Both the Colorado College Tigers and the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux were able to kick-start their offenses Saturday night, as the two combined for 11 goals, with the Tigers coming out on top, 7-4.
“This was a throwback game, a game from the 80s,” said Tigers’ Coach Scott Owens. “It’s a throwback-type game [and] it’s terribly entertaining.”
“It was a wild game through 60 minutes,” said his North Dakota counterpart Dave Hakstol. “CC’s a good team and they played well tonight. I’m proud of our guys. We had our challenges for sure.”
The Tigers started off the scoring outburst and offensive entertainment 9:34 into the game with a Nate Prosser power-play goal. With Chris VandeVelde in the box for hooking, Prosser took a pass from Bill Sweatt and shot it five-hole past Sioux goaltender Brad Eidsness. Eidsness closed his legs, but the puck managed to squeeze through anyway and trickle into the net.
However, the Sioux answered right back with a power-play goal of their own about three minutes later. With Prosser in the box for holding the stick, Brett Hextall one-timed a pass from Brad Miller short-side past Tigers’ netminder Richard Bachman.
With 2:11 left in the period, Ryan Duncan made it a 2-1 Sioux lead when he skated through the slot and nonchalantly flipped the puck over Bachman’s right shoulder.
On the same play, Hextall was called for checking from behind and was given five minutes and a game misconduct, kicking him out of the game for the evening.
“It’s tough to lose anybody early in the game,” said Hakstol. “In his case, he may have been our best player in the first period. He was doing a little bit of everything; he was physical, he had scored a goal, he was making some plays so absolutely it’s tough to lose [him].”
The Tigers scored twice on the ensuing five minute power play, once at the end of the first period and once early in the second.
With 59.9 seconds remaining in the first, Eric Walsky tied it up on a centering pass from the goal line that banked in past Eidsness off of Sioux defenseman Jake Marto’s skate.
Just 1:36 into the second period, Scott McCulloch tipped a Brian Connelly shot glove-side past Eidsness to make it 3-2 Tigers.
“Tonight is a tough night on goaltenders,” said Hakstol. “There was at least three of the goals tonight that Brad didn’t see, a couple of rebound goals and of course the seventh was just one of those things.”
Two minutes later however, UND tied it back up. Bachman stopped a Duncan shot, but VandeVelde, back door on Bachman’s left, grabbed the rebound and stuffed it in the goal.
A little after the half-way point of the period, the game turned crazier than it already was thanks to a few penalties. CC was in the midst of killing off a five-on-three thanks to penalties to Bill Sweatt and Andreas Vlassopoulos when they were signaled for another penalty (which ended up turning out to be a too-many-men minor). Eidsness came off the ice for an extra attacker to make it a six-on-three advantage. Sweatt came out of the box, turning UND’s advantage to a six-on-four, turning into a one man wrecking crew in the process.
As a result, the Tigers got signaled for another penalty, this time on Sweatt for tripping, giving the Sioux another five-on-three.
The Sioux took advantage of their second five-on-three to regain the lead and make it 4-3 at 10:46. David Toews, to the right of Bachman, centered a pass to fellow freshman Jason Gregoire in the slot, who roofed the puck over Bachman.
The lead didn’t last for long, however. as Walsky scored his second of the night with 6:24 remaining in the second. Nick Dineen passed the puck to McCulloch in the slot out of the right corner. McCulloch’s ensuing shot bounced out to Eidsness’s right, where Walsky picked it up and jammed it home.
Just 30 seconds later, CC took the lead back as Walsky scored a hat trick when he took a shot from the top of the zone that beat Eidsness under his left shoulder.
“I didn’t even shoot it that hard,” said Walsky. “I just tried to throw it on net; it was almost like a saucer pass and somehow it found its way through.”
The start of the third was comparatively quiet, with the teams seemingly settling down. However, it was not to last, as the Tigers went up 6-4 11:09 into the third when Walsky scored his fourth goal of the game when he picked up a rebound in the slot and whipped it past Eidsness just inside the right post.
“I felt like I had been getting chances, but tonight everything seemed to go my way,” said Walsky.
CC sealed the deal with 5:03 remaining. With Eidsness pulled for a delayed penalty on Connelly, the Sioux missed a regrouping pass to their own defense and the puck went in the empty net to make it 7-4. Stephen Schultz was credited with the goal.
“It was actually kind of a game we needed even though we didn’t know for sure we were going to win the game,” said Owens. “I think it’s a good springboard for us in terms of scoring seven goals or six goals, [especially because] the power play got rewarded.”
“We had a good weekend,” said Hakstol. “We came in and split on the road against a very good hockey team this weekend. We wanted more, but in saying that, we played six pretty gutsy periods.”