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.

Rapuzzi propels CC to fourth win in a row; video update

Tigers captain William Rapuzzi slammed the door shut by scoring two goals only six minutes, 30 seconds apart and assisting on the final score during the third period to help No. 19 Colorado College pull away for a 6-3 home win over Bemidji State.

The home win before 7,152 fans at Colorado Springs World Arena was the Tigers second league sweep in a row.

Rapuzzi’s two scores, one from a banged-in rebound and another off a nice crossing pass from junior Archie Skalbeck, made it 5-2 with 8:13 remaining. Bemidji State’s Markus Gerbrandt scored with 1:28 left to make it close before Rapuzzi passed to an open Alexander Krushelnyski for the empty-netter, forgoing a chance at a hat trick, with 20.3 seconds left.

“I thought it showed good leadership,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said. “He could have gone for the hat trick but instead threw it over for Krushelnyski. It is not a big thing but it is something that everyone notices.”

“I knew if I passed it, that would end it,” said Rapuzzi, who finished with two goals and two assists to pace his line’s nine points, including three assists for Rylan Schwartz. “I never thought about the hat trick.”

Colorado College (7-3, 4-0 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) is the only undefeated team in league play headed into its annual rivalry games with No. 3 Denver (7-1, 5-1), fresh off a road sweep of Minnesota State,  this upcoming weekend.

The game-clinching three-goal spurt started late in the second period when CC wing Andrew Hamburg redirected Jeff Collett’s shot to give the host Tigers a 3-2 lead. The goal, Hamburg’s fifth of the year, came with only 41.2 seconds left in the second period. It was the Phoenix senior’s first goal since popping off for four goals against Air Force last month.

“If that goal didn’t happen, it changes the complexion of the game,” said BSU head coach Tom Serratore.

“That third goal was big,” Owens said. “It was a dirty goal which si something we have preached to hamburg. (BSU) threw everything at us in the third. (Senior goalie) Joe Howe (3-0) played well especially in the third period.”

Bemidji State (2-3-1, 1-2-1), as it did in Friday’s 3-2 Tigers win, battled all game long.

Bemidji State’s Aaron McLeod banged in a power-play goal following a flurry in front of the Colorado College net to tie the game at 2-2 with 15:09 left in the second period.

Bemidji State broke through for its first third-period goal in league play this season to make it 5-3, but it was too little, too late against a Tigers defense that played well, especially between the pipes.

“They are very good defensively,” Serratore said. “They are very hard to come back against when they have a lead.”

Colorado College’s power play, which has gone 5-for-10 in league play, clicked for two goals against Bemidji State’s penalty kill, which was No. 3 (17-for-18) in Division I headed into Saturday’s game. CC is now 5-for-10 in league play so far this season while BSU slipped to a very good 18-for-21.

“Those weren’t breakdowns. One was as bang-bang play and the other was beating the other guy to a loose puck,” Serratore said. “CC won the special teams battle. In a league like the WCHA, that is the difference.”

Scott Winkler tracked down a rebound, spun and fired a low shot past BSU sophomore goalie Andrew Walsh with 6:34 left in the period to tie the game at 1-1 after an earlier goal by BSU freshman Cory Ward that was more than two minutes earlier.

CC defenseman Mike Boivin banged in a rebound off a shot by Rapuzzi a little more than two minutes later for the 2-1 lead headed into first intermission.

Boivin’s goal, his third of the year, exemplifies the balanced scoring the Tigers have enjoyed on their four-game winning streak.

“Earlier we were talking about secondary scoring, now it is balanced scoring,” Owens said. “We had a couple guys who had off seasons last year who are now producing. We’re not surprised they’re scoring. There is a lot of unselfish play.”

No. 19 Colorado College 6, Bemidji State 3

Bemidji State    1              1              1              — 3

Colorado College             2              1              3              – 6

First period –1. Bemidji State, Ward (Kinne, Prapavessis) 11:11; 2. Colorado College, Winkler (Schwartz, Boivin) 13:26 (PP); 3. Colorado College, Boivin (Raouzzi, Winkler) 15:43 (PP). Penalties –  CC, Rapuzzi, hooking, 5:16; BSU, Gerbrandt, boarding, 11:49; BSU, Robbins, roughing, 11:49; CC, Marciano, roughing, 11:49;BSU, Prapavessis, slashing, 14:43.

Second period – 4. Bemidji State, McLeod (Orban, Mattson) 4:51 (PP);  5. Colorado College, Hamburg (Collett, Krushelnyski) 19:18. Penalties – CC, Stoykewych, elbowing, :23;  CC, Harstad, high-sticking, 3:13;  BSU, Wacker, tripping, 6:06.

Third period – 6. Colorado College, Rapuzzi (Skalbeck, Schwartz) 5:17; 7. Colorado College, Rapuzzi (Skalbeck, Schwartz) 11:47; 8. Bemidji State, Gerbrandt (Brewer) 18:32; 9. Colorado College, Kriushelnyski 9Rapuzzi, Winkler) 19:39 (EN). Penalties – none.

Power play – Bemidji State 1-3, Colorado College 2-3. Shots on goal – BSU 5-8-17 – 30; CC 8-11-8 – 27. Saves-minutes – BSU, Walsh (2-3-1)  6-10-5 –59:11; CC, Howe (3-0)  4-7-16 – 60:00. Referees – Brown, Sterns. Linesmen – Stankevich, Staudte. Attendance – 7,152.

