Tigers ride three-goal spurt past Air Force to retain Pikes Peak Trophy

ccafa imageThe muted trophy celebration suggested that Colorado College took Friday night’s 6-2 win in stride.

That would be wrong.

CC blew the game open with three goals in the opening 2:34 of the second period and then held on to defeat Air Force 6-2 and retain the Pikes Peak Trophy. But that large margin did not make the win any less sweet for the Tigers.

“It’s pretty big,” said freshman defenseman Connor Mayer, who scored twice. “The school takes a lot of pride in that. We were excited but we kept our emotions in check. It’s about a business-like approach and being ready for Monday.”

The series continues at 5 p.m. Monday with the Faceoff at Falcon Stadium outdoor game. Plenty of seats remain available with snow in the forecast that evening. The snow and Air Force’s mostly white uniforms will add a wrinkle to what could be an interesting game.

“You don’t want it to come down (to Monday),” coach Mike Haviland said. “They took care of business tonight. We wanted to play the game the right way and we certainly wanted to keep that trophy in our possession.”

Friday’s victory at the Broadmoor World Arena assured the Tigers of at least a nonconference series tie against the Falcons, assuring the hosts will keep the rivalry hardware for another year. CC won the trophy for the first time last season behind a 6-1 win.

The second period started off with a bang with three goals scored on the first three shots on goal by the Tigers (9-16-2). Senior Nick Halloran, whose older brother Alex was a standout player for the Atlantic Hockey-member Falcons (8-16-5), scored 11 seconds in for a 2-0 lead.

It continued for the surging Tigers, who scored twice in 21 seconds during 4-on-4 play to make it 4-0 with 17:26 remaining. Senior Alex Berardinelli stole the puck from Air Force’s Trevor Stone in neutral ice and then raced in to convert the breakaway. That goal ended Falcons goalie Alex Schilling’s night.

Colorado College did not let up and Connor Mayer (two goals) scored his first of the game 21 seconds later on the first shot faced by netminder Alex LaRocque with 17:26 left.

“Outstanding,” Haviland said. “We came out with a purpose and we finished the chances. I was really happy with their focus coming out strong. We want to keep going up and playing the right way down the stretch.”

Air Force simply made too many errors to win, coach Frank Serratore said.

“When we made mistakes they were huge ones,” he said. “We weren’t very good at anything. We got some things going in spurts but for the most part we didn’t get pucks in, we got beat along the walls, we turned pucks over that resulted in breakaways. The bottom line is CC came to play. They were pitching and we were catching.”

Air Force battled back when the Falcons’ Marshall Bowery tapped in a perfect diagonal pass by Brady Tomlak with 11:03 left. That power-play goal cut the CC lead to 4-1.

Later, Bowery made it 4-2 when he stole an errant CC pass and later fired the puck between Vernon’s leg pads with 3:02 left to make it a two-goal game heading into the third period.

Mayer scored an unassisted goal with 10:44 remaining for the final margin.

The National Collegiate Hockey Conference-member Tigers opened the scoring when Josiah Slavin fired a shot that bounced off Berardinelli’s backside to Chris Wilkie, who lifted the bouncing puck past a sprawled Schilling’s glove attempt. The tally came with 12:47 left in the opening period. It was Wilkie’s 19th goal, moving him into a tie for second with Northeastern’s Tyler Madden, a former CC commit.

Ice chips

Ed Robson was on hand for the ceremonial puck drop Friday. The CC alum and former Tigers hockey player is in town for the Robson Arena groundbreaking at 2 p.m. Saturday. The public is welcome. … CC won the season series against St. Cloud State (2-1-1) for the first time since the 2009-10 season. … A second Tigers goal during the opening period was immediately waved off due to goalie interference, denying McKay Flanagan his first college goal. … CC now leads the all-time series 62-13-2. … Bryan Yoon’s plus-5 rating Friday was a career high. … Three unassisted goals were scored, two by CC. Those two were the most by the Tigers since a 7-3 win over St. Lawrence on Dec. 29.

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

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