ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Colorado College Tigers withstood a strong start by Maine before going on to shut out the Black Bears 3-0 in the opening game of the Nye Frontier Classic on Friday.
Coming off a disappointing loss to Massachusetts-Lowell last weekend, CC netminder Curtis McElhinney was unbeatable, stopping 21 Maine shots en route to a perfect game.
CC coach Scott Owens was pleased with McElhinney’s play, saying “he looked like the mentally tough Curtis we know.”
Owens also liked what he saw in his players as they handled the initial onslaught from Maine and then found their own game.
“We were rattled pretty good the first eight minutes,” Owens said, “but we settled in and it was confidence more than adjustments” that made the difference for the Tigers.
Maine came out checking hard and racing hard for every puck on the Olympic ice surface at Sullivan Arena. While the Tigers initially were on their heels, they gained momentum halfway through the first period so that the teams left the ice scoreless and nearly even in shots.
Maine freshman netminder Jimmy Howard was cool and composed as he withstood eight CC shots and a 5-on-3 power play. McElhinney was equally poised, turning away nine Maine shots, several of them second and third opportunities from point-blank range.
CC broke the game open in the second on a pair of goals from Peter Sejna. Sejna’s first, at 7:09, started when he gained control of the puck against the boards and behind the Maine net. Shrugging off defenders, he skated a full half circle along the boards before cutting across the right circle to center and beating Howard glove side with a nasty backhand.
Sejna’s second came on the power play at 14:30 when he took a short feed from Noah Clarke, paused to move around a sprawling defender and rattled a wrister off Howard into the net.
Maine narrowly missed tying the game when the Black Bears found the post twice in a span 1:20 near the middle of the third period. Shots from Colin Shields and Lucas Lawson were clearly past McElhinney, but both also were just inches of target as they caromed off the post.
CC sealed the win minutes later at 11:22 when Tom Preissing slid a backhand past Howard from traffic in front.
“We played confident as a team, and we played well as team,” Owens said, adding that the seven freshman on the ice for the Tigers “didn’t look like freshman”.
CC will take on Iona in the early game Saturday in the second round of the tournament, while Maine faces tournament host Alaska-Anchorage in the evening matchup.