Gophers drop WCHA opener 3-1

“They out everythinged us,” said sophomore forward Kyle Okposo

Brian Deutsch

Colorado Springs – The Minnesota men’s hockey team dropped its Western Collegiate Hockey Association opener tonight in a 3-1 loss to Colorado College.

The win was the Tigers first against the Gophers in the last seven match-ups, leaving the team hungry for a win against what conference coaches had predicted to be a better team.

The Tigers jumped out to a first period lead thanks to sophomore forward Bill Sweatt, who slipped a power-play goal through a crowd and under junior goalie Jeff Frazee.

The Gophers answered back with their lone goal of the game less than one minute later.

In probably their only major defensive breakdown of the game, both Colorado College defensemen covered junior Blake Wheeler, who then threaded a pass to an open Cade Fairchild in transition.

Fairchild blasted a shot just out of reach of freshman goalie Richard Bachman’s glove to knot the score at 1-1. Senior forward Ben Gordon also assisted on the play.

“It felt good to get the team off to a good start in the first period especially after they scored a power-play goal on a questionable call I thought,” Fairchild said. “But we got back at them,”

However, the Tigers were able to find the net a second time the next period and again in the third to win the game 3-1.

“The best team won tonight,” coach Don Lucia said. “I thought (the Tigers) played on their toes, we played on our heels tonight.”

The Gophers struggled to find a way past the Colorado College defense and in the rare event that Minnesota had a strong scoring chance, they were turned away by Bachman in net.

The freshman stopped 23 of 24 shots and was named the games first star.

In goal for Minnesota, Frazee allowed three goals on 24 shots in the loss.

In contradiction to his strong performance last weekend, Frazee seemed slightly off tonight especially when he missed a relatively easy glove save that gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead in the second.

“I think (Jeff) would like to have that second one back,” Lucia said.

Lucia said Frazee would more than likely be in net tomorrow night, but the decision isn’t official as of yet.

What is for certain is that another loss tomorrow in the series finale will be a strong blow to the Gophers young season, something sophomore forward Kyle Okposo knows full well.

“You have to have a short-term memory,” he said. “You don’t want to open up the WCHA getting swept.”