Three months was the last time the Colorado College Tigers had won a game on Friday until Friday night’s game against the Minnesota State University, Mankato Mavericks, a 5-2 Tigers’ win.
“It’s a strange feeling actually to win on a Friday; we don’t know with our Saturday prep out there,” quipped CC coach Scott Owens. “No, you know what, it was a good 60 minutes; it was a good team win. We did a lot of things well tonight so it just feels good to see everybody contributing and distribute the minutes well.”
The Tigers started off strong, getting the majority of the early chances. However, Mavericks’ goaltender Mike Zacharias (24 saves) stood strong, stopping a few two-on-ones, including a short-handed one 11:14 into the second period.
Instead, the Mavericks scored on that same man advantage 45 seconds later when Kael Mouillierat wristed a shot from the slot over the glove of Tigers’ netminder Richard Bachman (31 saves).
The Tigers tied it up about three-and-a-half minutes later with a power-play goal of their own however, when Andreas Vlassopoulos shot a Brian Connelly pass from the right side faceoff dot in past Zacharias.
Exactly one minute later at 16:25, CC took a 2-1 lead on another power-play goal. Eric Walsky, behind the goal line, passed the puck to Tyler Johnson, who tucked it five-hole on Zacharias. The goal was reviewed, as the puck barely trickled across the line, but it was deemed good.
The Mavericks made it a 2-2 game 5:10 into the second period when Blake Friesen blasted a slap shot from the right point past Bachman.
At about the midway point of the period, MSU looked to have taken the lead, but the apparent goal was waved off, as forward Zach Harrison was called for interference behind the play.
From that point on, it was all CC.
The Tigers retook the lead at 12:32 of the middle frame when Brian McMillin one-timed an Addison DeBoer pass five-hole past Zacharias, their first even-strength goal against the Mavericks all year.
“We’re wide open in the middle of the slot and they end up with a three-on-two on it,” said Mavericks’ coach Troy Jutting, referencing forward Andrew Sackrison. “We’re wide open in the slot, should have a great attempt to score, we fan on the puck, they come down on a three-on-two and score. That’s a huge, huge change in the game.”
About five minutes later, the Tigers scored their third power-play goal of the game when Stephen Schultz fired a shot from the high slot past Zacharias. Overall, the Tigers went three-for-seven on the power play.
“We switched the one [power play unit] around, we opened it up a bit, and you know what, they did a pretty good job,” said Owens. “We were just as happy with the other units.”
CC finished off the scoring 4:52 into the third period on McMillin’s second of the night. DeBoer won a puck battle along the boards and dished it to McMillin, who shot a seeing-eye puck tough angle that found its way into the net just between Zacharias and the right post.
“It’s funny; we’ve had nine days of practice since we’ve come back, and it’s been our best line,” Owens said of the DeBoer-Nick Dineen-McMillin line, which combined for five points (2g, 3a). “It’s been our best line in practice. The first period, it started out a little bit shaky when Dineen got walked on the faceoff and a couple other things, but they’re solid. They have good chemistry, they work extremely hard, they’re honest and they’re doing a lot of little things right.”
MSU’s best chance for another goal probably came with 3:52 remaining in the game when the officials reviewed a Jerad Stewart shot. Stewart had a mini-breakaway, shot the puck, and had his momentum carry him into Bachman and, consequently, the net, which got knocked off its moorings.
The game had some marginal drama when MSU’s Harrison got five and a game for checking-from-behind while teammate Geoff Irwin and CC’s Kris Fredheim each got two for cross-checking with 19.4 seconds remaining, but by that point, the game was over.
“We missed on [some] breakaways; we had some chances to score [but didn’t],” said Jutting. “In games like this, those are huge difference-makers.”
“It was a good team win, it was what we needed, we got some secondary scoring, we got some people coming around now, chipping in, but you know what?,” asked Owens. “Tomorrow’s another night and they’re going to be desperate, playing hard and we’ve got to be able to match the intensity.”
The teams faceoff again Saturday night at World Arena. The puck drops at 7:07 Mountain time.