Gophers tie BU 5-5, Again

Minnesota and BU played two games, combined for 20 goals, yet no one came away a winner. Then again, no one was a loser either. After a 5-5 tie Friday, the two college hockey powers tied by the same score again Saturday night.

All of this for two 5-5 ties?

Minnesota and Boston tied by that score again Saturday night, the same score they tied with on Friday night. Two games, 20 goals, and two 5-5 tie. Minnesota is now 9-8-3 overall while BU is not 5-5-6.

The game's attendance of 10,175, combined with Friday night's record crowd of 10,303, marked the largest combined attendance for a series in Mariucci Arena history at 20,478.

"It's déjà vu, but it arrived a different way," Gophers coach Don Lucia said. "This was a better-played game, and for the most part, we worked hard. I give our team credit for coming back and getting a tie out of it."

Leading the Maroon and Gold effort were Troy Riddle with a goal and two assists, and Keith Ballard, also with a goal and two assists.

BU led 4-2 before the Gophers came back to take a 5-4 lead before BU tied it midway through the third period for the final score of the game.

BU coach Jack Parker was disappointed with the ties, but still pleased the team traveled to hostile Minnesota and didn't lose.

"I thought in some ways we played better tonight than last night," said Parker after the game.

The six ties are just one off the school single-season record of seven set during the 1999-2000 season when the Terriers finished with a 25-10-7 mark.

"We certainly would have liked to have come away with at least one win this weekend, but in reality, two ties are the same as one win," continued the coach.

The Gophers opened the scoring in the first period on the power play on Matt Koalska's sixth goal of the season. At 4:48, defenseman Keith Ballard fired a shot on net with the rebound coming to Koalska at the side of the net. The senior forward knocked the puck past BU goaltender Stephan Siwiec to give Minnesota the 1-0 lead. Troy Riddle gained the second assist. The play extended point-scoring streaks of all three scorers - Riddle, eight games; Koalska, six games; and Ballard, four games.

The Terriers struck back six minutes later on the power play as Ryan Whitney passed from the point to Roseau native David Klema who was wide open down low for his third goal of the season. The goal snapped UM goaltender Justin Johnson's shutout streak at 91:37.

For the period, Minnesota out-shot BU, 14-8.

The second period saw BU outscore the Gophers, 2-1, beginning with Frantisek Skladany's goal just 25 seconds into the period. Johnson made a nice save on a 2-on-1 but Skladany found the loose puck near the post to give BU its first lead of the weekend. The Terriers made it 3-1 at 5:17 on Brian McConnell's breakaway goal off an assist by Whitney.

The Gophers cut the lead to one at 14:55 as Danny Irmen tallied his fourth goal of the season. Riddle gained the puck in the corner and fed Irmen flying down the slot. Irmen one-timed a soft shot to the net with the puck going five-hole for the goal. Minnesota appeared to tie the game at three late in the period, but referee Don Adam ruled the whistle had blown before Gino Guyer put the puck in the net. For the period, Minnesota out-shot Boston 13-7, for a two-period advantage of 27-15.

The Golden Gophers fell behind again early in the third period, rallied to take the lead and gave up the game-tying goal midway through the period in a wild stanza. The Terriers struck quickly once again, scoring only 22 seconds into the period. Sean Sullivan beat the UM defensemen and went five-hole to beat Johnson and give BU a 4- 2 lead. Following the goal, Johnson was pulled in favor of last night's starter, Kellen Briggs. Johnson had 12 saves on 16 shots in 40:22.

The Maroon and Gold mounted a furious rally five minutes later, scoring a shorthanded goal and two power-play lamplighters to re-take the lead. Garrett Smaagaard got Minnesota started at 5:13 with his second goal of the season - his first since Oct. 11 at Nebraska- Omaha. With Barry Tallackson in the penalty box for high sticking, UM displayed some nice forechecking with Smaagaard gaining the puck at the side of the net and stuffing it home for his first shorthanded goal. Chris Harrington picked up the lone assist on the play to move his career-long point streak to four games.

Minnesota then went on the power play at the 5:52 and promptly scored twice within 18 seconds to take a 5-4 lead. At 6:30, with a 5-on-3 UM advantage, Ballard struck first, converting on a slap shot from the right circle to beat Siwiec on the glove side. Tyler Hirsch earned the lone assist to push his career-long point streak to six games.

The roof nearly blew off Mariucci Arena 18 seconds later as Riddle notched his third point of the night, scoring on the short angle from the left side. Ballard and Koalska picked up the helpers on the 5-on- 4 power play. With his marker, Riddle moved into a tie for the team lead in goals with Thomas Vanek with 12. The Terriers ensured no team would leave with a win, knotting the game at five at 10:04. Dan Spang scored the game-tying goal, beating Briggs from the top of the circle with a sharp wrist shot. Skladany got the assist to notch a three-point game (1-2--3). For the third period, Minnesota out-shot Boston, 11-8.

"We self-destructed," said Parker. "We lost our poise and focus. But, after that mess, I thought we played well. In fact, some teams might have been deflated after losing a two-goal lead. But, like Friday night's game, we showed a lot of grit tonight and came back to tie the game."

The two teams skated to overtime, but neither squad mounted much of a threat with the Golden Gophers outshooting BU, 2-1, for a final advantage of 40-24.

Briggs earned the tie with seven saves to see his record move to 7-5-3, while Siwiec made 35 saves to move to 1-0-2.

The Golden Gophers go on the road next week to face Colorado College in Colorado Springs on Jan. 9-10, in a return to WCHA play.

Around the WCHA - Saturday's Results:

North Dakota 3, SCSU 1

Wisconsin 6, MSU Mankato 2

UMD 5, Bowling Green 4

Colorado College 2, St. Lawrence 1

Denver 4, Wayne State 2

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