The Colorado College men’s hockey team faced the University of Western Michigan Broncos on Feb. 22 and 23. The No. 8 team in the country was forced into overtime during game one and then obliterated the following night by a hot Tiger squad.
The Tigers maintained control throughout the majority of game one, forcing goals into the back of the net every time the Broncos managed to equalize. Both goalies were fantastic, making spectacular saves on each end to push the game into overtime. The upperclassmen led the charge for the Tigers, with redshirt forward Chris Wilkie ’20 notching the first goal early in the first period.
The Broncos tied the game just a minute later, only to find themselves down a goal again, thanks to a clutch rebound goal by forward Westin Michaud ’20, right before the end of the first period. The Tigers took a 3–2 lead into the third period after a goal from forward Trey Bradley ’19. The Tiger’s lead was extended early in the third period thanks to forward Ben Copeland ’22, but the Tigers eventually let two Broncos goals squeak past Alex Leclerc ’21, knotting the game at four. It didn’t take long for the Broncos to snatch a victory, scoring only 18 seconds into overtime.
Despite the abrupt overtime loss, the Tigers rallied for game two, dethroning the Broncos by a destructive score of 8–2. Throughout most of the first two periods, both teams battled to maintain the lead, with the Tigers managing a one-goal advantage heading into the final period of regulation. In the decisive period, the Tiger offense accounted for five goals. Of their last six goals, Copeland was crucial, striking four times.
February 23 was the first time a Tiger has scored four goals in a game since Andrew Hamburg ’13 managed the feat against the United States Air Force Academy back in 2012. The last time a Tiger tscored a hat trick (three goals in one game) was in Oct. 2017 by none other than Captain Mason Bergh ’19. Grant Cruikshank ’22 also had a spectacular night, netting two of his own. It was forward Trevor Gooch ’19 who acted as the glue for the Tigers, assisting on four of the Tiger’s eight goals on Saturday night, a career high.
Leclerc was stellar as always, keeping the Broncos out of the net for the entire third period. He recording 26 saves before backup keeper Jon Flakne ’22 relieved him for the final few minutes of the game. The Tigers didn’t have too much time to celebrate, as they went up against Denver in a heated match for the Gold Pan on Tuesday.
Facing a well-ranked DU squad, the Tigers battled hard, with scrappy play and tough hits all night, but they just couldn’t come out with the victory. The Pioneers scored the only goal of the contest, slotting a score past Leclerc early in the first period. The Pioneers forced the puck into the Tigers’ end throughout the contest, but the Tigers couldn’t get enough offensive opposition to tie the game. The Pioneers held the Tigers to just 24 shots total, while Denver pounded well over 30 onto Leclerc.
It was penalties that ultimately killed the Tigers, failing to convert on five attempts. Possession played a key role throughout the intense game, and despite pulling Leclerc with just under a minute to go, the Tigers couldn’t muster enough firepower to force overtime.
The Tigers continue their perilous stretch toward the end of the season against the University of North Dakota on March 1 and 2 at the World Arena. Come out and support your Tigers!