DENVER - The University of Denver ice hockey team let a 2-0 lead slip away as it dropped a 4-3 decision to Colorado College in a deciding game three of a best-of-three opening round WCHA playoff series on Sunday night at Magness Arena.
The Tigers advance to the WCHA Final Five with the victory, which starts on Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. The loss for Denver snaps a streak that has seen the Pioneers advance to the Final Five for five-consecutive seasons - dating back to 2008. The Pioneers drop to 81-61-6 all-time in WCHA playoff action.
Denver will now wait and see if it earns an at-large bid to the 2013 NCAA National Championship. The NCAA field will be announced on Sunday, March 24 at 7 p.m. (MT) on ESPNU. This year's NCAA Regional sites are Grand Rapids, Mich. (West), Toledo, Ohio (Central), Providence (East) and Manchester, N.H. (Northeast).
The field will be selected from 59 NCAA Division I institutions sponsoring the sport of men's ice hockey and will consist of five automatic qualifiers, each from the Atlantic Hockey Association, Central Collegiate Hockey Association, ECAC Hockey, Hockey East Association, and Western Collegiate Hockey Association in addition to 11 at-large teams.
Sunday's setback drops Denver's record to 20-13-5. Colorado College drops to 16-17-5 on the year.
Junior Nick Shore (Denver, Colo.) gave the Pioneers the lead at 12:34 of the first period, a power play goal that marked his 14th of the season. After his teammates played the puck along the back wall, a centering pass deflected right to Shore in the slot who promptly buried a slap shot in the upper left corner of the net for a 1-0 Denver lead.
Denver (20-13-5) upped the margin to 2-0 just 1:20 later when Daniel Doremus (Aspen, Colo.) slammed home a wrist shot following a rebound for his 11th tally of the season. Doremus connected on the blast following an initial shot attempt by teammate Chris Knowlton (Colorado Springs, Colo.).
Colorado College (16-18-5) trimmed the lead to 2-1 to begin its comeback when a shot by Hunter Fejes was deflected by a Denver defender. The loose puck then found the stick of Cody Bradley, who promptly deposited the puck in the top of the net from point-blank range for his fourth score of the season at 3:51 of the second.
Bradley returned the favor at 6:55 of the second when he streaked up the right side and found Fejes for a one-timer that he put away for his seventh goal of the season and reset the game at 2-2.
The Tigers took their first lead on a short-handed goal at 8:56 of the second. Senior Ryan Schwartz took the puck away from Denver's Nick Shore along the wall at the Pioneers' blueline and raced the length of the rink before beating Pioneer goalie Juho Olkinuora (Helsinki, Finland) high to his stick side to give Colorado College a 3-2 advantage.
Junior David Makowski (Wildwood, Mo.) tied the game for the second time at 3-3 just 3:39 into the third when Nick Shore found him in the slot right off a draw and Makowski ripped a slap shot for his ninth tally of the season.
Colorado College scored the game-winner with 10:11 left in regulation as Charlie Taft sent the puck on net from the right circle which appeared to be redirected by a DU defender before getting past Olkinuora on his glove side.
Olkinuora turned away 22 shots in defeat. Howe made 37 stops in the win.
For the game, the Pioneers out-shot the Tigers 40-26. DU won 46-of-77 faceoff chances. Shore led the Pioneers on the draws, capturing 20-of-32.