Tigers knock off No. 2 Denver, end 17-game winless streak against Pioneers

CC Hockey vs WisconsinColorado College bounced back from an embarrassing home loss to end a 17-game winless streak against No. 2 Denver behind a 40-save shutout by sophomore goalie Alex Leclerc at Magness Arena on Saturday.

“I’m feeling pretty good right now,” Leclerc said on 1240 AM. “We felt we let our fans and teammates down (in a 5-1 Friday loss) and we needed to bounce back. Guys were sacrificing their bodies to block shots (19) and make my life easier even though I am the one with the equipment.”

“We told ourselves that we needed to win against them,” he added. “We only had one thing on our minds and that was to come out of here with a win. We need to savor this moment of success and take that into practice and next weekend (against No. 13 Omaha).”

The win in Denver pushed CC (13-13-4, 7-10-3-2 National Collegiate Hockey Conference) into sixth place ahead of Omaha (15-14-1, 8-12-0) and only two points behind No. 15 and fifth-place Western Michigan (14-14-2, 9-10-1).

Tonight really helped us put ourselves in position to get home ice,” coach Mike Haviland said.

Colorado College played better as the game went on to put further pressure on the Pioneers as the early 1-0 lead held.

“It was a factor of us not being hard enough offensively,” Denver coach Jim Montgomery said in a media release. “Our effort was great. I thought we skated well, we protected pucks well…but I thought they played with more desperation.”

DU pulled goalie Tanner Jaillet with about 80 seconds left but shot blocks by Westin Michaud (:20 left) and Troy Conzo (:08 remaining) helped the Tigers hold for their first win over Denver since Feb. 22, 2014 – a span of 1,424 days —  and the Tigers’ first under Haviland. The victory ended a 17-game winless streak (0-15-2).

“Tonight was a big step for us,” CC junior co-captain Andrew Farny said. “We had guys selling out all game long.”

“These guys don’t like to lose and they take it personal,” Haviland said. “We didn’t play hard enough last night but we certainly did tonight. Going 1-1-2 against the defending national champs shows the progress this program has made.”

Denver kept the puck in the CC end for most of the opening period, but it was the Tigers that entered first intermission with their initial lead of the weekend. Few at the time guessed it would prove to be the game-winner.

Conference-leading scorer Nick Halloran (41 points) scored his 18th goal of the season on the power play with 29 seconds remaining for a 1-0 lead. The power-play tally ended on 0 for 14 skid over three games.

halloran road unisIn other NCHC action, No. 11 Minnesota-Duluth downed last-place Miami 3-0 for its second shutout of the weekend against the reeling RedHawks. It is the first time in program history that Miami has been shut out for three-straight games. The scoring drought is now at 212 minutes, 1 second dating back to the second period on Friday, Feb. 9 (5-2 loss to No. 3 St. Cloud State.

No. 9 North Dakota bounced back for a road split by downing No. 13 Omaha, 3-0, and end the Mavericks’ seven-game home win streak. Cam Johnson returned to action after two games off to make his 11th career shutout (26 saves); second all-time at UND behind 15 for Karl Goehring.

League-leading St. Cloud State, ranked third in the USCHO poll but tops in the Pairwise rankings, defeated No. 15 Western Michigan 4-2 for the road sweep. The Broncos fell into in fifth place.

SCSU, which clinched home playoff ice on Friday, now has 45 standings points to second-place Denver’s 40, setting up a huge weekend series in Minnesota that will determine ownership of the Penrose Cup regular-season championship. UMD and North Dakota are tied for third with 30 points.

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Fejes scores with 10.5 seconds left in OT thriller

CC hockey and video 001Colorado College freshman Hunter Fejes scored the “biggest goal of my life” when he scored with 10.5 seconds left to lift the Tigers past rival Denver in a 6-5 overtime thriller Saturday night.

“I looked up and saw 22 seconds and said man we cannot lose this game,” Fejes said. “It’s definitely a career highlight for me there. I saw Jeff (Collett open for a pass) but since it was going down to the wire, I thought I should shoot it and I just got lucky.”

