Tigers Blank Denver, 2-0, in NCHC Series Opener

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DENVER, COLO. Westin Michaud and Mason Bergh each scored in the third period and Alex Leclerc had a 37-save shutout to lead Colorado College to a 2-0 victory over No. 4 Denver in the first game of the best two-of-three NCHC quarterfinal series at Magness Arena.

The Tigers (15-15-5) picked up their first postseason victory under Mike Haviland and first since a 3-2 overtime victory at North Dakota on March 15, 2014.

“This was a great team effort tonight,” Haviland said. “They are a dangerous team but we did a good job of bending but not breaking which is what you have to do against them.”

After Denver’s Ryan Barrow was called for hooking at the 5:12 mark of the third period, Michaud took the faceoff to start the power play then made his way to the front of the net. Nick Halloran got the puck to Kristian Blumenschein, whose shot from the point was blocked in front but went right to Michaud, who slid the puck past Pioneer goalie Tanner Jalliet just five seconds into the man advantage.

Less than five minutes later, Bergh fired a shot from the slot that Jalliet got a piece of, but not enough as the puck slid between his legs past the goal line. Trey Bradley picked up his 22nd assist of the season as the Tigers took a 2-0 lead at the 9:27 mark of the third.

“When we scored we really became more confident,” Haviland said.

Leclerc was outstanding for his second consecutive game at Magness Arena, including some spectacular saves while CC had to kill off a Zach Berzolla tripping call with just over six minutes to play. The Tigers killed off all three penalties and are 20-for-20 on the PK against the Pioneers this season. CC was 1-for 2 on the power play Friday night.

“The penalty kill was really good tonight and Alex was there to make the saves,” Haviland said. “We had to weather some storms like we expected. I am really proud of how they played and battled for 60 minutes.”

The sophomore goalie has made 77 saves in his last two games at Magness, including a 40-save 1-0 shutout on Feb. 17. He now has a scoreless streak of 127 minutes and 28 seconds at Denver’s home rink.

After a scoreless first period, the Pioneers (18-9-8) held the advantage for the first half of the second period and had a couple of prime chances to take the lead in the frame. Jarid Lukosevicius rang a shot off the post with 6:40 left in the frame, then during a CC power play, Henrik Borgstrom and Troy Terry nearly connected on a 2-on-1.

Towards the end of the same power play, the Tigers had a couple of chances of their own as Trey Bradley and Mason Bergh each had a great look for the Tigers, but each sailed his shot just wide of the net.

Denver outshot CC, 37-23, with Lukosevicius leading all players with six shots. Bergh led the Tigers with four, followed by Bradley with three. Jalliet finished the game with 21 saves for the Pioneers.

The teams will battle in the second game of the series on Saturday, March 10, beginning at 7 p.m.