Notebook: Winkler shines, line changes pay dividends

forsaleThis weekend’s unsung hero: Scott Winkler

The Colorado College senior may not have registered a point on Saturday’s scoresheet but coach Scott Owens rightly credited the Dallas draft pick for his efforts in the 5-1 home win.

“(Scott Winkler) didn’t register a point but his line was up against the (UMD freshman Tony) Cameranesi line all weekend,” Owens said referring to the Bullddog’s top-scoring line. “His line (including wings Archie Skalbeck, Jared Hanson) did a good job defensively tonight. We had nine blocks in the second period and Winkler made a big one during that span. That was huge”

Winkler and senior captain William Rapuzzi both created screens for defenseman Mike Boivin when he skated over a step and snapped off a wrister that beat UMD goalie Matt McNeely high glove side for the 1-0 lead.

Lines change-up pays dividends

After Friday’s 3-2 loss, the CC coaches shifted around the Tiger lines and, at least for now, looked like a good move.

Charlie Taft added more speed at right wing on the Rylan Schwartz line, which includes left wing Alexander Krushelnyski.  Those three recorded six points with Krushelnyski (two assists) ad Schwartz (three assists) generating three apiece

Moving Rapuzzi to the third line with freshmen Hunter Fejes and center Cody Bradley added more offensive potential with the senior providing some savvy and an ability to create offense off redirects. That gave CC three lines with considerable offensive ability.

It paid off. Rapuzzi’s goal early in the third period off assists from Bradley and Fejes clinched the win.

Meet the CC freshmen: Michael King, Pete Maric

It won’t be hard to notice freshman defenseman Michael King, listed at 6-foot-4 without skates, when he takes the ice for the Tigers. His skating ability looked smooth and his reach gives him an advantage, covering a lot of the ice with his stick.

“Michael will take a little time to get used to the speed but he has a lot of upside,” coach Scott Owens said. “He is a very-skilled big man.”

“I am just trying to soak up as much as I can,” the 227-pounder from British Columbia said. “I have been working on playing more physical.”

Chances are if the Tigers need a particular role filled, freshman Pete Maric can handle it.

“Maric is a very versatile and well-rounded,” coach Scott Owens said. “He can fill many roles.  He also played on two different championship teams in two years.”

“You learn to give yourself a clean page the next day (after a loss),” he said. “That is part of the winning mentality. It gives you a lot of confidence.”

Maric said his success is from being willing to do whatever the team needed.

“You feed off that,” he said. “You work hard all the time. You defend, do a hell of a job forechecking to create opportunities and then capitalize. You do whatever you can.”

The previous installments of Meet The Freshmen: Cody Bradley and Hunter Fejes; Russell Finch and Jared Hanson are available by clicking the link in their names.

Meet the CC freshmen: Russell Finch, Jared Hanson

The much-traveled Russell Finch, the first Wyoming native to join the Tigers program, is happy to see his long road through junior hockey culminate with a roster spot at Colorado College.

Finch, 21, played with Casper Outlaws youth program until age 15 when he moved to play at a high level in Fort Collins and his family moved to Maryland.  He would have been the first from the Terrapin State to play for the Tigers but he has never lived there.

“Finch is a smart player,” said captain William Rapuzzi. “He is one of the older guys who really knows the game.”

“He’s a very experienced, dependable defenseman,” said CC assistant Eric Rud.

That showed in his final season when he record 15 points (12 assists) in 50 games and was a whopping plus-32 in plus/minus.

Finch spent the next three years in Chicago playing midget hockey before moving on to the St. Louis Bandits of the North American Hockey League for a season followed by 10 games before a trade to NAHL Fairbanks. Both teams won their divisions while Finch was there.

“I put in my time,” the 5-foot-11 defenseman said with a smile. ” I am really happy and excited to have the opportunity to play college hockey. I will work very hard. I will do whatever needs to be done for the team.”

Freshman Jared Hanson, like most rookies, is still adjusting to the college game.

But the former Lincoln Stars standout has shown that he can contribute in many ways thanks to a good work ethic, well-rounded game and a mature, winning attitude to the Tigers.

It showed in the larger role he had in Lincoln, working his way onto a top line and on the power-play unit. He went from 24 points in 53 games in 2010-11 to 55 points (27 goals) in as many games last season.

“He got better and better his final season there,” CC coach Scott Owens said.

That improvement was thanks to the same work ethic he promises to bring to the Tigers program.

“I will just try to work hard and seize every opportunity I can and make the most of it by burying the puck,” the Palmer, Alaska native said.

The previous Meet The Freshmen installment dealt with Cody Bradley and Hunter Fejes. The final one later this week will introduce Michael King and Pete Maric.

