COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. -- Alex Leclerc had 29 saves and Erik Middendorf posted his first career game-winning goal to lead Colorado College past 20th-ranked Miami, 2-1, Friday night at the Broadmoor World Arena.
The Tigers snapped a four-game losing streak and improved to 5-5-1 overall and 1-4 in the NCHC, while Miami fell to 8-5 overall and 2-3 in league play.
Leclerc was spectacular throughout the game and made a number of saves during two stints when he did not have his own stick, including a two-minute stretch early in the second period and he was forced to make a couple of saves with Trevor Gooch’s stick.
The only blemish for Leclerc was a wrist shot by Karch Bachman at the 8:04 mark of the second period that evened the score at 1-all. Other than that, Leclerc was as focused as he has been all season and kept CC in the lead with a pair of huge saves with six minutes left in the third period, the first on a blast from the right circle by Gordie Green, then the point-blank rebound by Jonathan Gruden.
“He (Leclerc) gives you an honest effort and a chance to win every night,” head coach Mike Haviland said. “That’s all you can ask of a goalie. He made a lot of big saves for us.”
Leclerc did have a good amount of help in front of him, especially during Miami’s four power-play opportunities. Early in the third period, Alex Berardinelli was called for interference, then Mason Bergh whistled for tripping, giving the RedHawks a 5-on-3 advantage for 47 seconds. The Tigers allowed just one shot on goal, then Leclerc stopped all three during the ensuing 5-on-4 power play to keep the one-goal lead.
“The (penalty kill) was huge,” Haviland said. “It starts in the cage but we did a great job getting into lanes. Blocking shots when we needed it. We got the clears. 5-on-3, 4-on-3 sometimes don’t go your way but they did tonight.”
Bergh opened the scoring with his first goal of the season at the 7:45 mark of the first period. Miami goalie Ryan Larkin saved Trey Bradley’s shot from the slot, but Bergh corralled it at the bottom of the left circle and sent a shot off Larkin into the net.
“It was great,” Haviland said. “He has been kind of snakebitten. He has gotten a lot of chances to score. He didn’t even think. He just shot it on the net and it went in. That was one of (the Bradley-Bergh-Nick Halloran line’s) best games this year. Hopefully it is good things to come if they get going.”
After Bachman evened the score midway through the second, the Tigers regained the lead with 4:09 left in the middle frame. After a Miami player’s stick broke attempting to send a pass out of the zone, Berardinelli gathered it along the left boards and sent a cross-ice pass to Middendorf, who blasted a one-timer for the right circle while falling down for his second tally of the season.
Leclerc and the Tiger defense took over from there, allowing just nine shots in the third period and just one in the final 1:27 after Larkin exited the ice for an extra skater.
Halloran and Bachman led all players with six shots as CC held a 31-30 advantage in shots. Larkin finished with 29 saves as well and neither team connected on the power play (Miami was 0-for-4, CC was 0-for-5).
The two teams will battle again Saturday night, beginning at 6 p.m.