Snaps 11-Game Losing Skid to Rival DU in the Process
by Joe Paisley/CHN Correspondent
ST. PAUL, Minn. Lessons learned by coach Kris Mayotte and the Tigers’ unshakable belief in their own defense has Colorado College playing in its first league title game in 10 years.
For the third game in a row, the seventh-seeded Tigers used a suffocating defense to upset a higher seed, defeating Denver, the top seed in the tournament and No. 3 in the Pairwise, 1-0 in Friday’s early semifinal at the NCHC Frozen Faceoff at the Xcel Energy Center.
CC pulled off its first road playoff series sweep in program history at Western Michigan last weekend to end a 13-game winless streak and reach St. Paul.
It’s a winning formula second-year coach Mayotte learned as a Providence assistant under Nate Leaman.
“What he (Leaman) does really well is realize what his team’s strengths are and to build a gameplan around it,” Mayotte said. “I give our guys a lot of credit. Especially guys like (top-liners Ryan) Beck, (Noah) Laba and (Hunter) McKown. They want to play offense and they are good at playing offense. But at the same time, they are really committed to the defensive sides of things out of necessity.”
“We would love to score four goals a game but recent history has shown us how we are going to be successful,” he added. “I give the group a ton of credit for buying into what our strengths are and what the season was telling us. And then embracing it.”
That gameplan is anchored by superb goaltending from freshman Kaidan Mbereko, a layered defense-oriented approach and a stifling penalty kill.
And the Tigers (13-21-3) have scored just enough to reap the reward. On Friday, it was McKown who delivered his NCAA Division I-leading 14th power-play goal with 6:38 left in the second period for the eventual game-winner.
“The whole country knows he’s getting it but he’s a special player,“ said co-captain Bryan Yoon, a graduate student defenseman who was a Tigers freshman when they reached the Frozen Faceoff for the first time in 2019. “He showed that tonight.”
The CC defenders disrupted the Pioneers throughout, jostling them off the puck and keeping them from jump starting their potent transition rushes.
“They were able to keep us to the outside, basically all night” said DU defenseman Kyle Mayhew. “One of the strengths…
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