Its quest to keep the Gold Pan no longer alive, Colorado College actually may be establishing some quiet momentum as the last month of the regular season gets under way.
With Friday's 1-1 draw with the University of Denver at Magness Arena, CC extended its undefeated streak to a modest four games heading into Saturday's rematch in Colorado Springs. And, even though the last three of those outings have ended in ties, head coach Scott Owens likes what he sees.
“If we can sustain this, I think we're going to be a pretty good playoff team,” Owens said after watching senior goaltender Joe Howe steer aside 33 DU shots in his 100th career start. “We're improving defensively, and now we've just got to start scoring some goals again.”
The ninth-place Tigers, at 10-14-5 overall and 7-10-4 in WCHA play, remain five points behind the University of Wisconsin and Minnesota State, which are knotted for sixth – the final home-ice spot available for the opening round of the league playoffs next month.
They had plenty of chances on Friday, unloading 36 shots on Denver netminder Juho Olkinuora but managing only a second-period goal by fourth-line center Jordan DiGiando.
Sophomore left winger Larkin Jacobson, also playing on the fourth line, notched the only red lighter for the No. 8-ranked Pioneers, now 15-8-5 overall and 10-6-5 in conference play.
Colorado College had two power-play opportunities late in first period, but gave up the only goal of the stanza 17 seconds after the first one ended. Jacobson, fresh out the penalty box, led a three-on-two rush up the ice before beating Howe high on the stick side at 17:59 and staking the home team to a 1-0 lead. Junior defenseman David Makowski started the play after picking off an errant CC pass inside the Denver blue line.
At 10:46 of the middle frame, DiGiando snapped off a quick wrister from right side after taking a pass out of the corner from freshman Peter Maric, who was playing in just his seventh game in place of injured Cody Bradley. Senior right wing Andrew Hamburg also assisted on DiGiando's second tally of the season. The point was Maric's first as a TIger.
Freshman defenseman Nolan Zajac blasted a quick slap shot past Howe from high in the right faceoff circle during DU's first power play of the game at 1:15 of the third period, but after reviewing the play, referees waved off the apparent tally due to a Denver player interferring with Howe's attempt to make the save.
Olkinuora made his biggest stop of the night with seven minutes left in regulation, sprawling to get an arm on junior defenseman Eamonn McDermott's backhand after McDermott cut in alone and faked the goaltender to the ice.