Blown lead forces team to settle for tie, 3 points

Minnesota allowed 3 goals to Colorado College in the third period Saturday.

Minnesota forward Tom Serratore skates against Minnesota State-Mankato on Nov. 2 at Mariucci Arena.

Ichigo Takikawa

Minnesota forward Tom Serratore skates against Minnesota State-Mankato on Nov. 2 at Mariucci Arena.

Drew Claussen

The Gophers started their weekend series with No. 19 Colorado College with a roar but finished it with a whimper.

Despite holding a 3-0 lead after the first period Saturday, Minnesota tied Colorado College 4-4. The Tigers scored three unanswered goals in the third period.

The Gophers still took three points on the weekend as they defeated the Tigers 4-2 on Friday. It’s a good enough result to give them sole possession of second place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association — one point behind Denver.

The No. 4 Gophers (11-3-3, 6-3-3 WCHA) looked like a shoe-in to nab their first conference sweep of the season after Saturday’s first period in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Colorado Springs native Tom Serratore, Erik Haula and Seth Ambroz all notched goals to give Minnesota a 3-0 lead.

“We came out and had good charge in the first period,” head coach Don Lucia told Fox Sports North.

The three-goal lead held up after two periods as well. Mike Reilly answered a goal by the Tiger’s Rylan Schwartz in the second to give Minnesota a 4-1 lead after 40 minutes. Nick Bjugstad had a chance to make the game 5-1 in the second, but the junior drilled the post after a nice pass from Nate Condon.

Things went south in the third period.

Alexander Krushelnyski scored four minutes into the period and then again two minutes later, giving the Tigers hope during the game’s waning minutes.

The Tigers tied the game with less than 30 seconds left in the game using an extra attacker. Schwartz buried the puck for the second time to tie the game at 4-4.

Neither team scored in overtime.

“Tying a game like this is kind of like losing one,” Condon told Fox Sports North after Saturday’s game. “You can’t let teams back into it like that.”

The Gophers looked content to protect their lead rather than extend it. Minnesota’s shot production dropped throughout the game — 11 shots in the first period, 10 in the second, five in the third and three in overtime.

“There’s ties that make you feel good and ties that don’t make you feel good,” Lucia told Fox Sports North after Saturday’s game. “Tonight’s one that we let slip away.”

Gophers goaltender Adam Wilcox allowed all four goals, tying for the most he’s given up this season. The freshman also allowed four goals against Minnesota State-Mankato. Wilcox finished Saturday’s game with 23 saves on 27 shots.

Colorado College’s comeback Saturday can be attributed to the Gophers’ defense just as much as the Tigers’ offense. The Tigers’ game-tying goal came on a cross-ice pass from the half-wall that found its way through three Gophers players to Schwartz, who was waiting back-door.

Saturday was the second-straight game the Gophers blew a multiple-goal lead. Minnesota was able to recover after coughing up a 2-0 advantage Friday.

Sam Warning scored once in the first period and again midway through the second Friday.

“It was great to see Sam Warning get a couple goals,” Lucia told Fox Sports North after Friday’s game.

Minutes after Warning’s second goal, Colorado College’s Archie Skalbeck lit the lamp to draw the Tigers to within one.

The Tigers tied the game at 2-2 two minutes later when William Rapuzzi beat Wilcox.

Serratore notched the game-winning goal for Minnesota in the third. Zach Budish added an empty-net goal.

“We did a good job in the third,” Lucia told Fox Sports North on Friday. “[Wilcox] made the saves when he had to, and it’s nice to see the local boy [Serratore] get the game winner.”