• Box Score: Colorado College 4, UNO 3
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — UNO, playing from behind all night, appeared to have achieved a tie Friday in the first game of its crucial series with Colorado College, but a goal with 2:56 left in regulation was ruled to have been kicked into the goal intentionally by Dominic Zombo.
The reversal helped Colorado College hold on for a 4-3 victory before 6,942 at World Arena, allowing the Tigers to take sole possession of fourth place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. UNO, meanwhile, dropped from a fourth-place tie with the Tigers into sixth place as North Dakota won and moved into fifth.
"That's a huge call, and it's not even a fair assessment of the instant replay," UNO coach Dean Blais said. "He didn't move his foot (in a kicking motion). He (the referee) didn't see the same thing that I saw. That's the difference sometimes between home ice and no home ice right there."
The top six teams in the WCHA get home ice for the first round of the playoffs.
UNO appeared to tie it after Terry Broadhurst, sprawled out on the ice behind the goal, flipped the puck toward the front of the net. It slid under CC goalie Josh Thorimbert at the post, then deflected off the skate of Zombo and into the net. After a review, though, the goal was disallowed as officials ruled it was intentionally kicked.
"You get in trouble for criticizing the officials, but that cannot happen at this time of the year when there's so much on the line and there's an obvious goal taken away," Blais said. "It was a good goal."
It would have been the first goal of the season for Zombo, a freshman.
Senior defenseman Matt Smith got his first goal of the season to tie the game 3-3 early in the third period. Smith walked in from the left point, fired from the circle and beat Thorimbert to the far post at 1:57.
It was the second goal of Smith's 72-game career.
But it was tied for only 50 seconds.
CC (16-11-2, 13-9-1) stepped up the pressure and Jaden Schwartz picked up a rebound in front, quickly moved it to his forehand and flicked it past Ryan Massa. Schwartz had assists on two previous goals.
UNO (13-12-6, 10-8-5) fell behind 2-0 despite playing well in the first period.
But UNO's power play, operating at just 9.8 percent efficiency (4 of 41) over the last 10 games, went 2 for 2 in the second period to allow the Mavs to climb back within 3-2.
Forward Johnnie Searfoss parked in front of the net and deflected a shot from Michael Young off the post, and the puck slid up behind Thorimbert and appeared to deflect off the goalie's pads and then behind the goal line.
A hooking penalty on Ryan Walters set up CC captain Nick Dineen, an Omaha native, to quickly restore the Tigers' lead to 3-1. Dineen converted for his seventh power-play goal of the season.
But UNO got it back on the power play at 14:45 as Matt White got his 16th goal of the season, firing a shot past Thorimbert through a screen created by CC's David Civitarese in front.
"Our guys battled hard," Blais said. "There were times in the first period that we played our best hockey of the year. We gave up a breakaway and they made a nice shot, but we didn't panic. We got down 2-0 and we were OK."
Though UNO appeared to carry play for much of the first period, CC emerged with a 2-0 lead.
First Gabe Guentzel delivered a long stretch pass from the right circle in front of his own net all the way to the UNO blue line to Alexander Krushelnyski, who was behind the Mav defense. Krushelnyski beat Massa to the glove side at 3:30.
The Tigers got their second goal at 16:45 when UNO backcheckers left the middle of the ice open as CC chipped the puck along the boards to William Rapuzzi. Rapuzzi fed Schwartz past a diving Young to the middle of the ice, and Schwartz and brother Rylan skated in 2-on-0 against Massa. Jaden passed it to Rylan, who tapped it into an open net.