November 12, 2021 | SPORTS | By Michael Braithwaite | Photo by Anil Jergens

Last weekend, the Colorado College hockey team faced the number one ranked St. Cloud State Huskies in a fierce doubleheader matchup at home.

St. Cloud came into the weekend holding the number one ranking in the nation for good reason. With a lethal combination of seniority and skill, the Huskies are dominant in all phases of the game. It was sure to be a test for a rebuilding Tiger unit, hungry for the chance to prove themselves.

“They’re skilled, they’re fast, they’re physical,” said CC head coach Kris Mayotte on his weekly Tuesday radio show the week before. “They’re just a complete team.”

In their previous game versus the Air Force Falcons, the Tigers had showcased their offensive prowess, netting eight goals for their first win in the new Ed Robson Arena. Unfortunately, that offense was largely held in check against the Huskies.

For the first 10 minutes of Friday night’s game, CC looked less like a strong collegiate team and more like one that would better compete at the high school level. St. Cloud State responded to this lack of energy by netting an early goal, with forward Micah Miller flicking the puck by CC goalie Dominic Basse ’24 to make it 1-0 Huskies.

After the initial goal, the Tigers seemed to settle into the game. They started responding more quickly to St. Cloud’s attacks and became more aggressive on the forecheck.

That energy continued building steadily through the second period. CC grew more and more confident about their ability to match up with and compete against the number one team in the country.

Then, 7:39 into the second period, CC forward Jordan Biro ’24 fielded a pass from teammate Matthew Gleason ’24 on the right side of St. Cloud State’s net and sent a shot to Husky goalie David Hrenak. It ricocheted off the left post and slid into the goal.

Ed Robson Arena exploded with energy, and as fans rained “SIV!” chants upon Hrenak, momentum seemed to be on CC’s side.

The Tigers continued their quality of play into the third period, along the way holding off St. Cloud State’s attack even through two Husky power plays which threatened to break the tie.

With 13:45 remaining in the game, CC went on a power play after Husky forward Easton Brodzinski was awarded a two-minute penalty for holding. 42 seconds later, the Tigers scored again. Forward Brett Chorske ’25 fielded a pass off the top of the boards from Biro, and then pushed it past Hrenak to put CC up 2-1.

At this point, a Tiger victory over the Huskies seemed very possible. With only 13 minutes remaining in the game, all CC had to do to win was to play stout defense and control the puck.

Unfortunately, the game did not finish out that way.

With 5:47 remaining, CC forward Hunter McKown ’24 reached out his stick to knock the puck away from a Husky attacker. He accidentally made contact with the attacker’s skate, causing a trip and a two-minute power play for St. Cloud State.

Then, with only 4:25 remaining in the game, Husky forward Jami Krannila sent a slap shot past Basse to tie up the score.

This tying goal seemed to deflate the Tigers, halting their momentum and taking away the intensity which had propelled them into the lead for much of the third period. 

The game went into a three-on-three overtime period where St. Cloud State scored the game-winning goal. It was a shot by Krannila that rebounded off Basse’s chest back and bounced Krannila’s stick.  Krannila sent it into the back of the net.

While CC’s play in the 3-2 overtime loss had positive takeaways for players and coaches, the fact that the Tigers seemed to be outplaying their competition for most of the game made the final result discouraging to both team members and fans.

“It’s frustrating,” said Mayotte postgame. “We were good for parts of today, but that wasn’t good enough.”

Although Saturday night’s game could have been an opportunity for CC to rebound and fix up their mistakes, the gut-wrenching loss from the night before seemed to dictate the affair.

The game started on a weird note, with the Tigers taking a delay of game penalty before the puck had even been dropped, resulting in a two-minute St. Cloud State power play to begin the night.

The odd call, one which Mayotte said afterwards he had never seen before, set the stage for a game in which CC never really seemed to get comfortable.

The Tigers were down 2-0 at the end of the first period, losing first line center Hunter McKown ’24 to a right arm injury in the process. McKown would not return for the rest of the game.

A goal in the second period by Biro made the score 2-1 and brought some life to the crowd. It ultimately did not energize the team as it had the night before. The Tigers let up two more goals in the third period, losing the matchup 4-1.

Overall, the aspects of the game which had hurt CC the previous night, penalties and vulnerability on transitions, hurt them again on Saturday. The Tigers gave up two shorthanded goals, with one coming right as the power play expired.

“We weren’t as detailed as we needed to be down the stretch,” said Mayotte postgame. “We took two penalties for basically no reason, and that cost us.”

Although neither game result will make CC players or fans happy, the reality is that, with an incredibly young team and a first-year head coach, the Tigers are trending towards achieving sustained success in the near future. 

Plus, the Tigers were without center Logan Will ’24 for the entire weekend, who was unable to play due to being in COVID-19 protocol. With three goals and four assists on the season, it is safe to say that Will’s offensive presence was missed against the Huskies’ aggressive defense. 

The Tigers will look to rebound this weekend as they face fourth-ranked Minnesota Duluth. CC’s next home game is Friday, Dec. 10 vs. North Dakota.

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