Maybe the fact that this wakeup call occurred so early in the season ultimately will work in Colorado College's favor.
Any way you look at it, however, Saturday's 5-1 thrashing by the University of Minnesota Duluth at the World Arena was every bit as ugly as the score indicates from CC's perspective.
The visiting Bulldogs, who broke open what somehow until then had remained a tight game with three unanswered tallies in the third period, dominated from start to finish. Showing jump in their step from the opening faceoff, they finished with a whopping 44-14 shots-on-goal advantage to avenge Friday's 3-1 loss and earn a split of the teams' inaugural series as members of the National Collegiate Athletic Conference.
Senior goaltender Josh Thorimbert, who made 16 of his 39 saves in the opening 20 minutes, kept the Tigers in contention until junior right wing Justin Crandall struck for his second goal of the game on a power play 50 seconds into the final frame to put UMD up 3-1.
Freshman left wing Alex Iafallo, who set up that goal, also lit the lamp twice as Duluth, which attempted 71 shots in the rout, improved to 2-1-1 overall.
The Bulldogs, who out-shot CC by a 16-6 margin in the first frame, finally capitalized off a turnover with 1:39 left while the teams were skating four-on-four. Iafallo started the play by stealing the puck just inside the Colorado College blue line with a relentless forechecking effort. He then worked a nifty give-and-go with junior center Caleb Herbert, who set up the rookie's first career goal on the ensuing two-on-one attack.
If not for big saves by Thorimbert earlier in the period on Herbert and Tony Cameranesi from close in on the right side, the 1-0 deficit could have been worse for the Tigers heading into the middle stanza.
Referees Brian Aaron and Scott Bokal handed out a pair of five-minute majors to CC in a penalty-filled second period. The Tigers successfully killed the first one, and after falling behind 2-0 on a fluke goal by Crandall from behind the goal line that bounced past Thorimbert off a defender at the 12-minute mark, they cashed in with a four-on-four tally of their own by freshman defenseman Jaccob Slavin at 16:36.
Slavin stickhandled between two defenders and into the slot after taking a return pass from Archie Skalbeck, then unleashed a wrist shot that beat UMD netminder Aaron Crandall high on the stick side.
Another major that carried over into the third period set the stage for Crandall's clincher – the first power-play goal allowed by Colorado College since Game 3 of a first-round playoff series at the University of Denver last March. Minnesota finished 1-for-9 with the man advantage while CC, which had killed 22 consecutive penalties in the streak, went 0-for-7.
Iafallo and Kyle Osterberg, another freshman, added red lighters later with 14:12 and 10:43 remaining to stifle any comeback hopes.
The Tigers paid tribute to late teammate Scott Winkler, who died unexpectedly on June 12, in an emotional pre-game ceremony that delayed the opening faceoff by six minutes.