DULUTH, Minn. – Rylan Schwartz usually doesn’t falter with an open net. Nick Dineen usually won’t lose big-money faceoffs. Josh Thorimbert is usually reliable in the clutch.
Too many shortcomings killed No. 16 Colorado College in a 4-3 overtime defeat against No. 4 Minnesota-Duluth on Friday at Amsoil Arena, where J.T. Brown marked the game-winning goal after the Tigers rallied from a 3-0 deficit with two scores in the third period.
The fourth setback in five games keeps CC (16-13-2, 13-11-1 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) in 19th place in the PairWise rankings that are used to decide the 16 NCAA Tournament qualifiers, and if the Tigers don’t beat Minnesota-Duluth (21-7-5, 15-6-4) on Saturday, they’ll likely have to claim the WCHA Final Five to live past mid-March. They slipped a spot to fifth in the WCHA, however, with three games remaining, they still hold a two-point cushion for home ice for the March 9-11 first round of the WCHA playoffs.
“It’s a shame not to get a point out of this,” said CC coach Scott Owens, whose team was outshot 41-25, including 19-5 in a second period in which defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth struck three times in a five-minute span. He added, “The effort of the kids, to compete on the road like this, not to come away with anything is heartbreaking.”
Eleven days after having surgery on a broken finger, Brown beat Thorimbert (11-6-1) on a one-timer through traffic from between the circles with two minutes to go in overtime – the beneficiary of a faceoff won by Travis Oleksuk over Dineen. It was the lone shot of overtime, after CC fought past an interference penalty on Arthur Bidwill only 18 seconds into the extra period. Bidwill suffered an apparent upper-body injury, and he hobbled off.
During CC’s penalty kill, Schwartz nearly snuck a shot over Kenny Reiter (19-6-5) when Tim Hall dished him the puck amid a two-on-one rush. “And when I saw it on his stick, I was about ready to celebrate,” Hall said. “Those bounces happen. It just kind of bounced off his stick weird.” The team-leading 21st goal by Schwartz tied the game 3-3 with 11 minutes left, on the heels of a power-play goal by Mike Boivin a mere 72 seconds earlier and Alexander Krushelnyski’s tally that made it 3-1 with 24 seconds left in the second.
“There were just a couple things we didn’t convert on,” said Krushelnyski, who has three goals in as many games. He called it “a tough shot” by Brown. “We would have liked to have gotten a block on it or a tip at least. But sometimes, that’s just the way it goes.” And Dineen is “one of our best faceoff guys,” Owens said, “but he just got beat clean,” as CC endured a 45-33 deficit on draws. “He normally wins those every time,” Hall said.
Brown downplayed the pain in his finger, and even though he missed some time when he got hammered a minute into the third, he ended with a whopping nine shots. “You don’t feel the injury,” Brown said. “You don’t even think about it. The adrenaline kicks in, and you don’t want to hold back. … I’ve been feeling good all week.” Brown rifled the puck “like a man,” Owens said. “It was just a bang-bang play. It was a bomb of a shot.”
In its first appearance on the NHL-size ice sheet at Minnesota-Duluth’s new rink, CC was mostly outworked, losing momentum after Dineen had a goal disallowed in the second. It fell behind by three goals, as 51-point scorer Jack Connolly and Caleb Herbert tallied on the power play and Justin Crandall lit the lamp in the second. Then with a solid forecheck and the nation’s top offense at 3.73 goals, second-place Minnesota-Duluth took control – and CC wasn’t helped by six penalties, five in a 15-minute stretch in the second and third.
Jaden Schwartz recorded two assists but failed to notch a shot, probably slowed by upper-body soreness that he experienced last weekend in a home split against Nebraska-Omaha. Perhaps CC should have been more physical, as Eamonn McDermott was twice drilled in open ice. No doubt, Thorimbert is far from returning to form, relinquishing three or more goals for the third consecutive game after giving up two or less in his previous 10 starts.
“We have to find a way to come back and compete and battle,” Owens said. Hall almost guaranteed a victory for CC on Saturday, maintaining that “there’s no quit in this locker room. We’re going to come back, and I think we definitely believe we’re going to win.”
MINNESOTA-DULUTH 4, COLORADO COLLEGE 3
Colorado College 0 1 2 0 – 3
Minnesota-Duluth 0 3 0 1 – 4
First period – None. Penalties – None.
Second – 1. Minnesota-Duluth, Connolly 18 (Oleksuk, Lamb), 10:09 (pp). 2. Minnesota-Duluth, Herbert 11 (Casto, Tardy), 12:49 (pp). 3. Minnesota-Duluth, Crandall 6 (Tardy, Casto), 14:44. 4. CC, Krushelnyski 10 (Hall, Winkler), 19:36. Penalties – Grun, Minnesota-Duluth (interference), 0:39. McDermott, CC (holding the stick), 9:08. Grun, Minnesota-Duluth (roughing), 9:08. J. Schwartz, CC (slashing), 9:50. Marciano, CC (interference), 11:04. Hendrickson, Minnesota-Duluth (holding), 15:24.
Third – 5. CC, Boivin 7 (Dineen, J. Schwartz), 7:48 (pp). 6. CC, R. Schwartz 21 (J. Schwartz, Guentzel), 9:00. Penalties – Boivin, CC (holding), 2:19. Dineen, CC (tripping), 4:00. Casto, Minnesota-Duluth (tripping), 7:08. Basaraba, Minnesota-Duluth (hooking), 9:00.
Overtime – 7. Minnesota-Duluth, Brown 19 (Oleksuk), 3:00. Penalties – Bidwill, CC (interference), 0:18.
Shots on goal – CC 11-5-9-0-25. Minnesota-Duluth 8-19-13-1-41. Power-play opportunities – CC 1 of 4. Minnesota-Duluth 2 of 5. Goalies – CC, Thorimbert 8-16-13-0 (41 shots-37 saves). Minnesota-Duluth, Reiter 11-4-7-0 (25-22). Attendance – 6,346. Time – 2:30. Referees – Scott Bokal, Craig Welker. Linesmen – Jeff Schultz, Tony Czech.
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