COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Talk about drawing a blank.
Colorado College goaltender Matt Zaba recorded his third shutout of the season Saturday in a 3-0 victory over Michigan Tech.
The blanking was the second for the Tigers in as many games, as freshman netminder Drew O’Connell put together an unblemished performance the night before against the same Huskies squad.
“Matt Zaba was very strong,” said Colorado College coach Scott Owens. “Not only did he stop 30 shots, but there were many key shots. I was happy to see him get the shutout. We weren’t always pretty in our own end, but we got the job done.”
Joey Crabb notched the game’s opening goal with the Tigers on the power play. A shot from above the right circle sailed behind the net and bounced off of the boards out in front of the net. Crabb banged home the opportunity for his third goal of the season.
The Huskies (2-11-1, 1-6-1 WCHA) exhibited an extra jump in the first period that they hadn’t shown the night before. The visitors matched the Tigers (11-2-1, 6-1-1) in first-period shots with 10, and showed they would not be pushed around for a second night.
“The score could have been a lot different than it was,” said Crabb. “They played us a lot harder tonight. Friday night I don’t think they brought it like they could have. But they stepped it up tonight.”
Michigan Tech stepped up its game in the second period, sending waves of offensive chances towards the Colorado College net and benefiting from several power-play opportunities. Zaba made a miraculous save five minutes into the frame during a Huskies power play, sprawling to get his glove on a neat stuff attempt by Chris Conner. Seven minutes later, Zaba denied Michigan Tech freshman Alex Lord on a breakaway.
“I got a piece of the stuff attempt and then Jack Hillen cleared the puck away,” said Zaba. “On the breakaway, the puck was kind of rolling. He tried to put it upstairs on me, but I got it with my arm and was able to hold it. You’ve got to have luck on your side as a goalie. At that point the score was only 1-0, so it was big for us.”
The Tigers survived the Huskies rush, however, and padded their lead at the end of the second frame. Colorado College created a three-on-one break with less than a minute remaining in the period as Brett Sterling exited the penalty box. Marty Sertich received a post-to-post pass from Jimmy Kilpatrick and slid the puck behind Huskies freshman netminder Rob Nolan to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.
“That goal really killed the momentum that they were building and gave it to us going into the third,” said Zaba.
The Tigers extended their lead to 3-0 seven minutes into the final period. Crabb located a wide open Scott McCulloch in the Huskies slot, and the sophomore buried a one timer over the glove of Nolan.
Michigan Tech failed to score for its third consecutive game, and hopes to change its fortunes next weekend when it hosts No. 7 North Dakota.
Colorado College will face off against a pair of non-conference opponents next weekend, as it visits Massachusetts and Boston University.