Minnesota not satisfied with weekend split

by Sarah Mitchell

It’s just three weeks into it’s season and the Gophers men’s hockey team has developed a pattern: It’s a high-energy team in the opener of each series and return for the closer in mediocre fashion.
This weekend’s nonconference stand against top-ranked Boston College was no exception.
Minnesota (1-4-1, 0-1-1 WCHA) raised its sticks to the home crowd on Friday in celebration of a 6-5 overtime defeat of the Eagles (4-1-0, 2-0-0 Hockey East). On Saturday, a humbled Gophers squad skated for the locker room after falling 4-1.
“You’d think so,” said Minnesota winger Rico Pagel when asked if he was happy with the split. “I don’t really feel that way. I feel as though, and I know all the other guys on our team feel that way, we should have swept these guys. We were right there with them.”
Minnesota’s inability to capitalize on the power play made the difference Saturday. The Gophers tallied just one goal on eight power-play opportunities after scoring on three of six chances the night before.
Down 2-0 in the second period, the Eagles received scores from defenseman Mike Mottau and winger Mike Lephart in the second — Gophers senior winger Dave Spehar posted Minnesota’s lone power-play goal.
Nabbing the rebound of Gophers defenseman Nick Angell’s shot, Spehar snuck a shot in the five-hole of Eagles freshman goaltender Tim Kelleher at 19 minutes, 13 seconds.
The Eagles defense bore down after that.
“They stacked the blue line, force you to dump in and they just put a body on you and you can’t get anywhere,” Gophers coach Don Lucia said.
“We were coming up (the ice) so slowly. I think the mind wanted to. But the body wasn’t willing.”
Boston College took advantage of the slow play, lighting up Minnesota for two more goals in the final period. Eagles senior center Blake Bellefeuille’s rebounder on a power play and Jeff Farkas’ second of the series — an empty netter — saved Boston College’s weekend.
“We think it’s a major step to beat Minnesota,” Eagles coach Jerry York said. “There’s not a lot of difference in the two teams and if we’ve got supposedly one of the top teams in the country, Minnesota’s in that ballpark.”
York had reason to worry about Saturday’s game after seeing how Minnesota skated on Friday.
Gophers defenseman Dylan Mills put his team in front on a power-play goal at 6:09 in the first, beating Eagles goalie Scott Clemmensen from the left circle. Teammates Jeff Taffe, Nick Anthony and Aaron Miskovich followed suit with scores of their own to give Minnesota a 4-0 advantage at 5:58 in the second. Both Taffe and Miskovich scored against a short-handed Eagles squad.
But the lead wasn’t secure. Eagles wingers Jeff Guiliano and Mark McLennan halved the score before the third period.
Down 5-4 in the third, a poised Boston College got the break it needed. Gophers freshman Shawn Roed took the wrath for his team when the Gophers were penalized for too many men on the ice with one minute left in the game.
Eagles defenseman Bobby Allen took advantage, scoring the tying goal with 32 seconds remaining.
In overtime, Gophers senior winger Nate Miller checked Eagles freshman Krys Kolanos, grabbed the loose puck and fired from the left circle. The puck hit Clemmensen’s pads and trickled over the goal line.
“It was a fun team win,” Miller said. “That’s the most important thing about it.”
Minnesota resumes conference play next weekend at No. 7 Colorado College. Finally with a one in the win column, the Gophers look for their first series sweep.
“(This weekend) showed that we can play at a high level. We have to learn to play at that high level two nights in a row,” Lucia said. “It seems like one night we give ourselves a chance and the next night we can’t play at that same level. And against top teams, if we can’t play at that high level it’s going to be tough for us to get a win.”

Sarah Mitchell covers men’s hockey and welcomes comments at [email protected].