That whoosh you heard Friday night wasn’t the wind, it was a collective sigh of relief by Colorado College and its hockey fans.
The Tigers broke through for their first win since Oct. 18, downing No. 16 Nebraska-Omaha 4-2.
“It’s a weight off our shoulders,” said freshman Sam Rothstein, who tallied the eventual game-winner in the second period.
Tigers senior Jeff Collett iced the National Collegiate Hockey Conference victory when he redirected a shot by freshman defenseman Gustav Olofsson with 6:29 remaining for the final margin.
The Tigers know a win is huge for their confidence, but it is only one game.
“It would be huge for us to put together two strong games in a row, especially against the top team in the league,” Collett said.
First-place Nebraska-Omaha (8-7, 5-2 NCHC) had rallied to within one when Zahn Raubenheimer lifted his own rebound in over CC senior goalie Josh Thorimbert’s right leg pad to make it 3-2 with 12:35 left.
“We knew they would be coming out hard,” Collett said. “We knew we had to put together 20 minutes in the third period.”
The four goals are a season high, surpassing the 3-1 season-opening win over No. 20 Minnesota-Duluth. The victory snapped a 0-10-2 streak.
The win moved the Tigers (2-10-2, 2-5-2) into sole possession of fifth place in the eight-team league.
“The win feels real good, but I also like how we played,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said. “We got after it and everyone contributed. Josh made a couple big saves when it was 3-2.”
A Mavericks’ penalty with 3:59 left helped CC whittle down the clock before UNO pulled junior goalie Ryan Massa (24 saves) with 1:15 remaining. But Thorimbert (23 saves) and the Tigers defense stood tall.
CC dominated the second period, outshooting UNO 11-5. More importantly, it gave them a much-needed cushion before 5,551 paid attendance at World Arena.
CC sophomore Jared Hanson scored his first goal of the year when he collected a rebound off a shot by Collett from besides the Omaha net, and reached back to tuck the puck in with 13:54 left in the second. That rebound bounced over behind the left post where Hanson tracked it down.
Rothstein made it 3-1 when he knocked in a bouncing puck with 5:30 left in the middle period.
Colorado College struck first when Alexander Krushelnyski knocked in a rebound after a short-range shot by Alex Roos was deflected by Massa and bounced across the crease to the senior.
The Tigers have now scored a power-play goal in four of their last five games.
Nebraska-Omaha tied it at 1-1 on their first power play with a nice pass from besides the CC net out to defenseman Ian Brady from freshman Jake Guentzel. Brady fired a one-timer low just inside the opposite post past Thorimbert with 2:37 remaining in the opening period.