COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The never-say-die Colorado College Tigers mounted a furious comeback in the final 3:32 of regulation to forge a 4-4 tie against No. 3 New Hampshire on Friday night.
The 14th-ranked Tigers (7-5-1) had looked as done as Thursday’s turkey when down 4-0 to the best defensive team in the country midway through the second period and facing the hottest goalie in the nation in Casey DeSmith, who set a school record shutout streak of 203:32 (111 saves) over the past two weeks, ending in a 3-1 win over Boston University on Sunday.
Instead, CC beat DeSmith four times over the next 30 minutes, the most he has allowed this season, to force overtime and get the 6,794 fans at Colorado Springs World Arena back into the nonconference game.
“We gave up a point there,” said New Hampshire coach Dick Umile. “We played well enough to win, but you have to give credit to them. They fought back.”
It looked like UNH would hold on, but a couple of turnovers late sparked the Tigers. CC senior Rylan Schwartz scored with 3:32 remaining to make it 4-3 and suddenly, the building was electric.
The Wildcats were just trying to hold on for the road win when Schwartz fired a hard shot wide of the net. There was enough power behind the shot for the puck to bounce off the end boards and end up in front, where senior captain William Rapuzzi knocked the puck in to tie the game with 1:55 remaining.
“I am disappointed with how we handled pressure in the final three minutes,” Umile said.
The visiting Wildcats (8-1-2) chased CC junior goalie Josh Thorimbert after going ahead 4-0 on a goal by Scott Pavelski. It was the second home Friday in a row that CC senior goalie Joe Howe replaced Thorimbert in the second period and the second in a row that the host Tigers mounted a rally.
That move and concurrent penalties creating four-on-four hockey seemed to spark the Tigers.
“It was a combination of Rylan Schwartz really stepping up his game and Joe [Howe] coming in making a couple big saves,” Tigers’ coach Scott Owens said. “It was a great tie for us, coming back down four against the best defensive team in the country.”
Howe finished with 27 saves in almost 35 minutes, including three huge ones in overtime. He stopped Dalton Speelman on a breakaway with 2:10 left, stopped Kevin Goumas with 1:42 left and smothered a one-timer by John Henrion 21 seconds later to secure the tie.
“Their goalie came up big,” Umile said.
CC sophomore defenseman Ian Young scored his first goal as a Tiger with 6:42 remaining during that four-on-four stretch.
CC senior defenseman Mike Boivin scored his sixth of the year when his wrister with 2:46 left went over DeSmith’s right shoulder to make it 4-2 entering the third period. His goal was set up perfectly by freshman center Cody Bradley in his first game back from injury.
It had certainly looked like a rout earlier. For the 10th game this season, CC fell behind and like last Friday’s 6-5 loss to No. 2 Denver, it was a four-goal deficit.
New Hampshire’s defense lived up to its No. 1 national ranking (1.22 goals) in the first period, holding Colorado College to only eight shots on goal to move out to a 2-0 lead. Casey Thrush put the visiting Wildcats ahead when he skated deep into the Tigers zone to fire a hard shot glove side past Thorimbert from short range only two minutes into the contest.
New Hampshire went ahead 2-0 when a hard shot from just inside the blue line by defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk was stopped by Thorimbert. The puck ended up in Thorimbert’s pads and the puck fell into the goal as he straightened up to look for the puck with 9:11 remaining in the first. Thrush then made it 3-0 two minutes into the second period.