DENVER - Colorado College put forth an effort it could be proud of, if not pleased with, against No. 3 Denver.
The Pioneers rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period and sent the game to overtime, where they were 4-1-2 and CC, winless. The Tigers outshot them 7-0 but left with no goals, only their first conference standings point of 2019.
“I thought we were going to get it there,” Colorado College coach Mike Haviland said.
The game ended in an official 4-4 tie but the teams went all the way to the shootout for the extra point.
Alex Berardinelli, back after missing a game due to a brutal hit to the head, tried to match Brett Stapley’s shootout goal but Denver goaltender Filip Larsson absorbed the high shot.
“He’s really good on breakaways. He’s one of our better guys,” Haviland said. “You only get one. You kind of pick it and hope it works for you.”
The reawakened Colorado College (8-12-3, 2-7-2 NCHC) power play converted on three of four chances against the 10th-ranked penalty kill in the country.
The Pioneers tied the game 2-2 just 33 seconds into the second and penned the Tigers in, ensuring the visitors didn’t get a shot on net for almost 14 minutes. The looks they finally got were worth the wait.
Trey Bradley zoomed in, closely guarded, and sent a wraparound shot off Larsson and in. Fifty-three seconds later, Christiano Versich tipped a Chris Wilkie power-play shot into the net.
It was Bradley’s second goal of the game.
“I challenged a couple guys this morning, and he was one of them,” Haviland said. “He answered the bell. That’s what we need from him, to lead this team.”
In the third period, Denver senior Jarid Lukosevicius batted a high shot down and in, drawing protests from the CC bench. It wasn’t reviewed, and the Pioneers were one slip-up away from a tie game. They got it when Stapley found the puck had dribbled through Alex Leclerc’s pads with 6:39 to play in regulation.
“If we scratch and claw and we play like that, we’re going to win games,” Haviland said. “The only thing is, up 4-2, you have to close it out.”
Denver (14-4-3, 6-4-1-1 NCHC) struck first. Leclerc (28 saves) stopped Stapley’s first stuff attempt, but not his second.
Stapley, a freshman, is a Montreal draft pick. Denver’s freshman class led the NCAA with 73 points going into the night, and tacked on six more.
On the Tigers’ first power play of the night, Grant Cruikshank’s shot ricocheted hard off the foot of a defender and straight to Bradley in front of the net. Bradley made the most of his good fortune before the Pioneers could react.
Denver’s Les Lancaster laid out Westin Michaud along the boards, and a review revealed contact to the head. Lancaster was ejected and on the ensuing five-minute major, Michaud hopped over the boards and fed Trevor Gooch from behind the net. Gooch buried his eighth of the season to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead.
The wild, back-and-forth game came a night after the Tigers were all pumped up with nowhere to go. The Pioneers’ bus was caught behind a wreck on the snowy route down to Colorado Springs, and the opener of the home-and-home series was postponed until February or March.