Men’s hockey Live Blog: Gophers vs. (7) Colorado College

by Max Sanders

FINAL-Minnesota earned its third home sweep of the season at the final full regular season series at Mariucci Arena. The Gophers earned a much needed four points, and have now thrust themselves in contention for the No. 5 conference spot. 1:40 3rd-Colorado College pulled Howe to get an extra attacker, but Tony Lucia recovered the loose puck near the Tigers bench and fired in the easy empty netter. GOPHERS 7, COLORADO COLLEGE 4. 3:07 3rd-Minnesota adds what very likely could be the final nail in the coffin. Cade Fairchild took a pass from Zach Budish and fired a shot from the point that snuck past a crowded Howe and went in for the goal. GOPHERS 6, COLORADO COLLEGE 4. 7:05 3rd-Colorado College will be on the power play, as Aaron Ness is called for tripping near the right boards of the Gophers zone. 16:14 3rd-Minnesota entered the period with a three goal lead, but just under four minutes into the third period that lead is now cut to just 1. Tyler Johnson stole the puck and went the length of the ice on a breakaway. He beat Kangas for the score, and the Gophers now lead 5-4. GOPHERS 5, COLORADO COLLEGE 4. 19:46 3rd-Colorado College continues the scoring festivities14 seconds into the third period. Gabe Guentzel fired a shot that went past the glove side of Kangas for the goal, cutting Minnesota’s lead to 2. GOPHERS 5, COLORADO COLLEGE 3. Second Intermission Re-Cap: Goals: Gophers 2(Birkholz, Leddy); Colorado College 1(Fredheim) Shots on Goal: Gophers 12; Colorado College 12 Penalties: Gophers 6; Colorado College 3 Instant Analysis: Through two periods, Minnesota is certainly playing like a top five conference team. They have answered each score of the Tigers with one of their own, and now head into the third period protecting a three goal lead. A sweep of the No. 7 ranked team in the country would be huge for a team still looking for its identity, and would provide considerable momentum as they look to heat up for the stretch run. 2:12 2nd-And just like that, Minnesota responds. Nick Leddy fired a laser from just inside the left side of the blue line that went clear past Howe for the score, putting the Gophers lead back at 3. GOPHERS 5, COLORADO COLLEGE 2. 3:55 2nd-Just 31 seconds into the power play Colorado College scores. Kris Fredheim was crashing the net and after receiving the puck chipped it past Kangas for the power play score. GOPHERS 4, COLORADO COLLEGE 2. 4:26 2nd-Minnesota’s Kevin Wehrs is sent to the box for checking from behind, giving Colorado College the power play. 9:30 2nd-Tony Lucia absolutely levels a Colorado College defender, and play stops when Ryan Flynn and Nate Prosser exchange punches after the whistle. Both are sent to the box for roughing. 11:20 2nd-After killing off the 5-on-3, Minnesota is called for another penalty just as they were about to return to even strength. Kevin Wehrs was called for tripping. 13:19 2nd-The Gophers are called for another penalty, this time it is Nick Larson getting cited for boarding. Don Lucia was clearly frustrated with the call, which now gives the Tigers 58 seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage followed by 1:03 of a one-man power play. 14:22 2nd-Minnesota keeps up the offensive attack, with Zach Budish nearly putting a wraparound puck past Howe. During a drive later in the same possession Jordan Schroeder is called for interference, a penalty he clearly disagrees with. 17:07 2nd-The scoring barrage by the Gophers continues three minutes into the second period. Nick Leddy found a streaking Josh Birkholz in the slot, and Birkholz fired a shot high and past Howe for the goal, extending Minnesota’s lead to 3. GOPHERS 4, COLORADO COLLEGE 1. 1st Intermission Re-Cap: Goals: Gophers 3 (Hoeffel, Fischer, Cepis); Colorado College 1(Schwartz) Shots on Goal: Gophers 19; Colorado College 7 Penalties: Gophers 2; Colorado College 2 Instant Analysis: A high scoring first period could not have gone much better for Minnesota. The Gophers skated hard, created chances and capitalized, scoring three goals. Minnesota’s first goal came on a 5-on-3 advantage, when Hoeffel took a rebound off a Schroeder shot and put it past Howe for the first goal of the day. After a goal by Fischer, Colorado College responded and cut the lead back to 1 on a nice backhander by Schwartz. However Minnesota put the lead back to 2 less than a minute later when Cepis crashed the net and poked a shot past Howe, who fell backwards into the net. The goal is Cepis’ sixth of the season, and now gives him 13 points on the year. 5:07 1st-What a first period. Jacob Cepis crashed the Colorado College net, and put a loose puck past Howe for the goal. The play was reviewed because Howe’s mask came off, but it was ruled to have come off after the puck went past the red line. GOPHERS 3, COLORADO COLLEGE 1. 5:49 1st-The scoring flurry continues, this time on the other end. Rylan Schwartz put a backhander low and past the glove side of Kangas for the goal. GOPHERS 2, COLORADO 1. 6:09 1st-Just 40 seconds later, Minnesota strikes again. David Fischer took a pass from Josh Birkholz and fired a shot that went low past Howe for the score. GOPHERS 2, COLORADO COLLEGE 0. 6:49 1st-The Gophers strong specialty teams effort nets them a goal with 19 seconds remaining on the 5-on-3. Jordan Schroeder took a shot that bounced off Howe and Mike Hoeffel was there for the rebound and put it past the goalie for the first goal of the game. The Gophers will have another 25 seconds of the man-advantage. GOPHERS 1, COLORADO COLLEGE 0. 8:16 1st-Just 14 seconds into the power play Colorado College has another player sent to the box, as Gabe Guentzel is called for boarding, giving Minnesota 1:46 of a 5-on-3 advantage. 8:30 1st-The third penalty of the game will put Minnesota on power play. Colorado College’s Mike Boivin is called for roughing. Both teams have come out ready to play today, with each team playing with strong intensity. The Gophers have played extremely well on the penalty kill up to this point, and will look to continue its strong specialty teams this time with the man-advantage. 11:55 1st-Minnesota is called for yet another penalty, as Nico Sacchetti is cited for interference. The one bright spot has been the penalty kill, which has been stifling and creating shorthanded chances. 14:53 1st-An eventful power play fails to net a goal. Minnesota actually had the first chance, as Schroeder drove behind the Colorado College net but his centering pass was knocked away. The Tigers then had a chance on the other end as a shot bounced off Kangas and was left out in front of the net, but it was unable to be put back for a rebound chance. 17:21 1st-Just over two minutes into the game, senior captain Ryan Flynn is cited two minutes for checking to the head after checking a Tigers forward after the whistle.

The national anthem has been sung, and we are ready to begin Saturday afternoon hockey.