KALAMAZOO, Mich. - The Colorado College Tigers rolled up late, then made themselves at home.
Western Michigan scored about two minutes in Saturday and never again as Alex Leclerc made 29 saves and CC grinded out another low-scoring win, this time in the playoffs. With the 2-1 victory, the Tigers have allowed nine goals in seven games.
Mason Bergh tied it up midway through the first period when he beat Trevor Gorsuch five-hole for his 100th career point. He is the 75th Tiger to hit that mark.
“I thought I was playing well enough to get there, but you never know, it’s a weird game,” Bergh said. “Definitely fun to get to get it, but the biggest part was the win.”
On a third-period power play, Ben Copeland flung the puck to fellow freshman Erik Middendorf through heavy coverage. Middendorf beat Gorsuch for his first goal since Feb. 8.
The Tigers had to explore all avenues just to get to Western Michigan, as a historic blizzard grounded their commercial flights Wednesday and mechanical issues crippled their chartered plane Thursday. The National Collegiate Hockey Conference quarterfinal series start had to be postponed a day.
They only had the morning skate to settle in. Bergh said there were some nerves early.
Two minutes into the game, the puck was pinballing around in front of Leclerc and fell in front of WMU’s Drew Worrad at the hash marks. He buried it.
“At the end of the day, it’s just another hockey game, and we told ourselves that on the bench,” Bergh said of the Tigers’ ability to move past that goal.
CC (16-17-4) let a lengthy stretch of 5-on-3 expire but didn’t sulk. Troy Conzo took off on a 2-on-1 with Bergh and fed the co-captain, who brought Gorsuch down and found an opening.
Gorsuch and Leclerc turned aside 10 and 12 shots, respectively, in a scoreless second period. Leclerc bodied down a point-black chance from Dawson DiPietro and Gorsuch got another crack at a Tigers 2-on-1, stopping Trey Bradley and Grant Cruikshank.
The Tigers have found an effective way of dealing with their overtime (0-5-4) woes — under no circumstances let it get to overtime.
Western Michigan (20-14-1) came close as the minutes ticked away. Austin Rueschhoff sent the puck over a half-empty net and a shot trickled through Leclerc’s pads, but safely past the post.
"It certainly wasn’t a normal week for us, but the guys stuck with it,” coach Mike Haviland said. “I thought we got better as the game went on."
Last season, the Tigers won their playoff opener before falling in three games to Denver. But if sixth-seeded Colorado College can close out third-seeded Western Michigan with its two remaining tries, it will punch its ticket to St. Paul, Minn., for the team’s first Frozen Faceoff.