Mistakes outweigh spurts as Gophers fall 6-4 to Colorado College

January 7th, 2024: The Gophers played a great game in spurts tonight but ultimately start the new year with a 6-4 loss to Colorado College.

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Gophers’ Jaxon Nelson, Mason Nevers, and Luke Mittelstadt battle for the puck in front of Kaidan Mbereko on January, 7th, 2024. Photo By: Brad Rempel.

Minneapolis, Minn – A lot of what has hurt this Gophers team this year has been costly mistakes that the other team capitalizes on. Tonight was the exact same. Minnesota played in spurts but turned the puck over three times and Colorado College scored on every one of them. 

“We played hard in spurts and they played hard the entire game,” Gophers’ head coach Bob Motzko said. “All three of their goals came on just blatant turnovers on us. We lost the turnover game and they earned the victory tonight. We just played in spurts.”

The Gophers opened the game with a great first period, they played fast, they were physical, and they looked like a new team. But for some reason, they played the complete opposite in the second period and basically handed CC the game after they allowed three unanswered goals in just one period.

Jimmy Snuggerud, who came in at midnight last night after winning the Gold Medal for Team USA at the 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship just two days ago, got the Gophers on the board in the second period but CC scored just over a minute later and quickly ran with it.

“I think it was our shifts after our goals,” Snuggerud said on what went wrong tonight. “We got going, got momentum, and scored but our shifts after were negatives. I think we will be a lot better tomorrow in that aspect.”

Bret Link picked up his first of two goals tonight after picking up a loose puck along the boards. The freshman forward drove hard to the net and picked up his second of the year just about a minute after Snuggerud’s goal.

Not long after CC scored another, this time off the rush. The Gophers were so good at limiting rush chances in the first period but allowed a lot of looks in the second and Gleb Veremyev made no mistake after getting caught a pass from Chase Foley to make it 2-1 Colorado College.

Later, Connor Kurth got his stick caught in a CC defender and went to the box for tripping. This sent the Tigers to the power play for the first time in the game and Tyler Coffey eventually ripped home his third goal of the year giving CC a 3-1 lead.

“We got bored. We’re working hard but the goal wasn’t coming,” Motzko said on the transition from a great first period to a bad second. “Colorado College kept digging in their heels and we took our foot off the pedal. The last thing you know we score the goal then we give one up the next shift and it was not a good goal on our part. We were flat the entire period.”

John Mittelstadt got the Gophers within one goal almost halfway in the third period but the Tigers answered again three minutes later. It was Mittlestadt’s first goal of the year and it was a big one for the Gophers but a costly mistake not long after led to the Tigers’ fourth goal of the night.

Carl Fish attempted to clear the puck off the glass and out of the zone but CC kept it in. They continued to pressure Justen Close and the Gophers and eventually scored when Link ripped home his second of the game and third of the season.

But the Gophers scored 37 seconds later after Snuggerud ripped home his second of the game and 13th of the season. Rhett Pitlick and Mike Koster picked up the assists on the play.

Minnesota continued to pressure the Tigers in the offensive zone but Koster couldn’t keep the puck in the zone which led to a breakaway for Zaccharya Wisdom who rushed in and ripped one past Close before he barreled over the top of the Gophers goaltender. It was his fifth of the year.

Just 17 seconds later, Brody Lamb picked up his eighth of the year on the right hashmark after Koster fed it to him. The Gophers pulled Close with 47 seconds left in the game but weren’t able to get anything going in the offensive zone and later let up an empty net goal to Noah Laba who picked up his eighth of the year to end it.

Minnesota played in spurts tonight but made a few too many mistakes that the Tigers took advantage of and scored on. Despite it being a new year, the Gophers looked to play the exact way they have played all season long. They just can’t seem to put a full 60 minutes together without making key turnovers and mistakes that their opponents score on.

“We just need to play a full 60, it’s as easy as that,” Mittelstadt said on the game plan for tomorrow. “We had some bad mistakes that they capitalized on and caps off to them. Just play a full 60.”

The Gophers (9-6-4) will host Colorado College (10-6-1) again tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. as they will look to put a full 60 minutes together and get back on track in the new year.

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