Western Michigan never trails, forces decisive NCHC playoff series finale on Monday for CC

cc vs wmu2Colorado College was unable to complete its second comeback in a row as No. 12 Western Michigan prevailed 5-2 on Sunday to force a Game 3 that will end one team’s season.

The Broncos scored twice in the third period to pull away in a playoff game in which they never trailed.

CC freshman defenseman Bryan Yoon had scored with 12 seconds remaining in the second period to cut the hosts’ lead to 3-2 in Game 2 of the best-of-three National Collegiate Hockey Conference quarterfinal series. The Tigers won 2-1 Saturday night in the opener.

But the visiting Tigers could not build on that momentum and WMU (21-14-1) clinched the victory to set up Game 3 at 5:05 p.m. Mountain Monday at Lawson Arena in Kalamazoo, Mich.

“We have to get off to a better start,” Tigers coach Mike Haviland said. “We chased the game the entire night. I have seen this team play harder than they did before. The will to win has to be there right from the drop of the puck. They’ll respond. They have all year. No one wants to be done.”

For the second night in a row, Western Michigan struck first behind a strong start. Dawson DiPietro scored just 116 seconds into Game 2 for a 1-0 lead. Di Pietro scored WMU’s fifth goal as well.

It took a while for the Tigers (16-18-4)  to get their legs under them, but CC would control play over the final five minutes of the opening period, prompting a WMU timeout with 1:40 left.

Troy Conzo batted in the puck less than four minutes into the second period to tie the game at 1-1. It was Conzo’s seventh goal with the assist to Mason Bergh. Conzo’s shot came from behind the Broncos net and went in off Gorsuch’s back.

Leclerc continued to shine with a left leg pad save on a shot by Kolt Conrad from 15 feet away with 8:45 left in the second period to keep it a tied game. He made a similar save moments later on Conrad.

And then the defensive battle changed into a shootout with WMU’s Conrad scoring with 3:09 left followed by both teams scoring in the final 30 seconds of the second period.

WMU’s Corey Schueneman scored off a Conrad assist with 27 seconds left to make it 3-1 before CC ‘s Yoon answered to set up what Tigers fans hoped would be a third -period comeback. Which was not to be.

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

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