COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Despite posting three goals last night, Colorado College’s Derek Patrosso collected his most important night of the new season on Saturday at the Ice Breaker Invitational, as his overtime tally gave the No. 6 Tigers a 3-2 victory over No. 11 Maine.
Patrosso found himself all alone in the slot when a bouncing puck trickled to his tape. The sophomore had only to throw it into a wide-open goal to net his fourth tally of the young season.
“I saw Sterling with the empty net, and I thought for sure he’d score,” said Patrosso. “It bounced out to me, and lucky the goalie was sprawled out of position.”
After the game, both Tim Whitehead, head coach for Maine, and Scott Owens, head coach for Colorado College (2-0-0, 0-0-0 WCHA), had nothing but praise for their respective opponents.
“We played real hard,” said Whitehead. “I was really impressed with Colorado College. I thought we had an opportunity to steal one here in their rink, but we didn’t get it done.”
“Maine absolutely battled,” said Owens. “They came out in the third period and they were so physical and tough and strong. But I thought we adjusted pretty well.”
Colorado College drew first blood at 10:56 of the opening period when Brett Sterling’s wrist shot from the high slot beat freshman Maine goaltender Ben Bishop. Bishop played well in his first collegiate start, turning aside 34 shots in the tough-luck loss.
“He was fabulous,” said Whitehead. “Bishop really rose to the occasion. He was aggressive at the right times, and he’s going to be a heck of a goaltender.”
Maine (1-1-0, 0-0-0 HEA) evened the score at 1-1 with Michel Leveille’s power play goal 15 minutes into the first period. Both of the Black Bear goals came on the man-advantage. Whitehead remains confident despite the fact that his team has yet to notch an even-strength goal this season.
“I would only be concerned if we hadn’t scored a power play goal,” he quipped.
The Tigers regained the lead just one minute into the second period after a skilled individual effort by James Brannigan led to an odd-man rush for Colorado College. Freshman Chad Rau buried his second goal of the weekend to give the home team a 2-1 advantage.
The Black Bears scored their second power play goal of the night to knot the score at 2-2 early in the third period. Team captain Greg Moore fired a snap shot through Tiger goaltender Matt Zaba’s legs at 3:26 of the final frame.
A banged-up Colorado College played the entire night with only 17 skaters, forcing them to roll only three lines against a physical Maine team in the final frame.
“In the third period and overtime we just went with three lines, so really it was a gut-check time,” said Owens.
In the end, Owens’ Tigers celebrated a hard-earned win, which they hope will give them momentum heading into yet another tough non-conference matchup against No. 3 Ohio State next weekend.
“This will help us a lot down the road in March and February with a victory against a non-conference quality opponent,” said Patrosso. “But for now it will just give us some confidence going into this weekend against Ohio State.”
Owens joined the 6,174 fans in simply appreciating the contest for what it was. “This was an NCAA Regional-type of game,” he said. “To play that kind of game on Oct. 8 is unbelievable. It was huge for us to get a win.”
Colorado College will host an exhibition match against Lakehead on Sunday before gearing up for its weekend series with the Buckeyes. Meanwhile, Maine begins preparations for another tough WCHA opponent, as they welcome defending NCAA champion Denver next weekend.