COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — In a key WCHA contest between the No. 5 St. Cloud State Huskies and No. 11 Colorado College Tigers, lead changes abounded all night and goals were scored in bunches. Ultimately, the Tigers prevailed, 6-4, in front 7,084 fans at the World Arena.
“We’ve been scoring some goals lately, and it felt good to get on the winning side of that,” said Tigers’ coach Scott Owens. “It was an odd game, but it was a very good third period. I thought we put together our best period of the weekend in the sixth period. I thought we competed and made some good things happen because of our hard work and tenacity, and found a way to win.”
It didn’t take long for the craziness to begin, as the wild play from Friday’s game continued on into Saturday’s contest.
The Tigers struck first, eliciting a roar from the hometown fans when Tim Hall got the puck low on the left side and threw a pass into the crease, past one CC player, who was tied up, to Brian McMillin at the bottom of the right circle. McMillin slid the puck far side along the ice inside the post at 1:59.
However, the Huskies quickly regrouped. Standing at the left side boards in his own zone, Tony Mosey got a pass from Garrett Roe and carried the puck up ice, and with a Tigers defenseman in front of him in the slot, whipped a wrist shot high glove side past Joe Howe at 3:55.
Exactly one minute later, the Huskies grabbed the lead when Travis Novak, standing at the right circle hash marks in the slot, got a pass from Drew LeBlanc and beat Howe five-hole.
That was all for Howe, as he was replaced by Michael Shibrowski, who got the call for his first minutes in a Tigers’ uniform. He quickly was tested, as St. Cloud swarmed the Tigers goal for the next few minutes.
“The game was going too much like last night,” said Owens. “It was settling into that. It wasn’t so much that they were bad goals; I thought they were defensive breakdowns. But I thought get a little shock in terms of the bench and let Joe sit down for a bit and sort itself out.”
Near the midway point of the period, the momentum abruptly shifted again when St. Cloud missed an open net and the Tigers went back the other way two-on-one. Mike Testwuide carried the puck down the right side and made a nifty behind-the-back pass to Andrew Hamburg on the left side. Hamburg slid the puck along the toe of his stick along the ice past Huskies goaltender Mike Lee, who was on his stomach challenging the pass, and backhanded it high far side at 9:58.
The play calmed somewhat for a while, and it looked like the period might end in a tie, but at 17:01, Roe got the puck in the left circle and beat Shibrowski high glove side.
Howe came back in to start the second period; Shibrowski finished with three saves on four shots.
“It seemed like it made sense at the time, make it a 40-minute game, let Joe get mad at me or whatever he wants to, and I thought he competed and battled like a son of a gun the last 40 minutes,” said Owens. “I thought he was a big part of the win tonight.”
Once again, the Tigers struck early. Ryan Lowery fired a shot into traffic from the left point, and Hamburg, standing in the left circle, got the rebound and fired it high glove side past Lee at just 1:22 of the period.
The Huskies started to generate sustained pressure after the goal, testing Howe often. It paid off when they drew a penalty on Tyler Johnson and the power play went to work, moving the puck to Roe in the right circle. Roe one-timed a bomb past Howe top shelf glove side at 7:22.
Pressure from St. Cloud continued, as Brian Volpei just missed a tip-in try to an empty net. This time, the Tigers couldn’t gain momentum from the miss.
With 30 seconds left, controversy ensued when the Tigers appeared to score. However, referee Brett Klozowski immediately waived off the goal. The call stood up on review, as the puck was deflected by a high stick.
“This weekend was about character and coming back and believing we could win the game,” said Lowery. “We never stopped believing that, and it paid off.”
In the third period, more than five minutes finally went by before a team scored. At the 6:52 mark, the Tigers evened the score. During a scramble in front, Huskies defenseman Sam Zabkowicz turned the puck over on a failed clear. The puck rolled off his stick to Addison DeBoer standing in the slot, and he beat Lee with a quick snap shot.
“We made way too many mistakes; you can’t make the mistakes we made and give up that many goals,” said Huskies’ coach Bob Motzko. “It came down to a last-shot game. We made mistakes of fatigue.”
The Tigers continued to pour on the pressure, and the power play, which had been shut out through two periods, finally connected. William Rapuzzi, standing behind the goal line, threw a pass into the crease that came out to Lowery at the left point, who one-timed it high glove side at 15:02.
“Our power play was close all game long, and I think it was just a matter of time,” said Lowery. “Fortunately, it came to my stick and I buried it. I knew that side of the net was going to be open; the play was moving the other way.”
More controversy ensued in the last 90 seconds when an apparent Huskies’ tying goal was waived off by Klozowski, and the call stood after review. Apparently, the call was the referees had lost sight of the puck and the play waived dead. A visibly angry Motzko crossed the ice after the game to give Klozowski a piece of his mind, and he was held back by the rest of the officiating crew.
“We scored a goal,” said Motzko. “Everybody in the rink knows we scored a goal. There’s nothing else to say.”
Testwuide got an empty-net goal with 10.7 seconds left to seal the win. The Huskies were assessed a team unsportsmanlike conduct and game misconduct at the end of the game for Motzko’s questioning.