MINNEAPOLIS — It wasn’t a win, but for Boston University it sure felt like one.
The Terriers rallied from a two-goal deficit, surviving a major penalty late in the second period and a Minnesota power play at the end of overtime to gain a 5-5 tie at Mariucci Arena.
BU goaltender Sean Fields’ numbers weren’t spectacular — 35 saves on 40 Gopher shots — but the senior netminder stopped key shots at critical times, including two big saves during Minnesota’s five-minute power play and a stop on what seemed like a sure goal for Danny Irmen late in OT.
“[Fields] played very, very well,” said Terrier head coach Jack Parker. “He made a couple of huge saves on the five-on-three.”
Minnesota, meanwhile, held leads of 3-1, 4-3 and 5-4 before settling for the draw.
“I thought that probably BU deserved better than what they had tonight,” said Minnesota head coach Don Lucia. “We didn’t play with the rhythm we need.”
Jon Waibel scored twice for Minnesota, the first on a breakaway early on, and the second a redirection of Jake Taylor’s slapshot as the five-minute major expired early in the third period.
“Jonny Waibel was clearly our best player, and then I’d have to scratch my head to think of a guy who played up to his abilities,” said Lucia.
Waibel took a pass from Chris Harrington, split the defense through center ice, and beat Fields for a 1-0 lead at 1:50 of the first.
But Brad Zancanaro returned the favor, getting a lead pass up the right side and beating the defense around the corner, forcing Harrington to trip him to prevent the one-on-one.
On the ensuing power play, Kevin Schaeffer scored at 8:36 from the edge of the right circle to knot the score at 1.
A sequence of four-on-four odd-man rushes followed, then play began getting rough in what turned out to be a physical contest. At 16:59, Gino Guyer hit a streaking Harrington from behind the net, and Harrington went five-hole on a helpless Fields to make it 2-1 Minnesota.
“This is a pretty big rivalry, even though we don’t see each other that much,” said Parker. “I was surprised by the physicality, because it’s hard to be physical in an [Olympic-sized] rink.”
At 19:13 Troy Riddle cleaned up a rebound in front of Fields, firing into the half-open net for a 3-1 lead, and the Gophers were in control.
… for about three minutes of play. BU rallied immediately in the second, getting goals from Mark Mullen — a redirection of Ryan Whitney’s slapshot — and Brian McConnell, who fired home a wild carom at the 3:37 mark to tie the game at 3.
“We were ahead 3-1, but the game was anybody’s game,” said Waibel. “They proved that in the second period.”
Tyler Hirsch gave Minnesota the lead back at 9:45, bouncing the puck off Fields after a wraparound behind the net, but the Terriers rallied again with Mullen’s second goal of the game, turning the corner after taking a pass from Matt Radoslovich and scoring past Kellen Briggs (25 saves) at 13:04.
Then BU’s Jekabs Redlihs — playing his first game of the season after a broken collarbone — gave the Gophers a five-minute power play after tripping Grant Potulny from behind, sending Potulny face-first into the boards.
“[Potulny] turned his back at the last minute, and my guys have been instructed to hold up when that happens,” said Parker. “He didn’t do that.”
The Minnesota captain skated off the ice after a couple of minutes, and finished the game. He is expected to be in the lineup Saturday.
After five minutes of haphazard passing, Minnesota regained the lead on Waibel’s redirection of Taylor’s shot at 4:31 of the third. But the Terriers produced another tie on John Laliberte’s odd goal — a shot that bounced off Hirsch and into the net at 15:51.
BU had the better chances for the rest of regulation, and in overtime until referee Don Adam was forced to flag Schaeffer for hauling down Guyer behind the Terrier net at 3:05 of OT.
But the Terrier penalty kill held once more — thanks to Fields’ sliding stop of Irmen — and the tie was the result.
“I saw him come down out of the corner of my eye,” said Fields. “I tried to get across the crease … It hit my toe, rattled around and stopped.”
That was the Gophers’ last shot at the win, as the game ended 5-5. The Terriers, understandably, had a more positive view of the result than did the Gophers.
“I thought it was a well-played game,” said Parker. “I thought it was a well-officiated game.”
“Mentally, I don’t think we were very sharp,” said Lucia, adding, “Bottom line is, you can’t give up five goals.”
Minnesota (9-8-2) will host Boston University (5-5-5) once again Saturday.
“Today was a real eye-opener for us,” said Waibel. “I think we’ll bring it tomorrow.”