COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Minnesota-Duluth’s best comeback victory of the season helped make program history Saturday night at the Colorado Springs World Arena.
The Bulldogs rallied from a three-goal deficit, scoring the final five goals of the game to beat Colorado College 5-3 before a crowd of 7,172.
Fifth-ranked UMD (22-8-3) now has a school-record 14-game unbeaten streak at 13-0-1 and remains first in the WCHA at 18-5-1.
No. 15 Colorado College (16-13-3, 9-13-2) led 2-0 less than four minutes into the game and 3-0 later in the first period. Yet, winger Marco Peluso started UMD’s comeback with a power-play goal with 50 seconds to go in the first period.
The top power play in Division I finished with three goals on six chances, all by Peluso, to complete UMD’s ninth sweep of the season. It also completed a four-game season sweep of the Tigers.
“We knew what we had to do and didn’t really panic,” said Peluso, who has five goals the past three games. “Our goal has always been to reach first place, and stay there, and we showed so much character. This feeling is as good as any during our streak.”
UMD will take a two-point lead over second-place North Dakota into this weekend’s WCHA showdown at the DECC. While UMD is nearly assured of an NCAA tournament berth, the two losses may have knocked Colorado College out of the running for a fourth straight entry.
Although the Tigers outshot UMD 34-24, the Bulldogs rallied with the help of goalie Isaac Reichmuth and some Colorado College shots that just bounced out of harm’s way.
UMD’s Justin Williams had the only goal of the second period, followed by three third-period goals. Peluso tipped a Tim Hambly power-play shot at 4:28 of the final period for a 3-3 tie and 74 seconds later winger Jesse Unklesbay put a nice rebound backhand attempt past Colorado College goalie Matt Zaba.
Peluso finished his hat trick by getting a Neil Petruic shot off the endboards and knocking the puck off Zaba’s back for another power-play score with 4:08 left.
“I don’t know if we’ve been down 3-0 all season, which took us by surprise. It gave us a jolt,” said Hambly, who had four assists. “But once we got our feet moving we were OK. We stuck together and played together.”
Things didn’t start well for UMD with two minor penalties in the first two minutes leading to a 5-on-3 advantage for the Tigers.
Defenseman Andrew Canzanello cashed in on the second man-advantage at 3:21 and the pressure continued as defenseman Richard Petiot scored at even strength seconds later for a 2-0 lead at 3:53. UMD came into the game having killed off 16 straight power plays and 20 of the past 21.
Bulldog coach Scott Sandelin called a timeout to settle his team after the two quick goals.
Yet Colorado College had the early momentum and got the first eight shots on goal of the game.
The Bulldogs slowly got into the game with Peluso’s first goal, followed by a Williams drive from the right circle at 6:20 of the second. The Tigers thought they had scored on a Brady Greco power-play attempt with 3:55 left in the period. His drive from the slot clanked off the crossbar and back into play. Although the red light went on, referee Bill Mason was on the spot to make the call.
“Duluth is the best team we’ve played this year,” said Colorado College coach Scott Owens. “They’re very poised and composed, and didn’t get rattled. Their power-play numbers are unbelievable the last few weeks.”
UMD had three 13-game unbeaten streaks, in 1978-79 and two during the 1984-85 season. The Bulldogs are also now 11-0-1 in 12 straight WCHA games and Reichmuth is unbeaten in his last 17 games (15-0-2).
A few scuffles in the last minute meant nine minor penalties, but no disqualifications.
“When I called a timeout I said, ‘There’s 56 minutes left.’ We were actually playing well, we had just dug ourselves a whole,” said Sandelin. “We came back with a great, great team effort that they came be proud of.”
Kevin Pates covers college hockey for the Duluth News Tribune.