By MICHAEL GORMAN
In a huge weekend against the nation’s top team, our CC Tigers tied twice against their fierce rivals, the Denver Pioneers. Game one in Denver was 4-4, with the Tigers taking the conference win in double OT. In game two, at our home arena, the Tigers were taken down in the second overtime with an official score of 1-1.
Sophomore goalie Alex LeClerc commented that these results are more than just scores on the schedule.
“It means a lot for our program. There were tough times in the past few years ,and to be able—especially against DU—to get that win in overtime and then that tie on Saturday night…it meant a lot for us,” LeClerc said. “It also meant a lot for the rest of the nation because they know that the CC Tigers aren’t just another team that are going to be stepped over. We’re able to compete with [anyone].”
Each game was action-packed, with the weekend starting at 6 p.m. in Denver on Friday. After going down 4-3 with less than three minutes left in the third period, the Tigers were forced to pull goalie Alex Leclerc in favor of an extra attacker with 50 seconds left. The move paid off, and forward Mason Bergh struck with 6.8 seconds remaining to tie the game up.
In addition to the clutch goal, Bergh had two assists. He has had a great season so far, leading the team with 10 goals, and is second with assists: 11 in his 16 games played.
The Tigers did a great job of controlling the best Pioneer players in the second game, as Denver’s first line didn’t have any goals or assists to speak of in the matchup.
“Denver has some really talented, key players that are their main threats,” LeClerc said. “Whenever they stepped on the ice, we did well to recognize that, and we did well to capitalize on the little mistakes they made.”
On a four-by-three power play in double overtime, freshman forward Christiano Versich decided the game with a shot just inside the far post, with 1:24 remaining. Playing well with a man advantage was a key this weekend, as it contributed to the first and only Tiger goal of the night on Saturday.
With two minutes left in the first period, and seconds after the Tiger’s power play had ended, junior forward Trevor Gooch put the Tigers up until early in the third period. The Pioneers tied the game only a few seconds in with a shot from forward Liam Finlay.
The first overtime passed without a goal, but after a few minutes in the 3-on-3 second overtime, the Pioneers made the most of their chances and scored on a winding, spinning goal, ending the game.
LeClerc had high praise for the home fans against DU on Saturday. “It was amazing to play in front of such a big student section,” LeClerc said. “Last year against Denver, the student section was pretty good, but this year was the best I’ve seen. People believe that it’s not that big of a deal, but it’s huge. Whenever you hear the crowd jumping in with a big chant or after a big save, it’s a huge advantage that the away team doesn’t have. To have that against Denver on Saturday was one of the big reasons we were able to stay as intense as we were.”
Next weekend, the Tigers go up against an unranked (4-9-3) Arizona State team on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, both at home. The Sun Devils have lost four of their last seven games, with two wins in that stretch.