Nebraska Omaha paid a favor Saturday to its chances of clinching home ice in the first round of the WCHA playoffs, upsetting No. 15 Colorado College in Colorado Springs’s World Arena.
UNO forward Ryan Walters shined for the visitors, scoring both the game-tying and game-winning goals in the night’s third period.
Unlucky in a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to the homestanding Tigers on Friday, UNO (14-12-6, 11-8-5 WCHA) bounced back late in Saturday’s rematch. Four unanswered goals overturned a 3-1 CC lead and put the visitors into the lead for good.
With the loss, CC fell to 16-12-2 and 13-10-1 in the league. CC and UNO are now in a three-way tie with North Dakota for fourth place in the WCHA with four games remaining for each team in the regular season.
The Tigers lead UNO and UND on tiebreakers, however. If the regular season ended today, CC would host Bemidji State in the first round of the WCHA playoffs, while UNO would host St. Cloud State and UND would host seventh-place Michigan Tech.
UNO freshman Dominic Zombo opened the scoring Saturday with his first goal as a Maverick, beating Tiger goaltender Josh Thorimbert 11:43 into the game.
The hosts woke up in the second period, however, and CC leaped out to a 3-1 lead. Andrew Krushelnyski started the fightback, scoring his second goal of the weekend 33 seconds into Saturday’s middle frame.
The Tigers then took the lead just over a minute later, with CC star Jaden Schwartz beating UNO goaltender John Faulkner for Schwartz’s 12th goal of the season.
The CC lead was doubled later in the period, with David Civitarese lighting the lamp at 18:41.
The Tigers’ advantage was then cut back to a single goal just before the end of the second period. UNO defenseman Bryce Aneloski did the honors, scoring his sixth goal of the season with just under six seconds left before the horn.
Faulkner was then pulled ahead of Saturday’s final period, with freshman and Colorado native Ryan Massa coming in.
Walters then tied the game with a shorthanded goal 2:48 into the third period before scoring the eventual game-winner at 7:19.
UNO freshman Jayson Megna later scored an empty-net goal at 19:20 to give the visitors a much-needed insurance goal.
Massa stopped all 15 shots he faced in Saturday’s third period to add to Faulkner’s 11 saves over the night’s first 40 minutes. Thorimbert made 29 in the losing effort.
UNO returns home for its final four games of the regular season, hosting Minnesota next weekend for a pair of games before welcoming Denver the following week. CC is at Minnesota Duluth next week before returning home to face Michigan Tech.
Elsewhere in the WCHA on Saturday:
St. Cloud State 8-3 Alaska Anchorage
Minnesota 4-1 Bemidji State
Wisconsin 5-2 Denver
Minnesota State 4-4 Minnesota Duluth
North Dakota 1-1 Michigan Tech