CC overcomes red-hot Chargers goalie to grind out 1-0 home-opening victory

Colorado College fans were treated to excellent performances by both goalies in the Tigers’ home-opener.

And fortunately for the Tigers (2-1), they eked out a 1-0 nonconference win despite a Herculean effort by Alabama-Huntsville sophomore goalie Mark Sinclair, who recorded 46 saves, including 23 in the first period. His performance Friday stymied an otherwise dominate performance by CC.

“We probably had 25 (Grade-) A chances,” Tigers coach Mike Haviland said. “Their goalie was outstanding. I would like to see us bear down more but that is what you get sometimes. You get a hot goalie. If you score a couple, it’s a different game.”

“He gave us a chance to win the game and that’s all you can ask for,” Chargers coach Mike Corbett said.

Friday’s result was decided during a 74-second sequence in the second period at The Broadmoor World Arena. CC junior goalie Alex Leclerc (18 saves) made a big-time save on a solo breakaway for UAH’s Christian Rajic, who collected the puck in the Tigers zone off an unforced turnover.

Leclerc made the short-range stop and 1:14 later, CC sophomore Christiano Versich score the only goal with 12:34 left. Versich collected a pass from senior defenseman Ben Israel and then skated right between the faceoff circles into the slot from where he lifted a wrist shot past Sinclair, who had made 25 saves, seven more than Leclerc needed for his eighth career shutout, by that point.

“The guys did a great job clearing the puck away and not allowing them to get to any rebounds, which made my job super easy,” Leclerc said. “My job is to stop the puck no matter how much time there is between shots. (Sinclair) came here to perform tonight and he did a tremendous job for them.”

The CC home-opener looked very much like an mid-October game with the Tigers having only one full week of practice. That was evident on the power play which seemed a tad deliberate at times, especially during the 5-on-3. CC is now 3 for 19 (15.8 percent) with the man advantage.

“Simplifying the power play is where we at and that means getting more shots,” Haviland said. “We also need more of a net-front presence. We didn’t have enough of that tonight.”

Tigers fans are also looking for the top line of Mason Bergh, Nick Halloran and Trey Bradley to replicate last season’s production. The threesome has a combined three points (one Halloran goal) in three games. They were held off Friday’s scoresheet.

“That top line for us had a ton of chances,” Haviland said. “Last year, some of those go in. They are not going in right now so they need to dig down and find a way to continue to get chances then really finish them off.”

Next up is another goalie, Air Force’s Billy Christopoulos, who can take over a game. He recorded 22 stops against No. 10 Denver in a 4-1 home loss heading into Saturday’s 7 p.m. Mountain Pikes Peak Trophy game. It is a piece of college hockey hardware the Tigers seniors have never won.

“You are going to see a lot more intensity,” Leclerc said. “We know how much is at stake.”

CC Hockey vs Wisconsin

Colorado College vs Wisconsin, Broadmoor World Arena, Nov. 25, 2016

About paisleyhockey
I am a freelance writer specializing in sports with about 25 years of professional experience.

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