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.

MTU ends Tigers’ season

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — It may have just been a stick blade in the way of a slap shot but it was enough to make history for the Michigan Tech hockey program.

MTU’s David Johnstone redirected a slap shot by defenseman Daniel Sova 3:30 into overtime to down host Colorado College 4-3 and send the Huskies on to their first WCHA Final Five tournament since eliminating the Tigers in Colorado Springs in 2003.

“In overtime, it’s a bounce of the puck here or there,” said head coach Mel Pearson said. “We were lucky to get the bounce.”

“I just stuck my stick out there and the shot hit it,” said Johnstone who scored Saturday night. “I didn’t know it had gone in until my brother (Jacob Johnstone) started celebrating. It’s a great feeling.”

The win gives MTU (16-18-4) the road series sweep and surpasses the previous three years’ combined win total (15).

“It’s huge for our program, not just this year,” Pearson said. “I couldn’t be happier for the seniors. They went through some tough times and now they’re going to the Final Five.”

“The seniors are so excited, words can’t describe how they must be feeling,” Johnstone said. “This win is about them.”

Michigan Tech’s Steven Seigo lofted a shot through traffic in front of the CC net and past Tigers goalie Josh Thorimbert with 1:05 left in the third as the Huskies scored with the extra attacker to force a 3-3 tie and overtime.

It was the first extra-attacker goal for the Huskies this season, Pearson said.

“That really sparked us going into the overtime,” Johnstone said.

Earlier, CC sophomore Alexander Krushelnyski forced a turnover deep in the MTU zone, beat two Husky defenders to the puck and backhanded it to a streaking Scott Winkler in the right faceoff circle for the go-ahead goal with 11:08 left and a 3-2 lead. It was CC’s first and last lead of the series.

Teams looking to rally while down in a playoff series need an unexpected hero to emerge. Through two periods Saturday, CC junior Andrew Hamburg was such a man.

“It was good to get some secondary scoring,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said. “Hamburg has been shooting well the past two weeks. Winkler had a good game and Krushelnyski also played strong.”

Hamburg scored his second goal of the night, his fourth of the season, with 16:10 left in the second period to tie up Game 2 at 2-2 going into the third.

Hamburg hauled in a long pass from the CC zone by defenseman Eamonn McDermott on the Huskies blue line and raced into the near faceoff circle before firing off a hard shot from inside the dot that beat Josh Robinson high stick side just under the crossbar.

The contest started out as a run-and-gun affair and maintained that pace the whole game. It was a pace that normally favors the Tigers (18-16-2), but the Huskies showed off their own big-play ability. It made for a challenging night for the goalies.

“Josh Robinson kept us in the game,” Pearson said.

In the second period, both goalies had to make huge plays with the defenders in front and sometimes besides and behind sacrificing their bodies to block shots. CC sophomore standout Jaden Schwartz hit the ice besides Thorimbert to stop one shot toward a wide-open net with 3:08 left in the second period.

Earlier, Robinson made a two big saves in 60 seconds before CC junior wing William Rapuzzi’s shot clanged off the crossbar with 7:07 remaining.  Krushelnyski found iron with 6:32 left in the third.

“I’m proud of the way our guys competed,” said Owens. “I feel sorry for the seniors. I would have really liked to have played that third game on Sunday and seen what happened.”

“That was the best game they played against us,” Pearson said. “That’s a talented team over there that could score at any time. We were lucky to get out of here tonight with a win.”

Michigan Tech drew first blood and the referees garnered the ire of the 5,070 fans at World Arena crowd quickly.

MTU’s David Johnstone pounced on a turnover in between the faceoff circles when CC defenseman Joe Marciano fell down in front.  No penalty was called and the Huskies took a 1-0 lead 68 seconds into the game.  Senior captain Brett Olson ripped a wrister high glove side past Thorimbert with 13:14 left for a 2-0 Huskies lead.

Hamburg scored his third of the year on a give-and-go with Archie Skalbeck on a 2-on-1 breakaway with 11:37 left to cut the MTU lead to 2-1.

Defensive struggles put CC behind 2-1 after one

Colorado College’s defensive troubles continued, putting the Tigers in a 2-0 deficit before a slap shot by defenseman Mike Boivin, his third goal of the year, got past Alaska-Anchorage goalie Rob Gunderson to make it 2-1 headed into the first intermission.

Boivin’s goal, assisted by Jeff Collett, came 62 seconds after Brett Cameron scored off a great pass from Mickey Spencer, who intercepted a clearing attempt by Archie Skalbeck to make it 2-0 with 4:30 remaining.

Skalbeck’s misfire on defense was indicative of the troubles CC has battled in their own end this season. A defensive zone coverage mistake led to the opening goal for Alaska-Anchorage early in the period.

Alaska-Anchorage freshman Eric Scheid banged in a rebound after Tigers goalie Josh Thorimbert made a great first save on a shot by Austin Coldwell. No CC skater was in position to beat Scheid, who was unmarked, to the loose puck with 12:15 left for the 1-0 lead.

A quick whistle by the referee negated a power-play goal by Archie Skalbeck less than two minutes later. CC played better than Friday (that is not saying a lot) and generated far more scoring chances with a 19-8 edge in shots on goal.