Colorado College kicked a lot of bad habits in a road sweep of Miami, which allowed the Tigers to leapfrog the Redhawks and Omaha into sixth place in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.
A lingering weight was shed as the last time CC swept a conference road series came Dec. 3, 2012, when Scott Owens was the coach and the Tigers competed in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. Mike Haviland was coaching the Norfolk Admirals, and many of his players were in middle and high school.
The sweep came as the Tigers were gearing up for a second-half push, and in front of Colorado College president Jill Tiefenthaler, who flew in for the game.
“It was huge, all around,” sophomore Brian Williams said.
It’s been a long time since the last conference sweep, period – late 2015, against Miami. It began with a 6-1 rout, and a statement from a popular locker room presence.
After a solid first year at CC, Williams couldn’t find an opening. His fellow sophomores who were the odd men out found their way into the lineup, leaving him one of two eligible roster players who hadn’t made their season debut. But Williams was told to be patient and stay positive.
“We have a lot of depth on our team, I wasn’t too upset,” Williams said. “I kept working for the chance when it came.”
When it came, he was more than ready. His two goals – hopping on a rebound 10 minutes in, then finding an open lane in the middle of a second-period line change – paced the Tigers (10-12-3, 4-7-2 NCHC).
All three goals Saturday night were scored by defensemen, in a come-from-behind, one-goal victory – all of which have been issues for the team. CC had just one win when trailing after either period, and was 3-6 in one-goal games.
Though freshman defenseman Bryan Yoon leads the team in assists with 13, the last time a CC defenseman found twine was Nov. 2.
“We need to step up more offensively,” senior Ben Israel said. “It was a long time coming, so it felt nice.”
The Tigers were also 2-7 in the latter half of series. All in all, going into the third period down a goal felt familiar, and not in a good way. But Kristian Blumenschein’s blast from the top of the circle beat Miami goalie Jordan Uhelski for the CC junior’s first of the season with less than four to play, and the weekend belonged to the Tigers.
“Our guys have the ability to do those things,” Haviland said of the defensemen. “It’s great to see them get rewarded.”
The first of Saturday’s goals was scored by Israel, who was benched for the North Dakota series to start the month. He, like Williams, got the chance to make a statement.
“It’s been a lot of emotions,” he said. “The whole team, we’ve been up and down. It felt great to help the team win.”