For what it's worth, which could be a lot, Colorado College heads into the WCHA playoffs on a winning note.
Thanks in no small measure to senior goaltender Joe Howe, who made a season-high 46 saves, the Tigers salvaged a split of their weekend series with Michigan Tech on Saturday with a 4-3 victory at MTU's MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
Cody Bradley, Mike Boivin and William Rapuzzi scored in a decisive three-goal second period as eighth-place CC prevailed on the road for the just the second time since early November to finish the regular season at 14-17-5 overall and 11-13-4 in league play.
Its opponent for next week's best-of-three playoff series remains to be determined, pending the outcome of the University of Denver's game against Alaska Anchorage at Magness Arena early on Sunday, but the Tigers at least know they'll be playing at DU or the University of Wisconsin for a chance to advance to the WCHA Final Five for the last time. A Pioneers victory over UAA sets up a matchup in Denver between the I-25 archrivals next Friday, Saturday and Sunday, if necessary. Otherwise, Colorado College travels to Madison, Wis.
Bradley added an assist on a first-period tally by fellow freshman Hunter Fejes, while senior right wing Andrew Hamburg assisted on both goals to put the Tigers up 2-0 in Saturday's series finale in Houghton, Mich. Boivin, the top-scoring defenseman in the nation with 14 goals, clicked on a power play just 1:07 after Bradley to increase the lead to 3-0, and Howe did the rest.
He stopped 20 of 22 Tech shots in the middle frame, yielding goals to Alex Petan at 6:34 and Milos Gordic at 14:58 that pulled the Huskies to within 3-2, but senior team captain Rapuzzi finished a textbook three-on-two rush from his knees just 35 seconds after Gordic's backhand tally to restore CC's two-goal cushion.
That turned out to be the game winner as Michigan Tech's Tanner Kero tapped in his own rebound with the third period only 54 seconds old. Linemates Scott Winkler and Archie Skalbeck assisted on Rapuzzi's 15th red lighter of the 2012-13 campaign.
The 10th-place Huskies, 12-18-4 overall and 8-16-4 in the WCHA, finished with a 49-24 advantage in shots on goal after launching 15 more in the final 20 minutes. But Howe, who made 40-or-more saves in a game for the fifth time this season, shut the door for his 50th career victory between the Colorado College pipes. Michigan Tech will play at third-place North Dakota, which dropped a 2-1 overtime decision at Minnesota State on Saturday, in the first round of the playoffs.
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