ST. CLOUD, MINN. — Some things are just inevitable.
One had to know that St. Cloud State wouldn’t go undefeated this year and that Colorado College, the coaches’ pick to win the league title, would at some point get its first WCHA win.
Both came true on Saturday night at the National Hockey Center as Colorado College finally got in the win column with a 4-3 victory over top-ranked St. Cloud State, in front of a sellout crowd of 6,410 fans.
“It feels good,” said CC head coach Scott Owens, whose team had lost its first five league games going into Saturday night. “It was nice to see our kids get rewarded for a really good effort against a very, very good team.”
The Tigers’ first win, however, didn’t come easy.
For the second night in a row, SCSU jumped out on top. Mark Hartigan, who also scored the first goal last night, made a terrific end-to-end shorthanded rush, beating one CC defender and patiently waiting for goaltender Jeff Sanger to make the first move before beating him high with a wrist shot.
Tiger forward Alex Kim tied it on the power play at the 15:08 mark of the first, and he gave CC its first lead nine minutes into the second.
Ryan Malone tied the game at two when he tipped home a Lee Brooks shot to send the teams into the second intermission knotted up.
The Tigers had been waiting for a break all season and they got two in the final period. Mike Stuart’s wrister from the top of the circle somehow found its way through Jake Moreland’s five- hole and after Hartigan tied in on a slap shot from about five feet in front of Sanger, Mark Cullen tipped home a Trent Clark shot to provide the game winner for CC.
The Huskies had an opportunity to tie it when Scott Polaski went off for hooking with just 1:41 left to go, but like they did all weekend, CC was able to shut down the Husky power play.
“They are so scary and they are so good with the puck on their stick it’s frightening,” Owens said of those last two minutes. “That was the key for us though. We were able to shut them down.”
“They were working hard and getting out on us,” said Hartigan. “You could tell we were just off though on the power play, I think we were taking (our power play) for granted but this weekend really gives us a reality check.’
The Huskies finished the weekend 0-for-12 with the man advantage.
SCSU head coach Craig Dahl was disappointed with the loss, especially considering the fact it was on home ice, but said that all the credit should be directed to the other locker room.
“I thought they played very good,” he said. “They kept working hard and they got some good bounces in the third and had a much better effort tonight. You can’t take anything away from how they played.”
The Huskies are now faced with something they haven’t had to yet this year: rebound from a loss. They play next weekend at Alaska-Anchorage and Dahl knows his guys will be ready to respond.
“We knew we were going to lose eventually,” he said. “We’ll live to fight another day.”
CC hosts Clarkson in a non-conference series next weekend in Colorado Springs.