COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — After spooking the Minnesota State Mavericks 3-0 on Halloween night, the Colorado College Tigers finished out a perfect conference weekend by defeating the Mavericks 3-1 on Saturday.
“I thought we competed a lot better tonight, but we still made too many mistakes to win,” said Mankato Head Coach Troy Jutting.
The game was quiet early on as both teams found their footing, but the action broke open four minutes in when a Colorado College defenseman broke his stick, giving Mankato a two-on-one down low. Curtis McElhinney was sharp in the CC goal, squeezing the puck between his pads.
The play seemed to inspire the Tigers, who began to control the pace of play. CC’s speed drew a penalty at 6:03 as Scott Polaski got a step on his defender, forcing him into a hold. CC created several scoring chances on the power play, but each was denied by Mankato’s junior goaltender, Jon Volp, who registered 30 saves on the night.
Volp could not hold back the Tigers for long. At 10:48, Tyler Liebel collected the puck behind the net and placed a perfect pass on the stick of Braydon Cox, who was waiting at the top of the crease. Volp made a spectacular save on the first shot, but sophomore center Marty Sertich came crashing late to bang home the rebound.
Later in the period, play was halted for several minutes after Mavericks forward Cole Bassett tripped and fell headfirst into the boards. He eventually left the ice under his own power and was taken to the hospital for observation. As the game resumed, Mankato put the pressure on, but the CC players responded with a flurry of blocked shots.
Colorado tacked on another goal with 2:46 remaining when sophomore Joey Crabb collected a beautiful leading pass from Trevor Frishman and beat Volp to the upper-left corner. It could have been 3-0 heading into the second, but Volp made yet another point-blank save with just under a minute remaining.
Volp continued to help his own cause at the start of the second period. After stifling an odd-man rush, he rebounded the puck to Jeff Marler on the wing. Marler skated up ice and beat McElhinney five-hole to draw the Mavericks within one at 1:25. The remainder of the second period featured scrappy end-to-end play as the teams combined for five penalties.
The Tigers thought they had increased their lead to 3-1 with 1:28 remaining in the frame, but the goal was negated by a simultaneous whistle signaling a Colorado player in the crease.
The third period was filled with more intense play, but both goalies were strong in net. Colorado missed another opportunity to extend their lead to two when halfway through the period Volp thought he had covered a rebound. The puck sat open in the crease for several seconds before a Maverick defender cleared it to the corner.
“You just have to keep after it. There’s not much you can say when those things happen,” said CC Coach Scott Owens.
CC finally found the net at 16:44, taking advantage of a holding penalty. Crabb made it his second goal of the night as he tipped in a Weston Tardy shot from the point. The Tigers played strong defensively for the final three minutes to seal the victory.
“[Minnesota State] played hard and desperate,” said Owens. “It’s hard with our young team to get your intensity back two nights in a row. I was real proud of our team, I thought it was a great team weekend.”
The weekend victories provided CC with important points in the WCHA as well as confidence going into a home-and-home series with their archrival Denver next weekend. The Tigers remain undefeated at 5-0-1. Mankato, which dropped to 1-4-1 overall, will take their young team back home to face Alaska-Anchorage in two more WCHA contests.