DENVER • The game-winning goal for Colorado College stunned everyone at Magness Arena, especially Denver goalie Juho Olkinuora.
CC sophomore Charlie Taft lifted a crossing pass toward the left corner, but Olkinuora reached out with his blocker and stick, intent on deflecting the pass harmlessly away.
Instead, it bounced off his stick and blocker and spun in as he turned toward the net, stunning most of the 2,754 in attendance and delighting the 300 Tiger faithful. The goal held up in CC’s stirring 4-3 win in Game 3 of the best-of-three playoff series.
“I was very surprised,” Taft said. “I just wanted to send the puck into the corner and avoid a turnover. It ended up going in. I don’t know how it happened, but I’ll take it.”
The goal ranks up with other memorable highlights of this storied rivalry. More importantly, the win sends the Tigers (16-18-5) on to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five for a 6:07 p.m. quarterfinal Thursday against No. 3 seed North Dakota at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
In all likelihood, CC must win the Broadmoor Trophy to qualify for the NCAAs.
“It’s huge for us,” Taft said. “We are the underdogs, but we are playing our best hockey.”
The goal which came on the second shot of the period, which wasn’t really a shot, occurred with 10:11 left in the third. The Pioneers (20-13-5) pulled Olkinuora for the extra attacker with 1:07 left but a number of Tigers stepped up.
“Peter Maric and (Alexander) Krushelnyski both made big blocks. (William) Rapuzzi took a big hit to make a play and Joe Howe stood tall,” Owens said. “I am very happy for the guys and very proud. They showed character. We may not be a great team but we are a team.”
Just when Colorado College looked headed into its offseason, the Tigers scored three goals in 5:05, capped by a shorthanded score by Rylan Schwartz with 11:04 left to go ahead 3-2 in the second period.
Andrew Hamburg recorded two assists when Cody Bradley knocked in a rebound to make it 2-1 with 16:09 remaining. Hamburg started a 2-on-1 breakaway and feathered a crossing pass to Hunter Fejes, whose shot went in off the iron to tie the game with 13:05 left.
“The two freshmen gave us a lot of jump and Hamburg was great all game long,” Owens said.
Rylan Schwartz scored the shorty only 17 seconds into a DU power play to make it 3-2. Schwartz lifted his own rebound over Olkinuora’s left leg pad after he broke up a pass at just outside the Denver zone and went straight to the right post for a shot.
“Unbelievable, it’s just unbelievable,” Hamburg said.
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