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CC hockey's costly late mistake leads to Minnesota-Duluth power-play winner

February 17, 2017 Updated: February 17, 2017 at 11:11 pm
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t020516 --- Clint Austin --- austinUMDPUX0206c5 --- Cole McCaskill (5) of Colorado College controls the puck against Minnesota Duluth during Friday's game at Amsoil Arena in Duluth, Minn. (Clint Austin /caustin@duluthnews.com)

It was another frustrating loss for Colorado College, which played well enough to knock off top-ranked Minnesota-Duluth only to falter late in a 2-1 home loss.

"We did a pretty good job with the game plan," Tigers coach Mike Haviland said. "They are a high-powered offensive team.

"Leading up to the penalty, we made a major (defensive) mistake and you cannot do that with five minutes left. We have to take a penalty on it and they make us pay."

UMD's Adam Johnson rifled a wrist shot through traffic for the power-play tally with 4:44 left in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference game Friday at The Broadmoor World Arena.

The Tigers squandered a good opportunity to go ahead for the first time when a boarding call on Karson Kuhlman gave CC a five-minute power play less than two minutes into the third.

"We need a little more urgency," Haviland said. "This is a tough one to take when you're that close."

But CC could only manage three long-range shots by defenseman Teemu Kivihalme, all saved, while on the man advantage.

Kivihalme was called for the slash late in the third when Joey Anderson cut to the front of the CC net where Tigers freshman goalie Alex Leclerc (27 saves) made the stop. The penalty set up Johnson's game-winner.

There would be no late comeback for the Tigers (7-20-2, 3-14-2 NCHC), losers of eight of their past 10 games, after a too-many-men penalty with 1:39 remaining.

The Colorado College defense was stout in the middle of its zone, forcing Duluth to take lower quality shots. CC hustled to deny Duluth skaters room in between the Tigers' faceoff circles and used 19 blocked shots and stickblades in passing lanes to deflect passes and force puckhandlers to the outside.

"We did that against the best team in the country," Haviland said. "We have to build off of that."

In the first period, it was big saves by Leclerc and a timely power-play goal for Bryce VanHorn that kept the game tied.

VanHorn backhanded in a loose puck to tie the game at 1-1 with 6:28 left. The power-play tally was set up a shot by Sam Rothstein off a pass from Mason Bergh.

Minnesota-Duluth junior Blake Young scored his second career goal (43 games) for an early 1-0 Bulldogs lead.

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