COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — DU: Denver Dominates A Young Tiger Team By: Skye McFarlane
The Colorado College Tigers (5-1-1) dropped their first game of the season to archrival Denver (6-1-0) 5-2, in a contest filled with strange bounces and missed opportunities for both teams.
With a Thunderstix-filled crowd at its back, Colorado College came out firing. As the Tigerspressured in Denver’s zone, a scramble in front of the crease caused Adam Berkhoel to go down in net. Off a pass from Braydon Cox, Marty Sertich fired the puck over Berkhoel for CC’s first goal at 1:16.
CC followed the goal by creating several scoring chances, but Berkhoel held his ground. The game’s momentum finally shifted when Tiger defenseman Andrew Canzanello took a penalty for slashing at 10:47.
Denver took advantage of the power play, as the puck cycled from Connor James to Brett Skinner to Gabe Gauthier on the point. Gauthier lasered the puck into the lower-right corner of the net, just past a reaching Curtis McElhinney.
Though intense, play was fairly clean until, with 35 seconds remaining in the period, four players crashed the CC net. A scrum ensued, resulting in a roughing penalty for the Tigers as well as two roughing minors and an unsportsmanlike conduct for the Pioneers. The teams ended the period even in shots and saves.
The second period was a different story as Denver poured on three goals within the first seven minutes. 1:39 in, Denver came off the penalty kill with a rush up ice. McElhinney made the save on Lukas Dora’s shot, but then fell backwards into the net, resulting in a goal. Matt Carle tallied an assist on the bizarre play.
Soon afterwards, CC appeared to tie the game on a wraparound, but the shot was ruled no goal, having hit the post and caromed out.
Then, as the Pioneers were shorthanded, Denver captain Ryan Caldwell gained possession in CC’s zone. His shot hit the post but he collected his own rebound and slam the bouncing puck under McElhinney to make it 3-1 at 4:39.
After CC failed to convert on an extended 5-on-3, Denver tallied its third goal of the frame at 6:49. Junior Jeff Drummond scored off a rebound from Kevin Ulanski. Jussi Halme provided the secondary assist.
The Tigers received another blow as their captain, Colin Stuart, went down with a separated shoulder. With CC already missing the services of winger Brett Sterling (broken thumb), head coach Scott Owens was forced to remix the lineup of his young team.
“You can’t really yell at [the team] in a situation like that,” said Owens. “Some of our guys have never been in that position before. We just had too many young guys in key spots to be playing a team this good this early in the season.”
In the third, a re-energized Colorado squad scored at 3:22 as Tyler Liebel took a pass from Weston Tardy and fired a slapshot from the right faceoff circle. The shot deflected off a defenseman’s skate and beat Berkhoel five-hole.
CC’s potential rally was cut short, however, by several penalties. Denver finally sealed the victory with 36 seconds left as Jon Foster slipped a wrister through the five-hole of McElhinney. Gauthier added an assist for his second point of the night.
The goal came on the power play, capping a stellar night for the Denver special teams (three goals on the power play, one shorthanded).
“[Denver] played patient and they played smart,” said Owens. “It was an example of a veteran team and what they can do to an inexperienced team in the right circumstances.”
Owens’ youthful squad will get another crack at the veteran Pioneers on Saturday night as the teams travel to Denver for a rematch.