Troy Conzo scored twice and Alex Leclerc made 34 saves to lead Colorado College to a 4-2 victory over No 8 North Dakota Friday night in Grand Forks, N.D.
The Tigers (12-11-4, 6-8-3-2 NCHC) move into sole possession of sixth place in the NCHC and are just one point behind North Dakota and Minnesota Duluth for fourth place after their first win in Grand Forks since March 15, 2014.
The Tigers struck first with 8:25 remaining in the first period when Conzo scored his fourth goal of the season. After North Dakota goalie Cam Johnson misplayed the puck behind the net, Christiano Versich grabbed it and found Trevor Gooch at the left circle. Gooch sent the puck to Conzo, who put it in the net before Johnson could recover for the only goal of the period.
“We played extremely well tonight, “head coach Mike Haviland said. “We were a little nervous at the start, but we settled down after the first goal and our compete level was outstanding.”
A wild second period saw the teams combine for four goals and two penalty shots. UND’s Christian Wolanin scored on a penalty shot at the 8:43 mark after CC was called for covering the puck in the crease by a player other than the goaltender. The Tigers responded 31 seconds later when Conzo notched his second of the game and the first shorthanded goal for the Tigers this season. He collected the puck at his own blue line, weaved through a couple of Fighting Hawks and fired a shot from the left circle that went over Johnson’ left shoulder. At that point, Peter Thome relieved Johnson in the UND net.
“I really liked the way we responded tonight,” head coach Mike Haviland said. “Especially after the penalty shot and Conzo scored on a great shot.”
The Fighting Hawks tied it up again at the 13:40 mark as Colton Poolman skated up the right boards, cut to the net and placed a shot past Leclerc.
Once again, the Tigers responded quickly as Alex Pernitsky faked a shot at the top of the left circle, dragged the puck past a defender, and placed a perfect wrist shot past Thome on his short side for his first career goal.
Less than a minute later, CC had a chance to increase its lead but, after Versich was hauled down during a breakaway, Thome saved his penalty shot to keep it a 3-2 game after 40 minutes.
Leclerc took over in the third period, stopping all 14 shots he saw, and Westin Michaud capped the scoring with an empty-net goal in the final minute. Leclerc helped the Tigers kill two penalties in the final period and all six for the game.
“Alex played very well tonight,” Haviland said. “He was our best penalty killer tonight, but the entire penalty kill was outstanding tonight.”
Johnson had 11 saves for the Fighting Hawks (12-9-8, 6-7-4-2 NCHC), while Thome finished with 14 in a relief effort.
The teams battle again on Saturday, Feb. 10, beginning at 7 p.m. (CT).