Colorado College kept their very slim hopes for a home playoff series alive with a 4-1 win over Minnesota State on Friday night at World Arena. Unfortunately, Denver and Wisconsin also won their games, leaving the Tigers five points behind both teams in the WCHA standings with just three games remaining. Both those schools have joined Minnesota State in a three-way tie for 5th place in the conference.
The Mavericks came in having won six of their past seven games, and were a gaudy 17-4-1 since Nov. 23. "I'm happy to get that quality win, especially since it had the feel of a playoff game," said CC coach Scott Owens. "The first period was kind of tough for us, but we hung in there and got better and better."
The first period ended scoreless, but MSU controlled much of the flow, and finished with an 11-6 shot advantage. Tiger goalie Joe Howe stood firm, as he would all night.
The Mavericks broke through with the first goal at 3:38 of the second period, when Dylan Margonari found an open net after a weird deflection in the low slot. CC would tie it nine minutes later on a Scott Winkler power play goal, as he netted a rebound of a shot by defenseman Mike Boivin.
Early in the third period, Archie Skalbeck got the eventual game-winner, again with the man advantage, when he beat Maverick goalie Stephon Williams short side from the right circle. It was Skalbeck's 11th goal of the season. He has 10 assists to go along, and has had a quietly consistent year for the Tigers. "Honestly, I think, just, I had a good off season," he said. "I got bigger, shot the puck a lot; just taking my opportunities."
About three minutes after Skalbeck's goal, Alexander Krushelnyski had a chance to add to the Tiger lead, as he led a 3 on 1 short-handed break. But he missed the net with his shot. However, he would make up for that by netting the final two Tiger goals. "He definitely did," said Owens. "He's definitely going to get a lot less grief now that he scored that goal. You don't often see a 3 on 1 in that situation."
Krushelnyski's first goal came at the 9:26 mark, as he got behind the defense, took a long bank pass off the boards from Boivin, and skated in to beat Williams just inside the right post. "I was watching him," Krushelnyski said, "and I...that was the best pass I think I've ever seen--ever gotten. I gotta just tip my hat to him. That was unbelievable."
Krushelnyski would get his short-handed goal, also an empty-netter, to seal the 4-1 final.
The Tigers will wrap up their series, and their home schedule, with a rematch Saturday night at 7pm. As always, it will be Senior Night, and the seven Tiger seniors will be honored before the game.