The #1 University of Denver Pioneers tied in-state rival Colorado College Friday night at Magness Arena in a up-and-down contest that saw DU lose a one-goal lead in the final ten seconds of regulation. Colorado College snapped a 14-game losing streak in the rivalry series and picked up an extra point by scoring in the 3-on-3 sudden death overtime.
The lead changed hands five times total in the contest. Colorado College’s (7-7-1, 3-5-0-1 NCHC) Nick Halloran finished with two goals, two assists and 11 shots on goal. Dylan Gambrell contributed a three-point night for the Pioneers (9-3-3, 5-3-1).
It looked like the teams would enter the first intermission in a scoreless tie until CC’s Kristian Blumenschei scored his first goal of the season with just eight seconds left in the period.
After killing an early penalty in the second period, the Pioneers quickly got back even at 5:26 on a goal from Logan O’Connor. Colin Staub protected the puck along the boards before feeding a pass to O’Connor, who lost his man behind the net and swept the puck past Leclerc on a wraparound.
After DU was unable to capitalize on long periods of puck possession in the CC zone throughout the second period, the Tigers’ top line struck to take back the lead. Halloran, the former Colorado Rampage standout beat Tanner Jaillet from the faceoff circle at 15:31.
But again the lead would not hold for long, as Gambrell snuck the puck through Leclerc five-hole just over two and a half minutes later.
dylan gambrell is a sneaky, sneaky man pic.twitter.com/zdbAKX8oiI— Denver Hockey (@DU_Hockey) December 9, 2017
Again looking like the teams would head to the locker room tied, this time it was the Pioneers who came out on the right end of a last second goal, as freshman defenseman Ian Mitchell notched his first collegiate goal (though it was his 12th point) with only 17 seconds to play. The Tigers won a face-off with just over a minute to play but failed to kill the remainder of the clock, allowing Mitchell to exploit Leclerc going side-to-side from behind the net for a third time.
Gambrell was credited with his second assist of the night, marking his fifth multi-assist game this season.
Momentum swung back CC’s way after killing off a pair of penalties in the first half of the third period. Halloran then struck again for the Tigers, burying a rebound off a shot from Mason Bergh to tie the game with 8:55 to play.
With time ticking down under three minutes, freshman Jaakko Heikkinen took advantage of another long stretch of Denver puck possession, scoring with 2:28 to go. It was the fourth lead change of the game and looked to have the Pioneers on their way to a wild victory.
After gaining possession and getting Leclerc to the bench for the extra attacker, CC peppered Jaillet with shots. Finally, with just 6.8 seconds to play, Bergh stunned the home crowd at Magness Arena with his 10th goal of the season, deflected into the back of the net off the crossbar. The last few remaining seconds ticked away and sent the teams to overtime.
After playing five minutes scoreless at 5-on-5, the game became an official “tie,” as the teams continued with 3-on-3 play. 3:36 into 3-on-3 play, Christiano Versich scored to earn the Tigers an extra point in the NCHC standings.
The teams will rematch Saturday night at Colorado Springs. Face-off is scheduled for 6:05 PM MT.