OMAHA, Neb. - The Tigers left Omaha without a win and as the seventh seed in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference playoffs.
Colorado College fell short in a 2-1 overtime loss at Nebraska-Omaha Saturday, one night after a 6-0 defeat. The setback in the series finale was especially tough since CC could not score over the final 60:20 of the conference game.
"We have had a lot of games like that this year," said Tigers coach Scott Owens, referring to a 1-8-6 record in one-goal games. "We competed and we battled. But it never should have reached that point (overtime). But scoring is tough for us. I think we’re the second or third-lowest-scoring team in the country, but it certainly wasn’t because of effort tonight."
UNO senior defenseman Michael Young scored from a few feet away for the game-winner 55 seconds into the extra frame. A rebound bounced over to Young, who scored his first goal of the season, for the third-place Mavericks (15-15-2, 12-8-2-1).
The loss means the Tigers (6-20-6, 6-11-5-1, 24 points) are unable to overtake sixth-place Denver (15-13-6, 9-10-3-2) and its 32 league points with two games remaining. Minnesota-Duluth downed Miami 1-0 on Saturday to send the RedHawks (17 points) into the playoffs as the low seed.
No. 5 St. Cloud State downed No. 10 North Dakota 3-1 to forge a tie atop the standings (42 points apiece) with UNO in third with 39. Any of the three could finish as the No. 2 seed and be CC's playoff road opponent.
Tigers senior Charlie Taft scored only 35 seconds in to stake CC to a 1-0 lead early. The wrist shot was made from a tough angle to beat UNO junior goalie Ryan Massa (26 saves). The score set the tone for a better game by CC.
"We knew we had to put forth a better effort," Taft said. "We played tough but we couldn't find the back of the net."
Nebraska-Omaha tied the score 1-1 when Jake Guentzel scored on a power play with 8:20 left in the opening period.
Senior goalie Josh Thorimbert bounced back from a tough Friday (one save) and kept CC in the game with two big-time stops in the final 1:45 of regulation and 35 saves overall.
He kicked away a shot by Ryan Walters on a breakaway with 1:45 left and then recovered to stop a rebound attempt by Dominic Zombo with 54 seconds remaining to force overtime.
“It’s too bad for Josh,” Owens said. “Because there’s no difference in tonight’s result than losing five or six to nothing. You just get nothing out of it.”
Now, Thorimbert and his teammates must wait to see who they will play in the postseason, which may be next week's home foe, SCSU.
“With the exception of when we were on the PK (penalty kill) we played them (UNO) pretty evenly,” he said. “We need to keep playing hard and working to get better for the playoffs.”