COLORADO SPRINGS — Tim Hall and Jaden Schwartz each scored two goals and Josh Thorimbert made 26 saves as the No. 19 Colorado College Tigers clinched home ice for the first round of the WCHA playoffs with a 5-2 win over Michigan Tech in front of 6,485 fans at World Arena in Colorado Springs.
“It was a good win,” said Tigers coach Scott Owens. “It wasn’t necessarily a thing a beauty. There were some erratic parts, some sloppy play, but for a game of this magnitude, between these two teams, you know what, I’ll take it.”
The Tigers came out with a lot of jump, dominating the time of possession early and at one point holding a 13-6 shots-on-goal advantage. For much of the period, they kept the Huskies pinned in their own end, and on a wild scramble in front that involved six players, Jaden Schwartz got the Tigers on board first when he knocked a rebound into the net at 11:28.
Continuing to dominate the play, the Tigers drew a five-on-three advantage when the Huskies got called for too-many-men while Daniel Sova was already in the box for slashing. However, as Sova’s penalty expired, he raced into the defensive zone and picked up a clear, then headed up along the right side boards. He let fly with a slap shot from the right faceoff dot that beat Thorimbert high stick side at 17:42. The goal quieted the Tigers momentum, and CC was unable to score on its remaining power play time.
“The thing is, we were working the five-on-three yesterday in practice, and we were just zipping the puck around,” said Owens. “Then we get out there and we’re hesitating, we’re delaying. You go from a five-on-three to giving up a short-hander, but nothing’s been easy for us the second half of the year, so why should tonight be easy?”
After the intermission, the Tigers regrouped, and quickly grabbed the lead back when Archie Skalbeck got the puck behind the net and fed a quick pass to Tim Hall cutting into the slot from the right circle. Hall one-timed Skalbeck’s pass with a quick wrist shot along the ice that beat Huskies goaltender Josh Robinson at 2:43.
“That was a great pass by Archie,” said Hall. “(Andrew) Hambur worked hard to win the puck off the wall, and Archie put it right on my stick. I don’t think I even had to move it.”
Hall gave CC the two-goal lead at 11:09 when he skated up the slot and fired a shot that beat Robinson, who was screened by his own defenseman, high glove side.
After carrying the play early in the third, the Tigers got another power play, and subsequently gave up their second short-handed goal of the night when Brad Stebner’s shot went just over the goal line after hitting Thorimbert at 5:51
Unlike in the first period however, the Tigers immediately seized the momentum back by scoring on the remaining power play when Mike Boivin’s shot from the point eluded Robinson at 6:13.
“We had some chances,” said Huskies coach Mel Pearson. “I thought their goaltender played, for the most part, really great in the third period. We did a good job to get back in the game. I thought we had most of the momentum in the third period.”
Late in the period, while pressing to get a goal, Tech’s Brett Olson ran into Thorimbert in the crease. A good old fashioned melee erupted, and when the dust settled, Olson got five minutes and a game misconduct for contact to the head, Boivin got two minutes for roughing, Tech’s Blake Pietila got a 10-minute misconduct, and Skalbeck got a 10-minute misconduct.
Jaden Schwartz added an empty-net goal with 10 seconds left to seal the win.
“We kept it interesting by giving them two short-handers, but Josh was really strong down the stretch, and I thought it was a good win for us,” said Owens.
“We’re going to have to play more aggressive, skate and take it to them tomorrow night,” said Pearson.