Denver had a 2-0 lead, but Colorado College rallied to beat the Pioneers 4-3 Sunday night in deciding Game 3 of their best-of-three opening round WCHA playoff series at Magness Arena.
Sophomore right wing Charlie Taft, of Edina, scored the winning goal in the middle of the third period.
The Tigers will face North Dakota at 7 p.m. Thursday in the second Final Five quarterfinal at the X.
Denver had played in the past five Final Fives. Now the Pioneers have to wait to see they earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The 16-team NCAA field will be announced on Sunday at 6 p.m. on ESPNU.
The winners of the five conference tournaments receive automatic spots. Eleven teams receive at-large bids, which the PairWise ratings predict with near certainty.
Junior Nick Shore gave the Pioneers (20-13-5) lead on a power-play goal at 12:34 of the first period. A centering pass deflected to Shore in the slot and he buried a slap shot in the upper left corner.
Daniel Doremus made it 2-0 DU just 1:20 on a rebound.
CC began its comeback on Cody Bradley's shot from point-blank range at 3:51 of the second period.
Three minutes later, Bradley rushed up the right side and found Hunter Fejes for a one-timer that he put away for his seventh goal of the season to tie the score at 2-2.
Two minutes after that, the Tigers took a 3-2 lead on Ryan Schwartz's short-handed goal at 8:56 of the second. Schwartz took the puck away from Nick Shore along the wall at the Pioneers’ blueline and raced the length of the rink, beating Pioneers goalie Juho Olkinuora high to his stick side.
That's three goals in 5:05.
Junior defenseman David Makowski tied the game at 3-all early in the third when Nick Shore found him in the slot right off a draw.
Taft broke the tie at 9:49 of the third. He shot from the right circle, trying to put the puck in the corner. Instead, Olkinuora played the puck in mid-air and it deflected off his stick into the net.
Olkinuora made 22 saves. senior Joe Howe 37 for CC (16-18-5).
Howe, of Plymouth, played high school hockey at Wayzata. He made a big toe save on Nick Shore when he had a shorthanded breakaway.
"That's the difference in the series right there," DU coach George Gwozdecky said of Howe's save on Shore in a Denver Post story. "If we're up 3-0 at that point, game over, series over, I think. Howe makes an incredible save and they get right back in the game."
The Pioneers outshot the Tigers 40-26.
The Colorado Springs Gazette game story is here.
The Denver Post story is here.