Three Tigers among top western college free agents

CC Rylan Schwartz actionThe Western College Hockey Blog announced its top 15 college free agents from the CCHA and WCHA and that list included three Tigers. Here are the list’s write ups on each with my take on the other seniors at the bottom.

8. Alex Krushelnyski, Junior, Forward, Colorado College

Krushelnyski was a player barely on the radar heading into this season, but has had an incredible year. Krushelnyski has 32 points through 30 games this year, including 28 points at even strength. He’s the nation’s third best scorer at even strength behind Walters and Boston College’s Johnny Gaudreau. There’s nothing flashy about his game, but he’s the type of player that wins battles and rarely makes a mistake. He has the type of tools to be an effective bottom line player in the NHL.

11. Rylan Schwartz, Senior, Forward, Colorado College

While never quite as dynamic as younger brother Jaden, Schwartz has always been a dangerous offensive player in his own right. He’s having a very strong final campaign, with 35 points through 30 games this year, and his playmaking abilities could be valuable for some NHL club.

15. Mike Boivin, Senior, Defense, Colorado College

Boivin is an offensive defenseman that has been a rock on the power play for the Tigers this year. Colorado College has a long history of getting offensive defensemen into the NHL including players like Mark Stuart, Jack Hillen, Nate Prosser and Tom Preissing.

The other three senior free agents (Scott Winkler is a Dallas draft pick) are Andrew Hamburg, Joe Marciano and William Rapuzzi. I expect all three to garner some attention as well, especially Rapuzzi (33 points, 19 assists).

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.

CC at St. Cloud State preview

CC Alexander Krushelnyski roadHere is part of a preview I wrote earlier this week.

Colorado College (8-8-2, 5-4-1 WCHA) at No. 17 St. Cloud State (9-7-0, 7-5-0) 7:37 p.m. Central Friday, 7:07 p.m. Saturday

The Tigers’ run of five weekends in a row against ranked opponents continues this Friday through Saturday in Minnesota. The league’s 11th-rated scoring defense (3.50 goals) is balanced out by CC’s potent offense (league-best 3.61 goals), although the Tigers start out slow with 51 of the team’s 65 goals coming in the second and third period.

“We just need to keep getting better,” said Tigers head coach Scott Owens. “Our 5-on-5 scoring has been good which is better than it has been the past three years.”

CC senior Rylan Schwartz is tied for the WCHA scoring lead with 24 points while senior captain William Rapuzzi is tied for third with 22 points (13 assists). Tigers senior Scott Winkler has 20 points and is tied with Schwartz and two others with a league-high 10 goals.  Junior Alexander Krushelnyski now has 19 points (11 assists), good for a tie for eighth on the WCHA point scoring list with two others.

They face a team that is every bit as good as the higher-ranked opponents CC has faced, Owens said.

“And it is at their home which only makes it tougher,” Owens added. “They have two top lines that are as strong as anyone’s. You knew they would be good coming into the season with (Drew) LeBlanc back. Their defensive corps is underrated, led by one of the league’s best in Nick Jensen, and they have had good goaltending. They are going to be good as always.”

SCSU Nick JensenThe Huskies are paced by senior LeBlanc’s 21 points (team-high 16 assists) and 20 points (12 assists) from junior Nic Dowd. Freshman Kalle Kossila has 13 points (eight goals) while junior defenseman Jensen has 12 points, with his first goal of the season last weekend.

Senior Ben Hanowski has 11 points (seven assists) while freshman David Morley has 10 points (four goals, including his first hat trick last Friday). Sophomore goalie Ryan Faragher is 8-6-0 with a 2.44 goals against mark and a .912 saves percentage.

Thursday reading: CC, TV, WCHA, UAA, CCHA, Hockey East, Army

TV imageCC fans: Please remember to bring a new or gently used stuffed animal for Saturday’s Teddy Bear Toss during first intermission of the Minnesota game.

Here are the preview notes for CC, including news that ROOT Sports will broadcast Friday’s game as will FS North and FS Southwest.

