Leclerc, Middendorf lead Colorado College to league home victory over No. 20 Miami

CC Hockey vs Wisconsin

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

A strong performance by junior goalie Alex Leclerc and an opportunistic goal for Erik Middendorf propelled Colorado College to its first league victory of the season with a 2-1 home win over No. 20 Miami.

Leclerc made 29 saves and pumped his left arm in triumph as the buzzer sounded after the last Miami shot sailed wide before 3,346 fans at the Broadmoor World Arena on Friday.  He led the CC penalty kill that survived an extended 5-on-3 in the first period and another in the third.

“He gives you an honest effort and a chance to win every night,” CC coach Mike Haviland said. “That’s all you can ask of a goalie. He made a lot of big saves for us.”

Both goalies performed well in an entertaining National Collegiate Hockey Conference game loaded with scoring chances.

It was a lucky break that led to the game-winner when Miami center Casey Gilling’s stick snapped while attempting a pass in the RedHawks zone. That allowed CC winger Alex Berardinelli to corral the loose puck and send a crossing pass to Middendorf for the one-timer with 4:09 left in the second period. A frustrated Gilling was left clutching his helmet in regret immediately following the goal.

The score negated a strong performance by the RedHawks (8-5, 2-3 NCHC) in the second period with Miami swarming the CC net early, including a 90-second sequence when Leclerc made three saves (two without any stick, one with Trevor Gooch’s lumber) and Gooch hit the ice for two shot blocks.

Miami’s Karch Bachman ended Leclerc’s shutout bid when he ripped a rising shot that went in under the crossbar with 11:56 left in the second.  It was an even game the rest of the way, decided by that opportunistic Tigers tally for Middendorf’s first college game-winner.

Tigers senior captain Mason Bergh broke through for his first goal this season when he fired a hard-angle shot during a delayed penalty on the RedHawks with 12:15 left in the opening period. The score against junior Ryan Larkin (29 saves) came after three quality scoring chances for the Minnesota native in the opening seven minutes.

“It was great,” Haviland said. “ That was one of (the Bradley-Bergh-Halloran line’s) best games this year. Hopefully it is good things to come if they get going.”

“Going in I was saying that I was going to throw everything on net,” Bergh said. “It’s good to get the monkey off the back but it’s all about the wins. It will be a big game (at 6 p.m. Saturday).

CC survived a scare when two penalties in 22 seconds turned a Tigers man advantage into a 4-on-3 power play for the RedHawks. Leclerc made a stop on a wide-open Derek Daschke with 1:49 left in the period to secure the 1-0 lead heading into first intermission. CC  (5-5-1, 1-4 NCHC) held Miami to only two shots during another RedHawks 5-on-3 in the third.

“The (penalty kill) was huge,” Haviland said. “It starts in the cage but we did a great job getting into lanes. Blocking shots when we needed it. We got the clears — 5 on 3, 4 on 3 sometimes don’t go your way but they did tonight.”

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

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