A stellar team defensive performance proved to be the catalyst for No. 5-ranked Colorado College's 2-1 non-conference victory over No. 10 Union before a New Year's Eve crowd of 5,882 fans at the World Arena on Saturday night.
Second-period goals by senior centers David Civitarese and Nick Dineen, along with 20 saves by sophomore netminder Josh Thorimbert, helped CC win for the fourth time in its last five games.
The Tigers, who lost to Air Force on Friday by the same score, improved to 12-6-0 overall for the season after going 5-2 during the month of December.
The visiting Dutchmen came into the contest allowing a Division I-best 1.94 goals per game, but it was CC's defense that proved decisive.
"I thought both teams' defenses were good tonight," said head coach Scott Owens. "When you're taking on the top-rated defensive team in the country you know it will be a tight, one-goal game."
A hard check along the boards led to Colorado College's opening goal early in the second period.
Freshman defender Peter Stoykewych collided with a Union wing, forcing a turnover that was hauled in by sophomore wing Dakota Eveland. He passed across ice to junior defenseman Mike Boivin, who then sent a long pass forward to Civitarese just before he crossed the Union blue line.
Civitarese split the two Dutchmen defenders and charged toward the Union net. He beat sprawling sophomore goalie Troy Grosenick with a backhander with 14:35 left in the middle frame for the 1-0 lead.
Boivin's assist gave him a point in a team-high 14 games, one more than junior center Rylan Schwartz (13) and two ahead of sophomore left wing Jaden Schwartz (12).
Another Dutchmen turnover led to the red lighter by Dineen, who scored from the slot with 1:01 left in the second to make it 2-0 Tigers, who occupy third place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association with a 9-5 record in league play.
The team captain's first tally in five outings and 10th of the season proved to be the game winner after Union junior wing Wayne Simpson scored with 39.7 seconds left to play and Grosenick on the bench in favor of an extra attacker.
Thorimbert improved to 7-2-0 for the season with his solid performance between the pipes. Grosenick steered aside 22 shots for Union, which fell to 9-5-5 overall (3-2-2 in ECAC play) after losing at the University of Denver 3-1 on Friday.
"Josh was great tonight," said Boivin, who has a career-high 18 points (6g,12a) for the season.
The Tigers' backchecking and sound play from the blue-liners kept a good Union offensive team, ranked 17th nationally, under control.
"The forwards, led by David Civitarese, did a good job getting back in support," said Owens. "We knew we had to play that way. Even then, we were concerned during the final 40 seconds because they can put six dangerous players out there."
The triumph earned CC, which blocked 19 shots before they reached Thorimbert, a home weekend split after falling 2-1 to crosstown foe Air Force the night before.
"It doesn't take the sting completely away from Friday but this win will help us later this season in the Pairwise (rankings)," Owens said.
Colorado College plays its final two non-conference games of the 2011-12 regular season next week, playing host to 13th-ranked Cornell University on Friday and Saturday (Jan. 6-7).