March has arrived, and to Colorado College's delight, it appears to be "Tim Hall Time" again.
Secret weapon Hall, who scored four of his five tallies as a junior last season from February on, struck twice in the second period on Friday to ignite CC to a huge 5-2 victory over Michigan Tech in the opener of their two-game series at the World Arena.
Despite giving up two more shorthanded goals, the Tigers clinched a home-ice WCHA playoff berth for the 17th time in the last 19 years dating back to 1993-94. Now 17-14-2 overall and 14-12-1 in league play, they head into Saturday's regular-season finale against MTU having clinched no worse than the sixth seed for next week's best-of-three opening-round action.
Their opponent, not yet determined, could be Tech, Nebraska Omaha or St. Cloud State, pending the outcomes of Saturday's games around the league.
Hall sandwiched his fourth and fifth red lighters of the campaign between a pair by sophomore left wing Jaden Schwartz in the first frame and junior defenseman Mike Boivin, whose power-play blast through a crowd in front of the net at 6:13 of the third put Colorado College up 4-2. That one came just 22 seconds after sophomore defenseman Bradley Stebner pulled the Huskies to within a goal while teammate Blake Pietela sat in the penalty box.
Daniel Sova, also a sophomore defenseman, buried a shorty with 3:18 left in the opening stanza to tie the game at 1-1. Stebner's was the 11th that CC has allowed this season.
But on this night, they were the only two dents in the armor of sophomore goaltender Josh Thorimbert, who made half of his 26 saves in the final 20 minutes.
"We stayed pretty calm in the locker room," said Hall. "We've had a rough stretch (the last seven games) but now we feel good. I don't think we're going to let up. Hopefully we can keep this rolling."
Schwartz added an empty-net, power-play goal with 10 seconds remaining to ice the victory.
Michigan Tech, now 0-21 in regular-season play against the Tigers at the CSWA, had a chance at a third shorthanded marker with 9:12 left to play, but Thorimbert made a leg-pad stop on Alex MacLeod's breakaway.
The eighth-place Huskies, 14-17-4 overall and 11-12-4 in the WCHA, must win on Saturday, and have both sixth-place Nebraska Omaha and St. Cloud State lose, to garner sixth place and their first home playoff berth since 1993.
Hall's second goal, the game winner, came off a quick wrist shot from the high slot that he fired through the legs of a defender and past senior netminder Josh Robinson. Hall scored earlier on a one-timer off a pass from behind the net by sophomore Archie Skalbeck to put CC up 2-1 only 2:23 into the middle period. Junior right wing Andrew Hamburg assisted on both goals.
Robinson finished with 36 saves Michigan Tech.