Message received, loud and clear.
Colorado College's freshmen took over and poured it on in the third period, with Ben Copeland scoring four times and Grant Cruikshank adding two more as the Tigers blew out No. 9 Western Michigan, 8-2.
Copeland saved his best two for last, first stripping a Bronco behind the net and bringing it around to score, sending a shower of hats onto the ice. Then he came over the blue line, sidestepped several defenders and tacked on a fourth 3:45 later.
It was the first four-goal night for a Tiger since Andrew Hamburg did it Oct. 19, 2012.
“It was kind of a whirlwind of a night, to be honest,” Copeland said.
“We’ve been here before. We can’t give up those leads like we did. We said this is enough, and just kind of clicked all the way through the lineup.”
Up 4-2, just like Friday night in the latest of a string of third-period collapses, Cruikshank ensured the score wouldn't be the same Saturday. The puck hit his glove and fell at his feet while he was passing the crease. He backhanded it into the cage for his eighth of the season.
“You get that confidence and that relief,” coach Mike Haviland said of the fifth goal. “I think the will was there tonight. It wasn’t going to go against us.”
Christiano Versich set up Cruikshank’s second nearly four minutes later. Chris Wilkie tacked on one more for an 8-2 score and his fourth point (two goals, two assists) of the weekend.
The Broncos pulled Trevor Gorsuch (27 saves) after the seventh goal and the Tigers let Alex Leclerc (26 saves) have a breather after a bounceback effort, sending in Jon Flakne for the final 3 1/2 minutes.
Trevor Gooch finished with a career-high four assists, and the Tigers registered their first five-goal period since 2010.
“We just wanted to stay positive and tell them that they’ve been playing good and to stick with it,” Haviland said. “They certainly did. I’m really proud of the way they played. That’s a character win against a very good hockey team.”
The Tigers (12-15-4, 6-10-3 NCHC) jumped out to a 2-0 lead as Cam Lee, who scored the Broncos’ first goal Friday, hit Wilkie from behind and drew a five-minute major and the gate.
Mason Bergh stutter-stepped at the blue line and fired on net. The rebound made its way to Copeland at the side of the cage, and he sent a shot off Gorsuch and in.
The Broncos (18-11-1, 11-8-1-1 NCHC) gave the Tigers a 5-on-3, and 39 seconds into it, CC doubled the lead. Trey Bradley turned it over, got it back, centered it to Westin Michaud and saw the senior score his 10th of the season. Bryan Yoon added to his team-leading assist total, now at 17.
Late in the second, Gorsuch lost the puck in a pileup in front of the net. Michaud made a diving attempt that didn’t make it through, but Copeland’s try did.
“He’s a great kid and he shows a lot of passion,” Cruikshank said of Copeland. “Anytime someone does that, it’s really special and fun to be a part of.”