February 25, 2022 | SPORTS | By Michael Braithwaite | Photo by Anil Jergens
The Colorado College hockey program shined in their series against The Miami University Redhawks last weekend, winning Friday night’s game 4-3 and Saturday night’s game 3-2 at Ed Robson Arena. Both victories came in overtime and highlighted significant improvements the Tigers have made to their game play.
While the on-ice play of the Tigers was certainly something to be marveled at, the team made positive headlines off the ice as well. After CC decided to lift its vaccination/testing mandate for entry during the week, Saturday night’s game featured a significant uptick in general attendance, as Ed Robson Arena was sold out for the first time in about a month.
In his postgame press conference on Saturday night, Head Coach Kris Mayotte provided insight on the team’s improvements, remarking that the change has stemmed from a different mental approach the team has taken towards their games.
“I thought we took a big step last Saturday at North Dakota – even though we didn’t get the result, our team went into that game thinking we were going to win,” said Mayotte. “Once you start to build on that, you can be down a goal going into the third [period] in two straight nights and find a way to come back.”
Friday night’s game didn’t see its first goal until the end of the first period, when CC forward Hunter McKown ’24 hit a wrist shot with just 24.1 seconds remaining, putting the Tigers up 1-0. Forward Jordan Biro ’24 then nearly doubled the Tigers’ lead at the start of the second period, but an acrobatic save from Miami goalie Ludvig Persson put CC’s hopes to rest.
A pair of power-play goals by forwards PJ Fletcher and Matt Barry in the second period put the Redhawks up 2-1, but the Tigers were not out of the game yet. A goal by Brett Chorske ’25 tied the game at two just three minutes into the third period.
Fletcher responded four minutes later with another goal for the Redhawks, but a few minutes after Miami took the lead, McKown tied the game back up with his second goal of the night.
The game then went into a three-on-three overtime period, one which nearly lasted its full five-minute duration. However, McKown had other plans, completing his hat-trick by scoring the game winning overtime goal with just 15.4 seconds remaining in the period.
Coach Mayotte was happy with his team’s performance after their 4-3 overtime win, saying that he felt they executed their game plan well and hung around even when they were losing. Mayotte also praised McKown for his performance, acknowledging that his ability and mindset is at a higher standard than many of his peers.
“Hunter has been taking those strides physically where he is attacking the game,” Mayotte said. “There aren’t many guys in the country that can beat goalies from 45 feet away – He’s one of those guys.”
Saturday night’s game was more of the same for both teams: the Tigers got out to an early one-goal lead in the first period, Miami scored two goals in the second period, and CC tied it up in the third period and then won it in overtime.
CC forward Tyler Coffey ’24 scored the first goal of the contest, with his shot coming off a beautiful pass from teammate Jackson Jutting ’24. The goal had Persson so confused, he didn’t realize the puck had gotten past him until the horn sounded.
Miami again scored two goals in the second period, one from forward Chase Gresock and another from defenseman Hampus Rydqvist, to put them up by one going into the third period. As they had done the night before, CC tied up the game in the third, this time on Coffey’s second goal of the night.
Just under 30 seconds into overtime, a pass from CC forward Logan Will ’24, skating into the right faceoff circle, found teammate Matthew Gleason ’24. Gleason had been skating at top speed towards Miami’s net and was immediately knocked over by Persson upon receiving the puck.
However, as he was falling, Gleason was still able to backhand the puck and deflect it off Persson’s backside. Will then dove for the puck and knocked it across the blue line with his stick to end the game, giving CC a 3-2 victory.
“We definitely missed him while he was out [for over a month] with his high ankle sprain,” Coffey said postgame. “Me, Gleason, and [Patrick] Cozzi bring a lot of energy to this team.”
Coach Mayotte reveled in his team’s performance in his postgame press conference following Saturday night’s victory, highlighting how their determination and grit paved the way for their success across the series as a whole.
“They earned [the victory] through their week of practice … they were committed to being hard, they were committed to being fast,” Mayotte said. “In terms of [the full] 60 minutes, we had 21 guys sticking with the game plan – I thought this was one of our better nights in a while.”
Another critical facet to the Tigers’ success on the weekend was the play of their goalie Matt Vernon ’23, who made 60 saves while allowing only five goals across the two games. Vernon, who has been known for making highlight-reel saves all season long, showcased his ability again this weekend, and had one of his saves from Friday night’s game named the National Collegiate Hockey Conference play of the week.
After being away this weekend at No. 11 St. Cloud State University, the Tigers will play their last home game of the season on March 4. vs. the rival No. 3 ranked Denver Pioneers. The matchup will serve as CC’s Senior Night and allow fans to say goodbye to starting players Bryan Yoon ’22, Hugo Blixt ’22, and Brian Hawkinson ’22.