DENVER - The moments stretched on. Colorado College was out for warmups, but as the Denver Pioneers fidgeted on the goal line waiting to be introduced before their game Friday - no Tigers.
Denver gave up after a short while and started skating around. Finally, the Tigers headed down the tunnel.
“We were just getting ready,” forward Grant Cruikshank said.
Perhaps a little more time would have helped.
It took until 2:23 of the third period for the No. 8 Pioneers to open the scoring, then Emilio Pettersen’s goal and assist and Devin Cooley’s 24 saves secured a 3-0 victory for Denver at Magness Arena.
Matt Vernon made 28 saves and held strong for two periods and change as the Tigers blocked 24 total shots. But CC barely sustained pressure in the offensive zone and its power play only got two full, weak cracks at the Pioneers.
“We just got outworked. It’s unacceptable. It’s been addressed,” Cruikshank, who had two of CC’s better scoring chances, said.
“We’ve gotta get over it right now and move on and we’ve gotta be way better tomorrow night. We’ve got to bury some of the looks we got tonight, because there weren’t a lot of them.”
One of the three Denver power plays turned out to be deadly. A questionable tripping call on Nick Halloran broke the game open.
Everyone pushed in and Bobby Brink moved it across the crease. Josiah Slavin missed his clearing attempt and Pettersen roofed it.
That felt like all Denver would need and it was.
“It was right there for you at 0-0,” coach Mike Haviland said. “Listen, I could sit here and talk about the penalties all night, but I’m not gonna.”
On a 4-on-4, four and a half minutes later, Cole Guttman added insurance. He cruised past the crease with a defender hanging off him and waited for Vernon to drop, then sent it over his back.
Brett Edwards added an empty-netter with 57 seconds left, almost immediately after Haviland pulled Vernon for the extra attacker.
Colorado College got its best chance as Bryan Yoon was robbed in the later stages of the second period by Cooley. Yoon came in to bury one glove side but Cooley pounced forward.
Top-line center Bailey Conger, injured in the latter stages of the Tigers’ last series in Princeton, didn’t play. Sam Renlund moved up to take his place and Troy Conzo assumed the last forward spot in his first game action since the season-opener Oct. 11.
Haviland suggested the next 21 hours would include line tinkering.
“You’ve got to empty the tank when you don’t play again until we go to Boston (on Dec. 28),” the coach said. “There’s an awful lot on the line.”
The Pioneers can get closer to reclaiming the Gold Pan from the Tigers on Saturday night. Co-captain Cruikshank indicated the rematch at The Broadmoor World Arena was sink or swim.
“Today we sat back and were kind of dipping our toe in. We’ve got to jump in head first tomorrow,” he said. “It’s a must-win for us and we know that.”