Gophers outplay Huskies but let 2-goal lead slip for tie game

Adam Fink

St. Cloud, MINN. ñ The six players on the ice for Minnesota’s men’s hockey team half-heartedly skated to its bench after the third period buzzer sounded.

On the other bench, the six St. Cloud players were welcomed as heroes by their teammates and the raucous 6,685 people in attendance at the National Hockey Center.

For the second consecutive night, Minnesota let a two-goal lead slip away, this time with the game-tying goal occurring at the 18:50 mark of the final period.

The 3-3 final score after overtime is discouraging for the Gophers (11-5-5, 6-3-3 WCHA), who outplayed the Huskies in many aspects including physicality, hustle and effort. In addition, Minnesota suffered through its second-straight poor finish to a game. Last night the Huskies came back to beat Minnesota 4-3.

While Minnesota only earned one point in league play this weekend, Gophers coach Don Lucia was upbeat with his team’s play.

“If we play like this every night, I like our chances,” Lucia said. “It’s disappointing in the way we finished but we played a heck of a game.”

The comeback was completed by the Huskies Peter Szabo, when the forward sent a rebound into the net on the power play. Only moments earlier, Paul Martin was called for intereference. Needing its biggest stop of the night, Minnesota’s defense failed to setup up an extra five minutes of hockey.

The final goal of the night was typical of the entire game. Minnesota dominated the 180 feet in between the two goals, but couldn’t seem to have success around the crease.

“The kids exectuted,” Lucia said. “Some nights you just aren’t going to find the back of the net.”

However, Minnesota had many more chances to score.

The Gophers recorded 49 shots on goal, compared to the Huskies 24. St. Cloud’s Jason Montgomery didn’t play especially well despite the statistics to the contrary but when the game was on the line, the freshman came up with the big saves.

For example, Montgomery came out of the box too far on a Keith Ballard shot in the second period and the rebounded was flicked right to Thomas Vanek. With a fast click of his wrist, the freshman scored one of his easiest goals of the season and gave Minnesota the lead 3-1.

“I felt pretty busy out there,” Montgomery said. “I just tried and played my hardest.”

As Minnesota drives down Interstate 94 toward Minneapolis, thoughts of missed opportunities linger among the players. With a matchup with top-ranked North Dakota set for next weekend, the Gophers have little time to reminisce on what could have been and focus now on what they can accomplish.

“It’s disappointing when you can’t hold a lead,” Ballard said. “But we controlled most of the game, and that’s something we can take out of this weekend

DeMarchi and water

Minnesota’s bench was called for a two-minute minor with two seconds remaining in the game. On the play, the Huskies Jon Cullen lunged into the Minnesota bench moments after skating by the team.

After the game, Cullen said senior Matt DeMarchi squirted him with a water bottle.

“We were jawing back and forth all game,” Cullen said. “I felt water on my neck and I turned towards the bench and saw who did it.”

Televison replays seemed to agree with Cullen’s claim. Lucia said he didn’t know what caused the incident. In addition, DeMarchi declined to talk to the media after the game.