Colorado College blows past Air Force to win program’s first Pikes Peak Trophy

IMG_8514Colorado College senior Trey Bradley was tired of seeing the Air Force Falcons hoist the Pikes Peak Trophy.

He and the rest of the Tigers made sure that didn’t happen in 2018. Bradley scored twice in the opening two periods, including a did-you-just-see-that? tally midway through the second period for the eventual game-winner during a 6-1 rout on Saturday night at the Broadmoor World Arena.

“He’s been snake-bitten to start the year but he’s gotten a lot of chances,” Haviland said about Bradley. “He got the monkey off his back. I am proud of those seniors. They were on a mission tonight starting with Trey. It hasn’t been the greatest three years against them and to do that in their final season is something special (for the seniors).”

Bradley’s go-ahead goal sparked an eventual flurry of scoring for the Tigers. Junior Alex Berardinelli scored two shorthanded goals in 57 seconds (during the same power play) midway through the third for the final margin and his team-high fourth goal.

But it started with Bradley. He forced an Air Force turnover in the neutral zone, collected the puck and raced toward the Falcon net.

The 158-pound senior, the lightest player on the ice, then bulled his way to the front of the Falcons net, lifting the puck with a near-side backhanded shot past Air Force goalie Billy Christopoulos’s glove attempt before colliding with the netminder.

Bradley drew a goalie interference penalty for the contact after the puck crossed the goal line so the tally stood for a 2-1 lead. Air Force was unable to convert the subsequent man advantage and CC began to draw penalty after penalty for the remainder of the period.

“I’ll take it,” said Bradley, who also scored the opening goal for his first tally this season. ”They had our number for the past couple years. It feels great but it is just a step in the right direction for us.”

A speed advantage throughout the CC lineup proved telling. Air Force players were caught out of position often, which led to holding, interference and hooking calls that turned the game against the visitors.

CC cashed in its second power-play goal of the night when Westin Michaud batted in a rebound off a hard shot by Nick Halloran to make it 3-1, Tigers with 3:14 remaining in the second. Moments after a power play to start the third expired, Tigers freshman Ben Copeland knocked in a rebound off a Christiano Versich shot for a 4-1 edge.

Then things got even uglier for the Falcon faithful.

The speedy Berardinelli  converted a shorthanded chance to end Christopoulos’ night (18 saves). The junior then scored on a similar rising shot inside the far post against Falcons backup Zack LaRocque 57 seconds later for a 6-1 lead midway through the third period.

Program archives were unclear if that was a school record but it was the first consecutive shorthanded scores on the same penalty kill for CC since Jeff Collett and Rylan Schwartz did it against Clarkson on Oct. 12, 2012.

CC cruised to its first win of the rivalry trophy since its creation in 2013. The 3-1 start for the National Collegiate Hockey Conference program is its best since the 2012-13 season.

The loss stings but what concerned AFA coach Frank Serratore was how the 0-2 Falcons went down quietly with little intensity displayed over the final 10 minutes of the rout.

“I like our talent but I don’t like our testosterone level,” Serratore said. “We went out with a whimper and that is not us. We fight until the end. When someone is kicking sand in your face you better respond and I don’t think we responded well. We have a long ways to go.”

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

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