MOORHEAD, MINN. (1/06/17)---Concordia scored first and held on late to open 2017 with a 3-2 victory over visiting Wis.-Superior.
The win is the fourth straight for the Cobbers who move to 8-4-0 on the year. The Yellowjackets remain winless in their last five games and fall to 4-10-1. The win is also the fourth straight for Concordia over Superior.
Not only is Concordia putting up consecutive wins, they are also getting quality goaltending outings. Freshman Sam Nelson made several stops from around the crease, finished with 25 saves and earned his fifth victory of the season.
The offense was led by sophomore Mario Bianchi who had a goal and an assists and Sam Coborn who scored his first goal in nearly two years.
Concordia quickly shook off the rust accumulated from a 28-day break as recent transfer Connor Kelly appeared to score a goal in the first two minutes but his tally was waved off by the officials.
The Cobbers got on the board at the 2:46 mark of the first when Coborn tipped in a shot from Quinn Fuchs for his first goal of the season.
"Coborn played well all game," commented Cobber head coach Chris Howe. "Every shift he went out there and did something positive."
Concordia dominated the first period. The Cobbers outshot the Yellowjackets 9-6, drew two penalties and claimed advantages in zone time and scoring chances. Unfortunately for the maroon and gold, Superior was able to climb right back into the game in the final two frames.
Despite continuing their edge in shots on goal, Concordia briefly allowed its lead to evaporate when Superior tied the game 1-1 at 7:05 of the second period. The Yellowjackets' Liam Blais stuffed a backhand shot past Nelson after taking a pass in front of the crease.
Fortunately for the Cobber fans who sought haven inside Moorhead Sports Center from the frigid subzero weather outside, Concordia would retake the lead less than three minutes later.
Freshman defenseman Tanner Okeson picked up the puck in his own zone, wheeled around and fired a pinpoint pass up the ice to Bianchi who got behinds the UWS defense. The sophomore forward from Bloomington found himself in all alone with Superior goaltender Kyle Miller and promptly tucked a neat shot underneath the keeper to give the Cobbers a 2-1 lead at 10:01 of the second period.
Concordia killed off two penalties in the second period and held its one-goal lead going into the final frame. The Cobbers quickly added to their lead in the third when captain Jeremy Johnson tapped the puck past the Yellowjacket goaltender after a broken play in the Superior zone. Bianchi and Kelly were credited with the assists. For Bianchi it was his team-leading seventh of the season.
The game wound down until the final minute which proved to be more dramatic than the Cobber fans would have liked. Concordia surrendered a goal in the final minute for the second straight game. The Cobbers were then able to hold on for the final 20 seconds to escape with the 3-2 victory.
Despite the late goal, Coach Howe talked about the difficulty in coming back from a long break and putting together a quality effort against a strong opponent. "Superior is a better team than their record shows and I'm just happy the way we played coming out of the break. It's college hockey, and we just have to be prepared and go play our best out there every night."
BACK TO THE FUTURE: Senior Sam Coborn's goal in the first period was his first point in nearly two years and his first goal since his freshman season. The Park Rapids, Minn. native's last point came on January 31, 2015 in a 4-1 win against Hamline. Coborn's last goal was way back on January 24, 2014 in a 5-5 tie with Augsburg. Coach Howe talked after the game about the senior's strong showing tonight and noted that the goal was something for Coborn to build off going forward.
THAT'S GONNA STING: Senior defenseman Jordan Krebsbach blocked a shot in the second period and left the game with what Coach Howe jokingly called a "lower body injury" after the game. Krebsbach will not play tomorrow but the injury is not expected to be severe.
ALL I DO IS WIN: With the win, freshman goaltender Sam Nelson moves to 5-2-0 on the year. Nelson is second in the MIAC in wins and ranks in the top 5 in all the statistical categories for goaltenders. Both Nelson and fellow freshman Jacob Stephan have been superb in net for the Cobbers and will look to continue their stretch of solid play going forward into the meat of MIAC play.
WHAT'S NEXT: Concordia will return to the Moorhead Sports Center on Saturday, Jan. 7 for a matchup with Wis.-River Falls at 2 p.m. The Falcons come into the game 6-8-1 overall and are riding a four-game winning streak. The most recent win for River Falls was a 2-1 squeaker over St. John's on Thursday in St. Cloud.