November 4, 2022 | SPORTS | By Michael Braithwaite | Photos by Crosby Williams

Last season, the Colorado College hockey team played in their annual Pikes Peak Trophy series against the United States Air Force Academy. The two-game series was held over Halloween weekend and was headlined by a dominant Tiger victory at home, with CC beating the Falcons 8-1.

Last Friday, Oct. 28, the Falcons once again came to Ed Robson Arena with the hopes of taking the trophy back to campus this season. Again, the Tigers promptly showed the Cadets the door by knocking their socks off in front of a sold-out crowd. The final score from this season’s matchup: 8-0 Tigers.

Prior to this season’s victory, CC had come off four straight losses on a two-week-long road trip, during which they had been outscored by a combined 6-20 margin against St. Lawrence University and Arizona State University.

Despite the unbelievable similarities between the two performances against the Falcons, they came about in vastly different ways. Last season’s win was pure domination from CC, who only allowed 17 Air Force shots on net in the whole game. By contrast, the Falcons had 30 shots on net in this year’s CC victory, with a whopping 14 of them coming in the third period alone.

There were two main stars of the game for the Tigers. The first was goalkeeper Matt Vernon ’23, who was able to miraculously defend every Air Force shot that came his way throughout the game. Head Coach Kris Mayotte praised Vernon’s play after the game.

“It’s hard to look at [Noah] Laba and see five points and not say he was our best player, but I thought Vern gave us the chance to get our legs under us and get a win and build on our lead.”

The second star player was forward Noah Laba ’26, who finished with two goals and three assists in the game and was fueled by the roaring crowd in Ed Robson.

“The crowd here is great, the student section is unbelievable. It means the world that the students come here to watch us and support us,” said Laba postgame.

Although he was satisfied with the victory, Mayotte commented on areas of improvement for the team, specifically regarding the team letting up shorthanded chances for the opponent.

“It’s got to clean up,” said Mayotte. “It’s our indecision [to recognize danger], that’s a problem. Someone’s in a 50-50 battle, and the four other guys are watching. At some point, someone’s gotta start working back and realize he’s in a compromised position.”

While these instinctual flaws may seem like a major concern for the Tigers’ defense, Mayotte did not think it was something that could be severely detrimental to the team’s play on the ice long-term. “That’s not that hard to clean up, or at least it shouldn’t be,” said Mayotte.

Forwards Logan Will ’24, Hunter McKown ’24, and Laba each scored two goals in the contest, while forward Gleb Veremyev ’26 and defenseman Ethan Straky ’26 each tacked on one score for the Tigers. Air Force used all three goalies on their roster throughout the contest in an attempt to repel CC’s offensive attack.

Despite the significant win on Friday, the Tigers did not have as much success in Saturday night’s game at Cadet Ice Arena. CC lost 3-6 on a night where they just could not capitalize on numerous scoring chances.

Although they outshot the Falcons 29-22, the Tigers went 0-5 on the power play, whereas the Falcons took advantage of three of their five opportunities. Forwards Tommy Middleton ’25, Stanley Cooley ’25, and Will each scored a goal in the matchup, while Vernon recorded 16 saves.

The Tigers will look to improve on last weekend’s performance in their upcoming series against No. 19 Minnesota Duluth this weekend at Ed Robson Arena. The games will take place on Friday, Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, Nov. 5 at 6:00 p.m.

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