UM freshman goalie Adam Wilcox is the national Rookie of the Month for November. UNO’s Ryan Walters (15 points) was the player honoree, beating out a strong candidacy for CC senior Scott Winkler (14 points).

Minnesota closes out the first half of the season in Colorado Springs. Here are the preview notes.

Here is this week’s USCHO column on the WCHA, including a short feature on UND captain Andrew MacWilliam.

Bowling Green’s struggles are the subject of this week’s CCHA column.

Alaska-Anchorage lost a little-used walk-on player to Canada or the Division III ranks, where he can play more often.

The Hockey East coaches’ letters to Santa were intercepted once again by the USCHO columnist.

The Army captain is a Rhodes finalist.

Saturday reading: CC-UND reaction, MSU video

2012-13_Winkler_UND1No. 7 North Dakota gets impressive coverage from the Grand Forks Herald, as usual.

Here is the UND beat writer’s take, the columnist’s viewpoint that traveled to Colorado Springs, The Gazette’s version, CCTigers.com,  mine for USCHO, and North Dakota athletics.

Here are more notes and links from the Herald and The Gazette.

Minnesota State defeated visiting Bemidji State 3-0 in a men’s college hockey game played in Mankato, Minn., Friday, Nov. 30. MSU senior forward Eriah Hayes contributed a between-the-legs, no-loss pass to assist on MSU’s second goal scored by Zach Lehrke at the 16:00 mark of the second period.

CC battles back for 5-4 road OT victory

Junior Alexander Krushelnyski one-timed a pass from behind the Wisconsin net by Charlie Taft for the game-winner 25 seconds into overtime as Colorado College defeated host Wisconsin 5-4 at the Kohl Center.

Taft knocked down a pass by Wisconsin goalie Joel Rumpel and immediately passed toward the front where Krushelnyski was attacked the net.

The win, CC’s first in OT since Dec. 16, 2011 at Minnesota State (David Civitarese), ended a three-game losing skid.

“This was a good character win,” CC assistant Joe Bonnett said in a radio interview afterward.  “You have to respect our determination tonight. The Kohl Center is not an easy place to play when the students get into it.”

Wisconsin jumped out to a 2-0 lead, scoring only 89 seconds into the game after the puck deflected in off a CC defenseman’s skate.  The Tigers (4-3, 1-0 WCHA) did not look sharp but shook off their slow start by dominating the second period.

CC freshman Hunter Fejes scored his first goal as a Tiger and CC added a power-play goal by defenseman Mike Boivin, his first of the season, to tie it at 2-2 headed into the third period. CC, which out shot the host Badgers 17-7.

Wisconsin (1-3-1, 1-1-1) scored a power-play goal less than a minute into the period before CC responded and took its first lead of the contest. Scott Winkler one-timed a pass from the corner by Krushelnyski to tie the game at 3-3 and senior captain William Rapuzzi added a power-play goal with nine minutes left for a 4-3 edge.

Rauzzi hauled in a long pass from defenseman Eammon McDermott from inside the CC zone and got behind the Badgers defensemen for a one-on-one chance against Rumpel.

“Eammon McDermott continues to dazzle with his long passes,” Bonnett said. “Winkler is a big guy with a strong stick in the paint.”

It was Rapuzzi’s third goal, matching his total from his junior season, which included two empty-netters.

Wisconsin would answer when Keegan Meuer batted in his own rebound with about four minutes left to force overtime.

More Friday reading: Colorado College at Wisconsin TV/video stream options, McElhinney, Denver, Air Force, North Dakota, predictions

Photo: Kyle Daudelin

A tape-delayed free streaming option for any CC fans who don’t have access to Altitude2 (6 p.m. Mountain) is available for the Tigers at Wisconsin game Friday night. Wisconsin Public Television will broadcast the game at 9 p.m. Mountain on The Wisconsin Channel  at http://wpt.org/wisconsinchannel/ .

