After top-ranked Minnesota-Duluth scored on its first two shots, the Bulldogs must have thought they were on their way to an easy series-sweeping victory.
They were wrong.
Colorado College battled back with a last-second goal in the second period and another in the third to force overtime in an eventual 2-2 tie Saturday night before a thrilled Broadmoor World Arena crowd.
The result goes down as a tie with UMD garnering an extra National Collegiate Hockey Conference standings point after senior Alex Iafallo scored in the sudden-death shootout.
"I am proud of our guys," Tigers coach Mike Haviland said. "We were down 2-0 1:47 in and we did a good job of upping the ante and competing. We never gave up, kept coming and got better as the game went on. It was one of our better games for sure."
CC came close to ending the contest in the second overtime when defenseman Kristian Blumenschein's shot bounced off the crossbar with 2:24 left. The Tigers had a power play for almost the entire extra frame.
Colorado College's comeback started when the Tigers' power play broke through for a last-second goal in the second period to halve UMD's lead to 2-1. The Tigers would dominate the third period, outshooting the Bulldogs by a 16-9 margin to break through for the tying goal.
Freshman Cole McCaskill stepped forward into the slot with 1:58 left in regulation and one-timed a pass from rookie Kade Kehoe to tie the game at 2-2. The 10 CC power plays wore down the Bulldogs (19-6, 13-4-3-3 NCHC) and it paid dividends in the third.
"You could feel it on the bench that the guys were believing that we could tie this game and then we had to kill a penalty in the last minute of regulation," Haviland said. "There were a lot of ups and downs so I am proud we stuck with it. We are 1-1-2 against the best team in the country and that's something to give you confidence."
The Tigers' first goal was created when freshman Branden Makara crashed the UMD net, setting up a shot by Wes Michaud he redirected in front. UMD goalie Hunter Miska (37 saves) made the initial save on Makara, but the rebound bounced out to senior Matt Hansen on the back door.
He banged in the one-timer with 6.7 seconds left to make it 2-1 and energize the crowd.
After allowing two goals in the opening 107 seconds, CC freshman goalie Alex Leclerc bounced with 22 saves over the next 63:13.
"He's a tough kid and he made two unbelievable saves late in the game," Haviland said. "You have to give him credit for buckling down."