COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The tenth-ranked Colorado College Tigers came into tonight’s game with a full head of steam. Just one night earlier, CC defeated Minnesota 3-1 thanks in part to its freshman goaltender, Richard Bachman, and some stellar play from its defensemen. Tonight however, Bachman and his counterpart Jeff Frazee had themselves a terrific goaltending battle. In the end, the Tigers found a way to win 2-1 on an overtime tally at 2:42 by Chad Rau.
Minnesota initially hit CC hard in the extra session with circling pressure in the Tigers’ end. The Gophers were unable to beat Bachman and were back on their heals thereafter. Shortly after gaining possession in the Minnesota zone, CC’s Bill Sweatt fired a sizzling snap shot that was turned away by Frazee. The Tigers, however, would maintain puck possession and Rau put three shots on the Gopher goaltender. The third shot turned out to be the game winner as Kris Fredheim corralled the rubber from defenseman Jack Hillen and found Rau alone in the far slot, where he unleashed a shot top shelf past Frazee for the winner. Rau scored two goals on the night and somehow was not picked up by the Gopher backline.
“I think that was the first time I was alone in the slot all weekend,” said Rau.
“I was more impressed that he (Rau) was that open (rather than his shot), especially late in overtime,” said Fredheim. “He was in the money position right there in the slot.”
Minnesota, a squad loaded with young NHL caliber talent, played with a sense of urgency following Friday night’s loss and put 39 shots on CC’s goalie.
“I feel for our guys,” said Minnesota coach Don Lucia. “They competed and they did the things we asked them to do tonight. That’s hockey sometimes. You can put forth the effort sometimes and not come out on top.”
In the first period, CC killed off two Minnesota power plays and had two short-handed opportunities, one by Scott McCulloch one-on-one with Jeff Frazee, and then a two-on-none with Bill Sweatt and Derek Patrosso. Patrosso’s one-timed shot, however, was kicked away by Frazee.
Minnesota faced an even tougher challenge later in the first as it was whistled for two minor penalties in a stretch of 21 seconds. However, they held CC to one shot on the five-on-three and one shot on the subsequent five-on-four.
After some hard pinching by both teams, Rau came the closest to breaking the scoreless game. Rau received a backhand pass from Scott Thauwald near the right faceoff circle and unloaded a wicked wrist shot that was stopped by Frazee’s quick glove.
“I think I played with more energy, I was more into it and wanted to win tonight,” said Frazee.
Early in the second stanza and immediately after some sloppy play in their own zone, Minnesota showed off their ardent attack. Following a quick rush with crisp passing, Ryan Flynn and Ben Gordon connected on a nifty setup to the right of Bachman. Gordon fired a quick shot deep in the left faceoff circle with Blake Wheeler on the doorstep. Wheeler backhanded a shot low past a diving Bachman to make it 1-0 at 4:24 of the second period.
Without either team sitting back, the Tigers and Gophers each began to play with an edge. Sticks kept coming up on charging forwards and bodies were flying. Both teams were whistled for matching penalties at 12:00 of the second period. Once the two squads went back to full strength, CC began a wide rush that led to Brian Schack taking his third penalty of the contest. The Tigers took advantage of the man advantage on an odd-man rush down low to tie it at one.
The play began when McCulloch collected a streaking pass from Nate Prosser, dashed by a Minnesota defender and made a quick one-time pass to Rau who put the puck high glove side past Frazee. Rau’s first tally of the season came at 15:36 of the second period.
Minnesota had an abbreviated power play to start the third frame. The Gophers mustered a collection of shots on Bachman including a hard slap shot by Flynn, but Bachman was up to the task high and low.
“We had to hang on a little bit tonight, but our goaltending and our penalty killing gave us a chance to be there,” said CC coach Scott Owens.
The feistiness showed later in the third as both teams were twice whistled for matching roughing penalties. CC defenseman Brian Connelly tried to get the go-ahead-goal for his team with a rising slap shot from the point, but the initial shot and the rebound were knocked away by Frazee.
Confident in their play on both sides of the ice, the Gophers had another great chance for the go-ahead goal when Cade Fairchild found Jay Barriball down low near the right faceoff circle. Barriball tried to go glove side mid-stride, but Bachman made the save.
Minnesota pounded CC with 21 shots in the third, but couldn’t get anything by Bachman. The Gophers finished zero-for-seven on the power play and were unable to score any specialty team goals on the weekend.
“They’re bread and butter is their power play,” Owens said. “They had a lot of chances and we tried to pressure their “D” a little bit to get some short-handed opportunities. But that’s the key and we were able to kill them.”
CC travels to Durham, N.H. next Friday and Saturday to take on the New Hampshire Wildcats. Minnesota returns home for a two-game series versus Ohio State on Oct. 25 and 26.