Minnesota, Boston College Go Toe-to-Toe in 3-3 Tie
by Nathan Wells/CHN Reporter
BC defenseman Ian McCoshen prevents the winning goal from being scored when he swipes the puck out of midair.
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MINNEAPOLIS As Minnesota forward Travis Boyd said following Friday’s 3-3 tie with Boston College at Mariucci Arena, “We were hoping for a game like this.”
Given the number of chances and back-and-forth play, this one lived up to the billing on each end of the ice.
Minnesota and Boston College faced off against one another as top-5 opponents for the third time since April 2012. Neither of the first two games was close. The Eagles dominated Minnesota 6-1 at the 2012 Frozen Four en route to BC’s fifth national championship. The Gophers returned the favor last December at home with an 8-1 rout.
While neither game was as one-sided as the lopsided scores indicated, they weren’t the back-and-forth contests one would expect from a game featuring a pair of top-5 teams.
Round 3 was.
“It was a treat for our fans to see something like that,” Gopher head coach Don Lucia said.
On a night filled with treats of all kinds for hockey fans, the one that left people talking in particularly came in overtime, when three blue-chip freshmen contributed to a play that topped ESPN's plays of the night.
Minnesota's Taylor Cammarata was sprung on a breakaway, and after sliding a shot towards the net, BC goalie Thatcher Demko got a piece of it before it rolled up in the air. The puck was about to float into the empty cage when BC freshman defenseman Ian McCoshen came flying back in the play, grabbed the puck out of midair and flung it away from harm.
What looked to be a goal (or at the very least a penalty) that unglued the thousands at Mariucci Arena, ended up being just another chance in what was officially a tied contest.
“I thought our club played well,” Boston College head coach Jerry York said. “I also thought for as many Grade-A chances as we had, that they had just as many as us.”
The Eagles (2-1-1) entered Friday’s game as the underdog this time around after being the No. 1 team in the country the past two meetings. Instead, it was Minnesota (4-0-1) protecting the top ranking that no one seems to want this time of year. Besides the target on the back, teams seem to feel there is room to grow with a No. 1 ranking. Lucia went as far to say after the game that the Gophers didn’t deserve it.
Being recognized as a top team in October is like getting a gift you don’t like. The thought is there, but does that really count?
Regardless, the Gophers got off to a start any team would want. Freshman Hudson Fasching scored just 30 seconds into the game for his third goal of the season. Four minutes later, Boyd tapped in a Kyle Rau pass on the power play to make it 2-0 before the first TV timeout.
Boston College regrouped, scoring three goals in just 71 seconds, thanks to captain Patrick Brown pulling the team aside.
“I think that was a big game-changer in the first period,” said Eagles junior forward Johnny Gaudreau. “Just bringing all the guys together on the bench and saying a few words to us.”
It makes sense for the words to work on Gaudreau, a player who scored 21 goals last season despite missing several games (including last December against the Gophers). He did just that, scoring his third of the season 8:31 into the game on the power play.
But it was the players like Michael Sit, who went two years without scoring a goal before notching his first last weekend against Wisconsin, who made the difference. The junior scored twice on Gopher goalie Adam Wilcox in a span of 11 seconds.
“It’s a great feeling. I grew up watching the Gophers,” Sit, an Edina, Minn., native, said following the game. “So it’s good to come out and put some on them and see it come in.”
When the dust settled, Boston College scored three goals in 71 seconds and found Minnesota’s bullseye.
If that’s how the game ended, with the Eagles ahead 3-2, it would have been enough entertainment to last a night. The scoring chances continued to flip back and forth between the teams. One team would take control for a bit, pestering the goalie, while the other would counter.
“We scored the first goal tonight, the first couple, but then they surged right back," Lucia said. "That’s what really good teams do. So it’s kind of a good back and forth with the surges. You have some control and they have some control.”
The Gophers tied the game, 3-3, when Cammarata sniped a shot with 4:27 remaining in the second period past Demko, who made 36 saves. He nearly was an even bigger hero in overtime, before McCoshen's counterpunch.
Although the fun ended with Boston College winning a five-round shootout, the official tie felt right for a game which had everything. And that doesn’t include things like Minnesota playing 60 minutes without senior defenseman Jake Parenteau, who left the game with an upper body injury.
Offense with both teams combining for five goals in the first ten minutes? Check. Great saves by both goaltenders? Check. Resiliency? Check and check. Same goes for speedy forwards, college freshmen stepping up for their teams already in October and nail-biting drama on national television.
Heck, that last box should be checked multiple times.
“The win-loss record, the ties are kind of secondary right now,” said York. “Can we get better? Can we get more cohesive as a club?
“(Tonight is) a good indicator we’re getting better.”
That’s hard to disagree. The reward may be a day off thanks to the odd Friday-Sunday scheduling, however, it’s one Gaudreau is looking forward to, saying, “It’s nice to have a day off when we’re playing a good team (like Minnesota). It’s going to be a fast-paced game. It’s a good day off for both teams.”
Both teams may have needed this game, but after two lopsided contests so did everyone from the players to the fans. It’s hard to live up to the expectations of being No. 1. With how Boston College and Minnesota played Friday night, they did that and more. The back-and-forth action produced a contest between two teams that looked to be among the elite in college hockey.
Even if the teams don’t want anyone to admit that in October.