COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — In front of a home crowd of 6,345 fans filling the World Arena, the No. 7 Colorado College Tigers tipped the No. 2 North Dakota Fighting Sioux, 6-4, in an action-packed WCHA contest on Friday.
The Tigers’ Justin Morrison broke a 4-4 tie with just two minutes left in the second period for the game-winning goal. Senior defenseman Paul Manning received the puck from junior forward Alex Kim and skated behind the net. He passed it to Morrison, who was waiting in front to put a wrister to the back of the net.
An integral part of the Tiger defense was senior goaltender Colin Zulianello, who stopped 35 of 39 Sioux shots.
“The guys played really well in front of me in the third period,” Zulianello said. “They were good about clearing away second chances. That makes my job easier because it’s not that hard to make the first save.”
The Tigers sealed the deal with an empty net goal by Jesse Heerema at 19:33 of the third period.
The Fighting Sioux were the first to get on the board, with freshman Pat O’Leary finding the back of the net just 2:59 into the game.
Colorado College was quick to retaliate as at 4:54, Morrison and junior Trent Clark helped sophomore Joe Cullen find the back of the net to tie up the game.
The Tigers took advantage of their first power-play opportunity of the evening to snatch the lead. Junior Chris Hartsburg scored with the man advantage for a 2-1 lead.
CC widened the gap just over a minute later. Freshman Reid Goolsby skated in for the wraparound shot, which Sioux goaltender Andy Kollar deflected. Tiger center Tyler Liebel, also a freshman, caught the rebound and one-timed in into the net to put the Tigers up, 3-1.
The Fighting Sioux fought back, as senior winger Wes Dorey slipped the puck past Zulianello.
As the first period wound down, North Dakota was able to tie up the game. Pat O’Leary, unassisted, snapped the puck straight to the back of the net past Zulianello. The period ended with a 3-3 tie.
“We had a lot of turnovers early in the game,” Colorado College coach Scott Owens said. “Coming off four non-conference games, we really had to adjust to their speed.”
Colorado College opened the second period with a quick tie-breaker. Both teams were down a man due to late first period. Just 45 seconds into the period, Noah Clarke fired the puck in from the corner of the slot to beat Kollar and the Tigers took a 4-3 lead.
North Dakota evened the score again at 2:53 when junior Bryan Lundbohm received the puck from junior Aaron Schneekloth and put a shot on net from just outside the faceoff circle. Sophomore Ryan Bayda got his stick on the puck to redirect re-direct it into the net and tie the game at 4.
North Dakota searched for a tying goal in the third period, but was held scoreless by CC’s defense.
“I thought we played better defensively as the game progressed,” Owens said.
“We made more mental mistakes than we have in a while,” said North Dakota coach Dean Blais, “and you have to give them credit, they took advantage.”
The teams face off again Saturday night at 7:05 p.m.
“We’ll enjoy this for a while tonight,” Zulianello said, “but tomorrow we have to re-focus and re-group. We’ve only got half the job done.”
“Tomorrow night we’re just hoping we come up with the same formula,” Owens said.