The Gophers could use the extra ice time. They hadn't played in 26 days, making Friday night's Mariucci Classic overtime affair a treat. But the shootout that followed a 2-2 tie with Colgate turned the night sour.
Mike Borkowski and Ryan Johnston each scored shootout goals for Colgate, while Kyle Rau was the only Gophers player to connect in their 2-1 shootout loss before an announced 9,520 at Mariucci Arena.
Shootouts continue to befuddle the top-ranked Gophers. Their third loss in as many chances dropped the tournament host into Saturday night's consolation game against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Colgate spoiled what would have been a No. 1-vs.-No. 2 championship matchup. Instead, the Raiders advanced to play No. 2 Ferris State at 4 p.m.
"It feels like a loss, definitely. We gotta start winning some shootouts. At the end of the year in the Big Ten we're going to need those points," Rau said. "We [work on shootouts] once a week in practice, it's just one of those deals we gotta start getting it done."
Nearly a month off and the absence of three players and the head coach almost caught up with the Gophers (12-2-3). They fell into a lull through the middle chunk of the game and gave up two goals as a result of sloppy play.
The Raiders' Joe Wilson punched in a puck caught in-between Gophers goaltender Adam Wilcox's legs to tie the score 1-1 midway through the second period. Darcy Murphy scored the Raiders' second goal when a Gophers' turnover produced a two-man breakaway.
"It's a hollow feeling in the dressing room," Gophers associate head coach Mike Guentzel said. "Bottom line for me tonight, if you turn pucks over like we did on the blue line and in the neutral zone, it's going to cost you a hockey game. We tied, but it feels like a loss. The turnovers are something we need to address."
Travis Boyd of the Gophers tied the score midway through the third period on a slapshot with extra muscle on it. The shot slammed off Colgate goaltender Charlie Finn's chest and into the edge of the goal. Rau had an assist for his 100th career point.
The Gophers struck first on a long goal by freshman defenseman Michael Brodzinski early in the second period. Finn wouldn't be fooled much the rest of the night. He held off several Gophers' rushes and quality looks. He finished with 36 saves.
The Raiders (7-9-3) entered the Mariucci Classic two games below .500. Despite their losing record, they had been consistently strong in the third period over their past 10 games.
Colgate coach Don Vaughan said he was confident heading into the third period with a 2-1 lead.
Tom Serratore returned to the lineup after missing several weeks because of a high ankle sprain. He and his usual linemates Boyd and Seth Ambroz were scattered, though, in attempt to fill holes with Hudson Fasching gone.
Fasching and defensemen Brady Skjei were with the U.S. national junior team and defenseman Jake Parenteau (broken leg) also was out, leaving the Gophers with only five players on the blue line.
"We were a little tired at times," defenseman Jake Bischoff said, "but other than that, it wasn't a horrible adjustment."
Guentzel said he hopes Skjei and Fasching return for Saturday's game. The pair and coach Don Lucia, coach of the U.S. team, returned from Sweden on Friday night.
Ferris State 6, RPI 2: The Bulldogs cruised past RPI in the opening game of the Mariucci Classic behind Matt Robertson's two goals.