Colorado College is sixth in the WCHA in scoring at 3.17 goals per game but has struggled on the power play. The Tigers have not converted on their last 12 power-play chances and are ninth in the league at 13 percent (4 of 30).  Senior forwards Andrew Hamburg (four goals, one assist), William Rapuzzi (two goals, three assists) and Scott Winkler (three goals, two assists) are tied for the team lead in points at five.

Former Tiger goalie Curtis McElhinney, pictured, of the Springfield Falcons is the AHL Goaltender of the Month for October. In six appearances during the month, McElhinney went 5-1-0 with a 1.51 goals-against average, a .949 save percentage and two shutouts, helping the Falcons to the best record in the Eastern Conference. Here are the rest of the details.  Former Wisconsin standout Justin Schultz was named as player of the month suggesting that all the summer hype was not too overblown.

Here is the Denver Post’s preview for all three Front Range schools.

No. 12 Boston University is playing at No. 5 North Dakota for the first time since December 1996. Expect more such nonconference match-ups with the new league alignments forcing more nonconference games. Expect more such trips for the Terriers and Boston College, including to the state of Colorado. Fun fact: The last time UND and BU played in Grand Forks, both teams played in the national championship game (UND won 6-4 in spring 1997).

Here is Western College Hockey blog’s weekend preview and the USCHO predictions.

No. 7 Cornell sweeps No. 19 Colorado College

No. 19 Colorado College refused to quit but also could not stay out of the penalty box in a 3-2 loss at No. 7 Cornell Saturday night.

CC senior Scott Winkler intercepted an errant Cornell pass and fired the puck in off a Cornell player moments after the Big Red scored its third power-play goal of the night to make it 3-2 with 12:09 left in the nonconference game.

“There are some holes in our game; giving up five power play goals and not scoring on ours caught up with us,” said CC assistant Joe Bonnett.”It is something we will continue to work on. Thorny (Josh Thorimbert) had a good weekend.

All five Big Red scores came with the man advantage this weekend. Charlie Taft scored the other Tiger goal.

Tuesday reading: Engelstad, CC seniors, Kerdiles, commits, web poll

As part of its NCAA deal, the Ralph Engelstad Arena removed some Sioux references (though certainly not all). Courtesy GOON’S WORLD.

The seven CC seniors have stepped forward into the leadership roles nicely through the first two weeks of the season.

Badgers freshman Nic Kerdiles will serve his suspension and stay at Wisconsin, easing fears he would bolt for the WHL.

Bemidji State adds a commit while Minnesota added two. Here is the weekly WCHA web media poll:

Team Pts Previous Record High Low
1) Minnesota (9) 141 1 3-1-0 1 2
2) Denver (3) 131 3 2-0-0 1 3
3) North Dakota 123 2 1-1-0 2 4
4) Minnesota Duluth 96 4 2-2-0 4 8
5) Michigan Tech 87 8 2-2-0 3 9
6) Colorado College 80 5 3-1-0 4 10
7) St. Cloud State 72 7 2-2-0 4 9
8) Nebraska Omaha 67 6 2-2-0 4 10
9) Minnesota State 52 10 2-0-2 5 11
10) Wisconsin 46 9 0-2-0 6 12
11) Bemidji State 24 11 1-1-0 9 12
12) Alaska Anchorage 17 12 2-1-1 10 12
Representing Name Publication Twitter
Alaska-Anchorage, Taylor Hall College Hockey News @thall907
Bemidji State, Troy Mills The Beaver Pond
Colorado College, Joe Paisley, Paisley Hockey @Paisleyhockey
Denver, Mike Chambers, Denver Post @MChambersDP
Michigan Tech, Tim Braun, Tech Hockey Guide @TBraunTHG
Minnesota, Dan Myers, Minnesota Hockey Magazine @1DanMyers
Minnesota Duluth, Bruce Ciskie, The Ciskie Blog @BruceCiskie
Minnesota State, Chris Dilks, Western College Hockey @ChrisDilks
Nebraska-Omaha, Matt Semisch, Radio Free Omaha @matthewsemisch
North Dakota, Eric Burton The Hockey Writers Combine and Goon’s World @goon48
St. Cloud State, Jeremy Larson, Husky Hockey Time @jclarson02
Wisconsin, Andy Johnson, Bucky’s 5th Quarter @andyjohnsonB5Q

CC penalty kill performs well in exhibition victory

Colorado College certainly got some needed extra work on its penalty kill during its 3-1 exhibition win over visiting British Columbia on Sunday night.

