DENVER — For the second straight night, archrivals Denver University and Colorado College deliered an entertaining and action-packed game for a packed house.
In the second game of a home-and-home, the WCHA’s top two teams battled to a 4-4 tie at Magness Arena, behind a gutsy third period comeback by the Tigers.
“You’ve got to give credit to CC for making a great comeback,” said Pioneers’ coach George Gwozdecky. “We had our chances, but so did they.”
The Pioneers started off the scoring and a wild first period just 68 seconds into the game when Tyler Ruegsegger sniped a shot top shelf short side from the bottom of the left circle over Tigers’ goaltender Joe Howe’s right shoulder.
CC wasted no time in answering, scoring their first goal 73 seconds after DU. Denver defenseman Patrick Wiercioch flubbed a clearing attempt and CC’s Brian McMillin swept in, picked up the puck and beat Pioneers’ netminder Marc Cheverie high.
The Tigers went up 2-1 with just under 12:30 left in the period when Mike Testwuide, on a two-on-one with Nate Prosser, snapped a quick shot over Cheverie (28 saves). Earlier in the play, CC’s Stephen Schultz hip-checked Wiercioch, taking him out of the game and re-aggravating his earlier knee injury.
However, Denver tied it back up 2:10 later on a Jesse Martin power-play goal. Howe kicked a Joe Colborne shot off to his left where it was picked up by Anthony Maiani, who quickly dished it to Martin in the high slot, who fired it past Howe (32 saves).
The teams remained tied at two for the majority of the second period until Rhett Rakhshani scored a power-play goal and a short-handed goal. His first tally came 12:52 into the period when he took a pass from Ruegsegger, walked around two CC defenders and fired a bullet from the left hashmarks that beat Howe high glove side.
Then, a little over three minutes later, Rakhshani cleared the puck behind the Tigers’ defense while short-handed, came in all alone on Howe, deked, and then went to the goalie’s right and slid it in.
CC made it a 4-3 game 3:14 into the third period when Testwuide scored his second of the game. Testwuide picked off a Ruegsegger pass near the boards and rushed down ice on a short-handed breakaway, beating Cheverie with a simple wrist shot.
“Mike Testwuide just oozes with character and put the team on his back tonight,” said CC coach Scott Owens.
“It’s disappointing like hell,” said Gwozdecky of his team losing the lead in the third. “We’ve got the game where we want it and they don’t have a lot of life — Mike Testwuide was outstanding. We make a glaring error but he makes a great play to force a turnover and come down the ice and score on the breakaway to close the gap to one and at that point, the game started to change.”
The Tigers had a golden chance to tie it up with 5:14 left in the third with a full two minutes of a five-on-three advantage, but the Pioneers killed it off, raising a roar from the 6,046 in attendance.
With 40 seconds remaining in the third period, CC was awarded a penalty shot. In the course of a CC flurry around the Denver net, DU’s Matt Donovan lifted the back of the net up, negating what would have been a CC goal for William Rapuzzi and therefore resulting in a penalty shot.
Testwuide was awarded the shot and scored, beating Cheverie on his backhand, tying the game up, getting a hat trick and sending the game into overtime.
“We had a lively discussion because any of the six [on the ice] could have taken the shot,” said Owens. “But Mike said, ‘I want the shot. I want to take the shot,’ and that’s your captain and that’s completing the hat trick and scoring making a heck of a move.”
“I was thinking, ‘Shoot,’ kind of the whole time and I just saw he kind of kept backing up into his net and I pulled it backhand and luckily it found the back of the net,” said Testwuide, whose hat trick was his collegiate first.
The teams battled through overtime, but the game ended in a tie.
“It was a huge point; it was more than just a point in the standings for us,” said Owens. “It’s a character point. Were we a real good hockey team tonight? No, not necessarily. Were they pretty good? Yeah, their forwards were unbelievable tonight.”
The Pioneers next face the University of Minnesota-Duluth in a two game series in Duluth while the Tigers travel to St. Cloud State University.