Continuing to drop hints of peaking at precisely the right time of this up-and-down 2012-13 campaign, Colorado College stunned yet another opponent ranked among the nation's Top 10 on Friday.
Powered by junior left wing Alexander Krushelnyski, who scored two of three unanswered goals in the third period, CC skated to a very workmanlike 4-1 victory over No. 7 Minnesota State University in the opener of their two-game series at the World Arena.
Senior Joe Howe was big between the pipes again, steering away 31 of 32 shots by the Mavericks, while Scott Winkler and Archie Skalbeck struck for power-play tallies that wiped out a 1-0 MSU lead.
With the triumph, the Tigers improved to 13-15-5 overall as well as 10-11-4 in the WCHA, where they still cling to a slim chance of home ice in the first round of the league playoffs two weeks from now. And, while that scenario will require a minor miracle with three games left in the regular season, the recent surge is as refreshing as it is encouraging.
"I thought we got better as the game went on," said head coach Scott Owens, whose suddenly revived squad has suffered only one loss (4-1-3) in its last eight outings down the stretch. "We won the special teams battle, which we hadn't done in a long time. The power play converted and we had some fortunate kills - eitther Joe made saves or we got some good bounces.
"They (the Mavericks) are a good team and I'm proud of the way we played. We had a good third period. It's our fourth win against a Top 10 team in the last six weeks, and I think it had kind of a playoff-type feel to it tonight."
Minnesota State, 20-10-3 overall and 14-10-1 in league play, snapped a scoreless tie at 3:32 of the second period when freshman left winger Dylan Margonari tapped a close-range shot into an open net after Matt Leitner's pass off a Colorado College skate slid right to him near the left post.
Winkler knotted the contest at 12:43 with his first goal in nine games, pouncing on a rebound on the right side after Rylan Schwartz set up defenseman Mike Boivin for a blast from the point with the Tigers holding a man advantage.
Howe, now 4-1-3 in his last eight starts, made a big stop on MSU's Eriah Hayes with 3:44 left in the middle stanza to keep the score deadlocked heading into the third.
Skalbeck put the Tigers up, 2-1, with another power-play goal at 2:58 of final stanza. After momentarily losing possession in the right faceoff circle, he regained control in heavy traffic and fired a quick wrist shot that beat freshman goalie Stephon Williams high on the glove side. Winkler and sophomore defenseman Aaron Harstad, playing in his first game in a month, were credited with the assists.
Krushelnyski then took Boivin's perfectly banked pass off the left-side boards and soloed in on Williams to bump the lead to 3-1 at 9:26. He added an empty netter, his 13th red lighter of the season, with 3:34 remaining to seal the victory.