With only penalty-kill regular Alexander Krushelnyski back this season, the Tigers performed well, killing 5-of-6 penalties. Some of the ”new faces” on the units included junior Michael Morin, freshman Jared Hanson, and seniors Rylan Schwartz and William Rapuzzi, all forwards.

“Hats off to the penalty kill guys,” said junior wing Archie Skalbeck, who scored the eventual game-winner during the second period. “It looked good. They only gave up one goal and that was a 5-on-3.”

“It was good for us to kill penalties but not that good,” said coach Scott Owens. “We should have put the game away early in the third. Instead we let them hang around. We took some ill-advised penalties and were on our heels a bit.”

“It was a mixed bag. It is pretty unusual for us to draw more penalties than what we draw.”

Skalbeck banged in his own rebound with 8:41 left in the second period for an important even-strength insurance goal minutes after the Thunderbirds nearly tied the game.

Courtney Lockwood made a nice glove save with 12:52 left in the second on a hard shot by Cole Wilson to preserve the 1-0 lead. Later, Tigers defenseman Joe Marciano swatted a rebound out of the air in front of the CC net moments after a Thunderbird shot caromed off the post.

That bang-bang sequence drew a slashing penalty on Mike Boivin, but CC killed the subsequent power play, even generating a shorthanded chance that went off the post.

About two minutes later, Skalbeck’s eventual game-winning goal came after a rush into the UBC zone by Charlie Taft, whose crossing pass to the junior wing set up his initial shot. Goalie Steven Stanford could not handle the shot and it came out for Skalbeck’s second chance.

Scott Winkler ripped a hard shot high glove side past UBC backup Jordan White with 1:48 left in the second to make it 3-0. That prompted some hard feelings which led to retaliation penalties that put CC down 5-on-3 for 28 seconds. UBC’s Scott MacDonald took advantage of a rebound to make it 3-1 headed into the final period.

CC recorded an even-strength score, a shorthanded goal and a power-play marker which bodes well. Joe Howe recorded 10 saves in a scoreless third, Lockwood made four stops in the second and Josh Thorimbert six in the first.

“It was a good game for us,” Owens said. “No one looked poor. We played 24 guys and all three goalies, who played well. We saw some things we need to work on.”

Winkler looked sharp while freshman Cody Bradley, who scored the opening goal on the power play, generated a couple good scoring chances. All three sophomore defensemen – Aaron Harstad, Peter Stoykewych and Young – looked improved and accounted for two assists (Stoykewych, Young).

“Overall, we are happy with how we played,” Rapuzzi said. “The younger guys played well which is good because we will need them to play a good bit. They definitely stepped in and played a big role.”

Still there remains plenty of work ahead as the Tigers tweak lien combinations to see which threesome clicks on the ice.

“We really haven’t had time to develop any chemistry,” Skalbeck said. “We have all been on different lines. None of the lines are cemented.”

MSU Mankato 7, Lethbridge 1

MANKATO — Minnesota State’s Bryce Gervais scored twice and added an assist while Eriah Hayes recorded three assists in the 7-1 exhibition win over Lethbridge.

Bemidji State 3, Manitoba 3 OT

BEMIDJI — Jeff Paradis scored an unassisted goal with about 7 minutes left to force overtime. Manitoba led 2-1 until Bemidji State’s Cory Ward and Danny Mattson scored six minutes apart for a 3-2 lead midway through the third.

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