ST. CLOUD, Minn. — It may have taken five periods, but when Colorado College’s offense finally arrived at the National Hockey Center late Saturday night it made quite a scene.
After falling behind 3-1 early in the third period, the Tigers erupted for four unanswered goals and avoided their first sweep of the season with a 5-3 win over St. Cloud State.
Brett Sterling and Joe Cullen scored goals 12 seconds apart a minute after the Huskies took their second two-goal lead of the night, and Sterling added another just over four minutes later to give CC its first lead of the weekend.
That was all before Peter Sejna, whose 31-game scoring streak came to end Friday night, added some insurance with a power-play goal to put an end to the Tigers’ two-game losing streak, the longest of their season.
“To be able to come back and score those goals on the road , it was an amazing comeback,” said CC head coach Scott Owens. “To do it at home is one thing, but on the road, that’s just something else.”
The Tigers beat the Huskies in pretty much every facet of the game. The offense put 54 shots on Jake Moreland, the power play worked three times and the goaltending was solid, with Curtis McElhinney turning away 30 shots.
“They won the special teams battle tonight,” said SCSU coach Craig Dahl, who saw his Huskies split a weekend series for the eighth time this season. “That seemed to be the difference.”
And what would eventually turn the tables on what could have been, to this point at least, the Huskies’ most important weekend of the season.
Midway through the second, while killing off a penalty to Peter Szabo, Joe Motzko got caught for interference to give the Tigers a 5-on-3 for 1:13, of which they used all of 28 seconds before converting when Joe Cullen to swept home a rebound off a Tom Preissing shot to cut the Husky lead in half and grab some of the momentum that had been eluding them all weekend long.
“We had put 39 shots on goal (at that point),” said Owens. “It wasn’t that we weren’t getting chances, we just couldn’t score and after we did we just told ourselves ‘OK, let’s go out there and see if we can win a period,’ and we did.”
In doing so, CC also proved that its offense isn’t necessarily dependent on perimeter play. Yes, the Tigers can move the puck about as well as any team around, but on this night it was the tough, get in front of the net and fight for it type of goals that carried them to their 23rd win of the year.
Four of the goals, including both of Sterling’s, came off a rebound or from a screen.
“Those were ugly goals,” said Owens. “And were not for those types of goals … but that Sterling, he’s a dog and he’s not afraid to get down there and get into it and tonight we needed him.”
“We had to fight all weekend long,” said Sterling, who saw his try for the hat trick ring off the iron with just under three minutes to play. “But tonight was really big for us, we hadn’t lost to much this year and it wasn’t a feeling any of us liked, so we fought and got the two points.”
It’s still too early to officially move the MacNaughton Cup down I-25 from Denver to Colorado Springs, but with four games to play, it appears the Tigers don’t have any plans on not winning the league.
“We still got two with Denver and two with Mankato; it’s not going to be easy,” said Sterling. “But yeah, it does creep into the back of your mind every once in a while, but we’re not even looking past next weekend.”
Neither is anybody else.