After losing the Gold Pan for the fourth-straight year, the Colorado College Tigers battled for a weekend split with a 1-0 victory during the second game of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) series against the No. 3-ranked University of Denver Pioneers. Following a crushing 5-1 loss on Friday, Feb. 16 at the Broadmoor World Arena in one of college hockey’s most storied rivalries, the Tigers rallied a road victory that snapped the Pioneers’ 17-game unbeaten streak. The win marked the first time sine 2014 that CC beat DU.
“We played way harder tonight,” CC head coach Mike Haviland said. “Alex [Leclerc] was outstanding. I thought we blocked shots and it was just our normal guys that block shots, it was everybody tonight. That’s what it has to take against a team like that. There’s a reason why they are one of the best teams in the country. They keep coming at you. I just like that we bent, but we didn’t break.”
With the man-advantage, CC’s leading goal-scorer Nick Halloran, would score the lone goal off of a long-range wrister in the final seconds of the opening frame.
Denver’s scrapper forward Jake Durflinger was assessed with tripping with 46 seconds remaining in the period. Halloran collected the faceoff win from the right circle before rounding to center ice where he buried his shot near the left post past DU goalie Tanner Jaillet.
“It was a good team win. Just a 1-0 win shows that it was a good team-defensive win,” Halloran said. “I knew their goalie [Jaillet] couldn’t really see. There were a lot of people in front of us so I figured I would just kind of sling it in there. Lucky enough it went in.”
Halloran, a Draper, UT native, has enhanced his game since his freshman year where he totaled nine points on five goals and four assists. The right-shot forward established himself as an offensive force by assuming an assertive role in his sophomore campaign. Halloran leads the Tigers’ offense with 41 points on 18 goals and 23 assists.
“I think it’s been [having] a bit more confidence,” Halloran said. “Just shooting the puck more and playing with those two guys, [Mason Bergh and Trey Bradley] they’re really good players. I’m finding a bit more confidence.”
Halloran’s linemates, Mason Bergh and Trey Bradley trail CC’s leaderboard with 34 points (15 goals and 19 assists) and 25 points (5 goals and 20 assists), respectively.
“He’s [Halloran] been outstanding. That whole line has,” Haviland said. “They compliment each other. They’ve been our top line all year and they’ve been one of the best lines in the country, I think. The last couple games they’ve been shut down by North Dakota and then last night [against DU]. I think it was huge to see him [Halloran] get that goal tonight and for them to get their confidence back.”
The Pioneers, while without star forward Troy Terry who is representing Team USA at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, dominated puck possession. Denver posted a 40-22 shot advantage and held CC to single-digit shots over each period, but CC’s goalie Alex Leclerc was perfect in net. The sophomore made 40 saves in the victory.
“They played with great desperation,” DU head coach Jim Montgomery said. “CC deserved to win that game because of the desperation they played with. They blocked shots, they won faceoffs. When you look at the details and the process to winning, having positive outcomes, they were the better team in those areas.”
Denver travels to face No. 2-ranked St. Cloud State next weekend, Feb. 23 and 24 on the road.