By Charlie Lynch
The Colorado College men’s hockey team dropped two games to the two-time defending national champions, University of Minnesota Duluth, the weekend before Thanksgiving. It was a tale of penalties and poor mindset for the Tigers, giving up a late game-winner in the first game on a penalty kill and a lack of focus in the second game, which ultimately led the team to two losses.
In the first game of the series, UMD and CC battled for 60 minutes. Despite a slow start in the first period, Matt Vernon ’23 kept the Tigers in the game with 15 saves. This allowed the Tigers to take a 2-1 early lead at the end of the second period.
However, it was the frequent penalties that came back to haunt the Tigers, even after they scored a late equalizer with less than two minutes remaining. CC gave up a late goal while on a five-minute penalty kill, losing the game 3–4 with 18 seconds left.
“I thought we played better Friday,” Grant Cruikshank ’22 said. “I think Friday we found a way to stay in it. Good teams find a way, a chance to get themselves back in it. Unfortunately, I took a five-minute penalty, which didn’t help the case. We are trying to deal with that as a team and trying to stay out of the box.”
The late penalty was the tipping point for the Tigers and is an area in which the team is trying hard to improve.
The second game against UMD was a tough one for the Tigers, who fell 5-0.
UMD scored once in the first and second periods before they capitalized on the Tigers’ continuing penalties and scored three more times on yet another five-minute major.
“Saturday we didn’t have the right mindset going in, they won the little battles and did the little things right,” Ben Copeland ’22 said. “We need to stay out of the box and we need to work on the penalty kill. We are 59th in the country for penalty kill and that’s unacceptable.”
The Tigers have some work ahead of them as they head to Princeton University this weekend.
“Special teams will win us games in powerplay and penalty kill,” Copeland said. “Five-on-five play we can play with anyone in the country. Play the right way for 60 minutes and we have a chance against anyone.”