COLORADO SPRINGS - Tom Serratore was happy to be back at home Friday night.
The Colorado College Tigers were not so happy to see him.
Serratore, who played on the edge all night long, slamming into the cage late in the second period and being whistled for a hard charging call earlier in the period, netted the game-winner with 6 minutes, 37 seconds to go in the third, propelling the No. 4 Gophers to a 4-2 victory.
"It was awesome," said Serratore, who grew up playing junior hockey at World Arena and whose dad, Frank Serratore, is the head coach for Air Force. "I'm pretty used to playing at this rink, so it's a good feeling coming back that's for sure. It was good to get the goal there, but I've got to give credit to the other guys in front of the net."
Serratore's goal broke a 2-2 tie, but for the longest time it didn't seem like No. 19 Colorado College (8-8-1, 5-4 WCHA) was even going to be able to make a game of it with the fourth-ranked Gophers.
It was a defensive struggle early and it looked like Minnesota (11-3-2, 6-3-2) was going to lull the announced crowd of 7,021 to sleep, holding the Tigers to a season-low four shots on goal in the opening period.
Sophomore Sam Warning, who missed nine games earlier this season because of an upper-body injury, netted his first goal of the year to give the Gophers a 1-0 lead at 7 minutes, 36 seconds of the first, catching the Tigers on a change seconds after CC killed off the game's first penalty. Warning scored again at 13:12 of the second to put the Gophers up 2-0.
"It's definitely a sign of relief," he said. "I think the first one is the hardest to get. Hopefully, they just keep coming now."
The 2-0 cushion was short-lived. CC answered on Archie Skalbeck's goal at 14:57 and William Rapuzzi knotted the game 79 seconds later at 2-2, beating Adam Wilcox on the wide-open stick side.
Wilcox, who faced just five shots in the first 25 minutes, finished with 24 saves. Joe Howe had 27 saves for CC.
"I liked our start," said Gophers coach Don Lucia. "We had a real good, strong first period. When you get to play with the lead that makes it easier. ... I give our guys credit that we stayed with it in the third period. So many games are decided in the third period and it was great to see Tommy Serratore, the local boy, score the game-winning goal."