Home ice made absolutely no difference on Friday. Playing at the World Arena for the first time since Dec. 8, Colorado College fell victim to what has become an all-to-familiar scenario this trying 2012-13 season.
The Tigers battled battled back to knot their series opener against the University of Minnesota Duluth with 2:45 remaining in regulation, but still figured out a way to cough up their 10th loss in the last 14 outings as UMD escaped with a 3-2 victory.
Sophomore Caleb Herbert scored the game winner on a rebound at 18:17 of the third period, just 62 seconds after senior defenseman Mike Boivin's 10th goal of the campaign tied the contest.
And so, instead of taking a small but positive step toward reversing its fortunes, CC dropped to 9-14-2 overall and 6-10-1 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association with 11 games left to play.
The visiting Bulldogs, meanwhile, posted their third consecutive triumph to improve to 10-10-3 overall and 8-6-3 in league play heading into Saturday's rematch.
Both UMD tallies in the final period – Herbert's and an unassisted go-ahead goal by Mike Seidel at 9:53, resulted directly from turnovers by Colorado College seniors.
Seidel intercepted an outlet pass along the right boards before moving into the slot and backhanding a shot past goaltender Joe Howe to put Duluth up 2-1. Herbert scored by pouncing on a loose puck that Howe lost track of in the crease after stopping a blast by Adam Krause, who broke up a CC play in the neutral zone before unleashing his shot from just inside the blue line.
“I didn't think our top guys were very good tonight,” said Tigers head coach Scott Owens. “And this is the time of year when you need them to be.”
A pair of freshman forwards teamed up to produce a 1-0 lead for CC late in the opening frame, after the visitors launched the first 14 shots on goal of the game. Hunter Fejes clicked for his third red lighter of the season, taking a feed in between the circles from Cody Bradley on the right side and beating Bulldogs netminder Matt McNeely at the 18:02 mark.
Howe, who finished with 35 saves, made 17 of them – including eight during an early 5-on-3 UMD power play – in the initial 20 minutes of play. Minnesota Duluth finally dented Howe for the first time on its next try with the man advantage, when Justin Crandall poked in a loose puck from the edge of the crease at 11:23 of the second stanza.
McNeely, a freshman, steered aside 24 of 26 Colorado College shots for the night.