After scoring three third-period goals and putting together a furious comeback bid on Friday night, the Colorado College Tigers used that momentum on Saturday to earn a series split, handing No. 10 Omaha a 4-0 home loss.
It was the first time the Mavericks were shut out since Dec. 12, 2020 (1-0 against Miami during the NCHC Pod), the first time the Mavericks were shut out at home since March 7, 2020 (5-0 against North Dakota) and the first time the Mavericks lost to the Tigers since Feb. 22, 2020. Omaha came into the series finale winners of 10 of the last 11 between the two teams.
“This one stings a little bit,” Omaha head coach Mike Gabinet said after the game. “You see how we can play for spurts of it there, but we have to bring that all the time.”
The Mavericks had some looks early, including a Ty Mueller shot off the post, but the effort and chances were consistently lacking throughout the night. Colorado College outshot Omaha 32-17, including a 15-5 differential in the third. The Tigers’ forecheck was evident all night and pinned the Mavericks in their own zone multiple times throughout the contest, giving Omaha little to no time and space.
“They came out hard,” said sophomore forward Matt Miller. “They played to their strengths tonight, they came out with a good game plan and credit to them, they played a good game.”
Miller, who returned for his first game since Oct. 29, stressed after the game that as frustrating of a loss as Saturday night was, the disappointing part isn’t what will show up in the box score.
“It’s not always about the results, obviously we want to win, but it’s how we play the game and how we meet our standards,” Miller said. “Obviously losses are frustrating, but when we don’t play to our standards and play our game plan, it’s more frustrating.”
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead 4:08 into the second as Jackson Jutting scored his second goal of the season. Jutting’s shot, which Omaha netminder Austin Roden got a piece of, ended up being the game-winner.
Throughout the second period as a whole, the Mavericks struggled to get much going. Simply put, it wasn’t the team that showed up for much of the previous 11 home games this season.
“It wasn’t good enough,” Gabinet said of the effort. “For glimpses it was good, but this is the NCHC. This is Omaha hockey. You’re expected to compete the whole game, you’re expected to show up and win loose puck battles and you’re expected to show up and be disciplined. We didn’t do those three things well enough.”
That discipline comment can be traced to a sequence at the end of the second period. Taylor Ward was initially going to be called for an interference penalty near the Colorado College blue line. As play continued with the delayed penalty and the clock wound down, a scrum ensued in front of the Omaha net with .03 seconds left in the period.
Omaha’s Kirby Proctor and CC’s Danny Weight were assessed coincidental roughing minors, but the bigger blow was a 5-minute face masking major to Omaha defenseman Jonny Tychonick. The Tigers started the third with a 5-on-3 power play on the fresh ice, followed by the final three minutes of the Tychonick major.
“This is the NCHC,” Gabinet said. “You can’t take undisciplined penalties and expect to win hockey games. You can’t lose puck battles, you can’t not outwork your opponent and can’t take undisciplined penalties if you want to win.”
Although the Mavericks were able to kill off the Ward minor, Brian Hawkinson tipped a shot past Roden 2:40 into the third for a power-play goal. Hawkinson scored 83 seconds later for his second of the season, second of the period and second of that power play to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead. Those two goals were the final nail in the coffin on the home side.
“We just failed to meet the standards of Omaha hockey and it showed,” Miller said. “When we’re on our game — you can see at the start and the end, it’s a different game. But when we’re not skating and playing to our strengths, it’s tough.”
Tommy Middleton added an empty-netter with 3:56 left to make it 4-0. The win was the third of the season for Colorado College (3-8-3) and their first in NCHC play (1-4-1). Omaha drops to 12-4-0 on the season and 3-3-0 in NCHC play. The Mavericks will travel to Western Michigan next weekend.
Friday’s third period carries into series finale
It was a common theme during the Omaha press conference Friday night. After seeing Colorado College mount a third-period comeback, the Mavericks knew the Tigers would come out flying in game two. That third-period momentum spilled over into the series finale and the Tigers scored the final seven goals of the weekend.
”It’s hard to say because the scoreboard still says 0-0 when the puck drops tonight, but what I thought (the third period) did was give us some confidence that the way we play and the way we want to play is good enough,” said Colorado College head coach Kris Mayotte. ”When we went back to look at film this morning, we could see the moments where we were really good. We just had to make sure we did it for 60 minutes.
“This weekend I thought we played five good periods of hockey though. Unfortunately, last night’s first period cost us, but I thought we played five really well, especially in the third last night and tonight. That’s following having a road shutout in Duluth too, so when you put together another performance like this, the belief continues to grow. We have to use this to continue to grow.”
Power-play goals sink Omaha
The Tigers finished the night 2-for-7 on the power play, but they capitalized when it mattered most. When Hawkinson scored his two power-play goals early in the third period, the Tigers started to pull away.
“We were a little disappointed not to get anything on the 5-on-3, but I thought our guys stuck with it,” Mayotte said. “Their mentality didn’t change either. They didn’t let off the gas, they didn’t get down with not scoring on the 5-on-3 and our talk on the bench was fantastic.
“Sometimes when you’re not getting a ton of results, you become used to playing from behind, but when you score a couple goals and start to build a lead, it’s a different type of game. When Brian (Hawkinson) popped that first one, I thought our confidence started to grow.”
News and Notes
- Saturday’s night loss was the first time the Mavericks had dropped the second game of a series this season. Omaha is now 7-1-0 in series finales.
- The Mavericks came into this weekend outscoring opponents 23-7 in the third period. The Tigers outscored Omaha 6-0 in the final frame this weekend.
- Omaha sits in sixth place in the NCHC standings with eight points. Next week’s opponent, Western Michigan, is second with 15 points.
- Austin Roden made his fifth start of the season Saturday and suffered his first loss. Dominic Basse made 17 saves for the Tigers and secured his first career shutout.
- Brian Hawkinson and Tommy Middleton both netted their first goal of the season for Colorado College. Hawkinson, who was the game’s first star, finished the night with two power-play goals.
- In addition to the shot count, Colorado College also won the battle on the faceoff dots, 28-24.
- Cameron Berg led Omaha with four shots. Hunter McKown had a team-leading six for the Tigers.
- After this weekend’s series, Omaha leads the all-time series with Colorado College 25-11-5.