Tigers Down Western Michigan, 2-1, in Game One of NCHC Quarterfinal Series
Erik Middendorf broke a 1-1 tie with a power-play goal with 13:18 remaining in the third period and Alex Leclerc had 29 saves to lead Colorado College past 12th-ranked Western Michigan, 2-1, Saturday in game one of the best-of-three NCHC quarterfinal series at Lawson Ice Arena.
Middendorf took a crossing pass from Ben Copeland and sent a shot that hit WMU goalie Trevor Gorsuch before crossing the goal line for the second game-winning goal of his career.
Leclerc and the Tiger defense were stifling the rest of the way and kept the Broncos off the scoreboard for the final 1:30 with Gorsuch on the bench in favor of an extra skater.
The Tigers improved to 16-17-4 with their third straight win, posting the most victories in one season since the 2012-13 campaign (18).
The Broncos (20-14-1) jumped out to an early 1-0 lead when Drew Worrad scored just 2:04 into the contest with a wrist shot from the slot that beat Leclerc, but the junior goalie stood tall the last 58 minutes.
Mason Bergh tied up the game at 1-1 and became the newest member of CC’s Century Club with a goal at the 11:57 mark of the opening period. Bergh took a feed from Troy Conzo during a 2-on-1 rush and slid a shot through the legs of Gorsuch.
Bergh became the first Tiger since Alexander Krushelnyski in 2014 to join the Century Club. Bergh’s goal was the 43rd of his career to go along with 57 assists.
“Mason’s goal really settled us down,” head coach Mike Haviland said. “100 points in a career is something special. It shows the type of hockey player he is.”
Neither team scored in the second period, much in part to stellar goaltending at each end of the ice. Leclerc stopped Dawson DiPietro from right in front early in the period, then Gorsuch moved across the crease and stoned Grant Cruikshank on a 2-on-1 late in the frame.
Leclerc came up big again in the third period, getting a piece of a High McGing shot with 4:18 left that ended up trickling wide of the net, then a huge save on Ethen Frank with 10 seconds remaining in regulation.
CC’s special teams were vital once again on Saturday as the Tigers were 1-for-4 on the power play and killed off all three of WMU’s man-advantage opportunities. The Tigers have killed 34 of their last 37 penalties, dating back to Feb. 8.
Tonight’s victory was the third consecutive one-goal win for CC and the 10th consecutive victory giving up just two goals or less.
The two teams will battle in game two on Sunday, March 17, beginning at 7:05 p.m. (ET).