COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Colorado College was hoping to build off its road split at No. 6 North Dakota when it hosted Minnesota-Duluth Friday for its first home game in 41 days.
Instead, the Tigers reverted to their troublesome pattern of committing turnovers in their own zone and watching them lead to back-breaking goals. The Bulldogs, now tied for fifth in the WCHA standings with UMD, took advantage of two turnovers by CC seniors and scored twice in the third, including the game-winner with 1:43 remaining to pull out a 3-2 victory.
“It is a pattern from earlier this season, but not in Grand Forks,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said. “We made some strides. [Friday night] we commit a turnover and the puck ends up in the net. It just seems we could not get some traction off the heels of last weekend.”
Colorado College senior defenseman Mike Boivin’s one-timer from between the faceoff circles had tied the game at 2-2 with 2:45 remaining and energized the announced crowd of 7,061 fans at Colorado Springs World Arena.
It didn’t last.
Two shifts later, Adam Krause intercepted a Scott Winkler pass in the CC zone and fired a hard shot on net that led to a rebound for Caleb Herbert, who raced in and banged in the second chance.
“That was a good, hard-work goal for Herbert,” Bulldogs’ coach Scott Sandelin said. “He just kept going and going.”
Earlier, Minnesota-Duluth senior Mike Seidel picked off an errant Colorado College pass deep in the Tigers’ zone and scored his 12th of the season midway through the third period give the visiting Bulldogs a 2-1 lead.
“That’s what makes this [loss] a kick in the gut,” Owens said. “We battled back, had the crowd into it and some momentum. We get a good shift from the fourth line and then they score. Both goals at the end were off turnovers committed by seniors.
“Our top guys were not good tonight and this is the time of year you need them.”
Minnesota Duluth’s Justin Crandall scored his first since Nov. 30 when he tapped in a loose puck with 8:37 left in the second period to tie the game 1-1 headed into the third.
Crandall has scored all four of his goals this year in series openers. His goal Friday came about as Herbert broke loose in the Tigers’ zone, skating in from the left side and forcing CC goalie Joe Howe to come out of the net. His shot sailed behind Howe across the goal face to the opposite post where Crandall was waiting.
UMD enjoyed a 28-14 edge in shots through the first two periods including an 11-3 edge in the second period and a 14-0 start only 8:41 into the WCHA game.
As a result, Howe made 17 saves in the first period. That spurt included the Tigers’ league-worst penalty kill handling three minutes of UMD power play (seven shots) before the CC power play generated the team’s first shot of the game – by Boivin with 10:52 left.
CC outshot Duluth 10-3 for the rest of the first period and capitalized on it when freshman Cody Bradley passed from the corner across to the right faceoff circle to freshman Hunter Fejes, who skated a couple strides forward and lifted the puck past UMD goalie Matt McNeely’s glove for a 1-0 lead with 1:58 left in the opening period.
Howe finished with 35 saves and kept CC in the game, especially early.
“He was really quick and very competitive early,” Owens said. “He hung in there pretty well, but he did not get [offensive] support. We got the good goaltending, but we did not get to three goals at home. You have to credit Duluth for that. Their defense is underrated.”
That defense looked solid, using a good backcheck to disrupt a strong transition team like the Tigers (9-14-2, 6-10-1) and not allow CC to use its speed heading into the UMD zone.
“We talked about that coming in,” Sandelin said. “We made a few defensive mistakes on their goals, but we played well toward the end of the second period and into the third that set things up for us to go ahead.”