COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The Tigers looked frustrated.
Down, 2-1, after two periods, Colorado College, which had controlled the pace of its contest with North Dakota for much of the night, appeared to be on its way to its sixth straight loss and a sub-.500 record in the WCHA.
But the team responded like a caged well tiger, erupting for a pair of goals just 1:09 apart and escaping with a 3-2 win over the Sioux on Saturday night.
“We were frustrated,” said a loose and seemingly relieved CC head coach Scott Owens. “We’ve been frustrated for a couple of weeks. It didn’t seem like we could get a break. I give our guys credit. For us to come back given the state we were in I think defines this as a character win.”
The Tigers (18-11-1, 10-9-1 WCHA) started the game on their heels and seemingly still stinging from the last night’s loss to the Sioux (18-13-1, 11-11-0), and the visitors made them pay. North Dakota’s Mike Prpich exploited what can only be described as an absent CC defense for the game’s first goal. Parked alone in front of Tigers goaltender Matt Zaba, the senior had time to redirect a lightning pass from Rylan Kaip, collect his own rebound, and lift it over the diving netminder without being touched.
With less than a minute remaining in the first period, the Tigers or more appropriately Trevor Frischmon tied the game at 1-1. Frischmon picked a waist-high pass from Jack Hillen out of midair at center ice, slipped around a defender, and slid a shot low against the grain of Sioux goalie Jordan Parise’s motion and into the net. The fantastic individual effort, combined with a five-minute checking-from-behind penalty and game misconduct awarded to North Dakota’s Zach Jones, sent Colorado College to the first intermission tied and with momentum on its side.
The Tigers failed to capitalize on the extended power play and, in fact, only registered one weak shot on goal. The visitors made Colorado College pay, as North Dakota’s Travis Zajac fired a laser past the glove of Zaba from the high slot midway through the second. The power-play tally gave the Sioux a 2-1 lead and brought out the boo birds in the World Arena.
Frustrated with the officials and their inability to crack Parise, the Tigers ground their sticks a little tighter when referee Jon Campion waved off an apparent goal by Hillen as the clock expired in the second period. The call withstood a video review, forcing the home crowd to vent its frustration even further.
“We don’t score on the five-minute major,” began Owens, “then there’s two or three calls against you, then there’s situations where you don’t get calls that you think you should get, and then the goal is scored at the buzzer and is disallowed probably the right call. It was frustrating.”
The home team’s hard work finally led to bounces going their way, however, allowing the Tiger faithful to cheer a victory for the first time since December 30. Joey Crabb evened the score six minutes into the third period with his team on the power play. Brett Sterling’s initial shot aimed at the upper right corner of the cage missed its mark high, but the puck rebounded off of the glass and back in front, where Crabb knotted the score at 2-2.
“The last few games we haven’t gotten any bounces,” said Owens. “Whatever bad could happen has happened. So that was big, because it gave us a little bit of life and some jump.”
Less than two minutes later the Tigers struck again. This time Chad Rau wheeled around from behind the Sioux net and slid a hard shot along the ice. The puck found a hole in Parise’s pads and trickled over the line, giving CC its first lead of the night, 3-2.
“In the past we let down right after a goal,” said Crabb. “But Chad Rau and James Brannigan battled hard and came up with a big goal right away.”
Colorado College hunkered down in the waning minutes of the game, limiting North Dakota’s last-ditch efforts. In fact, the Sioux managed only 23 shots on Zaba in the entire game. The Tigers carry their victory into a tough road series next weekend against St. Cloud State, one of the hottest teams in the nation.
“To come back from being down, 2-1, going into the third period is huge,” said Crabb. “It gave us a lot more confidence heading into next weekend.”
Meanwhile, North Dakota will head back home to play host to Minnesota-Duluth.