February 8, 2014 Updated: February 9, 2014 at 2:44 am
DULUTH, Minn. -- Colorado College showed the grit and determination over a full 60 minutes needed to win a road hockey game.
But Saturday's result proved all too familiar and grating for the Tigers and their fans with a 2-1 loss to No. 17 Minnesota-Duluth.
"It's frustrating," Tigers coach Scott Owens said. "We played with determination and passion. You'd like to see the guys get a pay-off after playing like that."
The eventual game-winner came on a good shot by sophomore Cal Decowski, who broke free on the weak side and fired a high shot over CC senior goalie Josh Thorimbert's left shoulder with 12:21 left in the third.
But to the Tigers' credit, they dug deep and battled hard to the end, almost mounting a memorable comeback before 6,457 suddenly nervous fans at AMSOIL Arena.
The rally started when CC converted its first power-play goal in 29 man advantages and converted only three seconds into it. Tigers senior Archie Skalbeck won the faceoff in the Duluth zone and sent the puck over to junior defenseman Ian Young.
He cut quickly toward the net and scored his first goal this season to spoil UMD senior Aaron Crandall's shutout bid (31 saves) with 5:29 remaining and 4:57 remaining on a five-minute power play.
But CC would manage only two more shots and Duluth held on.
Such a loss does provide the seventh-place Tigers (3-18-5, 3-9-4-1 NCHC) with some hope that they are playing the way they need to mount a playoff push.
"This is the kind of effort we will need to put in every night down the stretch," senior captain Eamonn McDermott said. "It's a process - a slow and frustrating one - but we are building. Tonight just came down to special teams."
Colorado College hurt itself by drawing a five-minute major penalty for the fifth National Collegiate Hockey Conference game in a row when junior defenseman Aaron Harstad was called for checking from behind and a game misconduct, leaving the Tigers short a defenseman for almost 45 minutes.
That penalty led to Duluth's first goal off freshman Kyle Osterberg's redirect for a 1-0 lead with 29.1 seconds left in the first period.
CC was down two men since freshman Zach Aman (upper-body injury) did not return after getting leveled during the first period.
"I am proud of our defensemen," Owens said. "They played hard. We got another good performance from Josh (Thorimbert) for the second night in a row."
"If we all keep playing together and playing for each other hopefully we will get things going," Young said.
The Tigers played a better second period than usual, thanks in part to a five-minute power play that produced two shots, one by freshman Alex Roos and the other by senior Alexander Krushelnyski, that bounced off iron and harmlessly away. Crandall made four saves during the span.