After #2 Ferris State defeated RPI 6-2 earlier Friday, it seemed like Minnesota's third #1 v. #2 match-up in less than a calendar year was there for the taking. The best laid schemes of mice and men...well Colgate knew the quote. And in Steinbeckian fashion, the underdogs laid a depressing finish on the #1 Gophers.
Junior forward Travis Boyd's (Washington Capitals) power play goal with 9:29 remaining in regulation tied the game at 2, but it was Colgate (7-9-3, 5-3-1 ECAC) who came through in the shootout and will instead face the Bulldogs tomorrow afternoon.
"Not playing in that championship game tomorrow definitely feels like a loss," said freshman defenseman Jake Bischoff (New York Islanders draft pick). Associate head coach Mike Guentzel, in charge while head coach Don Lucia and two players were overseas for the World Junior Championships, added that it was a hollow feeling in the locker room.
Despite the shootout loss, Minnesota's third in as many tries, the game officially ends as a 2-2 tie.
Freshman goaltender Charlie Finn made 36 saves for the Raiders and was the lone reason his team did not trail after a first five minutes that saw Minnesota (12-3-3, 3-0-1-0 Big Ten) out-shoot the team 8-1.
"The energy in that building was phenomenal tonight," Colgate head coach Don Vaughan, who had tonight's game circled on his calendar, said afterward. "I thought our young team really answered the bell and it was an entertaining game. They fired a lot of pucks at our goaltender. I thought he played well. Scoring chances at the end of the night might have evened out even though we didn't have as many shots as they did."
Still, it was Michael Brodzinski (San Jose Sharks) who got the Gophers on the board first after a scoreless first period with his fifth goal of the season 2:25 into the second period. The freshman defenseman snapped a quick wrist shot from the point that fooled Finn enough to put the Raiders behind 1-0.
Colgate, however, rebounded and by the end of the second period led 2-1 on goals by Joe Wilson and Darcy Murphy. Minnesota spent the entire game playing with 5 defensemen. Although the blue liners didn't appear to have rust, killing 3 penalties and the long change was tiring. On the second goal, a misscommunication by the Gopher blue line led to a 2 on 0 chance for the Raiders and left sophomore goalie Adam Wilcox (Tampa Bay Lightning) out to dry.
"It's an adjustment. With 5 D you're going out there more than you would with 6, but we were ready for it. We knew it was coming," Bischoff said. "We were tired at times, but other than that, it wasn't a horrible adjustment."
Minnesota was able to come back to tie the game after somewhat coasting for the middle frame. By that time, however, what has been a way to win against lesser opponents was not the case against Colgate. The Raiders had already defeated two top-ten teams and took the play during overtime before doing the same in the shootout.
Instead of looking at things half-full by coming back and playing with five defensemen, the feeling throughout the home team locker room was that for Friday, the glass was half-empty.
"Ultimately, the bottom line for me tonight is that you turn pucks over like we did on the blue line and the neutral zone like we did, it's going to cost you a hockey game," Guenztel said. "Those turnovers are going to be something we have to address."
Minnesota will get a chance tomorrow evening at 7:00 p.m. CT against RPI. Colgate, meanwhile, will try to break the deadlock with Ferris State (the two teams split a series earlier in the year) for the Mariucci Classic championship at 4:00 p.m. CT.
-Guentzel, who was in charge with head coach Don Lucia coaching Team USA, said after the game that he had not spoken with Lucia, but would lilke to envision getting back Brady Skjei (New York Rangers) and Hudson Fasching (Los Angeles Kings) back in the lineup.
"I hope so," he said. "Anytime you're a coach you want to put your best players on the rink and give yourself the best chance and that's our goal. "
-Kyle Rau scored his 100th career point as a Gopher on Boyd's goal.
-Wilcox made 27 saves in defeat.
-Vaughan on his team playing in 10,000 seat Mariucci Arena against Minnesota: "If you can't get up for a game at Mariucci, it's probably time to take up chess or something else."
Minnesota: Christian Isackson (miss), Justin Kloos (saved), Rau (make)
Colgate: Tylor Spink (miss), Mike Borkowski (make), Ryan Johnston (make) - Colgate wins 2-1
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Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation and College Hockey News. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate