The CC Tigers returned home for the first time in six weeks on Friday. The game against Minnesota-Duluth can only be described as uneven at best. Both teams looked very rusty at times, for some reason. UMD controlled most of the action, and ended up skating away with a 3-2, a painful loss for the Tigers.
"We were hoping to get this final stretch off to a good start. To not even get a point out of it is frustrating," said CC head coach Scott Owens. "We started slow, but Joe (Howe) kept us in it. And we found ourselves ahead at the end of the first."
Remarkably. Duluth outshot the Tigers 10-0 in the first six minutes. Goalie Joe Howe stopped the Bulldog's Austin Farley twice while the Tigers were two men down. Howe then stonewalled Caleb Herbert on a 2 on 1 rush 8:41 into the period. The shots were 14-0 until the Tigers finally got one on the power play 9:09 into the period. Then, somehow the Tigers got the first goal when freshman Hunter Fejes trailed a play and beat Bulldog goalie Matt McNeely after taking a pass from Cody Bradley with just under two minutes left in the first.
Duluth completely dominated the second period, but could only tie the score on a Justin Crandall power play goal at 11:23. Through two, the shot total was 28-14 in favor of the Bulldogs.
In the third, Duluth senior Mike Seidel intercepted an errant pass and walked in to beat Howe with a backhand for a 2-1 lead midway through. Then, with 2:45 left, the Tigers tied the game when Mike Boivin took a long rebound and beat McNeely high glove side. But that would only last for 62 seconds. Another bad Tiger turnover in their own zone led to a shot by Adam Krause that Howe was able to save, but the puck trickled beyond his pads, and Herbert punched in the winning goal.
The Tigers rebounded in grand fashion on Saturday. After a 1-1 first period, CC dominated the final two frames for a 5-1 victory. Rylan Schwartz led the way with three assists. Even though the Tigers were outshot by 14, that was not a true indicator of how the night went. Howe again was in net, and made 40 saves for his sixth win of the year.
CC is now 7-10-1 in the WCHA, still in ninth place, with ten games remaining. They are four points out a home-ice spot for the playoffs, and the schedule is more favorable than it was the first half of the season. CC is off this week, before traveling to Alaska-Anchorage for a two-game set beginning Feb. 1.