The 10,117 spectators in Mariucci Arena saw flashes of Colorado College brilliance on Saturday.
But it was their own team that presented them with goals as the No. 2-ranked University of Minnesota defeated the ninth-ranked Tigers, 4-1, in the opener of their two-game series.
Mike Hoeffel and Jake Hansen scored just 1:02 apart in the opening period to help the Gophers, who struck three times on the power play, snap a three-game winless streak and keep pace with league-leading Denver in the WCHA standings.
Bill Sweatt kept CC in the contest early, redirecting Gabe Guentzel’s shot past Minnesota goalie Alex Kangas with 5:01 left in the initial frame after Guentzel partially fanned on his attempt from the point.
The tally instilled some life into the Tigers, who dominated the early going of the second period much like they had done in the first. But they were unable to net the equalizer.
Instead, the Gophers struck for the next goal as Cade Fairchild beat a screened Richard Bachman at the 13:59 mark to make it 3-1. Nico Sacchetti iced the triumph at 18:37 of the third period. The goals by Hoeffel, Fairchild and Sacchetti all came on the power play, as UM converted on three of four manpower advantages in the contest.
Colorado College was 0-for-5, including a five-on-three edge for 36 seconds in the final stanza.
Bachman, spectacular at times, finished with 21 saves. Kangas made 25.
Chad Rau improved his team-high points total to 25 (9,16a) with an assist on Sweatt’s red lighter.
The loss dropped CC to 9-6-4 for the season, including a 6-5-2 mark in league play. The Tigers, who now are winless (0-5-3) in their last eight series openers, enter Sunday’s rematch in fifth place in the WCHA.
Minnesota, which got two assists apiece from Jordan Schroeder and Ryan Stoa, improved to 8-2-5 overall and 7-1-3 in the WCHA. The second-place Gophers trail DU by two points but have four games in hand.