COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Colorado College knew this game would be dangerous. And St. Cloud State’s strong second period nearly vaulted the Huskies into the role of spoiler.
All-American Brett Sterling’s pair of goals, including the game-winning tally 56 seconds into the third period, helped keep the upset-hungry Huskies at bay, however, as No. 1 Colorado College (8-1-0, 3-0-0 WCHA) staved off St. Cloud State 4-2 on Friday night.
Sterling, who was named the College Sports Television/ Hockey Commissioners’ Association National Division I Player of the Month for October, got a jump start on a repeat performance for November with a pair of goals against the Huskies. Sterling was initially credited with a third tally on Colorado College’s fourth goal of the night, but settled for only five goals in the his last two games.
“I didn’t score it,” said Sterling of Derek Patrosso’s third-period tally that gave the Tigers’ their final margin of victory. “I don’t know how they thought I scored it, but I was just driving to the net.”
There was no doubt about Sterling’s second goal, however. The senior buried a wrist shot high to the glove side of St. Cloud (2-4-1, 1-3-1) goaltender Bobby Goepfert to give the Tigers a 3-2 lead less than a minute into the third period. Following a three-goal night last Saturday against Minnesota State-Mankato, Sterling showed senior leadership in carrying his team following a rough second period.
“In that second period we were beaten to pucks all over the ice,” said Sterling. “It wasn’t our best performance. But in that third period we responded and we came out with an early goal.”
Colorado College head coach Scott Owens echoed Sterling’s mixed emotions on the night, voicing his relief at escaping with two points after a second period which saw St. Cloud generate more chances and a 14-10 shot advantage over the Tigers.
“It was an excellent third period,” said Owens. “I thought some of our seniors set the tone in the third period. But we only played one good period tonight. [St. Cloud] hung around and battled and competed in the second period, and we were fortunate to get the win.”
Colorado College scored the game’s first goal at 5:02 of the second period on the power play. Goepfert got a piece of Tigers freshman Chad Rau’s one-timer, but the puck trickled across the line to give the home team a 1-0 lead.
St. Cloud answered right back with a power-play goal of its own at 7:20 of the period. Junior Dan Kronick scored his first career goal past Tiger netminder Matt Zaba to knot the score at 1-1.
The Tigers regained the lead at 12:47 of the middle frame with a hard-earned effort in front of the Huskies goal. During a scramble, Sterling swatted a rebound towards the St. Cloud net. Goepfert reached up to glove the puck, but referee Derek Shepherd ruled the goaltender’s glove to be across the line and awarded Colorado College a 2-1 lead.
The Huskies tied the score at 2-2 at 15:41 with a grinding goal of their own. Andrew Gordon’s initial shot was knocked down by Zaba, but T.J. McElroy pinched in from his defensive position to bang home the rebound.
“We knew it was going to be dangerous,” said Owens of the Huskies strong showing in the second period. “We’re coming off of a weekend where things were relatively easy and facing a team that’s tighter defensively and has a great goaltender.”
Despite the loss, Goepfert demonstrated why he has earned the respect of coaches across the league, turning aside 35 shots and keeping his team in the game throughout the night.
Yet his efforts were not enough, as Sterling launched his team to its eighth victory of the season and third WCHA win in three league games. Patrosso completed the night’s scoring with a shot from the top of the right circle that beat Goepfert cleanly between his legs at 18:15 of the third period.
The two teams will meet again tomorrow night at 7 p.m.