COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Colorado College freshman Hunter Fejes scored what he called the “biggest goal of my life” when he tallied with 10.5 seconds left to lift the Tigers past rival Denver in a 6-5 overtime thriller Saturday night.
“I looked up and saw 22 seconds were left, so I knew I had to do something,” Fejes said. “[The Denver defender] was looking to pass, so I just lifted his stick. It’s pretty special to do this against Denver.”
Fejes took two strides to his left, stopped and fired a shot from between the circles that beat Denver goalie Juho Olkinuora inside the near post glove side to make most of the standing-room-only crowd of 7,750 fans at Colorado Springs World Arena jump to their feet in celebration and the Tigers leaping onto the ice in celebration.
“It’s very nice to see the younger kids emerge,” said Tigers’ coach Scott Owens about Fejes’ two goals and an assist. “I am happy for the fans who have stuck with a 10-14 team. They got their money’s worth tonight.
“All in all, this team deserved it tonight. It’s a big two points.”
The win pushes CC up into eighth place, five points behind Denver, No. 11 Minnesota State and No. 19 Wisconsin, who are tied for fifth.
It was fitting that no lead was truly safe in this rivalry series.
The host Tigers took a 5-2 lead with 6:05 left only to see the No. 9 Pioneers score three goals in a 3:18 span to tie the game at 5-5 after CC junior Alexander Krushelnyski scored on a breakaway at 13:55 for what looked to be the game-clinching score.
While Krushelnyski’s goal was being announced, DU’s Larkin Jacobson scored an unassisted goal five seconds later to make it 5-3. Denver’s Joey LaLeggia tallied on a slow wrister through traffic 67 ticks later to make it 5-4. Denver (15-9-5, 10-7-5 WCHA) then tied it with 2:42 remaining on a goal by Zac Larraza.
In 198 seconds, a CC rout became a huge Denver comeback and the fourth overtime game (1-0-3) in a row for the Tigers (11-14-5, 8-10-4).
“I am really glad for Joe Howe, because even though he gave up five goals, he ended up with the ‘W,’” Owens said.
The DU rally negated a big second period when Colorado College scored four in one period for the first time this season to rally from down 2-0 and take a 4-2 lead into the third.
Three of the four goals came from the point with CC senior captain William Rapuzzi playing a role in the final three.
Rapuzzi assisted the tying and go-ahead goals (Fejes, Joe Marciano) and then screened Olkinuora on Mike Boivin’s score, his 13th of the season, to stake the Tigers to the two-goal lead.
CC junior wing Archie Skalbeck jump-started the Tigers and energized the crowd when he snapped a wrister inside the post as he skated across the point. That made it 2-1 and the added energy led to a Denver penalty 15 seconds later.
The CC power play generated three quality chances, but could not convert.
The game settled down for a few minutes until Rapuzzi made a strong crossing pass to Fejes, who redirected the pass top shelf to beat Olkinuora to tie the game at 2-2 midway through the second period. Rapuzzi’s pass from the opposite post caught Olkinuora a half-second slow sliding over for Fejes’ shot.
Rapuzzi then set up Marciano’s goal, a shot from just inside the blue line that beat Olkinuora glove side to the roar of the crowd. Boivin then scored from the same area to make it 4-2.
Denver had seized control early with Nick Shore rifling a shot over Howe’s left shoulder less than five minutes into the game.
Colorado College has taken a 1-0 lead only 10 times out of 30 games so far this season.
DU made it 2-0 when Ty Loney redirected a shot by LaLeggia only moments into a power play with 8:44 left in the opening period.
The Tigers had their chances with three grade-A chances missed, either with a missed redirect or pass through the crease that went through untouched. Olkinuora also made two good saves early in the period to keep the game scoreless for a time.