Mar 5, 2011 12:19 AM by Jordan Mason
Demonstrating more of the grit it has attained step by step over the course of a roller-coaster season, Colorado College got the mission accomplished in dramatic fashion on Friday.
The Tigers roared from behind with a pair of goals late in the third period, wrapping up a home-ice playoff berth for the opening round of the WCHA playoffs with a stunning 3-2 victory at the University of Wisconsin.
CC, now 19-15-3 overall and 13-12-2 in conference play, will finish no lower than sixth in the league standings, regardless of what happens in Saturday's rematch and regular-season finale at the Kohl Center.
Junior center David Civitarese struck for the game winner with 2:55 left in regulation, less than two and a half minutes after senior winger Stephen Schultz knotted the contest with a blast from the slot at 14:37 of the final frame. Junior left winger Tim Hall set up the 4-on-4 tally by Civitarese, with the teams playing four skaters a side.
Joe Howe finished with 26 saves, making 22 of them in the opening 40 minutes of play when UW built a 24-12 advantage in shots on goal but was able to get only one past the sophomore netminder.
Colorado College drew first blood in the game when junior defenseman Gabe Guentzel took a drop pass from Schultz during a power play and rocketed a blast past Wisconsin goaltender Brett Bennett at 2:18 of the second period. But Jake Gardiner, also a junior blue-line specialist, pulled Wisconsin even four minutes later after pinching in to take a pass from sophomore forward Derek Lee.
Senior forward Patrick Johnson snapped the 1-1 tie just 34 seconds into the third period, shelving a shot past Howe from the left faceoff circle to put the Tigers down 2-1.
The slumping Badgers, who are 0-6-1 in their last seven outings, dropped to 19-14-3 overall and 11-13-3 in the WCHA.
CC still can finish fifth in the league standings by completing the weekend sweep on Saturday, if the University of Minnesota loses at Bemidji State. The teams played to a 3-3 tie on Friday, leaving the Gophers just one point ahead of Colorado College.