ST. PAUL, Minn. - Colorado College finally made it to St. Paul, but no further.
Westin Michaud scored twice for the Tigers in the team’s first Frozen Faceoff appearance, but St. Cloud State, the top-ranked team in the country for more than half the season, was too much to handle. The No. 1 Huskies won 5-2 on Friday to advance to the final.
The Tigers won’t earn an at-large NCAA Tournament bid, so the seniors will suit up for the last time during the third-place game Saturday.
“They really set a culture for us,” freshman Yoon said. “They set the standard for what we need to do going forward.”
The Huskies had to work to beat Alex Leclerc, who finished with 22 saves. At least two of their goals were off deflections, and Robby Jackson’s redirection out of midair was a goaltender’s nightmare.
The Tigers missed Trevor Gooch, who was ejected for a hit to the head toward the end of the first period. The senior, who scored the game-winner in Game 3 at Western Michigan, may not have a letter on his jersey, but he’s a leader and a major physical presence for the Tigers.
“We lose a guy who’s a big part of this team, and we have to start juggling lines ... putting guys in situations they’re not used to. But I thought our team battled,” coach Mike Haviland said.
The teams traded power-play goals to start the scoring. Trey Bradley pushed it forward to Michaud, who beat David Hrenak for his 12th of the season and second in two playoff games.
Michaud took a penalty on a faceoff, and 18 seconds into it, NCHC leading scorer Patrick Newell’s point shot appeared to deflect off Grant Cruikshank’s shinguard and past Leclerc.
Twenty-two seconds after that, CC turned the puck over along the boards and Nolan Walker doubled the Huskies’ lead.
Two whiffed opportunities to tie it up on the power play came back to bite Colorado College as Jackson scored his highlight-reel goal to make it 3-1.
“We never quit the game. We kept coming,” Haviland said. “Their opportunities, they took care of, and we didn’t with ours, at times.”
Jack Ahcan made it 4-1 before the Tigers scored again.
SCSU (30-4-3) had a senior of its own ejected when Jon Lizotte boarded Michaud to the side of the Huskies’ net. Yoon, who’d had a shaky night up to that point, sent a shot through traffic with a minute left on the five-minute major, and Michaud tipped it to make it 4-2.
Nick Poehling put it away with a late goal. CC outshot SCSU 33-27.
The Tigers (17-19-4) will face Denver, a 3-0 loser to Minnesota-Duluth, in the early game Saturday.