COLUMBUS, Ohio — Nathan Davis and the Miami RedHawks surprised the No. 2 Colorado College Tigers with two early goals, but CC battled back to score the winner in the final minute of the game Wednesday, beating Miami 4-3 to set up a title game in the Ohio Hockey Classic with No. 11 Ohio State.
Trailing 3-2 going into the third, the Tigers turned up the heat in the final 20 minutes, outshooting the RedHawks 14-5 and getting past Miami goaltender Brandon Crawford-West twice for the comeback win.
Brett Sterling’s game-winner from Mark Stuart, Sterling’s 16th goal of the season, was the result of circumstances that could be considered unlucky from the Miami point of view, or the result of old-fashioned hard work from where Colorado College sits.
Stuart shot wide of the net and the rebound came back from the dashers to Sterling, who poked in the puck in slow motion past a sprawled Crawford-West at 19:09 to seal the game. The RedHawks pulled their goaltender for the final 45 seconds, but were unable to generate quality shots.
“That was bad luck for them,” said CC head coach Scott Owens. “They deserved a better fate than that. They played much better than that. We got luck there at the very end. We needed it.
“We were a little slow [at first]. The Davis kid got a couple of nice goals. Their power play was zipping it around. If they could have gotten another one in the middle of the game, it would have been tough for us to come back.”
The RedHawks, playing with a full roster for the first time since Oct. 21, have yet to find a way to play with a lead, said head coach Enrico Blasi.
“They’re the No. 2 team in the country for a reason. They find a way to win. When it’s going well, it’s going well. For us, it’s a matter of finding a way to win. That’s our sixth one-goal game that we’ve lost.”
Owens said that, coming into the tournament, the Tigers feared that the difference between WCHA and CCHA officiating would prove to be the difference in the game, and he was clearly unhappy with that self-fulfilling prophecy.
“It played out the way we thought it would play out, what our concern was. I haven’t seen anything like this in a long time, and I’m not sure the rest of the leagues are calling it this way. It was tight, and we didn’t adjust that well to the tightness of calls.
“They [the officials] were easy to talk to, they were not unapproachable — which I appreciated — but it was just totally different from what we’re used to in our league.
“We’re the 50th least penalized team in the country out of 58 teams, and they had nine or 10 power-play opportunities. Now, I’m not saying that they were all poor calls, but it just seemed like a lot of the ticky-tack interference was being called and down the stretch it seems like there were some slashes were not being called.”
Special teams played into four of the first five goals in the game, and it was only when the Tigers adjusted to the calls in the third that they took the game away from the RedHawks. Davis’ first goal was a shorthanded breakaway at 2:59 in the first, his second on the power play at 7:22.
Jimmy Kilpatrick answered with a power-play goal for CC at 12:58 to make it 2-1 at the end of one, and while Marty Sertich’s 16th goal of the season — at even strength — knotted the score early in the second, Todd Grant netted another power-play goal for Miami at the 12-minute mark to regain the lead.
That goal came just after a Miami timeout — “One of the few things I did right tonight,” quipped Blasi.
But CC dominated the third period, attempting 22 shots to Miami’s eight. Scott Thauwald’s tying goal at 16:14 was a pickup of Trevor Frischmon’s rebounded shot, and Sterling scored at 19:09, with each team down a man.
Miami went 2-for-10 on the power play; Colorado College 1-for-7. Crawford-West saved 31 shots to Curtis McElhinney’s 27 saves.
“It’s frustrating to be in the box that much and to kill that many penalties,” said Stuart. “When we did play five-on-five we struggled a little bit because of that.
“Now we know what to expect even more. It’s tough after playing that many games in our league and having different officiating. We just can’t be on the penalty kill that much.
“I think we had the right mentality going into the third period.”
Miami (7-10-2, 3-7-2 CCHA) faces Minnesota State at 5:05 p.m. Thursday in Nationwide Arena, while Colorado College (16-3-0, 9-3-0 WCHA) plays Ohio State at 8:05 p.m. Although matchups were predetermined, the CC-OSU winner would be the tournament’s champion as the lone 2-0 team.
“If that’s the [CCHA's] 11th-place team,” said Owens, “I’m not looking forward to playing the second-place team.”