Gophers Blow Another Third Period Lead, Lose to Northeastern 6-4

Schierhorn shaky yet again

Boston, MA – As far as trends go, this might be one the Minnesota Gophers want to eliminate.

The Gophers (5-4-2 Overall) staked themselves to a 4-2 lead entering the third, but a lack of aggressiveness until it was too late combined with less-than-stellar goaltending play by Eric Schierhorn led to four unanswered Northeastern Huskies (5-5-4) goals in the final frame.  The team’s fourth loss on the season is also their third loss after leading by at least two goals in the game, and Minnesota dropped to 4-2 on the year when leading after two periods.

Despite a rough start, Minnesota had a solid first period and were able to grab a 3-2 lead after one.  Northeastern’s Garret Cockerill scored just 35 seconds after the opening faceoff to give the Huskies an early 1-0 lead.

The Gophers answered back with two quick goals around the halfway mark of the first from Justin Kloos and Vinni Lettieri to give Minnesota a 2-1 lead.  Northeastern’s Dylan Sikura scored his first of the game at 14:01 to tie it at 2-2, but Kloos scored again on the powerplay at 17:32 to put the Gophers ahead 3-2.

The second period was masterful for Minnesota, with the Gophers controlling the play for nearly the whole 20 minutes and only allowing three Northeastern shots on goal in the period.  Justin Kloos scored another goal, his third of the night, at 6:38 of the period to give the Gophers their biggest lead at 4-2.  Minnesota had a late five-on-three powerplay and a chance to increase that lead, but despite some quality chances they could not put the puck home.

The missed opportunity would come back to haunt them.  Northeastern got two goals early, at 1:40 and 3:22 of the third period, to tie the game at 4-4.  Sikura’s third of the night came at 13:22 to give the Huskies their first lead since Kloos’ first goal at 9:21 of the first, and they would tack on an empty-netter with just 32 seconds left to play to put the final nail in the Gopher coffin.

One big storyline to follow from this game was the shaky goaltending play from Eric Schierhorn.  The sophomore netminder, winner of the Big Ten Goaltender of the Year last season, has three shutouts on the young season but has struggled mightily at times.  Despite the three shutouts, Schierhorn’s Sv% on the year sits at a very pedestrian .884.  Not counting the shutouts, his Sv% is .850.  He has given up less than three goals in just four games this season.

Schierhorn never looked comfortable tonight, fighting the puck and letting in several very suspect goals.  Nick Lehr entered the game in relief of Schierhorn last weekend at Mankato, so it will be interesting to see if Gopher coach Don Lucia sticks with Schierhorn or gives Lehr a start in the near future.  Schierhorn has started 48 straight games for the Maroon and Gold.

Minnesota stays out east and will face Boston College in their next tilt.  That game is a Sunday matinee, taking place at noon central time.  You can listen as usual on 1500ESPN radio, but is not televised.

Go Gophers!