Tigers start off strong during first captain’s practice

CC captain William Rapuzzi, standing, sets up the next drill during the Tigers’ first captain’s practice on Monday at Honnen Ice Arena.

The Colorado College hockey team knocked off the offseason rust pretty quickly during the first of 11 scheduled captain’s practices on Monday night.

“It was pretty good,” said senior captain and wing William Rapuzzi. “We did a lot of passing to get the rust off and had a 5 to 7-minute scrimmage with a real fast pace.”

A lot of that had to do with the usual excitement of being back in school after a long offseason.

“Guys are excited to get on the ice,” said junior wing Alexander Krushelnyski. “The tempo was good. Everyone is going hard and setting high expectations for themselves.”

The Tigers looked good despite putting in a hard weight room session before the 75-minute practice away from the team’s coaching staff per NCAA rules. No one looked to be skating with heavy legs.

“Everyone came in in good shape,” junior defenseman Eamonn McDermott said. “(Fitness) testing (last week) went real well.”

A lot of roles need to be filled this season with a lot of contributors lost to graduation, Jaden Schwartz’s early departure for the NHL and Dakota Eveland’s neck injury. Eveland said he will find out more about his future after new X-rays in a couple weeks.

“Everything’s up in the air,” Rapuzzi said. “Guys are working real hard at taking up the slack and move into new roles.”

CC captain William Rapuzzi, center, leads the Tigers through their usual end-of-practice stretching.

The six freshmen (listed by roster number) – defensemen Russell Finch (No. 2) and Michael King (3), and forwards Cody Bradley (10), Hunter Fejes (11),  Peter Maric (22), and Jared Hanson (24) – did not stand out, which is a good thing as they learn the CC drills. Most looked good with smooth skating ability.

“They fit right in with us,” senior Rylan Schwartz said. ”They asked a few questions (about drills) and caught on real quick.”

“They have been working hard on and off the ice,” Kruselnyski said. “They are quick learners and work hard.”

That means listening to the upperclassmen, who are eager to teach them how things are done in the Tigers program.

“They’re not talking, just doing,” McDermott said.

That is critical since only one official practice led by the coaches is allowed before Sunday, Oct. 7′s exhibition game against British Columbia followed by the season-opening series against Clarkson Oct. 12-13.

“These aren’t throw-away practices,” Rapuzzi said. “You get right into games so these are just as important as normal practices and you have to treat them like that. Just because coaches aren’t here doesn’t mean you can slack off. We only have a month before the games count.”

Monday reading: UMass-Lowell lookahead, North Dakota news, NCHC recruits, Alaska youth hockey upgrade, CC graduation rate, Civitarese

Coach Norm Bazin, center, runs through drills with the UMass Lowell hockey team at the Tsongas Center last season. Bazin, hired last spring, wasted no time turning the program around. SUN / TORY GERMANN

Here’s a good look at the 2011-12 season in Hockey East with some good 2012-13 info on UMass-Lowell, coached by former Tiger assistants Norm Bazin and Jason Lammers, which returns its top three scorers and starting goalie for the game in Colorado Springs in October.

That looks to be a very challenging game to play a night after playing at Air Force. That promises to be a big weekend for Pairwise, even though it will only be the third weekend.

Brad Berry is the lead contender for the open North Dakota assistant’s job.

North Dakota forward Rocco Grimaldi skated for the first time on Friday as he recovers from his season-ending knee surgery

A SCSU recruit scored the game-winner to claim the RBC Cup (junior A national championship) in Canada.

A good offensive defenseman and Duluth recruit was named as the USHL Defenseman of the Year. Former Tiger Tom Preissing garnered the same award for the 1998-99 season.

UMD sent out a corrected 2012-13 hockey schedule that works around the BYU-Notre Dame football game, among other scheduling demands.

The formation of the Alaska Jr. Aces should help youth hockey development in Anchorage. Why should a Tiger fan care? Consider that CC has four Alaskans — Hunter Fejes, Jared Hanson, William Rapuzzi, and Scott Wamsganz — on its roster for 2012-13 and have had a few great Alaskan players (Brian Swanson, Joey Crabb spring to mind) over the years.

Regardless of who is on the roster, the Tigers take care of academics when you consider this story about the entire department’s student-athletes. Former Tiger David Civitarese is a great example of that.

The USHL championships series will go to a decisive Game 5 on Wednesday. There are no current CC commits playing at Waterloo or Green Bay.

Alaska-Fairbanks announced its 2012-13 schedule which includes it season opener against Air Force in the Anchorage tournament.

The AHL conference final series resume on Monday. Norfolk, which includes Colorado Springs’ Jeff Dimmen (one assist, two games) has a 2-0 lead over St. John’s while Oklahoma City and Toronto are tied at 1-1 in the West finals.

Seven sign on with Tigers; four coming this fall

Here is the CC press release ….

