Gophers drop series opener at home vs. Colorado College

Jimmy Snuggerud scored twice for the No. 10/9-ranked Minnesota men’s hockey team in a 6-4 loss against No. 20 Colorado College from 3M Arena at Mariucci Sunday evening.

The Golden Gophers (9-6-4 overall) got multi-point efforts from Snuggerud and Mike Koster but allowed three goals in the second period, which was too much to overcome versus the Tigers (10-6-1 overall), who made their first trip to 3M Arena at Mariucci since January 2012. In total, nine different players recorded a point for Minnesota in its first loss of the season when scoring four or more goals (8-1-0 overall).

The Maroon and Gold started the action with relentless offensive pressure and put the game’s first four shots on target. Rhett Pitlick nearly gave the Gophers the lead but had the puck roll off his stick in front of an open cage following a Snuggerud pass, and the teams skated without a whistle for more than five minutes. Minnesota remained on the attack and drew the first penalty of the game in the middle of the opening frame that was denied by the Tigers as the period ended scoreless.

The Gophers went back to the power play 1:35 into the second period as Oliver Moore was tripped and the freshman had a quality chance in the slot only to see the visitors erase the man advantage. Five seconds after the penalty expired, Snuggerud took the puck coast-to-coast and caught the Tigers’ netminder off his line, scoring from the top of the right circle for a 1-0 edge at the 3:40 mark. Colorado College responded 1:04 later as it jammed home a loose puck along the goal line to pull even, 1-1. Momentum stayed with the Tigers as they rang a shot off the post on the next shift before getting the go-ahead goal with 10:40 remaining in the period.

Justen Close delivered a critical safe after a defensive-zone turnover to keep it a one-score game. The Gophers then made a push up the ice and a Ryan Chesley shot from the point got behind the goaltender, but trickled inches wide of the left post. A Minnesota penalty at the 15:43 mark proved costly when the Tigers made it a 3-1 contest by converting during the man advantage and held the two-goal cushion through intermission.

Less than a minute after the puck was dropped for the third stanza, Minnesota found itself on a third power play and tested the Colorado College goal in another unsuccessful bid. That did not deter the home side as it pulled within a goal, 3-2, when John Mittelstadt collected a Jimmy Clark drop pass and wired a shot past the goalie, reigniting the crowd. The Tigers again had an answer, this time coming three minutes later, to regain their two-goal lead.

After missing the net on a chance earlier in his shift, Snuggerud was not denied out of the media timeout, 37 seconds following the Tigers tally. The sophomore showed why he is one of the most prolific snipers in the nation and ripped a shot through traffic for his second goal of the night, keeping the Gophers within striking distance with under 10 minutes to play. Colorado College capitalized on a Minnesota turnover for a 5-3 edge as the clock showed 2:34 in the third frame.

Seventeen seconds later, Brody Lamb found the back of the net and the see-saw action continued with the Maroon and Gold keeping the fight alive. The Gophers pulled the goalie for an extra attacker in the final minute and the visitors sealed the game into the empty net, claiming its third-straight victory, 6-4.

Game two of the two-game series is Monday night at Mariucci Arena.