Unfortunately for Colorado College, history has a way of repeating itself.
CC, which has dominated Michigan Tech during regular-season play for most of the last two decades, continued its history of playoff struggles against the Huskies with a 3-1 loss on Friday in the opener of their best-of-three series at the World Arena.
Tech can eliminate the Tigers from the WCHA first round, and end their season, with another victory on Saturday or Sunday.
In posting its seventh victory in nine all-time post-season encounters between the teams, MTU moved to within one step of advancing to the league's Final Five for the first time since pulling off a three-game upset on the same sheet of ice in 2007. The last-place Huskies also beat MacNaughton Cup champion Colorado College in three nail biters at the last series ever played at the old Broadmoor World Arena in 1994.
Freshman left wing David Johnstone fueled Friday's triumph with a goal and an assist, while senior goaltender Josh Robinson steered away 16 of the 17 shots that reached him.
"I was disappointed with our inability to win some puck battles and to get to the net," said Colorado College head coach Scott Owens. "I mean ... 17 shots on goal against any team is unacceptable."
The only one to elude Robinson came off the stick of junior center Rylan Schwartz, whose 23rd tally of the season tied the contest at 1-1 during a five-on-three power play early in the third period. Senior defenseman Gabe Guentzel and sophomore left wing Jaden Schwartz, who a day earlier emerged as second-team All-WCHA selections, assisted on the goal with 39 seconds elapsed in the final frame.
Any momentum CC seemed to seize at that point fizzled quickly, however, when some hard work behind the net by Michigan Tech's fourth line broke the deadlock just three minutes later. Sophomore center Dennis Rix scored what proved to be the game winner after taking a pass all alone in the slot from senior left wing Bryce Reddick at 3:41. Junior right wing Chad Pietila also earned an assist.
Johnstone, who staked the visitors to a 1-0 lead on a rink-long solo rush after making an outstanding backchecking play in the defensive zone late in the second period, set up senior winger Alex McLeod at 10:21 of the third period to cap the night's scoring.
Sophomore netminder Josh Thorimbert finished with 26 saves for the Tigers, who dropped to 18-15-2 for the season but remained 19th in the computerized Pairwise rankings that determine the 16-team field for the NCAA tournament. That's a moot point unless CC can rebound with back-to-back victories to win the first-round series and take its chances in the next round.
Michigan Tech improved to 15-18-4 with the victory.