Troy Conzo stuck with what worked against the defending champions.
He twice went to one knee in the second period to the left of goaltender Hunter Shepard to bury a rebound and a cross-ice pass, which proved to be the difference as Colorado College took down No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth, 4-1.
It was the highest-ranked opponent CC had defeated at home since Feb. 4, 2011. A few weeks ago, an upset like this looked unlikely at best.
“I think the biggest thing is we’re having fun and we care right now, we care about each other,” Conzo said. “We’re playing the right way and getting results.”
Trey Bradley, who two weekends in a row has drawn the league’s admiration for wraparound goals, shook it up and kept his distance. He picked up the puck behind the net and scored from directly in front of Shepard 4:26 into the game.
He has five goals in five games, and has scored in eight of his past 12. He was a career-high plus-four Friday.
“He’s been outstanding, he really has. He’s got so much confidence,” coach Mike Haviland said. “He’s really been a major part of the reason why we’ve got it going a little bit here.”
On the second goal, Christiano Versich took his time picking his shot. His eventual attempt was saved, but Conzo was there to bury the rebound.
The Bulldogs (16-7-2, 9-5-1 NCHC) halved the lead 5:06 later when Peter Krieger redirected a long shot past Alex Leclerc. That was the only one the junior goaltender surrendered while making 40 saves.
Conzo’s second came right after CC lapsed for a bit and the Bulldogs swarmed. Haviland called his timeout after an icing call, and the breather paid dividends. Bradley threaded a pass to Conzo at his spot beside the goal and the sophomore made it 3-1.
Earlier in the season, when the Tigers (11-12-3, 5-7-2 NCHC) found themselves ahead against a ranked team, they let up, but Friday night they bore down. Freshman Grant Cruikshank scored his fifth of the season and pushed the lead to three when a rebound popped out to him.
“We’ve talked about not sitting back, playing on our toes. It was a big goal (Cruikshank) got for us,” Haviland said. “Everything we’ve been talking about, they’re really applying.”
Haviland lauded the “good, simple hockey game” that allowed the Tigers to beat the 2018 NCAA champions. Though Duluth held a 35-20 edge in the faceoff circle, CC’s defense held strong, and the Bulldogs looked rattled in the third period.
But the Tigers, who had one win in their previous 17 games against the Bulldogs, are wary of UMD’s 7-3-2 record on Saturdays.
“Can’t get too high, can’t get too low,” Conzo said. “It’s definitely a confidence boost tonight, but we’ve got another game tomorrow night.”