Saturday night’s 3-1 win over Denver was all the sweeter for the Tigers, who dedicated the victory to former Colorado College standout Scott Winkler, who passed away this summer of an undiagnosed heart condition.
It would have been the Norwegian’s 24th birthday.
“This one was for Scott,” said senior Alexander Krushelnyski, who recorded an empty-netter with 45.5 seconds left to seal the victory and give CC, which has doubled its season win total in the span of eight days, possession of the Gold Pan Trophy over the Front Range rival. “We know he’s up there smiling looking down on us tonight.”
“It makes it even more special,” CC coach Scott Owens said. “It is quite a feat to sweep a team as good as Denver. They were much better tonight but we matched their effort.”
This National Collegiate Hockey Conference sweep – also CC’s third win in a row — will be cherished by the Tigers (6-18-6, 6-9-5-1) and their fans for some time.
Colorado College scored the winning goal on a goalmouth scramble that left senior defenseman Eamonn McDermott sprawled on top of Denver goalie Sam Brittain (33 saves)..
A Denver defenseman leveled McDermott after she attempt a short-range shot and the CC captain landed on Brittain, opening up the top half of the net for freshman Alex Roos’ backhander with 6:06 remaining before a standing-room-only crowd of 7,641 fans at World Arena.
“Getting that trophy back means a lot to us,” Roos said. “I never really knew Scott but I imagine he’s smiling down on us now.”
The empty-netter was sweet for Krushelnyski, who recorded his 100th career point (41 goals) as a Tiger. He is the 74th CC player to record 100 or more and first to do so since Bill Sweatt in 2010 and Rylan Schwartz in 2012.
“It was a special night,” Krushelnyski said. “It’s all smiles now.”
Earlier, junior defenseman Aaron Harstad rifled a shot that blew past Brittain’s glove attempt with 3:54 left in the first period for a 1-0 lead.
Freshman Jaccob Slavin passed over the Harstad, who fired from just inside the blue line.
About two minutes later, Coronado High School graduate Matt Tabrum scored to knot the game at 1-1 with 1:40 remaining.
Both teams did a good job denying shots with Denver getting 14 blocks while CC had 22, led by Harstad with five and McDermott with four. The CC defense were strong in front of their net, keeping Denver from a shot in front of senior goalie Josh Thorimbert (25 saves) for the entire second period.
“Josh was good and Brittain was outstanding,” Owens said.
Colorado College’s defense frustrated the Pioneers, holding the visitors without a shot on goal in the third period until 9:27 remained.
Colorado College 3, No. 18 Denver 1
Denver 1 0 0 –1
Colorado College 1 0 2 –3
First period – 1. CC, Harstad (Slavin, Collett) 16:06; 2, DU, Tabrum (Arnold) 18:20. Penalties – DU, Doremus, holding, 3:24; CC, Krushelnyski, holding, 5:27; CC, Morin, slashing, 9:10; CC, Stoykewych, holding, 18:57.
Second period – No scoring. Penalties – CC, Skalbeck, roughing, 8:07; DU, Didier, four-minute roughing, 8:07.
Third period – 3. CC, Roos (McDermott, Bradley) 13:54; 4. CC, Krushelnyski (unassisted) 19:14 (EN). Penalties – DU, Doremus, roughing, 19:14; CC, Harstad, holding, 19:58..
Power play – DU 0-3, CC 0-3. Shots on goal – Denver 7-13-6 –26; CC 14-10-12 – 36. Saves-minutes – DU, Brittain 13-10-10 –59:24; CC, Thorimbert 6-13-6 –60:00. Referees – Krebsbach, Dreger. Linesmen – Pedigo, Keltie. Attendance — 7,461 (standing room only).