Colorado College suffers historic, painful defeat against Denver

November 8, 2013 Updated: November 9, 2013 at 8:13 am
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Colorado College Tigers right wing Charie Taft (17) chases the puck during a NCAA college hockey game between the Colorado College Tigers and the Denver University Pioneers at World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colorado on Friday, November 8, 2013. (Kent Nishimura/The Gazette)

In a historic rivalry, it was only fitting that Colorado College and Denver were part of another first.

The Pioneers prevailed in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference's first shootout on scores by Joey LaLeggia and David Makowski before a crowd of 7,696 at World Arena.

In a game between two struggling teams it was good that both came away with precious league points; two for Denver (3-5-1, 0-2-1-1 NCHC) and one for CC (1-5-1, 1-3-1). Denver certainly was.

"I was real happy with our team's the final 35 minutes," coach Jim Montgomery said. "(Senior goalie) Sam Brittain (26 saves) made the big saves when he had to."

The result goes down as a 1-1 tie in the annals of the Gold Pan rivalry series. But the shootout loss certainly felt like one to the host Tigers.

"Absolutely," said senior Alexander Krushelnyski, who scored his first goal of the season to stake CC to an early 1-0 lead. "We had chances to win that game. We need to learn from those chances."

Denver rallied late in the third period to force overtime and then the best-of-three shootout.

With Brittain pulled for the extra attacker, Denver defenseman Joey LaLeggia popped free in the left faceoff circle to beat CC goalie Josh Thorimbert high glove side after a good cross-ice pass from Ty Loney with 1:22 left in regulation.

"It's a league point but we lost the lead late," Tigers coach Scott Owens said. "We need to mature and learn from these."

Colorado College was looking for an offensive breakthrough and got a glimpse of one when Krushelnyski tracked down a rebound and fired the puck in off Brittain's right skate pad for his first goal of the season with 2:20 left in the opening period.

Brittain stopped a shot by CC defenseman Peter Stoykewych but allowed a rebound that rolled toward the corner, where Krushelnyski tracked it down just as it went past the goal line. He fired the puck in off Brittain as he reached back with his right leg pad as the DU defenders and CC forwards converged on the goal.

The Tigers' five healthy defensemen put in another strong 65 minutes. Freshman Gustav Olofsson returned and played well but sophomore Michael King (offseason hip surgery) and freshman Jaccob Slavin (lower-body injury) were unavailable. Slavin sustained his injury last weekend and will not play Saturday. The CC defensemen, bolstered by the addition of freshman forward Christian Heil, hit the ice for eight blocks while Thorimbert made 25 saves.

"We played good team defense and Josh performed well," Owens said. "We just didn't close it out."

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