For the second game in a row, the Tigers lost in overtime. Western Michigan freshman Kyle Novak fired a hard shot that CC goalie Josh Thorimbert was unable to squeeze between his chest pad and arm.
The puck landed behind the senior, who fell backward looking to cover the puck. Instead, it squirted out from under him as he hit the ice and went into the net to end the National Collegiate Hockey Conference game, 3-2, only 1:52 into overtime Friday night before 3,114 at Lawson Ice Arena.
The goal by Broncos freshman Kyle Novak completed the hosts comeback after CC took a 2-0 lead in the first 12 minutes of the opening period. It is the first back-to-back overtime losses for the Tigers (1-4) since Nov. 29 and Dec. 5, 1986.
“We deserved a better fate than we got but we have to earn it,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said. “We need to get mentally tougher.”
Senior Archie Skalbeck scored his first of the season after he corralled a loose puck by the left post and skated across the front to fire a hard shot that got past WMU junior goalie Frank Slubowski high glove side to make it 1-0 Tigers with 13:04 left in the first period.
The score came less than 10 seconds after the first CC power play ended and before the Broncos Thomas Nitsche could get from the penalty box to Skalbeck.
Freshman Alex Roos made it 2-0, snagging a rebound off a shot by Cody Bradley that was set up by Alexander Krushelnyski. Roos collected the puck, spun and fired it past Slubowski with 7:54 left in the first period.
“We need to learn how to finish teams off,” Owens said.
But, Western Michigan would answer 65 seconds later when Shane Berschbach forced a CC turnover in neutral ice sparking a 2-on-1 breakaway for Josh Pitt and Justin Kovacs.
Pitt made a nice pass across to Kovacs to beat Thorimbert and make it a 2-1 game with 6:49 left in the opening period.
“It was very important to get that 2-1 goal,” WMU coach Andy Murray said. “I want to credit CC. We knew they would come out playing hard. They had a couple tough losses last weekend and their coaches had them ready.”
Western Michigan tied it up at 2-2 when Jordan Oesterle lifted in a rebound after the referees ruled that a CC defenseman drove Will Kessel into Thorimbert, who was looking for a goalie interference call with 2:26 left in the opening period. Thorimbert made the save on Kessel’s initial shot.
CC power play struggles at costly times
Colorado College had a chance in the third period to go ahead of host Western Michigan and end a three-game losing downturn. Instead, the Tigers power play spent most of its time in the CC zone and was unable to muster a shot on goal.
They went on to lose in overtime.
It mirrored a similar performance with the man advantage during the third period in a 1-0 OT loss at Clarkson. It was a frustrating end after seeing four shots by the Tigers after none last Saturday.
“There was a little bit of life and then a shot would get blocked or a senior would take a penalty,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said. “The power play needs to get a goal to right the ship.”
The Tigers power play is now 1-for-24 (4.17 percent) on the season after going 0-for-6 Friday night.
Defensemen battle through adversity
A likely concussion to sophomore defenseman Russell Finch only 1:47 into the game left Colorado College with five available defensemen for the next 60 minutes. They performed well.
“They got into a good rhythm, which you can with just five,” Owens said. “Ian Young had a good game and Jaccob Slavin was a man. Eamonn McDermott had one of his better games. We will see what they have left tomorrow (Saturday).”
Finch, who was hit into the boards while his head was down, likely will not play so a forward will be pressed into duty. Freshman Gustav Olofsson and sophomore Michael King both stayed home with injuries.
Western Michigan alumnus and longtime Colorado College assistant Joe Bonnett was recognized before the start of the game. … National Collegiate Hockey Conference commissioner Josh Fenton held the ceremonial puck drop between McDermott and WMU captain Chase Balisy before the game, the hosts first in the NCHC. … The Tigers are now 18-8-3 in games played in Michigan under Owens. … CC’s 1-4 start is the worst since 1-4 during the 1992-93 season when the Tigers went 8-28 under coach Brad Buetow, his last before giving way to current Minnesota coach Don Lucia. … … WMU junior goalie Frank Slubowski recorded his 63rd consecutive start. … Seven NHL draft picks played Friday, including four in Tiger black and gold. … The Tigers’ 31 shots were a season high.
Western Michigan 3, Colorado College 2 OT
Colorado College 2 0 0 0 –2
Western Michigan 2 0 0 1 –3
First period – 1. CC, Skalbeck (Maric, McDermott), 6:56; 2. CC, Roos (Bradley, Krushelnyski) 12:06; 3. WMU, Kovacs (Pitt, Berschbach) 13:11; 4. WMU, Oesterle (Kessel) 17:34. Penalties – WMU, Nitsche, boarding, 4:50; WMU, Fleming, slashing, 8:06; CC, McDermott, roughing, 15:30; WMU, McKee, cross-checking, 15:30; WMU, LaPorte, elbowing, 19:33.
Second period – None. Penalties – CC, Krushelnyski, interference, :42; WMU, Berschbach, tripping, 8:05; CC, Skalbeck, slashing, 8:44; CC, Bradley, roughing, 13:15; WMU, Hargrove, roughing, 13:15; CC, Krushelnyski, cross-checking, 19:13.
Third period – None. Penalties – WMU, Morrison, charging, :53; WMU, Hargrove, roughing, 11:49.
Overtime – 5. WMU, Novak (LaPorter, Kessel) 1:52. Penalties – none.
Power play – CC 0-6, WMU 0-3. Shots on goal – CC 10-10-10-1 – 31; WMU 10-10-8-1 – 29. Saves-Minutes – CC, Thorimbert 8-10-10-0 – 61:52; WMU, Slubowski 8-10-10-1 – 61:52. Referees – B. Shepherd, Strens. Linesmen – Carnathan, Gawlik. Attendance – 3,114 (3,667 capacity).