After feeling heartbreak in back-to-back games Colorado College did not want to taste the bitterness of defeat again.
Rylan Schwartz scored with 24.6 seconds remaining to force overtime and Alexander Krushelnyski scored twice in a span of 1:47 midway through the third period as No. 19 Colorado College rallied from a three-goal deficit to tie No. 4 Minnesota 4-4 Saturday night at the World Arena.
“It’s definitely a big boost for us,” Schwartz said. “To get it late in the game is a big momentum boost. We didn’t do much in overtime, but it really helped us out.”
Schwartz brought the 6,954 people in attendance to their feet when he forced overtime with his second goal of the game back-door on a great cross ice pass from Krushelnyski.
“Everyone was coming to me so I figured someone has to be wide open in the slot and I just took a quick peak and saw (William Rapuzzi) and thank god Rylan (Schwartz) was there,” said Krushelnyski.
Minnesota (11-3-3, 6-3-3 WCHA) nearly won the game in the final seconds when Jake Parenteau almost scored from the blue line. Yet Colorado College (8-8-2, 5-4-1) goalie Josh Thorimbert (25 saves) was able to fight off the Gopher pressure in the extra frame.
Colorado College coach Scott Owens was pleased with how the Tigers rallied from a 3-0 first period deficit to force a tie against one of the best defensive teams in the country.
“The team’s got a real distinct will at times when the chips are down,” Owens said. “I would like to see a little bit more of that will when its 2-2. Where we’re at right now against this quality of team this is a pretty good tie.”
Krushelnyski (two goals, one assist) scored the first of his two goals on a two-on-one with Mike Boivin 4:14 into the third period after Schwartz fed him the puck at mid-ice shorthanded.
The junior then cut the Minnesota lead to 4-3 when he knocked home Boivin’s shot 1:47 later past Minnesota goalie Adam Wilcox (23 saves).
Owens liked the intensity that Krushelnyski showed early in the third period and added him to the Tiger’s first line in place of Archie Skalbeck.
“He had a little bit of the eye of the Tiger tonight,” Owens said.
Minnesota coach Don Lucia was pleased to earn three of four points this weekend but credited CC for battling back.
“They are a good team,” said the former Colorado College coach. “Obviously they can score and that is a big benefit. A lot of teams wouldn’t of been in position to go down 4-1 and comeback.”
The Gophers opened up a quick 2-0 lead with two goals in 34 seconds from Tom Serratore and Erik Haula a little over five minutes into the game.
Seth Ambroz then made it 3-0 when he scored his fifth goal of the year on a blistering shot from the blue line that Thorimbert was unable to see because of a screen from Minnesota’s Travis Boyd.
Yet it was Schwartz who made it 3-1 with a power play goal 8:30 into the second period before Minnesota’s Mike Reilly made it 4-1 with 4:19 left in the second.
Schwartz and the rest of the Tigers held another team meeting prior to the game to refocus.
“It just kind of regrouped the guys and let them know everyone is a part of this team,” he said. “We can’t run off a guy or two. We need the entire them to work for us here.”
If Colorado College can play like they did in the final period and fix there early game flaws this could be a dangerous team. Krushelnyski likes how hard the Tigers can battle back.
“It’s an identity,” said the junior. “We know there are good things in this locker room and we can be a good team. It’s just something that we have to go out there and make it happen. Although it wasn’t there for 60 minutes it was definitely there for a part of it and that’s something we can build off of.”