COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — It took an unlikely opponent, but the Colorado College Tigers finally swept a series again, as they beat the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers 5-3 Saturday night.
The sweep was the first for the Tigers since October 17/18, when they swept Michigan Tech University.
“It feels good for our team because we haven’t done that in the league, but it’s so difficult to go 4-0 in points in a weekend,” said CC coach Scott Owens. “Nobody hardly does it so for us, we’re in third place right now.”
Despite Minnesota getting the majority of chances to start the game, it was the Tigers who got on the board first with a power-play goal 9:15 into the first period. Nate Prosser’s slap shot from the point found its way to the back of the net behind a screened Alex Kangas (14 saves).
The Gophers finally capitalized on one of their myriad chances about two minutes later to tie it up while short-handed when Ryan Stoa skated down and beat Tigers’ goaltender Richard Bachman (34 saves) short-side
It appeared as if Minnesota went up 2-1 about a minute later on a power-play goal, but the go-ahead goal was waived off due to it being kicked into the net.
“It was a close call on the replay,” said Gophers’ coach Don Lucia. “I knew it was kicked; I just didn’t know if [Patrick White] touched it as it went over the line and they made the call.”
The second period started similarly to the first, again with the Gophers getting the better chances, yet the Tigers scored first. Mike Testwuide skated down the far-side boards, cut towards the net and roofed the puck top corner glove side on Kangas about 7:30 in.
However, the Gophers tied it up once again on a power-play goal with 7:18 to play in the frame when Jay Barriball’s shot from the top of the left circle dribbled in past Bachman.
“The guys between the second and third period were not sure what to expect or what to think because it was 2-2 but we weren’t really playing well and they were taking the play to us,” said Owens. “I just said hey, let’s put together a final good 20 minutes and if we can put together a strong 20 minutes, a good, team-oriented 20 minutes of play, and the bench came alive.”
Owens’ pep talk worked, as CC started off the scoring in the third period 2:08 in when Brian McMillin skated down the far-side boards and put a shot past Kangas from near the goal line.
Minnesota tied it up a third time to make it 3-3 about 3:30 later when Cade Fairchild one-timed a pass from Patrick White from the top of the circles past Bachman.
“It was almost like we get that tying goal and we kind of sat back on our heels and say okay, let’s weather the storm now instead of sticking with what got us there, which was playing on our toes and playing aggressive,” said Fairchild. “I think we just needed to stay aggressive after we tied it up and not make mistakes, which we did.”
Mistakes including one Fairchild himself admits he made by letting the Tigers take the lead back once again when Stephen Schultz tipped in a Brian Connelly shot past Kangas.
“We got traffic in front of Kangas, puck bounced out and I was going to the net and just tapped it in,” said Schultz.
Scott McCulloch sealed the victory and the sweep for the Tigers by putting them up 5-3 with 1:01 remaining in the game with a short-handed empty-net goal.
“I thought we played great in the third period,” said Owens. “I thought we played like we had no on-ice chemistry issues in the third period. I thought the whole team contributed. We were bending but we weren’t breaking in the first two periods.”
“Our guys played hard, they played well; outshoot somebody 2-1 and probably out-chance them; it’s just kind of how it’s gone for us,” said Lucia.