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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — In one of the stranger games ever at World Arena, Peter Stoykewych’s third-period goal on a four-on-four lifted the Colorado College Tigers over the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers, 4-3.
“It always usually comes down to that (special teams),” said Tigers coach Mike Haviland. “The power play had some looks. Usually it comes down to the special teams war, and like you said, we found a way to win that war tonight.”
CC dominated the first period, piling up a 15-3 shots on goal advantage while building a 2-0 lead. Hunter Fejes got the Tigers on the board with a short-handed goal. Off a turnover near center ice, Fejes raced down the left side with two Chargers in pursuit, then cut across the crease and beat Matt Larose with a quick backhander at 9:59. It was the first goal Fejes, a junior, had scored since the WCHA playoffs during his freshman year.
Despite having several penalties, it looked like the Chargers might escape only down by one, but with 3.6 seconds left in the period, Alex Roos got the puck near the top of the left circle and, while skating to his left toward the boards, got off an off-angle shot that beat Larose along the ice glove side.
“We wanted to come out hard, and we’re a team that doesn’t get a lot of shots, we don’t have a lot of puck possession,” said Chargers coach Mike Corbett. “As we saw in the second period, our shots count.”
CC carried that momentum into the next period, and just 25 seconds in, Christian Heil got a goal on a perfectly executed three-on-two. Matt Hansen carried the puck in deep, then threw it back to Heil, who was drifting in from in between the hash marks in the slot. Heil froze Larose with a fake pass, then dragged it to his backhand and lifted it into the open net.
The Chargers finally got on the board at 6:12 with a power-play goal when Brandon Carlson beat Chase Perry with a quick shot from the right point. After holding off several CC chances and being outplayed for large parts of the period, the Chargers pulled to within one at 16:26 when Frank Misuraca beat a screened Perry with a quick wrist shot from the right point that went in low.
“I would imagine Perry would want a couple of them back,” said Haviland. “I think they got one late on a power play up top, and we kind of stopped skating and they were competing. Give them credit, they compete, and I though the second half of that second period, they out-competed us and found ways to get it to the back of the net.”
Not done yet, the Chargers completed their improbable comeback when, after setting up, Misuraca got the puck to Carlson at the right point, whose quick wrist shot appeared to deflect off a CC defenseman and beat Perry at 18:26. It was only the 12th shot on goal for UAH. Though Perry finished the period, he was pulled at the start of the third and replaced by Tyler Marble.
“You have to be able to come back in this league,” said Corbett. “Just like last night, our second period was good last night, our second period was pretty good tonight. We gave up the early goal, but you know what, we just started shooting. We wanted to get pucks to the net and force their goalie to make saves.”
CC had several good chances in the third, none better than when Scott Wamsganz got the puck in the slot and wristed a shot just wide of the left post about halfway through the period.
During a TV timeout, the Tigers regrouped, and Stoykewych, CC’s captain, talked to the players about finishing off the game.
“He was huge tonight,” said Haviland. “I thought he had a great game. He had a lot to say to the players, and you like to see that from your leadership.”
It appeared that overtime was in the works. However, with time winding down, CC took advantage of the open ice during a four-on-four and Stoykewych rifled a shot from the middle of the blue line past Larose at 14:34.
“I feel like we understand we have to work for everything we get, and sometimes you’re going to get the bounces and sometimes you’re not,” said Stoykewych. “The only thing you can really control is your work ethic, so I wanted to bring the guys in and refocus and remind them to keep working hard.”
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