Colorado College has received signed letters of intent from seven hockey players who will enroll at and play for CC in the future, head coach Scott Owens announced today.

The list of Tigers-to-be includes five forwards and two defensemen. Four will join the team later this year as freshmen on the 2012-13 roster, while three more will arrive in time for the 2013-14 season.
Additions for the ’12-13 campaign are center Cody Bradley of Tampa, Fla., left wing Hunter Fejes of Anchorage, Alaska, and right wing Jared Hanson of Palmer, Alaska, along with defenseman Michael King of Prince George, British Columbia.

“We are very pleased with the talent, skill and character of this group,” said Owens. “Joe and Eric (assistant coaches Joe Bonnett and Eric Rud) have done a great job of bringing this class together. We’re bringing in an excellent mix of hockey ability, size and players who come from winning programs. I’m very excited to see them on the ice in the fall and to watch their development while at Colorado College.”

Bradley, 5-10 and 166 pounds, has played in 15 games for the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United States Hockey League this season, scoring six goals and adding four assists. In time split between Dubuque and the USHL’s Indiana Ice, he’s collected 18 points (9g,9a) in 31 games. His father, Brian Bradley, played 14 years in the National Hockey League before retiring with 503 career points (182g,321a) in 1998. The Fighting Saints wrap up their regular season this weekend before opening Clark Cup playoffs action as a No. 3 seed in the USHL East.

“Cody is a skilled, clever center iceman,” Owens said. “He has the ability to score goals and to distribute the puck as well. He gets around the sheet very well and is suited to our style of play here at CC.”

Fejes, a standout at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Faribault, Minn., is ranked 91st among North American skaters in the final 2012 draft rankings released earlier this week by the National Hockey League. At 6-1 and 191 pounds, he is expected to be selected within the top five rounds in June. Shattuck-St. Mary’s, a perennial powerhouse in the USA Hockey Tier I Under-18 ranks, recently claimed its fifth national championship in nine years with an overall record of 50-5-2. Fejes led the team with 38 goals and finished second with 78 points in 55 games.

“Hunter is a power left wing who also can score,” said Owens. “He has the ability to get to the net front and makes good things happen down low.”

The 6-0, 190-pound Hanson, currently in his second full season with the USHL West-leading Lincoln Stars, has compiled 51 points (26g,25a), four game-winning goals and a +29 plus-minus rating in 53 appearances so far in 2011-12. Lincoln currently leads the second-place Omaha Lancers by one point in the conference standings, with two games to play. The Stars finished fifth in the West Conference during Hanson’s rookie season in 2010-11.

“Jared has had an excellent season for Lincoln,” Owens said. “He’s continued to get better and better all year long. He’s a goal scorer, with 22 of his 26 tallies so far having come in 5-on-5 situations.”

King, 6-4 1/2 and 210 pounds, finished the 2011-12 season with the Lloydminster Bobcats of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. He collected 19 points (4g,15a) in 32 games with the Westside Warriors of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League before being traded, then added a power-play goal and two assists in five appearances, including a pair of playoff games, with Lloydminster. In 2010-11, he compiled 23 points (5g,18a) while playing in 48 outings for Westside.

“Michael has very good foot speed and stick skills for a young man his size,” said Owens. That range and mobility will enable him to improve and develop throughout the season as he adjusts to the tempo and rigor of the WCHA.”

Also signing letters of intent to join the Tiger Hockey family a year later, in time for the 2013-14 season and CC’s debut as a member of the of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, were forwards Matt Hansen of St. Cloud, Minn., and Christian Heil of Westminster, Colo., as well as defenseman Jaccob Slavin of Erie, Colo., who all will play another year of junior hockey before launching their collegiate careers.

“Matt, Christian and Jaccob represent the beginning of a projected, very strong class in 2013,” said Owens, who has compiled a record of 299-185-43 (.608) in 13 years behind the bench. “All three are playing significant minutes for their respective junior teams at this time. Matt has tremendous speed and skill, Christian is a power forward with the ability to make plays and finish, and Jaccob plays both ends of the rink extremely well as an offensive ‘D-man’ who can defend as well. We are extremely pleased to have them as future Tigers and look forward to monitoring their progress next season.”

Hansen, who actually signed his letter of intent previously, currently plays for the Austin (Minn.) Bruins of the North American Hockey League, while Heil and Slavin are teammates with the Chicago Steel of the USHL.

