COLORADO SPRINGS — In front of a home crowd that was seemingly filled with more of the opposing team’s fans than their own, the Colorado College Tigers downed the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux, 4-2, on Friday night.
The Fighting Sioux arguably controlled the play in the first period, as evidenced by their 20-8 lead in shots. However, it was the Tigers that took advantage of their opportunities to exit the frame up 2-0, which is why UND head coach Dave Hakstol thought his team didn’t actually play well, despite the lead in shots.
“We had an okay first period, we had a lot of opportunities, but we didn’t kick start ourselves until we were down,” he said. “So no, I don’t think we had a good first period.”
The Tigers got on the board first 3:19 into the game right as an early penalty to Brad Malone expired. Michael Boivin took a shot on net that came in front and was tossed in past UND goaltender Aaron Dell by freshman Dakota Eveland for his second career goal.
About five minutes later, the Tigers killed a penalty of their own and then came right back down the other end to make it 2-0. Alexander Krushelnyski skated into the zone alone and wristed a shot from the very high slot past Dell (37 saves).
If the Sioux were hoping for a chance to redeem themselves in the second period, any possible wind they might have had in their sails was taken out 18 seconds in when Tyler Johnson rode captain Chay Genoway into the boards, checking him and dropping him. Genoway was slow to get up and was helped off the ice with a lower-body injury.
As a result, the Sioux appeared to be shell-shocked and the Tigers took full advantage to extend their lead.
“We got on top and that helped, we hung on a little bit and the period break came at the right time,” said CC head coach Scott Owens. “It started with the first shift and Tyler Johnson made a good check, a good aggressive check and we were able to get momentum off of that.”
Five minutes and 56 seconds in, Krushelnyski carried the puck into the UND zone and handed it off to Jeff Collett for his second career goal. Collett lost the puck in the middle of a pack of three Sioux players, but got it back, untouched, and tossed a bouncing puck on net that hopped over Dell’s right leg pad to make it 3-0.
Then, with just under three minutes remaining in the period, the Tigers scored a power play goal to make it 4-0. With just two seconds remaining on Andrew MacWilliam’s penalty for high-sticking, William Rapuzzi took a pass from Ryan Lowery, stepped back in the high slot, created space and fired a quick wrist shot that beat Dell over his right shoulder.
“I thought that second period was as good of a period as we played all year long,” said Owens.
Krushelnyski thought he had a second goal 2:08 into the third period when he seemingly scored right off a face-off, but the goal was immediately waived off as it bounced in off his glove past Dell.
The Sioux wouldn’t be shut out, however, as Jason Gregoire put his team on the board nine minutes in on an individual effort. He was taken down in the neutral zone, popped back up, regained control of the puck, deked around the Tiger defenseman and wristed it past CC goaltender Joe Howe to make it 4-1 (38 saves).
A few minutes later, it looked like CC would be able to put the nail in the Sioux coffin as they received 1:43 of 5-on-3 time thanks to back-to-back penalties to Matt Frattin and Ben Blood. About a minute in to the two man advantage, Owens called his timeout to try and regroup his players. However, it was the Sioux who would capitalize.
MacWilliam tapped the puck up to Gregoire who came down on a breakaway and flipped it past Howe for his second of the game to cut the CC lead in half.
“[His play was] good, but it’s buried in all the team stuff,” said Hakstol. “We’re not worried about individual efforts and individual accolades. It wasn’t a good team game for us and we need a heck of a lot better.”
However, that would be all the Sioux would get as CC held on for the lead.
“We should have taken advantage of the five-on-three and then we wouldn’t have had all the stress that we had in the end,” said Owens.
The two teams play again tomorrow night at 7:07 p.m.