COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Richard Bachman proved once again to be very tough in net for Colorado College. The freshman goaltender stopped 34 Minnesota-Duluth shots for his first career shutout and the first CC home sweep of the Bulldogs since the 2000-2001 season. To top it off, CC coach Scott Owens earned his 200th career victory with the win.
“It wasn’t a thing of beauty, but we really didn’t panic early,” said Owens. “This bodes well. You knew they were desperate. They came out and played hard.”
Jimmy Kilpatrick, Andreas Vlassopoulos and Scott Thauwald each scored for the Tigers. Alex Stalock made 23 saves for Duluth in the loss.
In the early going Duluth had the shot lead, putting seven shots on Bachman in the first seven minutes of action. Despite constant pressure, the Bulldogs failed to bury any of their chances.
Following a timid shot by Duluth’s returning first-line winger, Michael Gergen, the Tigers took a 1-0 lead on a rush. Thauwald fed a cross-ice pass to Rau to the right of Stalock, and Rau found a wide open Kilpatrick in the slot, who buried the shot high past Stalock at 7:03 of the opening period.
In the second period, Duluth tried to capitalize on two steals inside the CC zone. Matched up with part of the third line, Matt McKnight got the puck from Jack Hillen, skated low towards Bachman and shot stick side, but was blocked in front of the net. Andrew Carroll also made a steal in the second stanza in the left corner. Carroll kept possession away from CC but couldn’t find an open hand in front of Bachman.
“They had us on our heals a lot tonight but we were able to hang in there pretty good,” Owens said.
The Bulldogs put together another string of pressure in the 11 minute mark of the second period. Nick Kemp found a welcome gift, namely a vacant puck in the Tiger zone. After a tie-up behind the left hashmark, Kemp collected the puck near the right faceoff circle and fired a sizzling shot high on Bachman, but his attempt was denied. Moments later, Travis Gawryletz and Josh Meyers each had a hard point shot that got through a pile of players, but both tries were caught by Bachman.
“We had three or four good chances there in the second but he didn’t give up a lot of rebounds,” said Duluth coach Scott Sandelin. “I thought that was the key. You’ve got to put away opportunities. When we had opportunities, he was there.”
CC responded with a flurry of its own in front of Stalock three minutes later. Rau, Bill Sweatt and Stephen Schultz each had a solid chance to put the Tigers up by two, but Stalock stood his ground and prevented another shot from going in. Immediately after the Tigers’ rush, the Bulldogs streaked down the ice on an odd-man rush and nearly tied the game. Justin Fontaine received a pass just the beyond the blue line, skated to his right, deked, and went backhand on Bachman but failed to tie the contest.
“I felt good tonight, I felt like I was moving well,” said Bachman. “I felt a lot better than last night. I guess last night I didn’t feel comfortable for some reason; maybe something was off for me.”
Duluth thought it had tied the game two minutes into the third stanza when Cody Danberg put in a rebound off of a Carroll wrister. The goal light went on, but after an official’s review it was waived off, since Carroll had interfered with Bachman as Danberg put the puck past the goal line.
“He (Carroll) was going hard to the net, I got pushed to the side and we got a lucky break,” Bachman said.
Just over a minute later the Tigers broke through the tough back-checking of Duluth. Vlassopoulos set up in the Duluth zone between the two hash marks, gathered a long feed from Schultz and fired a snap shot past Stalock. Vlassopoulos’ second tally of the series came at 3:19 of the third period.
The Bulldogs pressing a bit, drew their first power play of the contest at 9:07 of the third period, but couldn’t muster any chances down low. CC killed off the penalty and in an instant, Brian McMillin found Thauwald past a Duluth defenseman, who skated down the near side on a breakaway, made a quick move and beat Stalock to his right, putting the game out of reach for Duluth.
“This was close to a short-handed, but basically he (McMillin) made a nice play,” said Thauwald. “I think a guy slipped by him, he was to going dump it but when he heard full strength so he couldn’t (dump the puck) because it would’ve been icing, so I skated as hard as could to get by the defenseman, he made a nice saucer pass that got over the guy’s stick and fortunately the “D” was caught off guard.”
CC will square off next weekend at home against Wisconsin while Minnesota-Duluth returns home to battle with Michigan Tech.