Tigers squander early lead, lose in final seconds to Omaha

cc vs wmu2Omaha’s Tyler Weiss scored with 47 seconds left to give Omaha its first lead of the night and upend Colorado College by a 6-4 margin Friday night.

Nebraska-Omaha trailed all night after falling behind 3-0 early, but the host Tigers could not close out the Mavericks (10-10-5, 4-6-3 league), due in part to a tough night for freshman goalie Matt Vernon (28 saves). Netminder Ryan Ruck has an unspecified injury.

“The first two that go in are awful,” CC coach Mike Haviland said. “That gives all the momentum back to them. That can’t happen. We’re up 3-nothing and we have guys scoring goals who haven’t gotten scores and we give up two awful goals. The next thing you know its 3-2 and next thing you know its 3-3. That’s what happened. That’s the bottom line.”

Weiss’ goal made it 5-4 and Martin Sundberg added an empty-netter with 11.3 ticks left to clinch the road victory over CC (8-12-1, 3-9-1), which squandered a chance to climb out of last place in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

“We have the puck at the end and we turn it over like four times in one shift, the last shift of the game, and they score,” Haviland said. “You have the right guys, the older guys on the ice. You have to figure out a way to get that game to overtime. That should not happen that late in the game with the guys that we had on the ice. Simple as that.”

CC got the start it wanted, including some secondary scoring, before Omaha took advantage of the Tigers’ mistakes.

Freshman Josiah Slavin opened the scoring just 4:17 into the game after a diagonal pass from defenseman Bryan Yoon bounced into the crease off a skate in front. The freshman forward reached behind Omaha starting goalie Isaiah Saville to tap in the loose puck for his fourth goal this season.

Defenseman Chad Sasaki then rifled a shot from the point that got past Saville, who was named as the league goalie of the week on Monday. The floodgates seemed to open when Zach Berzolla sent the puck forward and speedy Jack Gates beat Omaha defenseman Dean Stewart to the puck, cutting across the UNO crease to score on a backhander while being tripped and falling to his knees.

That ended the night for Saville with CC in control, but just for the next 38 seconds.

Omaha answered on a shorthanded score by Joey Abate and then UNO cut the lead to 3-2 when Vernon misplayed a shot by Teemu Pulkkinen and knocked it into the Tigers net – an own goal that silenced the Broadmoor World Arena crowd.

After five goals in the opening 11 minutes, the action slowed and the CC lead held until 8:40 left in the second period when Stewart rifled a shot from the point past Vernon’s glove attempt to tie the game at 3-3.

Colorado College’s power play finally clicked when a Grant Cruikshank blast got past Omaha goalie Austin Roden (29 saves) with 2:48 left in the second period for a 4-3 Tigers lead.

Omaha then took advantage of a five-minute major penalty (interference) on Berzolla with a power-play goal by Zach Jordan that tied it at 4-4 early in the third.

Ice chips

Former CC standout Jaccob Slavin won the NHL All-Star shot accuracy contest in 9.505 seconds. … The Tigers entered the weekend with a 4-6 record in their last 10 games, including a 1-5 league mark, dating back to a road sweep of Princeton in early December. …. Last Saturday, Halloran moved into the CC Century Club by recording his 87th career point, good for a tie for 98th place among the program’s all-time scoring leaders with Trey Bradley (2015-19), William Rapuzzi (2009-13) and Greg Hampson (1979-83).  Halloran and Chris Wilkie were both held off the score sheet on Friday. … UNO leads the all-time series 16-9-5. … CC defenseman Kristian Blumenschein skated in warm-ups but was pulled due to an unspecified injury.

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

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