Colorado College goaltender Alex Leclerc had to grind for his first shutout of the season, turning in 13 saves during a late five-minute major penalty and finishing with a season-high 41, as the Tigers’ special teams keyed a turnaround in a 4-0 win over Omaha on Saturday night at The Broadmoor World Arena.
The Tigers rebounded from a 5-3 drubbing Friday night with a perfect 4-of-4 showing from the penalty kill, two power-play goals and one score on a delayed penalty.
“Our kill was outstanding tonight against the best power play overall in the nation,” coach Mike Haviland said. “After what went on last night, to do what we did tonight on the PK was something special.”
Nick Halloran took a penalty 4:30 in and gave the Omaha power play, which stung the Tigers four times Friday night, a chance to assemble, but he made up for it soon afterward when the Mavericks (4-3-1, 1-1 National Collegiate Hockey Conference) were whistled for the first time.
The Tigers (7-5, 3-3 NCHC) moved the puck well with the man advantage and Halloran found himself looking at an open net. He deposited his chance for his fifth score of the season at 10:18 of the first period.
His line with Mason Bergh and Trey Bradley was the only one untouched in the hours before the rematch. They rewarded Haviland’s faith with two goals.
“There’s the old adage, ‘Your best guys have to be your best guys,’” Haviland said. “It was a good team win, but those guys lead the way for sure.”
On another power play early in the second period, Westin Michaud took a feed at the middle of the left circle and beat Mavericks goaltender Evan Weninger glove side. Halloran and Andrew Farny were credited with the assists.
The Tigers were in the same position as the previous night.
“They talked about it on the bench,” Haviland said. “‘Hey, we were here last night, up 2-0. This isn’t going to go on again.’”
With 2:56 remaining in the second period and an extra Tigers attacker on the ice during a delayed penalty, Trevor Gooch dove in front of Weninger and buried a rebound.
Co-captain Tanner Ockey took a five-minute major and a game misconduct for a check from behind 4:08 into the third period and the Mavericks pelted Leclerc regularly, but the Colorado College goaltender protected his clean sheet.
“I think everyone on our penalty kill was in the zone,” Leclerc said. “You saw guys taking the extra step in the (offensive) zone, making sure we kill some time over there.”
Bergh added the nightcap, moving the puck into the offensive zone and using an Omaha defender as a screen before scoring his team-leading eighth goal of the season and third point of the night.
Kris Oldham played the third period in net for Omaha and he made four saves. The Mavericks outshot CC by 19.
The Tigers earned their fourth straight series split. They haven’t been swept yet and are 5-1 on Saturdays.
“We’ve got to learn from these,” Leclerc said. “We need to bring consistency in our future weekends, because without consistency, you can’t win.”