MANKATO, Minn. — A strong performance by Colorado College and an anemic offensive production from Minnesota State led to a 5-0 win for CC Friday night.
The No. 3 Tigers (6-1-0 overall, 1-0-0 WCHA) got goals from five different skaters, and junior Matt Zaba stopped 18 shots in front of 3,470 fans at the Midwest Wireless Civic Center.
CC outshot the Mavericks 31-18. The game was the third straight that the Tigers limited their opponents to fewer than 20 shots. Colorado College has now allowed an average of 15 shots on goal over the past three games.
“I thought the forwards helped tonight quite a bit,” said CC coach Scott Owens, who said this was the sixth different defensive pairing combination of the season. “It was just kind of a good team win.”
Meanwhile, Minnesota State’s power-play woes continued, and the loss of star David Backes early in the game hurt the team’s overall offense. The shutout was the first in 60 regular-season games for Minnesota State (0-5-0 overall, 0-3-0 WCHA).
“It hurt us, no question,” said MSU coach Troy Jutting. “But they were better than we were tonight. Would I have liked to have David? Sure.”
Last year’s Hobey Baker winner Marty Sertich showed off his highly-acclaimed skills early in the game. With CC down a man, Sertich intercepted the puck at his own blue line, beat a defender in the MSU zone, and went from his backhand to his forehand to beat the MSU goalie on the left side. Sertich’s fifth goal of the year came at the 2:25 of the first.
Just 1:47 later, the Tigers increased their lead to 2. Brian Salcido got the puck at the point, faked a couple of shots, and finally stuffed the puck into the short side past MSU freshman Dan Tormey.
“Just trying to squeeze through in the slot,” Salcido said. “I made a couple head fakes, and I made some room, and I tried to stuff it in.”
“On the road, that’s always a key,” said Owens. “Get the crowd out of it a bit, and they’re playing a freshman goaltender. We kind of gave ourselves a little bit of confidence that we might have a chance to win tonight if we could score early.”
At 6:06 of the first, Backes, MSU’s captain, was given a five-minute checking-from-behind penalty and a game misconduct.
It was the second time in this early season Backes had been given the penalty, which requires an automatic game ejection.
“Tonight I think they got a little out of sync because Backes wasn’t there,” Owens said.
Colorado College had six shots on the long power play, but Tormey and the Maverick penalty killers kept the score at 2-0.
Three Tiger penalties in the final minute of the first period led to a five-on-three advantage of 1:56 for Minnesota State to start the second. However, MSU’s lackluster power play could only manage two shots during the stretch.
“I thought the real important part of the game was when we killed off the five-on-threes,” said Owens.
Sertich reiterated those comments, saying, “Penalty killing and Matt Zaba really won it for us tonight.”
Meanwhile, CC scored twice more in the second to put the game away for good.
At 17:06, Aaron Slattengren tipped Jimmy Killpatrick’s pass behind Tormey for his first goal of the season.
Off a turnover 27 seconds later, Brandon Polich fired a high shot past MSU’s goalie for the junior’s first goal of the year.
Brett Sterling closed out the scoring for the Tigers on a five-on-three power-play goal at 5:54 of the third.
Minnesota State’s best chance of the game came at 5:45 of the second. Travis Morin sprang Ryan Carter on a breakaway. However, Zaba made the stop look easy and kept Carter and the Mavericks scoreless.
“He’s really stepped up, and he’s ready to play when he’s called on,” Salcido said of Zaba.
The two teams will conclude their WCHA series tomorrow night, with game time set for 7:07 p.m. C.T.
“I think last year we beat them 7-1 and they came back and tied us,” Salcido said. “Hopefully we’ll be a little more ready than last year. I expect them to come out strong.”