THORIMBERT'S 34 SAVES HELP COLORADO COLLEGE TOP MICHIGAN TECH, 2-0
Sophomore goaltender Josh Thorimbert stops 34 shots for Tigers
Once again, Colorado College hasn't seen the last of its final regular-season opponent.
The Tigers, who completed their first sweep of the 2012 calendar year with a 2-0 victory over Michigan Tech on Saturday at the World Arena, will play host to the same Huskies in the opening round of the WCHA playoffs next week.
Winner of the best-of-three series earns a spot at the league's Final Five tournament in St. Paul, Minn., starting on Thursday, March 15.
It's the second consecutive season that such a scenario has unfolded for CC, which clinched home ice a year ago by splitting at the University of Wisconsin, then beat the Badgers in a three-game playoff series at home.
"I thought it worked out well last year," head coach Scott Owens said after seeing his troops improve to 18-14-2 overall while finishing 15-12-1 in conference play. "It has the flavor of a Junior A five-game series which we liked. I know tonight was the kind of game that earned our players' respect. We were fortunate to win."
Sophomore goaltender Josh Thorimbert, not a factor in the team's post-season run last spring, was the difference in Saturday's triumph. Thorimbert steered away all 31 shots he faced, including 15 in a scoreless but territorially lopsided first period, to post his second shutout of the season and the third of his collegiate career.
Colorado College, which managed only four attempts on target in the initial frame but successfully killed a full two-minute Tech five-on-three power play, used a two-man advantage of its own to get on the scoreboard midway through the contest. With a pair of MTU players in the sin bin, senior defenseman Gabe Guentzel blasted a one-timer from the high slot past Huskies netminder Kevin Genoe. William Rapuzzi and Jaden Schwartz picked up the assists at 11:50 of the second period.
"It's going to be intense," Guentzel said of next week's rematches. "It's do-or-die hockey. It's the playoffs and you are getting every team's best."
Schwartz, who scored twice in Friday's 5-2 victory and has taken over the team scoring lead with 40 points, forced a turnover near the left-side boards at the Michigan Tech blue line with the teams playing four skaters a side and cut in alone to beat Genoe on a backhander with 52.2 seconds left in the penalty-filled middle period.
Genoe finished with 20 saves in the loss.
By sweeping the weekend series, CC clinched its 12th consecutive winning campaign under Owens and improved to a perfect 22-0 in regular-season play against the Huskies at the World Arena. Tech, however, has won six of eight all-time playoff games between the teams including best-of-three sets in Colorado Springs in 2007 and 1994.
The Tigers finished fifth in the WCHA standings while Michigan Tech, 14-18-6 overall and 11-13-4 in league play, wound up eighth.