One night after the Air Force hockey season ended on a fluke goal by Canisius in overtime, Colorado College was able to extend their season by similar means. A Charlie Taft goal midway through the third period turned into the game-winner, as the Tigers defeated rival Denver 4-3, winning their first round playoff series two games to one. CC now advances to the WCHA Final Five this weekend in St. Paul, MN, where they will take on North Dakota in a quarterfinal game Thursday, beginning at 6 pm MT.
With the scored tied at 3-3, Taft flipped what was meant to be a pass toward the left corner. DU goaltender Juho Olkinuora tried to redirect the puck, but it hit both his blocker and stick, and skittered into the net. The Tigers then held their ground to come away with the series win. CC has never lost a three-game playoff series to Denver.
The Pioneers led this one 2-0 after the first period, but three CC goals in just over five minutes in the second period put the Tigers on top. Cody Bradley got things going at the 3:51 mark, and Hunter Fejes and Rylan Schwartz followed. Denver tied the game early in the third, setting up the Taft winner with 10:11 remaining. After dropping the first game of the series, the Tigers won back-to-back games for the first time in four months.
CC takes a 16-18-5 mark to St. Paul. They were the only road team to prevail in the WCHA first round, and will need to win three more games on successive nights to earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Whoever wins the CC/UND matchup will take on Minnesota on Friday night. The other quarterfinal duel pits Minnesota State-Mankato against Wisconsin, with the winner to face St. Cloud State.
Mercyhurst shutout Holy Cross 1-0 on the road Sunday night to complete the set of four teams that will travel to Rochester, NY for the Atlantic Hockey Final Four. Mercyhurst will take on Connecticut in the semifinals, with regular season champ Niagara facing Canisius.