It is the Gold Pan series after all.
Just when Colorado College looked headed quietly to defeat, freshman Alex Roos snapped a shot past Denver goalie Sam Brittain and suddenly the National Collegiate Hockey Conference game was up for grabs.
“CC did a great job coming at us,” Denver coach Jim Montgomery said. “Their forwards were buzzing.”
Roos power-play score was the Tigers’ first since the Oct. 18 season-opener and a Magness Arena crowd of 6,038 was suddenly a little nervous.
The Tigers pulled senior goalie Josh Thorimbert (22 saves) for the final 1:27 but could only manage one shot against a scrambling Pioneers defense.
The rally was necessary after CC (1-6-1, 1-4-1-0 NCHC) was unable to capitalize on 9 ½ minutes of power play through the first two periods.
“We should have been up 2-0; we should have been in control,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said. “It’s getting a little too repetitious though I thought this was our best Saturday of the season. I liked the way we battled. Sam Brittain played excellent.”
Brittain and his 39 saves was the key to a good Pioneers penalty kill that kept CC scoreless until late.
“Whenever you have a kill at 90 percent, it’s your goaltender,” Montgomery said. “Sam probably made 16 great saves on the penalty kill.”
Brittain’s performance set the stage for Denver’s third-period surge.
Denver freshman Will Butcher broke the defensive deadlock when he lofted a shot through traffic with 18:31 left in the third period to make it 1-0. The power-play goal was the first allowed by Colorado College since a 2-1 loss Oct. 25 at Clarkson.
Less than six minutes later, Denver pulled away when Zac Larazza lifted in his own power-play rebound. The two scores came against a CC penalty kill that entered the game ranked sixth in the nation at 92.6 percent (25 for 27). They are now 28 for 32.
The Tigers needed some good luck but did not get it. A shorthanded chance by Alexander Krushelnyski hit the cross bar during the second period and another shot by Roos clanged away harmlessly off the post in the third.
CC team’s defense continued to perform well, recording 24 blocks, including 13 in the first period. But the Tiger’s offensive struggles continue and CC enters a bye week on a losing note.
“It won’t rain forever,” Roos said. “We just need to keep working and the goals will come.”
CC power play struggles continue until late
Colorado College’s continued lack of production while on the power play – now at 1 for 37 and last among the 59 Division I teams – hurt the Tigers in Friday’s tie and later shootout loss.
“The difference Friday was we did not get that second goal while on the power play,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said. “Making it 2-0 would have made a big difference in that kind of game.”
On Friday, the Tigers were hesitant to shoot even during a 5-on-3 advantage that lasted 69 seconds. CC maintained possession and moved the puck around but would not fire.
“It’s close,” said senior win Alexander Krushelnyski. “It just needs to have that trigger pulled. It’s frustrating for sure but we cannot hang our heads.”
There was progress. On Saturday, the Tigers fired four shots during its 5-on-3 chance in the opening period. In the second, CC managed six shots during a five-minute advantage.
That 0-for-5 showing Friday dropped the Tigers to 3 percent with the man advantage, a precipitous dip when compared to the 17.1 percent (25 goals) enjoyed last season. Unfortunately, the players who scored 23 of those goals, led by Mike Boivin’s seven tallies, graduated.
CC has played in three shootouts so far, including the two exhibition games, and have gone 0 for 8 since the two exhibitions went the full three shooters in the best-of-three format adopted by the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. Making things worse is Tiger opponents are a perfect 8 for 8. … Tigers sophomore defenseman Michael King played for the first time since suffering a hip injury that required offseason surgery, on Jan. 4 at Nebraska-Omaha, a 8-4 loss. … Capitals scout Wil Nichols was in attendance. … Pioneers junior right wing Matt Tabrum of Colorado Springs played in both games.
Denver 2, Colorado College 1
Colorado College 0 0 1 –1
Denver 0 0 2 –2
First period – No scoring. Penalties – CC, Rothstein, tripping, :52; DU, Shore, hooking, 9:42; DU, Arnold, interference, 10:24; CC, Krushelnyski, elbowing, 14:05; CC, Stoykewych, boarding, 15:22.
Second period – No scoring. Penalties — DU, Romig, 5-minute checking from behind, game misconduct, 6:01; CC, Wamsganz, roughing, 11:11; CC, Collett, roughing, 11:11; CC, Stoykewych, roughing, 11:11; DU, Loney, roughing, 11:11; DU, Didier, roughing, 11:11; DU, LaLeggia, roughing, 11:11; DU, Makowski, slashing, 14:21.
Third period – 1. Denver, Butcher (Moore, Marcinew) 1:29 (PP); 2. Denver, Larazza (Zajac) 7:04 (PP); 3, CC, Roos (Bradley, Rothstein) 16:51 (PP). Penalties – CC, Rothstein, interference, 1:24; CC, Wamsganz, boarding, 5:10; CC, McDermott, hooking, 5:38; DU, Marcinew, tripping, 5:38; DU, Tabrum., boarding, 16:14.
Power play – CC 1-5, Denver 2-5. Shots on goal – CC 12-16-12 – 40; Denver 10-6-8 – 24. Saves-minutes – CC, Thorimbert 10-6-6 – 58:22; Denver, Brittain 12-16-11 — 60:00. Referees – Beaurline, Dreger. Linesmen – Mousseaux, Staudte. Attendance – 6,038 (6,026 capacity).