SAINT PAUL, Minn. – In the quarterfinal nightcap of the WCHA Final Five, it wasn’t the team wearing green – Alaska-Anchorage – that found themselves with all the luck on St. Patrick’s Day.
The Seawolves missed on several quality scoring chances early, let Colorado College build a lead and never rallied, falling 4-2 to the Tigers at Xcel Energy Center Thursday night.
“This was a huge win for us,” Colorado College coach Scott Owens said. “We knew it was going to be a difficult game. Anchorage is playing as well as anyone in the country.”
Numerous times in the game’s first 20 minutes, Anchorage created great looks at the net. The Seawolves outshot the Tigers 7-5 in the first, nearly doubled up CC in shot attempts (16-9) and, if it weren’t for a combination of kick-saves and pipes, could very easily have scored two or three times before the first horn sounded.
Instead, Colorado College got tallies from William Rapuzzi and Tim Hall, leisurely establishing a two-goal lead after the opening period.
“I think the difference in the game was early,” Anchorage coach Dave Shyiak said. “We had some quality scoring chances where we didn’t finish, and they got some puck-luck goals early.”
Colorado College had three of their four goals either bounce onto an open stick or go straight into the net after deflections off Seawolves’ players, including two of the three goals in the opening 24:39 to give CC a 3-0 advantage.
Once Mickey Spencer finally got Anchorage on the board, the little spark of life that did flicker was quickly extinguished by a Tiger goal in the final minute of the second.
All night, every break the Seawolves seemed to create for themselves was somehow shifted against them. Spencer’s potentially huge goal was quickly answered by CC. Three-straight power plays in the third, including almost a minute of five-on-three work, saw nothing materialize as Anchorage spent the majority of its man-up situations retrieving the puck from their own end instead of setting up in the Tigers’ defensive zone.
“It wasn’t a typical CC-type of game,” Owens said. “It wasn’t a style of game that we see very often. After a very poor first period, we settled in and seemed to play better.”
For Shyiak and the Seawolves, the loss ends what was one of the most successful seasons in Alaska-Anchorage history, highlighted by only the program’s second trip to the Final Five in the 18-year history of the tournament.
“It doesn’t sit well, and it doesn’t feel right,” Shyiak said. “If you take time of possession and who outplayed who, I thought we played like we had to play.
Colorado College, who currently sits on the bubble for a birth in the NCAA tournament, plays No. 1-seed North Dakota tomorrow night. The Tigers have only played 11 of 42 games on NHL-sized ice, and knows exactly what they’ll get against a gritty, hard-hitting Sioux team in the semifinals.
“North Dakota is a really physical team,” Rapuzzi said. “All these teams this time of year play real tough, especially on an NHL sheet. I think [a physical game] will kind of play into our favor a little.”