Tigers To Be
Name                Pos.    Hgt.     Wgt.     Shoots        DOB            Hometown                              Arrival at CC

Cody Bradley       C      5-10     166            L           5/26/94          Tampa, Fla./Dubuque (USHL)          2012-13
Hunter Fejes      LW      6-1       191            L           5/31/94         Anchorage/Shattuck-St. Mary’s       2012-13
Christian Heil        F      6-1       178            L           3/25/95         Westminster/Chicago (USHL)         2013-14
Matt Hansen         F     5-10      163            R           5/11/93          St. Cloud, Minn./Austin (NAHL)       2013-14
Jared Hanson    RW     6-0       190            R           1/24/93        Palmer, Alaska/Lincoln(USHL)      2012-13
Michael King        D      6-4 1/2   210            R           1/22/93      Prince George, B.C./(AJHL)          2012-13
Jaccob Slavin      D       6-2       170            L            5/1/94           Erie, Colo./Chicago(USHL)            2013-14

Tuesday reading: Commit on choosing CC; Jaden analysis; Final 5; polls

CC commit Jared Hanson talks about why he chose CC:

“It’s every kid’s dream growing up,” Hanson told his hometown newspaper on Monday by cellphone from Lincoln, Neb., where he plays for the Lincoln Stars of the Tier I United States Hockey League. “I’m very excited about it and am looking forward to it a lot.”

Hanson, 19, who left Palmer after his sophomore season to play at a higher level, is in his second full year with the Stars. The 6-foot, 190-pound forward is second on his team with 22 goals and third on the squad with 43 points and a plus-27 rating. In 97 career games, Hanson has tallied 31 goals and 36 assists with a plus-39 rating.

His play with the Tier I franchise caught the attention of a number of Division I scouts, including the coaches of the storied Colorado College program.

Penn State, Ohio State and Harvard were among the Division I squads battling for Hanson. Ultimately, Hanson opted for a future at the Colorado Springs, Colo., school.

“The hockey program is one of the best in the country annually. The coaching staff is great, not to mention great academics,” Hanson said. “It was kind of an easy decision for me.”

Hanson said he seriously considered schools such as Harvard and Penn State. Northeastern and St. Cloud State also were in the mix.

For more of the article, click here.

This STLToday.com columnist questions why the Blues sent former Tiger Jaden Schwartz immediately to the NHL roster.

Minnesota Duluth prepares for the WCHA Final Five. The Bulldogs play Friday against the winner of the No. 6 seed Michigan Tech/No. 3 Denver winner. The Huskies have enjoyed some success against Denver this season going 1-0-1 in Houghton.

No. 4 seed North Dakota, which plays No. 5 St. Cloud State on Thursday is an NCAA bubble team. SCSU, rated No. 19 in the latest Pairwise rankings, may have to win twice to make the NCAAs. No. 1 Minnesota awaits the winner on Friday night.

Colorado College is out of both national polls, receiving some votes in the USCHO.com poll and nothing in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine rankings.

Lincoln Stars forward Hanson commits to Tigers

Lincoln Stars forward Jared Hanson has committed to play at Colorado College this fall.

The 6-foot, 190-pound forward is currently third on the Stars with 43 points (22g, 21a) in 44 games.

Twenty goals were scored at even strength, including four game-winning goals.  The 19-year-old has six multi-goal games this season, including two hat tricks – Dec. 10 vs. Waterloo and Dec.30h vs. Des Moines.  Hanson also has a plus-27 rating, the seventh best mark in the USHL.

The Palmer, Alaska native first played in the USHL last season for the Stars and posted 24 points (9g, 15a), 104 penalty minutes, and a plus-12 rating in 53 games.

“Jared’s a great example of someone who has worked himself into a complete hockey player,” said Lincoln Stars head coach Chad Johnson.  “He leads by example, is a great team guy, and scores big goals in crucial times.  We’re excited for him to have this opportunity at a school like Colorado College.”

Four other current USHL players are also committed to play hockey at Colorado College; Christian Heil (Chicago Steel), Alex Roos (Chicago Steel), and Jaccob Slavin (Chicago Steel), and Duggie Lagrone (Des Moines Buccaneers).

Seventeen 17 USHL alumni were on the roster for the Tigers this past season; Nick Dineen (Sioux Falls Stampede), Dakota Eveland (Omaha Lancers), Gabe Guentzel (Sioux Falls Stampede), Tim Hall (Ohio Junior Blue Jackets), Joe Howe (Waterloo Black Hawks), Alex Krushelnyski (Sioux City/Chicago), Joe Marciano (Omaha Lancers), Eamonn McDermott (Fargo Force), William Rapuzzi (Green Bay Gamblers), Jaden Schwartz (Tri-City Storm), Scott Winkler (Cedar Rapids RoughRiders), Aaron Harstad (Green Bay Gamblers), Peter Stoykewych (Des Moines Buccaneers), Jordan DiGiando (Dubuque/Cedar Rapids), Charlie Taft (Muskegon Lumberjacks), Scott Wamsganz (Dubuque/Waterloo), and Ian Young (Fargo/Chicago).

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