ST. CLOUD, Minn. — If Colorado College doesn’t end up at home for the first round of the WCHA playoffs in two weeks, you can bet the Tigers won’t mind coming back to St. Cloud.
The Tigers made themselves at home inside the National Hockey Center this weekend, and after completing the two-game sweep with a 5-2 win Saturday night in before an announced crowd of 6,352 on senior night, they might not complain about a return trip.
CC got more of a game out of the Huskies than Friday night, when the Tigers manhandled them 7-1. But it didn’t matter, as CC showed the poise of a hockey team ready for the postseason.
“Teams are going to be a little bit scared to play us now,” said Trevor Frischmon, who scored the game winner in the first minute of the second period from his belly. “We played how we are capable of this weekend.”
After scoring seven consecutive goals last night, CC opened with its eighth straight five minutes into the game. Marty Sertich set it up, bouncing a pass to himself off the back of the St. Cloud net before circling around to Tim Boron’s left and feathering a pass to the slot. Lee Sweatt beat Brian McCormack to the play and lifted a shot over Boron’s glove.
The goal didn’t slow down St. Cloud State, as the Huskies played with higher enthusiasm than in an uninterested effort Friday. The Huskies were rewarded shortly after Sweatt’s goal.
Colin Peters took a pass from Mike Doyle at the Tiger blueline, skated in untouched and beat Matt Zaba low to the ice on his glove side, igniting a building that had been quieted for much of the weekend. Tim Conboy finished off a 2-on-1 with Konrad Reeder three minutes later to really get the crowd into it and give the Huskies a 2-1 lead.
It didn’t last long. Brett Sterling snuck behind Casey Borer and tipped home a Sertich centering pass to tie the game at two apiece.
“We played 100 percent better than we did last night, but we just couldn’t buy a bounce,” said St. Cloud State head coach Craig Dahl.
CC got one early in the second. Frischmon squared off with Matt Hendricks for a draw to the right of Boron. Hendricks won the draw, but Frischmon fought through Hendricks’ check and fired a shot as he was falling to his stomach that beat Boron five-hole.
“I’m sure [Boron] would like to have that one back,” said Dahl.
“[Hendricks] was trying to tie me up and their defensemen never came and got the puck,” said Frischmon, who added some insurance in the third when he scored at the 12:17 mark to make it 4-2. “I got loose and got a way a little bit, took a whack at it and it happened to go in.”
The goal propelled the Tigers to their first road sweep in over since taking a pair at Duluth over two years ago. It also got them within three points of home ice in the playoffs. They trail both Denver and Minnesota for that coveted spot. The Pioneers pulled even with the Gophers with a home sweep of the two-time defending national champions. Both teams still trail St. Cloud by a single point.
“The league is sick [how good it is],” said Tiger head coach Scott Owens. “We’ll still probably end up seventh and we’re a pretty good hockey team.”
The four teams will split up next weekend, as CC plays a home-and-home with Denver while the Huskies travel to Minneapolis for a pair with the Gophers. Needless to say, the race to St. Paul for the Final Five is on.
“The first round of the playoffs is going to unbelievable,” said Dahl.
So is next weekend.