The hosts struck for two goals in 124 seconds and rallied to down the Tigers 3-2 before 11,147 roaring fans at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
The decisive spurt was the continuation of a recurring problem with 12 of the Tigers’ 15 losses often decided, as it was on Saturday, by an opponent scoring twice in less than six minutes.
“It’s been a problem all year, giving up goals in spurts,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said. “I thought we responded well and played hard over the final eight to nine minutes to generate some chances late.”
Now, the Tigers are looking to build on some of the positives evident in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference loss.
“If we compete like that consistently then we will begin to put it all together,”
senior Alexander Krushelnyski said. “This was probably the closest we have come to a full 60-minute game.”
It showed late in the second period and early in the third when CC (2-15-3, 2-7-3) went ahead 2-1.
The Tigers forged a 1-1 tie when a hard shot by defenseman Aaron Harstad led to a power-play rebound that Krushelnyski backhanded past UND sophomore goalie Zane Gothberg’s glove with 24 seconds left in the second period.
That power play kept humming with a goal by freshman defenseman Jaccob Slavin, who scored on a cross-ice pass by Krushelnyski to catch Gothberg out of position for a one-timer. The goal made it 2-1 with 18:44 left in the third period.
“It was a pretty gutsy effort when we scored in the final minute of the second period and came out and scored early in third period when we knew they would come out playing hard, especially in their own building,” Owens said. “But they are a very deep team and keep coming at you. There was too much time left and then we made a couple mistakes.”
North Dakota’s Keaton Thompson popped free and scored on a rising rocket through traffic with 13:44 left and Rocco Grimaldi corralled an errant CC pass in front to beat senior goalie Josh Thorimbert (22 saves) with 11:40 remaining.
Thorimbert made 13 saves in the second period and plucked the puck out of the air to stymie a shorthanded opportunity with 2:31 left. Two minutes later, Krushelnyski tied it up
“Josh played well enough for us to win it,” CC senior captain Eamonn McDermott said. “We need to build on these positives. It’s a process.”
It’s a long and frustrating one this season.
“We need to figure out how to put this puzzle together,” Krushelnyski said.
Improved power play a bright spot for Tigers
The Colorado College power play is on an excellent run over the first three games of the second half, going five for 10 in games lost by a combined 12-7.
That improvement has pushed the Tigers up from 58th out of 59 Division I teams to a three-way tie for 45th (14.7 percent, 11 for 75).
“We have some positives to build on and the power play is one of them,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said. “But we have to get more 5-on-5 scoring.”
The power play is relying more on its defensemen to fire the puck on net, which led to the tying goal on Saturday and three from long range on Friday (two, Jaccob Slavin).
The penalty kill has been solid, if not spectacular at 11 for 13. Those stats were hurt by the late power-play goal by North Dakota that came during a five-minute man advantage that salted away the win. Brown also benefited from a 5-minute call as well.
So far this season, 12 of the team’s 35 goals (1.75) came while on special teams, including one shorthanded score.
Tigers working to get better in third period
The two North Dakota goals in the third period added to a continuing problem for the Tigers, who have been outscored by a 26-10 margin in the final frame this season.
“That’s one of our goals in the second half is to get better in the third period,” Owens said. “
The third-period deficit was established earlier this season and was inflated during some lopsided losses, including being outscored six goals to none by New Hampshire over Thanksgiving weekend and 3-0 by Minnesota-Duluth on Oct. 19.
The second period is also a problem. Friday’s loss was the fifth game in a row Colorado College went through a second-period lull and the opposing team took advantage for a 23-11 edge this season.
Foes have outscored CC 11-2 in the second period since a 4-2 home win over Nebraska-Omaha on Dec. 6, when the Tigers outscored the Mavericks 2-0.
North Dakota 3, Colorado College 2
Colorado College 0 1 1 –2
North Dakota 1 0 2 — 3
First period – 1. UND, MacMillan (Parks, Simpson) 11:09. Penalties – CC, Bradley, slashing, 9:49; UND, St. Clair, roughing, 9:49; UND, Caggiula, holding the stick, 12:36; CC, Skalbeck, slashing, 16:02; CC, Harstad, cross-checking, 17:38.
Second period – 2. CC, Krushelnyski (Harstad, Stoykewych) 19:36 (PP). Penalties – CC, Rothstein, slashing, 1:39; CC, Stoykewych, roughing, 10:59; UND, Thompson, roughing, 10:59; CC, Taft, hooking, 12:01; UND, Cagguila, tripping, 15:48; UND, Rodwell, interference, 18:32.
Third period – 3, CC, Slavin (Krushelnyski, Rothstein) 1:16 (PP); 4. UND, Thompson (Chyzyk, St. Clair) 6:16; 5, UND, Grimaldi (unassisted) 8:20. Penalties – UND, Johnson, tripping, :48.
Power play – CC 2-4, UND 0-4. Shots on goal – CC 10-7-6 – 23; UND 7-13-5 — 25. Saves-minutes – CC, Thorimbert 6-13-3 –59:24; UND, Gothberg 10-6-5 – 60:00. Referees – Krebsbach, B. Shepherd. Linesmen – Hills, Schmitt. Attendance – 11,147 (11,634 capacity).