MINNEAPOLIS — The hype going into the Mariucci Classic was a potential Saturday matchup between No. 1 Minnesota and No. 2 Ferris State.
That isn’t going to happen.
Colgate and Minnesota played to a 2-2 tie in their semifinal matchup at the Mariucci Classic on Friday and the Raiders advanced to the championship game thanks to a 2-1 shootout victory.
Ferris State took down Rensselaer 6-2 in the first game of the Mariucci Classic.
“Any schedule you look at it and you circle certain games, this is one that I had circled,” Colgate coach Don Vaughan said. “I thought this could be somewhat of a defining moment for our team to this point in the season.”
The Gophers are now 0-3 this year in shootouts, which doesn’t mean much for nonconference games, but is huge in Big Ten play where a shootout win equals an extra conference point.
“It feels like a loss, we have to start winning some shootouts,” Gophers’ forward Kyle Rau said. “At the end of year in the Big Ten, we’re going to need those points.”
It was clear from talking to players and coaches that everyone on the Minnesota side viewed the tie as more of a loss.
“It’s a hollow feeling in the dressing room,” Minnesota acting head coach Mike Guentzel said. “Really, the bottom line for me tonight is if you turn pucks over like we did on the blue line and the neutral zone, it’s going to cost you a hockey game. We tied, but it feels like a loss, and the turnovers are something that we’re going to have to address.”
For a team that was missing two star playmakers and its head coach, Minnesota found itself in a tough spot after two periods — down 2-1. Minnesota was without Hudson Fasching, Brady Skjei and head coach Don Lucia, all away at the World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden.
Guentzel said that it’s possible the three could be back for Saturday’s game against Rensselaer, but he didn’t know for sure.
Travis Boyd scored a one-time goal halfway through the third on the power play to tie things up at two apiece. Boyd didn’t connect cleanly on the shot, but it found its way past Colgate netminder Charlie Finn.
The two teams went back and forth after Boyd’s goal for the remainder of regulation and overtime.
Mike Borkowski and Ryan Johnston scored for Colgate in the shootout.
After Colgate weathered Minnesota’s attack in the early going of the game, which included eight shots in the first five minutes, the Gophers and Raiders played the game’s first period to a scoreless tie.
Minnesota defenseman Michael Brodzinski broke that tie two-and-a-half minutes into the second period when his quick wrist shot form the blue line found its way past Finn.
Six minutes later, Colgate tied the game up thanks to some rare shaky goaltending by Adam Wilcox. The Gophers’ sophomore goaltender failed to handle a long shot, the rebound fell to his feet and was jammed home by Joe Wilson.
The Raiders took the lead in the second period thanks to another Gophers’ mistake, this time a bad line change and a turnover at center ice. The turnover led to a two-on-zero breakaway for Colgate and a one-time goal by Darcy Murphy.
Finn finished the game with 36 saves, while Wilcox made 27.
“[Finn] was good and he was really good in the first four minutes,” Guentzel said. “We had some pressure around the net and we had some second-shot opportunities. I thought he was strong.”
Though fans and media may be disappointed that there will be no No. 1 vs. No. 2, Guentzel downplayed the importance, citing that Minnesota drubbed Boston College 8-1 in the Mariucci Classic last year and lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Ferris State and Colgate will play for the Mariucci Classic title Saturday at 4 p.m. CST, while Minnesota and RPI will play for third place at 7 p.m. CST.