MINNEAPOLIS — If you thought Friday’s tie between Minnesota and Boston University was wild — well, as the saying goes, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
A high-spirited game again turned into a shootout. Minnesota battled back from a two-goal deficit in the third period on Garrett Smaagaard’s shorthander and two power-play goals, only to see BU knot the game on Dan Spang’s goal, giving the teams a second straight 5-5 tie.
“Deja vu, huh?” said Gopher coach Don Lucia. “Two very good programs going at it, and nobody’s going to concede anything.”
The game featured a controversial no-goal on a play which would have tied the score in the second period, a series of penalties in the third that helped Minnesota get back in the contest, and plenty more of the hitting, skating and shooting that peppered the opening game of the series.
Minnesota’s Keith Ballard and Troy Riddle and Boston University’s Frantisek Skladany all finished with three-point nights, each on a goal and two assists.
Afterward, neither coach doubted either team’s effort.
“We got to be a better team this weekend, no question about that,” said Boston University coach Jack Parker, adding, “I thought a lot of guys showed us what they can do — it was a hostile crowd, and a big house.”
“After giving up that goal [by BU's Sean Sullivan] to go down 4-2, I give our guys a lot of credit to come back,” said Lucia.
“They left it all on the ice,” he added. “It was a great weekend of college hockey.”
Goaltending, though, might have been the difference between the tie and a Minnesota win. The Gophers outshot the Terriers 40-24, but Stephan Siwiec helped BU earn the draw after getting the start in place of number-one netminder Sean Fields.
“I wanted to give him a chance,” said Parker. “We’ve got four games in six, seven days, and I didn’t want to wear Sean out.
“Other than the last goal, I thought he played very well.”
Minnesota’s Justin Johnson, meanwhile, endured a rough outing before being replaced early in the third period. Johnson gave up four of BU’s goals on just 16 shots.
“We need to play better [in goal] than we did tonight, that’s for sure,” said Lucia, who cited the difficulty goaltenders have in returning from a layoff.
With BU up 4-2 early in the third period, Gopher Barry Tallackson went off for holding the stick at 3:34. Smaagaard, however, shocked the visitors with a shorthanded goal, stripping the puck behind the Terrier net and executing a give-and-go with Chris Harrington that finished with Smaagaard’s backhander to narrow the BU lead to one.
A scrum between Terrier captain Mark Mullen and Minnesota’s Jake Taylor finished with double roughing minors, plus an unsportsmanlike-conduct to Mullen. Seconds later, Brad Zancanaro smacked Ballard into the boards from behind, giving Minnesota a five-on-three.
Ballard converted the power play immediately, scoring from the right point at 6:30 to tie the game at 4. In the process, Mullen picked up another 10-minute misconduct from the penalty box.
With the Zancanaro penalty still on the board, the Gophers got Riddle’s go-ahead goal 18 seconds later. Matt Koalska cycled the puck to Ballard, then to Riddle, whose skimming wrister went in low to give Minnesota an unlikely 5-4 lead.
“We were a little undisciplined in our reactions to the referee,” said Parker of the sequence of penalties.
But just as suddenly, Spang took the puck from Skladany and powered it through Kenny Magowan’s partial screen at 10:04 to tie the game one last time.
“After they went up, I thought that’s when we played really well,” Parker said.
In the first period, the Gophers had capitalized on the game’s first power play as Koalska fired home the rebound of Ballard’s slapshot from the point at 4:48. BU answered in kind: also on the power play, Ryan Whitney found David Klema untouched alongside the crease, and Klema stuffed the puck past Johnson at 10:46.
To open the second, BU took the lead off a scramble in front. Johnson made a sliding save on Magowan but left the puck loose, and Skladany cleaned up the rebound in traffic at :45.
Less than five minutes later, Brian McConnell extended the Terrier lead to 3-1 with a breakaway goal. Whitney hit McConnell with a long lead pass, and the junior split the defense for the tally.
A goal at 14:54 got the Gophers back to 3-2. Riddle centered to Danny Irmen, whose wrister got through Siwiec’s five-hole when the goaltender tried to swat the puck away with his stick.
Referee Don Adam’s quick whistle prevented a tying power-play goal late in the second. Siwiec stopped Gino Guyer’s shot, but Guyer swatted home the loose puck in the crease, only to have the goal waved off as Adam had lost sight of the biscuit.
“You can’t blame the referee on that,” said Lucia. “He’s just doing his job. He thought it was covered, and he blew the whistle.”
With the resulting momentum shift, Sullivan made it 4-2 Terriers just 22 seconds into the third, putting a backhander through Johnson’s five-hole off a pass from Magowan.
That ended the game for Johnson, who was pulled in favor of Kellen Briggs. Briggs stopped seven of eight BU shots, giving up only Spang’s game-tying goal, on the first shot he saw after entering the contest.
“Under the circumstances, I’ll take the tie,” Lucia said. Minnesota played the weekend series without star sophomore Thomas Vanek, in Finland with Austria’s team at the World Junior Championships.
On Wednesday, Boston University (5-5-6) hosts Massachusetts, and then Northeastern Friday. Minnesota (9-8-3) visits Colorado College Friday and Saturday.