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Tigers split means no home ice for playoffs

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Colorado College split their home hockey series with WCHA leader St. Cloud State this weekend at World Arena in Colorado Springs. CC spotted the Huskies a two-goal lead on Friday, but charged back for a 4-3 win. On Saturday, St. Cloud took control with three goals in the second period, and powered on to a 5-2 victory. The results left the Tigers in 8th place in the conference, and although mathematically nothing has been decided, they are five points back of a home ice slot for the conference playoffs, with just four games remaining.

Two goals 11 seconds apart by St. Cloud early in the first period on Friday put in bit of a jolt into the Tigers. "I think it kind of woke us up a bit," said Tiger center Jeff Collett, who would get the Tigers on the board just before the midway point of the period. It was Collett's third goal of the year, and he is a player that has performed much better than his numbers attest. "My role this year is more defensively. I think I'm doing pretty well, contributing when I can. And I like playing with the guys on my line."

The score remained 2-1 St. Cloud into the third period. Charlie Taft scored from the low slot just 33 seconds in to knot the score. Four minutes later, Rylan Schwartz put the Tigers ahead when he got his own rebound and squeezed the puck into the low left corner of the cage. Tiger goalie Joe Howe, who would finish with 40 saves, stopped Husky Kalle Kossila on a breakaway with 6:22 left. On the ensuing Tiger possession, Taft scored again with a shot from the slot that beat Husky goalie Ryan Faragher up high.

Jonny Brodzinski got an extra attacker goal with 1:11 left, but the Tigers held their ground in the final minute for the win.

On Saturday Schwartz got the Tigers going by getting behind the defense at the blue line, racing in to beat Faragher at the 3:48 mark. But the Tigers would not get another shot on net until ten minutes later. In the meantime, Brodzinski scored for St. Cloud while the Tigers' Archie Skalbeck was taking a penalty.

In the second things slowly unraveled for CC. Kossila and Cory Thorson scored to put St. Cloud up 3-1 midway through the period. But the killer came with just seconds left in the period. After Scott Winkler nearly scored for CC with about ten seconds left, the Tigers sort of fell asleep, allowing the Huskies' Ben Hanowski to skate down the center, to beat Howe with 2.2 seconds left.

The teams traded goals in the third for the final score, and St. Cloud left town still in first place, two points ahead of Minnesota.

"They kind of methodically took it to us a little bit," said Tiger coach Scott Owens. "They won a lot of puck battles tonight. I give them credit. They played like a desperate team, desperate for a split, and tonight they looked like a first-place team."

The Tigers will wrap up their home portion of the regular season next weekend with a two-game set against Minnesota State-Mankato.

Blue Lines

Air Force split a road series againt Rochester Tech over the weekend. RIT led both games by a 2-1 score after two periods. On Friday, the Falcons charged back with four third-period goals for a 5-3 win. The next night, RIT made their lead stand up, winning by that 2-1 score.

The Falcons remain in second place in Atlantic Hockey. They finish the regular season this week at home against league leader Niagara. One point in the two games will guarantee Air Force a top-four conference finish, giving them a bye the first week of the conference playoffs, and a home series in round two.

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