November 2, 2023 | SPORTS | By Lilly Asano
Hot off their Friday victory against Air Force, Colorado College Tiger hockey welcomed Augustana University’s Vikings to Ed Robson Arena for their second game of the weekend on Saturday.
Both Augustana and Colorado College had celebrated major achievements in their Friday games: the Tigers added another win to their undefeated season record, claiming the Pikes Peak Trophy for the fifth year in a row, while Vikings tied No. 2 Denver University.
However, the Vikings left the Olympic City successful, delivering the Tigers their first loss of the season after an intense game.
When the teams hit the ice on Saturday, the Vikings’ offense was quick to take control against the Tigers, putting two shots on the net within the first two minutes of the game. Goalie, Kaidan Mbereko ’26, was quick to answer Augustana’s offense, but the persistent pressure on CC’s goal allowed Viking Ryan Naumovski to find the back of the net five minutes into the period.
“They started faster than us,” stated head coach Kris Mayotte after Saturday’s game. “You watch [Augustana] on film, they’re fast. We watched their game against Denver this morning, and they looked fast. If you’re fast against Denver, you’re pretty fast.”
With the Vikings’ early lead, the Tigers were hot on the visiting teams’ heels. Evan Werner ’27 and Noah Laba ’26 were dynamic on the ice and helped the Tigers gain possession in the second half of the period. Assisted by Laba and Bret Link ’27, Werner’s speed and accuracy evened the score with three minutes remaining in the period.
The Vikings were fluid and efficient, and the Tigers’ frustration earned them three penalties in the first period. After Connor Mayer ’23 received a 2-minute Interference penalty, Nicklas Andrews ’24 found himself in the penalty box for cross checking, leaving the Tigers down two players in the last three minutes of the period.
The double power play helped the Vikings secure the lead again as Uula Ruikka moved past the remaining Tigers and Mbereko, drawing the first period score to 1-2.
“To give them a five on three late in the first after we scored is such a huge moment,” Mayotte said. “We can’t take those penalties. That’s where you win and lose hockey games.”
Both teams returned from the first intermission hungry to win. But Augustana continued to climb ahead, supported by goals from Ben Troumbly and Luke Mobley. The score jumped to 1-4, and both the Tigers’ offense and defense began to clean up.
While the Tigers struggled to maintain their offensive zone during the first half of the game, they took control of the puck after Augustana’s 1-4 lead. Laba and Logan Will ’24 dominated the face-offs, moving the puck to their teammates throughout the second period.
At 14:33 into the second period, senior Jack Millar answered the forwards’ call and passed to Zaccharya Wisdom ‘27. While they had struggled with the Viking’s forechecking efforts earlier in the game, Wisdom effortlessly moved through the crowd to bring the score to 4-2.
As the game neared the third period, the energy in the arena and previous success fueled the Tigers for their strongest period of the day. Winning 13 out of 17 face-offs, CC held onto the puck, preventing Augustana from furthering their lead.
The Vikings found themselves down two players to overlapping penalties just five minutes into the remaining period. Ethan Straky ’26 was critical to the Tigers’ offensive movement throughout the game and took advantage of the double power play, passing to freshman Max Burkholder, who brought the score to 3-4 with a slap shot goal.
While the Tigers held the Vikings off for the rest of the game, they walked away at the end of the third with their first-season loss.
“We had to claw back, and we did,” Mayotte expressed. “We didn’t quite have the poise to have the final goal to tie it up, but I thought we got close.”
“We’re going to learn from it and be better,” he concluded.
The Tigers will face rival Denver University in their National Collegiate Hockey Conference season opener in a two-game set this weekend. The Tigers will play in Denver on Friday before returning to Ed Robson Arena on Saturday night.