Tigers respond to grind out critical NCHC standings points versus Miami


Colorado College survived a rollercoaster of emotions to garner two valuable National Collegiate Hockey Conference standings points against Miami.

Freshman Christiano Versich scored on a wraparound attempt during the 3-on-3 double overtime with 57.5 seconds remaining  to give the Tigers five out of a possible six points in the home series. That came after CC led 2-0 only to fall behind 4-2 late in the second period.

Saturday’s home game goes down officially as a 4-4 tie with the extra standings point for ending the game in 2OT  as the Tigers (11-11-4, 5-8-3-2 NCHC) jockey for position in the standings ahead of last-place Miami (9-12-3, 4-8-2-0).

“Every point in this conference is valuable,” CC coach Mike Haviland said. “It feels like a win even though it goes down as a tie. Five out of six is huge. I would take that every weekend if I could.”

The game turned in CC’s favor after Miami captain Louie Belpedio’s penalty-shot attempt caromed away safely off the left post with 4:15 left in the second period.

“The difference between a two-goal lead and three-goal lead is huge at that stage (of the game),” Versich said. “When he missed we realized we had a shot at this. Fortunately we got that power play. From there we had momentum the rest of the way. It was an absolute battle to get those points. We are confident where we are moving forward.”

It was all Tigers after that. CC’s Trevor Gooch laid out three hits on the subsequent shift and he and the other Tigers elevated their play, leading to an eventual power-play goal by junior Mason Bergh to cut the Miami lead to 4-3 entering the third period.

Junior Trey Bradley collected his third assist then for his third career playmaker and 20th helper this season.

“It was definitely a great response by the guys,” Gooch said. “I was a little frustrated and I decided I would take it out on them and it got everybody and the arena going.”

The Tigers out shot the RedHawks 16-3 in the third after being out shot by a 28-17 margin through the first 40 minutes.

Gooch would tie the game with a terrific individual effort. He collected a pass off the far boards from Verisch by beating two Miami defenders to the loose puck in the RedHawks zone before cutting across the slot to fire a rising backhander that beat MU goalie Ryan Larkin (30 saves). That tied the game at 4-4 with 11:04 left in the third.

CC kept attacking with shots off the post by Gooch (6:50 left) and Bergh (1:14 remaining) to thrill and frustrate the announced crowd of 5,054 at The Broadmoor World Arena.

“There were a lot of momentum swings,” Haviland said. “Missing that penalty shot gave us some life. I thought we played pretty well after that. I really liked our third. I don’t know how we didn’t score at the end there.”

CC led 2-0 when sophomore Nick Halloran scored 29 seconds in and then with three minutes left. But Miami took advantage of a turnover in the Tigers’ zone to set up a goal by Carson Meyer with 12:28 left.

“Nicky got two goals right off the start and we took our foot off the pedal there,” Gooch said. “We have to learn from it.”

That first RedHawks goal swung the momentum and a power-play tally by Phil Knies three minutes later tied the game up.  A second MU power-play goal less than three minutes later by Belpedio made it 3-2, visitors, and silenced a once joyful matinee crowd for awhile at least.

Meyer added his second goal of the game midway through the second period when he tapped in a rebound for a 4-2 RedHawks lead. Miami looked comfortably in control until the Belpedio penalty shot created the next twist and turn in an entertaining league series finale.

%d bloggers like this: