That feeling came despite some positives: CC scored four goals, one on the power play. Reaching the shootout pushed the Tigers (3-18-6, 3-9-5-1 league) ahead of Miami, 3-2 losers at North Dakota earlier Friday, into sole possession of seventh place in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference standings
But blowing a 3-0 lead late in the second period and having to battle back to force the eventual 4-4 tie coupled with a shootout loss to visiting Western Michigan left a sour tastes in the mouths of the 6,351 on hand.
“It’s a point, but it doesn’t feel great,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said. ”I would be remiss if I did not compliment Western Michigan. They have been finding a way to get points.”
To the Tigers’ credit, they rallied to garner a league point. Colorado College freshman Alex Roos tapped in an excellent crossing pass from junior defenseman Peter Stoykewych with 12:48 left in the third period to tie the game at 4-4.
Western Michigan later prevailed in the shootout 1-0 on a score by Justin Kovacs.
“(Goalie) Josh (Thorimbert) had to make some big-time saves in overtime for us to get that point,” Owens said.
CC’s tying goal was set up by senior Alexander Krushelnyski, who sent a diagonal pass across the Broncos zone as Stoykewych skated toward the net. WMU sophomore goalie Lukas Hafner was in position to make a save so the junior blue-liner passed over to the wide-open Roos.
The tying goal came less than two minutes after Western Michigan scored four goals in about nine minutes to take its first lead of the NCHC game.
“I thought the boys responded,” Roos said. “We had some good opportunities and had a chance to win in regulation.”
The Broncos (14-10-5, 8-7-1-2 NCHC) went ahead 4-3 when defenseman Thomas Nitsche fired a low shot through traffic that beat Thorimbert with 14:14 left in the third period to cap the four-goal spurt dating back to the final 2:49 of the second period.
Earlier in the third, senior Shane Berschbach skated through the CC defense and scored only 75 seconds into the third period to knot the NCHC game at 3-3.
The Broncos broke loose when Nolan LaPorte’s shot was too hard for Thorimbert to squeeze with his glove. The puck bounced behind the senior and ended up into the net to make it 3-1 with 2:49 left.
WMU continued to take advantage of CC’s letdown, when Will Kessel went to the opposite post and knocked in the puck as it slid across the crease with 34.6 seconds to make it 3-2 and jumpstart the Western Michigan rally.
“You can’t give a team like that point-blank chances,” Roos said. “That intermission could not have come at a better time. But another mental breakdown led to the go-ahead goal.”
Early, it was all CC. Tigers junior Jordan DiGiando recorded his first goal and point of the season when he ripped a shot past junior goalie Frank Slubowski’s glove attempt for a 2-0 lead only 2:06 into the second period.
Slavin created the opening score when he took a pass into the corner and then cut in to the near post, from where he fired a shot that was stopped by Slubowski (14 saves).
But sophomore center Cody Bradley was there to the rebound with 4:39 left for a 1-0 lead. Freshman Matt Hansen picked up his first college assist.
The Tigers ended Slubowski’s night when senior Archie Skalbeck, who now has a point (two goals) in the past three games, clanged a shot in off the post for a 3-0 lead with 11:53 remaining.
“We’re just scraping along trying to get points, “ Broncos coach Andy Murray said. “I give CC a lot of credit for how they came out hard. They played really well.”
Western Michigan 4, Colorado College 4 (WMU wins shootout 1-0)
Western Michigan 0 2 2 0 –4
Colorado College 1 2 1 0 –4
First period –1. CC, Bradley (Slavin, Hansen) 15:21 (PP). Penalties – WMU, Killip, tripping, 8:46; WMU, Fleming, slashing, 14:33; CC, Stoykewych, tripping, 16:39.
Second period –2. CC, DiGiando (Young, Hansen) 2:06; 3. CC, Skalbeck (Rothstein, Slavin) 8:07; 4. WMU, LaPorte (Morrison, Hargrove) 17:11; 5. WMU, Kessel (Mellor, Killip) 19:15. Penalties – CC, Rothstein, elbowing, 2:49; WMU, Dienes, slashing, 6:05; CC, Krushelnyski, interference, 13:34.
Third period –6. WMU, Berschbach (Mellor, Dienes), 1:15;7. WMU, Nitsche (Balisy, Hargrove) 5:46; 8. CC, Roos (Stoykewych, Krushelnyski) 7:12. Penalties – CC, McDermott, high-sticking, 14:32.
Overtime –No scoring. Penalties – CC, Bradley, elbowing, 2:22; WMU, Brown, embellishment, 2:22.
Shootout – WMU 1 (Kovacs), CC 0.
Power play – WMU 0-4, CC 1-3. Shots on goal – WMU 6-9-13-2 – 30, CC 13-12-8 -3– 36. Saves-minutes – WMU, Slubowski 12-2- 21:53, Hafner 8-7-3- 34:07; CC, Thorimbert 6-7-11-2 –65:00. Referees – Sterns, Thul. Linesmen –Stankevich, Staudte. Attendance – 6,351 (7,380 capacity).