GRAND FORKS, N.D. — The last time Colorado College celebrated a victory, it was six weeks against ago — against North Dakota.
Friday night, the Tigers (9-12-2, 6-8-1 WCHA) erased a four-game losing streak to claim a 4-3 victory over North Dakota (12-6-3, 7-3-3 WCHA) in front of 11,571 at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
“I thought from the very beginning to the very end, we competed and battled,” said CC coach Scott Owens. “We had to against a really good team, and I’m very proud of our guys. It was a good team win.”
A tight hockey game for a full 60 minutes gave way to both teams fighting for a victory, but it was Colorado College that was able to propel itself over North Dakota early.
With his first career goal, Jordan DiGiando’s snipe from the top of the circle at 2:54 past Clarke Saunders (31 saves) delivered Colorado College its first goal of the game and an early lead.
North Dakota responded at 8:45 with a clean shot from the top of the slot from Danny Kristo that slipped past Joe Howe (28 saves) to tie the score at one and give the team a spark of momentum to carry it forward.
Less than a minute later, Scott Winkler handled the puck in the corner and found Archie Skalbeck in front of the net to award the Tigers a 2-1 lead that held for the remainder of the first period.
“We were moving the puck great in our own end,” CC forward Jeff Collett said. “Our defense stepped up big time and helped out a lot, getting the puck up to the forwards and moving it north rather than south.”
A checking from behind and game misconduct penalty late in the first period kept Colorado College short a skater — but it wasn’t the only side that suffered a loss.
North Dakota’s Drake Cagiulla left the game near the end of the first period with an undisclosed injury after being taken down by Mike Bolvin on a checking from behind penalty, to leave both teams looking to fill crucial spaces in the lineup.
“We went down to 10 forwards and had to rearrange things a little bit, but that’s part of the game,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “It creates some challenges; but quite honestly, we probably had the most jump when we did get down to 10 forwards.”
Both teams suffered multiple penalties in the second period, making it difficult to capitalize on chances in the zone.
At 13:29, Nick Mattson rushed toward a puck sitting just before the goal line behind Howe and tipped it in to again tie the teams on the scoreboard, but it was overshadowed by William Rapuzzi’s power-play goal into the net that put the Tigers up 3-2 just minutes later.
North Dakota harnessed what energy it had succeeded in finding early in the third period to allow Mark MacMillian to pick up the puck in the neutral zone and skate hard toward the net while enduring a slash. He then proceeded to slip the puck inside the post before falling down at 2:44 while scoring the game-tying goal.
“It was a good play off the rush, good individual effort,” Hakstol said. “We sustained it for probably five or six minutes after, but didn’t sustain it throughout the remainder of the period.”
An all-too-familiar fight for the winning goal that both teams witnessed in their last meeting prompted Colorado College to stray away from the outcome that it experienced last time.
The Tigers redirected the game in their favor as Scott Wamsgamz’s shot found Jeff Collett at the top of the crease to put the puck in the net to seal a 4-3 victory.
“I’m sure there’s been a little bit of doubt,” Owens said. “It’s been a tough six or seven weeks — including against these guys. We were determined and obviously it’s an understatement to say it’s a much-needed win; but we did a lot of little things well today.”