Forgive Colorado College if it savors this weekend for a couple days.
Junior Peter Sejna notched a goal and two assists and sophomore Curtis McElhinney held No. 2 North Dakota’s high-scoring attack in check with 27 saves as No. 3 Colorado College recorded a 4-1 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 7,647 at the Colorado Springs World Arena.
The win completed a weekend sweep for the Tigers and extended their lead over North Dakota in the conference standings to eight points. Colorado College, now 21-2-5 overall, also made a strong case for being the top-ranked team in the country, as No. 1 Maine lost earlier Saturday night to No. 5 New Hampshire.
“I thought we’d get at least two points this weekend, but to get four, honestly, I’m a little surprised,” said Colorado College Head Coach Scott Owens. “It’s gotten to the point with this team where not a lot surprises me.”
Unlike last night, when North Dakota scored three first-period goals, Colorado College dominated play from the outset, outshooting North Dakota 12-3 in the opening frame. The Tigers began the scoring with just 55 seconds remaining in the first period, as junior Andrew Canzanello slipped a pass through the crease to Sejna, who roofed the one-timer for his ninth power-play tally of the season.
(North Dakota) was a desperate team,” said Sejna, who now has recorded a point in 28 consecutive contests. “This was a hard game, and maybe the score doesn’t show that.”
The Fighting Sioux picked up the tempo in the second period, but was undone by six penalties in the stanza, including two while skating with the man advantage.
Senior Chris Leinweber was whistled for slashing while stopping a breakaway attempt by Sejna, and junior David Lundbohm hooked Joe Cullen in his bid for a shorthanded tally.
North Dakota’s best chance to even the score came on the power play midway through the frame, as McElhinney robbed senior Jason Notermann of a redirected goal with a beautiful glove save.
Colorado College added a key insurance goal less than four minutes into the third period, as its third line chipped in. Freshman Joey Crabb, in a two-on-one break with junior Colin Stuart, slipped the puck to his linemate, who one-timed a shot for his 11th tally of the season.
“We had different people step up tonight,” said Owens. “The (defensive) core played great, and (McElhinney) made some big saves when he had to.”
The Tigers’ two-goal lead was short-lived, however, as the Fighting Sioux cut the deficit in half just 57 seconds later with a power-play goal. Sophomore Quinn Fylling wristed a shot from just inside the blue line that senior Kevin Spiewak deflected to McElhinney’s right.
In the next four minutes, North Dakota had several chances to tie the contest. Leinweber, with just one goal in 120 career games, hit the post on a long shot, and one minute later, McElhinney stopped freshman Zach Parise twice from in close in Parise’s attempt to extend his point-scoring to 14 games.
“(McElhinney) made five or six unbelievable saves,” said senior captain Tom Preissing. “It’s like night and day playing with a great goalie as opposed to a bad one.”
Colorado College took advantage of the Fighting Sioux’ missed opportunities, as the Tigers regained its two-goal cushion with 10:22 to go. Senior Noah Clarke took the puck at the blue line, skated between the faceoff circles, and beat North Dakota netminder Josh Siembida to his left.
With 6:36 remaining, Slattengren sealed the win with a four-on-four goal. Sejna dumped the puck low to the freshman, who got Siembida to commit low before roofing a backhander.
Siembida, in his first action since allowing three goals in 22 minutes versus the Tigers on Jan. 4, stopped 24 shots. North Dakota, which has won just three of its last eight contests, is now 21-4-3 overall, 11-4-3 in conference action.
“We’re going to enjoy this for a couple of days, no doubt,” said Owens. “But come Monday, we’ve got to start getting ready for Minnesota.”