Magness Arena and Ralph Engelstad.
So while the sky looks like it’s falling to many fans, the team has their important half of their schedule starting December 29 with the Mariucci Classic and likely embarks on the second leg of their WCHA farewell tour with a healthy roster.