Friday, February 29, 2008

No. 4 CC 5, No. 10 Minnesota State-Mankato 2 (final)

At the start, Colorado College just wasn't clicking against Minnesota State-Mankato.
Heck, 90 seconds into the game, already trailing 1-0, center Andreas Vlassopoulos found right wing Jimmy Kilpatrick at the top of the crease with goaltender Mike Zacharias down and out of position, but Kilpatrick's shot on the open net was inexplicably wide right.
Then, something happened not too long after Mankato took a 2-0 lead at 13:42.
Defenseman Jack Hillen began breaking the puck out of CC's zone with aplomb, taking it deep into Mankato's zone to start the cycle and open up space. The Tigers began to finish checks and connect passes.
And then came the comeback:
--CC drew within a goal before the period was out when it clicked on its go-to power-play set with Hillen sending a pass from the high slot to center Chad Rau in the left circle. Against Minnesota-Duluth, Rau had one-time slap shots. Friday, Rau collected the puck and rocketed a wrist shot past Zacharias. It was the third power-play goal in a row to be scored in that fashion.
--Just 25 seconds into the second period, Hillen's slap shot from the top of the right circle tied the score.
--A series of saves by goaltender Richard Bachman while the Tigers killed a 5-on-3 situation--including a windmill denial of right wing Kael Mouillierat destined for a gazillion hits if it ever makes YouTube -- would preserve the tie long enough. Bachman won the praise of the crowd through the 20-save period about 90 seconds later when he spent about 10 seconds trying to figure out where in his pads the puck was hiding.
--A minute or so later, defenseman Kris Fredheim put the puck into a Mankato player's feet as CC's Bill Sweatt emerged from the box. Fredheim recollected the puck and fed left wing Scott Thauwald for a breakaway during which he was hooked by Mankato's Mick Berge.
CC again went on the power play after 43 seconds of 4-on-4. Hillen slid a pass across the top to defenseman Brian Connelly whose wrist shot was tipped by left wing Scott McCulloch past Zacharias to put CC ahead 3-2.
Hillen scored with less than seven minutes left in the third when he crashed the net and the puck passed by Eric Walsky slid down the shaft of his stick, over Zacharias' left shoulder and into the goal.

By the numbers:
--20: Shots in the second period for Mankato. Surprisingly, that exorbitant number has been topped by another CC opponent this season. Minnesota launched 21 shots on goal in the third period of CC's 2-1 overtime win on Oct. 20.
--33: Faceoffs were dead even at 33 apiece. Rau won 14 of 23. Vlassopoulos won 8 of 15.
--If you're counting: Bachman gets better as the game goes on. And as the Tigers allow more shots.
In 28 games this season:
195 first-period saves--17 goals allowed = .919 save percentage
260 second-period saves--18 goals allowed = .935 save percentage
234 third-period saves--13 goals allowed = .947 save percentage
5 overtime saves--0 goals allowed = 1.000 save percentage

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