Lifeless CC swept by Bemidji State, postseason in jeopardy

Colorado College goaltender Joe Howe denied Bemidji State right wing Darcy Findlay in the first period Saturday at Sanford Center. Howe made 26 saves, but he allowed two goals in both the second and third periods, as the Tigers lost 4-1 against Bemidji State. Photo by ERIC STROMGREN, THE BEMIDJI PIONEER

BEMIDJI, Minn. – Another productive start, then another perplexing letdown. One bad road trip, four lost points, and Colorado College suddenly has been shoved to the brink.

A first-period lead against Bemidji State evaporated with a lackluster second, and No. 10 CC displayed little life, not nearly enough toughness and moments of complete confusion Saturday in a demoralizing sweep that was punctuated by a 4-1 defeat at Sanford Center.

Despite its fourth consecutive game at Bemidji State (15-12-3, 9-10-3 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) without a victory, CC (15-11-2, 12-9-1) stayed tied for fourth in the WCHA with Nebraska-Omaha – five points behind No. 2 Minnesota, four points behind No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth and three points behind No. 14 Denver. But CC fell three spots to 22nd in the PairWise rankings used to draw the 16 NCAA Tournament teams, and with six games left, a multiple-point weekend Feb. 24-25 at Minnesota-Duluth may be needed.

“Even with everybody, we would have gotten beat,” said CC coach Scott Owens, whose team was missing seven injured players, most notably defenseman Mike Boivin, center Nick Dineen, goaltender Josh Thorimbert and right wing Scott Winkler. He added, “We seemed a little bit tired. … We didn’t get enough big plays. We didn’t generate much.”

Like in a 4-2 loss Friday in which CC squandered a 2-1 lead in the third, Joe Howe (5-7-1) struggled with rebound control, and he often appeared out of sorts, going from average to difficult to watch after Andrew Hamburg’s score in the first. Jordan George and Shea Walters (on the power play) gave Bemidji State a 2-1 edge in the second, when CC was outshot 18-3, and Aaron McLeod and Danny Mattson marked for the Beavers in the third.

Perhaps as damaging, the tallies by George and McLeod came in the opening 30 seconds of the period, providing Dan Bakala (9-7-2) with additional breathing room and draining the energy out of CC, which has 10 goals in the past six games. Bemidji State held a 30-24 advantage in shots, and the eighth-place Beavers committed only two penalties – a key in implementing their deceivingly effective style of chasing down pucks hit off the walls. Plus, Bemidji State dictated thanks to a disciplined forecheck, and they blocked 21 shots.

Eight goals given up in two games against a team that has the third-worst scoring offense in the WCHA. Owens juggled his offensive lines in every way possible, short of breaking up Jaden and Rylan Schwartz, who combined for three points in the series. There was no solution in sight. With every new look that the Tigers tried, they further deteriorated.

“We let it slip away,” Jaden Schwartz said. “They played a better game than us, and they worked harder, and we didn’t deserve to win. … You can’t make excuses. You’ve got to start scoring goals. We can’t rely on our goalies and our defense to win us every game.”

David Civitarese noted, “It doesn’t sit very well at all right now with anyone, and I don’t think it should. Looking down the road, this isn’t a series that we can really be affording to lose. … We’ve dug ourselves a little bit of a hole. It definitely puts us in a tough spot.”

 

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BEMIDJI STATE 4, COLORADO COLLEGE 1

Colorado College       1          0          0 – 1

Bemidji State              0          2          2 – 4

First period – 1. CC, Hamburg 1 (J. Schwartz, Guentzel), 19:12. Penalties – Civitarese, CC (hooking), 2:10. Areshenko, Bemidji State (cross-checking), 8:55.

Second – 2. Bemidji State, George 15 (McLeod), 0:28. 3. Bemidji State, Walters 10 (Kinne, Hunt), 11:22 (pp). Penalties – Hall, CC (tripping), 10:19. Walters, Bemidji State (slashing), 17:49.

Third – 4. Bemidji State, McLeod 8 (Kinne, George), 0:21. 5. Bemidji State, Mattson 3 (Jubinville), 11:36. Penalties – R. Schwartz, CC (unsportsmanlike conduct), 12:03.

Shots on goal – CC 13-3-8-24. Bemidji State 9-18-3-30. Power-play opportunities – CC 0 of 2. Bemidji State 1 of 3. Goalies – CC, Howe  9-16-1 (30 shots-26 saves). Bemidji State, Bakala 12-3-8 (24-23). Attendance – 3,681. Time – 2:17. Referees – Todd Anderson, Brad Shepherd. Linesmen – Andy Dokken, Justin Hills.

 

Contact Brian Gomez: 719-636-0256 or brian.gomez@gazette.com. Facebook: Brian Gomez. Twitter: @gazettehockey. Google+: Brian Gomez. YouTube: Colorado College Hockey, Covered by The Gazette. For the CC homepage, visit www.gazette.com/sections/sports/cchockey. For the CC blog, visit http://cchockey.freedomblogging.com.

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