COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Colorado College completed its first-round WCHA playoff sweep of St. Cloud State, giving coach Scott Owens his 150th victory with a 4-2 win in front of 7,109 at the Colorado Springs World Arena.
Trailing 2-1 after 40 minutes, three third-period goals gave the Tigers their first two-game sweep over the Huskies since the 1995-96 regular season. CC will move on to play Minnesota on Friday in the WCHA Final Five.
“[The Huskies] were good, they showed why they hadn’t been swept in nine years here and why they’re hard to play on the [Olympic] sheet,” said Owens. “They play with a lot of pride and determination.”
CC came out firing, forcing SCSU to clear its zone by icing the puck three times in the first 1:48. After the opening two minutes, the Huskies awoke from their slumber and kept the top-ranked Tigers in check for the remainder of the first period.
SCSU took the early lead when Joe Jensen skated the puck across the blue line and up the right side of the slot for a perfect pass to Konrad Reeder. Reeder hit the top left corner of the net for his second goal of the season and the 1-0 Huskies advantage at 11:01.
The lead only lasted 50 seconds as the Tigers responded with a goal of their own from the nation’s second-ranked points producer, Brett Sterling, who had two goals and an assist in last night’s contest. Sterling grabbed the puck from a tangle in the right-side corner and took it in front of the SCSU net to hit Tim Boron’s five-hole and knot the game at 1-1.
Despite a 5-on-3 CC advantage near the end of the first, the Huskies held on for the tie going into the middle period with a solid 13-save performance from Boron, who after being pulled just 11:03 into game one of the series, was put back in for the third period of that game and made 20 saves in the final 20 minutes.
Boron continued to make key saves in the second, while the Huskies out shot the Tigers 13-8 and regained the lead with a two-man advantage at 13:34 when Billy Hengen sent a pass to the high slot for a one-timer by Justin Fletcher. The goal came just minutes after about an eight-minute delay in the game due to a broken section of glass.
Although SCSU came out of the period with a 2-1 lead, and what appeared to be the momentum to keep its season going, CC squandered any hope that the Huskies may have had by the midway point in the final frame.
Tiger captain Mark Stuart evened the score early in the third before two goals in a 19 second span lifted CC’s tally to four goals. After being on a scoring dry spell since November, Stuart netted his second goal in as many games at 2:20 of the third when he put one high on Boron’s stick side from the left faceoff circle.
“We came back and it was nice to be led by our captain, that always makes a nice statement this time of year in the playoffs,” said Owens. “I’m very proud of our team, it was a good team third period in particular and it was a good win for us against a good team.”
As a Tiger power play winded down around the halfway point in the period, Joey Crabb caught a Brett Sterling rebound and beat a SCSU defender who stepped behind Boron after he went down to make the original save. Just :19 later, at 10:38, Jimmy Kilpatrick shot a low one from the left side for the 4-2 final score.
“We came out and didn’t really play as well as we like but that third period was how we wanted to play all weekend and it was kind of how we were playing last night,” said Stuart, whose goal and assist earned him first star of the game honors. “It was nice to put that third together because before that we were hurting a little bit.”
As for the Huskies, who finished their season tonight, coach Craig Dahl was happier with his team’s performance on Saturday than with the 8-2 blowout that it encountered on Friday.
“This is pretty much how we played most of the season pretty hard, pretty tough and pretty close and usually it’s been a goal or two difference in the game,” said Dahl. “Last night I felt very disappointed with our effort from top to bottom and tonight was much better.”