MADISON, WIS. • Trailing 2-0 early in the first period in a hostile road environment, Colorado College’s hockey team may have appeared headed for its fourth straight loss.
Instead of lying down, the Tigers chose to fight.
Alexander Krushelnyski took a Charlie Taft pass and beat Wisconsin goalie Joel Rumpel 25 seconds into overtime to give CC a thrilling 5-4 victory in front of 8,643 at the Kohl Center on Friday night. The Tigers (4-3, 1-0 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) erased 2-0 and 3-2 deficits and briefly led 4-3 before the Badgers (1-3-1, 1-1-1) got the equalizer late in the third period.
It was Krushelnyski’s third goal of the season, and none have been bigger.
“Our team believed tonight that this game was coming home with us,” the junior forward said. “I think it was less frustration and more learning how to battle through adversity. Last week, we had a couple of tough losses, and the consensus among the team this weekend was that it wasn’t going to happen again.
“It was a good team win.”
The victory snapped CC’s three-game losing streak and helped the Tigers open their final WCHA season on a high note.
“We needed that win, obviously, on the road,” CC coach Scott Owens said. “Krush has scored some big goals last year and this year, and what I like to see is that he bore down and finished. (The win) talks a little bit about our character, and it’s better than lying down.”
CC senior captain William Rapuzzi took a laser of an outlet pass from junior defenseman Eamonn McDermott (who had three assists) and put the Tigers up 4-3 with 9:06 remaining, but the Tigers could not hold on. The Badgers appeared to have tied the game with 8:36 on the clock, but Mark Zengerle’s goal was called off by officials because the puck touched his glove before going in.
Wisconsin’s Keegan Meuer knotted the game at 4-4 with 4:18 remaining and seemed to give the Badgers all the momentum heading into the extra period.
“I thought we had a stranglehold on it,” said Meuer, who had a goal and an assist.
Colorado College’s resolve did not come as a shock to Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves.
“I’m not surprised,” Eaves said. “I don’t think they get enough credit for their heart. We’ve played them a lot, so we know they play with heart. They’d lost three in a row, so we knew they’d be upset.”
The Badgers wasted little time finding the net, taking a 1-0 lead 1:29 into the game on a goal by Michael Mersch. Brad Navin made it 2-0 Wisconsin 12:33 into the game, but the lead was ill-fated.
The Tigers pulled even in the second after a goal by Hunter Fejes 6:35 into the period and a power-play goal by Mike Boivin less than 2 minutes later.
Wisconsin’s Jake McCabe put the puck in the net 54 seconds into the third period on the power play to give Wisconsin a 3-2 advantage. That lasted only 4 minutes before CC’s Scott Winkler tied the game 5:02 into the period.