Gophers' Roller Coaster Ride Comes to and End
by Mike McMahon/Staff Writer
WORCESTER, Mass. Saturday's 5-1 loss to Boston College in the first-round of the NCAA tournament was the final bitter pill that Minnesota was forced to swallow, ending an up and down roller-coaster ride that was their 2007-08 season.
The Gophers endured star forward Kyle Okposo leaving school at the Christmas break, and the ensuing verbal thrashing their program took from New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow. There was junior goaltender Jeff Frazee struggling from the start of the season. There was Ryan Stoa's season-ending injury early on.
Then, there was Tom Pohl's horrific injury at the end of the season.
It was a season of ups and downs, well, mostly downs for the Gophers.
"I'm proud of the way our guys responded to the battles we faced this year," said head coach Don Lucia. "Our guys really had a lot thrown at them this year, and I'm proud of the way we persevered."
For the seniors, who played their last game for the Gophers, the game left an unshakeable sting.
"There are a lot of emotions right now," said Mike Howe. "My whole life, I wanted to play for this University. It still hasn't sunk in that it's over. I'm just so fortunate to play here, and to play at this school."
Ben Gordon agreed.
"It was a crazy year," he said. "But I'm so proud that I went out with these seniors."
HEY TIMEKEEPER, HOW MUCH TIME IS LEFT???
That was the question buzzing around the DCU Center late in the third period. Trailing 4-1 and going on the power play, Lucia pulled goaltender Alex Kangas for the 6-on-4 advantage. Early on the power play, the Gophers appeared to have scored to make it 4-2, but it was waived off by the official.
Play continued until Boston College added an empty netter to make it 5-1 with 45 seconds left. But, the Minnesota no-goal was then under review.
After clearly seeing the puck cross the goal line on replay, Minnesota was awarded a goal to make it 4-2, and the faceoff was brought to center ice and the clock was reset to 3:27. All stats (mainly shots on goal) during the time between the waive off and the BC goal then had to be eliminated.
After a delay of about eight minutes, play continued. Minnesota almost pulled with a goal on a couple of changes, but Nathan Gerbe iced the game for BC as time was winding down.
"We all knew it was in," said forward Ben Gordon. "After that, it was really about getting a whistle and letting them look at it."