There was a case of hockey deja vu during Colorado College’s matchup with North Dakota on Saturday.
The progression of the game was nearly identical to CC’s one-goal loss on Friday. After a scoreless first period, UND struck first, then the Tigers quickly answered.
And unfortunately for CC, the final score was the same as Friday. The Tigers fell 2-1 to North Dakota in the NCHC playoffs, ending their season.
“It hurts because when you watch a group give as much as they gave, you want it so bad for them,” coach Kris Mayotte told KRDO radio. “They did everything that we asked, and they just went for it.”
Colorado College (9-24-3, 6-18-1 NCHC) had a chance to tie the game and force overtime when Tyler Kelvin was assessed a major penalty for hitting from behind with 2:18 left in the third. The Tigers had 12 shots during the power play, as they pulled goalie Matt Vernon for a six-on-four advantage,
With 58 seconds left, they nearly scored. Hunter McKown fired the puck to the net, and several Fighting Hawks dove to help goalie Zack Driscoll make the save. The net dislodged because of the melee, but Driscoll came up with the puck.
“I don’t know how that one stayed out,” Mayotte said. “We had chances there. That is obviously not how we wanted to finish our story this year.”
In the first period, the Tigers managed to kill two North Dakota power plays. The Fighting Hawks are 10th in the country in conversion percentage, at nearly 25%. They had plenty of quality chances, but Vernon was able to come up with key saves to keep UND scoreless. He had 10 saves in the first frame.
CC thought it had a 1-0 lead early in the first when Ray Christy found the back of the net. The puck appeared to bounce off the top part of his stick, but after review, the officials ruled it no goal, explaining that it instead bounced off his hand.
“I hope that’s the right call,” Mayotte said. “I hope they got it right, because if they didn’t, that’s, well, we will save those words for another time. To me, that is not the intent of the rule in terms of your hand. Your hand is connected to your stick. It hits your hand and it goes in the net, to me that should be an extension of your stick. It's not a hand pass. It's not a swipe with your hand. It's not throwing it, it's not anything like that.”
Then, North Dakota took a 1-0 lead with 1:28 gone by in the second period, thanks to Matteo Costantini’s goal.
But the Tigers had an answer, and Stanley Cooley evened things up just under two minutes later. Matthew Gleason fired a long shot toward the goal, and Cooley was able to get a stick on it, redirecting the puck into the net.
After two successful penalty kills by CC in the first period, UND broke through on the power play in the second. Sophomore Riese Gaber scored the go-ahead goal.
His goal ended up being the game winner.