COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Tom Preissing made his final season opener at Colorado College one he’ll never forget.
The senior captain notched his first collegiate hat trick, including the game-winner, with under 10 minutes remaining to lift the 12th-ranked Tigers to a 6-4 win over Mass.-Lowell before a sellout crowd of 6,642 at Colorado Springs World Arena Friday night.
For Preissing, a defenseman who scored six goals in 41 games last season, this hat trick was a long time coming.
“I was telling the guys, I haven’t had a hat trick since my sophomore year of high school,” said the 6-0, 195-pound Rosemont, Minn. native. “Back then, I was a forward. It’s safe to say I’ve never had one as a defenseman.”
After the River Hawks controlled play in the opening minutes, Colorado College began the scoring thanks to a Lowell tripping penalty. Preissing’s wrister at the 6:19 mark went through the legs of River Hawks’ netminder Chris Davidson, who finished with 21 saves in just his fourth collegiate appearance, to give the home team a 1-0 lead.
The Tigers maintained that margin throughout the period despite failing to convert on two other power plays. However, the River Hawks’ offense staggered in the final 12 minutes of the opening frame, failing to register a shot on goal.
CC came out of the locker room strong to open the second period, as freshman Aaron Slattengren scored his first collegiate goal. His unassisted backhand shot went between Davidson’s left skate and the post just 1:02 into the period, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead.
Lowell stormed back with three goals in a span of 4:11, controlling the tempo throughout the remainder of the period. Goals by Geoff Schomogyi, Andrew Martin (the first of his career), and Ed McGrane shocked the home crowd, which had not seen a Colorado College nonconference loss in the World Arena since January of 2000.
“We stumbled a bit in the second period,” Preissing said. “We have a little bit of inexperience. We’re not quite where we want to be, and I wouldn’t expect us to be there yet.”
Much like in the second period, CC grabbed the momentum in the beginning of the final frame, as Preissing tallied his second power-play goal just 32 seconds in to tie the game at three.
However, the River Hawks took advantage of a tripping penalty by Slattengren to regain the lead at the 7:50 mark. The goal was scored by Peter Hay, who stuffed a shot past Tigers’ goalie Curtis McElhinney (25 saves).
The lead didn’t last long, however, as freshman Brett Sterling tied the contest just 34 seconds later with the Tigers’ third power-play goal of the night. His first collegiate goal came off beautiful feeds from Peter Sejna and Noah Clarke (four assists), and after his first attempt was denied, Sterling put back his own rebound.
That set the stage for Preissing’s game-winner, which came just two seconds after UMass-Lowell’s Darryl Green was whistled for slashing. Off the faceoff, Sejna won the puck back to Preissing, who fired the one-timer top shelf past Davidson.
“Our power play just happened to click tonight,” said Preissing, as the Tigers converted half of their eight opportunities with the man advantage. “Most of the guys on the power play are veterans, and in my case, everyone gets lucky now and then.”