MOORHEAD, MINN. (1/13/17)---You want early January drama? Concordia and Hamline gave it to you in the first game of their two-game series. The two teams skated through three periods, one overtime session and five rounds of shootout to finally determine a winner.
In the end the Cobbers continued their undefeated streak Friday night with a thrilling shootout victory over the Pipers on Senior Night. The teams combined for 86 shots on goal and, despite trailing for more than 45 minutes and taking six penalties, Concordia rallied to tie the game in the third period before winning the extra point in the MIAC standings with a goal off the stick of junior Dalton Mills.
The game goes down as a tie in the official record book. Concordia is now 9-4-1 on the season with a 3-1-1 record in league play which is good for 11 points in the standings and solo possession of fourth place. The New Year continues blemish-free for the Cobbers as the maroon and gold pushes its undefeated streak to six games overall and four games in conference play.
Concordia started off the game in strange territory by outshooting Hamline 14-10 in the first period. The advantage marked only the fourth game all season that the Cobbers held the shot advantage after one frame. Despite outshooting a usually strong offensive Hamline lineup, Concordia found itself behind at the first intermission on a late Hamline goal. The Pipers took advantage of a sprawling Sam Nelson in the Cobber net and tapped home a rebound at the 18:11 mark.
That would be the last time Hamline would beat Nelson for the remainder of regulation and overtime. The freshman netminder stood on his head all night for the Cobbers, including a full-extension skate save in the shootout that should not be possible for a player who only measures 5-7. Nelson finished with 37 saves on the night which factors out to a 97.4-percent save percentage.
Concordia took control in the second period with a flurry of chances, including two power plays, but couldn't beat Hamline goalie Justin Quale. It took 48 minutes for the Cobbers to find an answer, but they found it in the third period when Jon Grebosky walked his way through the Hamline defense with a series of slick dangles before sniping the puck into the top right corner. The goal at 8:11 of the third period was assisted by Mario Bianchi and Quinn Fuchs.
Cobber newcomer Connor Kelly had a breakaway chance with less than a minute remaining in the game, but Quale denied the Chaska native his first Concordia goal with a stellar save that sent the game to overtime. Neither team was able to put together many coherent scoring chances in overtime so the game headed to the shootout.
Concordia shot first in the shootout and the first two Cobbers shooters could not find the back of the net. The second Hamline shooter did manage to sneak a shot past Nelson's left side. That left Bianchi in a must-score situation. The sophomore did not disappoint as he somehow managed to shoot the puck under the arm of Quale and have it trickle over the goal line.
Mills delivered the eventual game-winner in the fifth round of the shootout when he powered a shot to the top right corner of the net to give the Cobbers a 2-1 shootout lead. Nelson then slammed the door shut on the shootout win when he stopped the ensuing Hamline shooter.
SHOT TAKERS: The 48 shots on goal for the Cobbers is a season high and most since the end of last year when they put up 49 and 58 in the series at home with Bethel.
SHOOTOUT STUFF: The shootout win was the first for the Cobbers since Jan. 23 of last season when they also beat Augsburg 2-1. Grebosky and Bianchi scored in the shootout in that game. Concordia is now 6-4 in the shootout since the MIAC installed the rule for the 2013-14 season. CC was 1-0 last year and 2-2 in both 2014-15 and 2013-14.
THE BIG ZACH ATTACK: Zach Doerring had a game-high nine shots on goal. That mark is a season high but not a career high. Doerring had 14 shots on goal last year against Bethel on Feb. 19 in a 5-4 CC win.
WHAT'S NEXT: The Cobbers are one point ahead of Hamline (6-6-3(3-3-1 MIAC)) in the standings and will try to extend their lead tomorrow when they take on the Pipers at 2 p.m. at the Moorhead Sports Center.