Written by Daniel Kroeger
Photo above: Sophomore forward Tanner Ockey handles the puck along the boards. CC faces off with DU in round one of the battle for the Gold Pan. Photo by Casey B. Gibson
The Colorado College men’s hockey team opened Thanksgiving weekend with a game against the University of Wisconsin, a member the Big 10 Conference. Despite a valiant effort by the Tigers, they dropped the game by a score of 2-1 last Friday night at the Broadmoor World Arena. The Tigers were back in action Saturday to face crosstown rival Air Force Academy. Again, CC was defeated, this time by a score of 6-3. With the two loses the Tigers fell to 3-9 on the year.
Friday’s scoring began in the first period when sophomore forward Mason Bergh took a pass from first-year forward Brandon Makara who found his way through the Badger defense and rifled a shot that beat Wisconsin goalie Jack Berry. The goal was Bergh’s team-high fifth tally of the season. Though the Badgers outshot the Tigers 14-3 in the first period, the Tigers took a 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
In the second period, CC first-year forward Bryce Van Horn took a penalty at the 13:13 mark for roughing. The power play opportunity was converted by Wisconsin forward Will Johnson and the score was level at 1-1. Just two minutes later, Wisconsin took the lead for good when senior forward Grant Besse scored. Besse’s goal would prove to be all the Badgers would need to secure the win.
First-year goaltender Alex Leclerc, the Longueuil, Quebec native, got the start in the net for the Tigers. He finished the game with 31 saves. Head Coach Mike Haviland said following the game that he thought Leclerc had the best game of his young Tiger career.
Saturday’s game against Air Force was a much higher scoring affair that featured nine goals throughout the night. Though Air Force won the game 6-3, the Tigers pulled back to within a goal when sophomore forward Westin Michaud scored his second goal of the game to make the score 4-3 with 11:43 left in the third period. Unfortunately, the goal was followed up just 12 seconds later when Air Force forward Evan Giesler found the back of the net to bring the Eagles’ lead back up to two goals.
Other than Michaud’s two goals, Bergh scored his team-leading sixth goal of the season with a beautiful individual effort.
Following the weekend, Bergh was his usual humble self. “I have been lucky enough to play with some great players and both goals I scored this weekend were set up by hard work from them and I was fortunate enough to put them in the back of the net.”
When asked about his scoring streak, Bergh said, “I’m just going to continue to work to help this team any way I can.”
Over the weekend the Tigers continued to struggle to score power play goals. Air Force gave CC seven power play opportunities on Saturday, and the Tigers scored on none of them. On the other side, Air Force only had two power play opportunities, but converted on one of their two chances.
Senior netminder Derek Shatzer and Leclerc shared the goaltending duties for the Tigers against Air Force and combined for 17 saves.
Coming up next, the Tigers hope to capture the Gold Pan when they take on second-ranked University of Denver, Friday, Dec. 2 at Broadmoor World Arena. The rich history between the CC and DU hockey programs was enhanced when they played a game at Coors Field in front of more than 35,000 fans last season.
“The rivalry between CC and DU is one of the biggest in college hockey and every year we go into the year with those games circled,” said Bergh of the historic rivalry. “Having the opportunity to take on the #2 team in the country to go with the rich history between the two teams makes it an amazing game to be a part of for both the team and the community.”
The puck drops at 7:37 tonight at the Broadmoor World Arena. The Tigers will head to DU tomorrow to face the Pioneers on their home ice.