Gophers blow early lead, settle for road tie

The Minnesota hockey squad entered its holiday break on a sour note Saturday, settling for a 4-4 tie against Colorado College, at World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Fourth-ranked Minnesota, now 11-3-3 overall and 6-3-3 in WCHA play, had held a decisive lead through the first 20 minutes Saturday.

“Tying a game like this is kind of like losing one,” said Gophers standout Nate Condon afterward. “It’s a tough one.”

The Gophers, now 5-2-2 on the road this season, jumped out to a prompt, 3-0 lead Saturday. The early flurry began when Tom Serratore batted in a loose puck in front of the net,early in the first period. Less than a minute later, Minnesota’s Erik Haula scored off a power play.

No. 19 Colorado College (8-8-2 overall, 5-4-1 WCHA), closed to within 3-1 early in the second period, off a Rylan Schwartz power-play score, and the host Tigers soon awoke from their early slumber.

Minnesota, which entered the night boasting the top defense in the WCHA (1.88 goals per game allowed), surrendered a pair of goals to Colorado College’s Alexander Krushelnyski in a span of less than two minutes early in the third period. Then, with just 23 seconds remaining in regulation, Schwartz lit the lamp again, off an impressive one-timer, to even things at 4-all.

Thus, after a scoreless overtime sesson, Minnesota was saddled with an unsettling tie.

“I’m disappointed — I think we all are,” said Minnesota coach Don Lucia. “Tonight is one we let slip away. … We made a couple crucial mistakes — tonight we probably earned a tie and not a win.”

The Gophers are now off until Dec. 29, when they return to battle against Air Force in the Mariucci Classic.

“We still have room to grow,” Lucia said late Saturday. “I don’t think this team has hit its stride yet.”