Fejes took two strides to his left, stopped and fired a shot from between the circles that beat Denver goalie Juho Olkinuora inside the near post glove side to make most of the standing-room-only crowd of 7,750 fans at Colorado Springs World Arena jump to their feet in celebration and the Tigers leaping onto the ice in celebration.

“It’s very nice to see the younger kids emerge,” said Tigers coach Scott Owens about Fejes’ two goals and assist. “I am happy for the fans who have stuck with a 10-14 team. They got their money’s worth tonight.”

All in all, this team deserved it tonight. It’s a big two points.”

The win pushes CC up into eighth place, five points behind Denver, No. 11 Minnesota State and No. 19 Wisconsin, who are tied for fifth.

It was fitting that no lead was truly safe in this rivalry series.

The host Tigers took a 5-2 lead with 6:05 left only to see the No. 9 Pioneers score three goals in 3:18 to tie the game at 5-5 after CC junior Alexander Krushelnyski scored on a breakaway with 6:05 left for what looked to be the game-clinching score.

While Krushelnyski’s goal was being announced, DU’s Larkin Jacobson scored an unassisted goal five seconds later to make it 5-3. Denver’s Joey LaLeggia tallied on a slow wrister through traffic 67 ticks later to make it 5-4. Denver (15-9-5, 10-7-5 WCHA) then tied it with 2:42 remaining on a goal by Zac Larraza.

In 198 seconds, a CC rout became a huge Denver comeback and the fourth overtime game (1-0-3) in a row for the Tigers (11-14-5, 8-10-4).

“I am really glad for Joe Howe, because even though he gave up five goals, he ended up with the W,” Owens said.

The DU rally negated a big second period when Colorado College scored four in one period for the first time this season to rally from down 2-0 and take a 4-2 lead into the third.

Three of the four goals came from the point with CC senior captain William Rapuzzi playing a role in the final three.

Rapuzzi assisted the tying and go-ahead goals (Hunter Fejes, Joe Marciano) and then screened Olkinuora on Mike Boivin’s score, his 13th of the season, to stake the Tigers to the two-goal lead.

CC junior wing Archie Skalbeck jumpstarted the Tigers and energized the crowd when he snapped a wrister inside the post as he skated across the point. That made it 2-1 and the added energy led to a Denver penalty 15 seconds later.

The CC power play generated three quality chances but could not convert.

The game settled down for a few minutes until Rapuzzi made a strong crossing pass to freshman Hunter Fejes, who redirected the pass top shelf to beat Olkinuora to tie the game at 2-2 midway through the second period. Rapuzzi pass from the opposite post caught Olkinuora a half-second slow sliding over for Fejes’ shot.

Rapuzzi then set up Marciano’s goal a shot from just inside the blue line that beat Olkinuora glove side to the roar of the crowd. Boivin scored from the same area to make it 4-2.

Denver had seized control early with Nick Shore rifling a shot over CC senior goalie Joe Howe’s left  should less than five minutes into the game.

Colorado College has taken a 1-0 lead only 10 times out of 30 games so far this season.

DU made it 2-0 when Ty Loney redirected a shot by defenseman Joey LaLeggia only moments into a power play with 8:44 left in the opening period.

The Tigers had their chances with three Grade A chances missed, either with a missed redirect or pass through the crease that went through untouched. Olkinuora also made two good saves early in the period to keep the game scoreless for a time.

Colorado College 6, No. 9 Denver 5 OT

Denver                 2              0              3              0              — 5

Colorado College              0              4              1              1              –6

First period – 1. Denver, N. Shore (Zajac, Levin) 4:54; 2, Denver, Loney (LaLeggia, Makowski) 11:16. Penalties – CC, Taft, slashing, 11:04.

Second period – 3. CC, Skalbeck (Boivin), 3:32; 4. CC, Fejes (Rapuzzi, Young) 9:44; 5. CC, Marciano (Rapuzzi, Fejes) 13:43; 6. CC, Boivin (Krushelmyski, Schwartz) 15:38. Penalties –DU, Doremus, hooking, 3:37; DU, Mayfield, holding, 14:31.

Third period – 7. CC, Krushelnyski (Stoykewych) 13:55; 8. DU, Jacobson (unassisted) 14:00; 9. DU, LaLeggia (Makowski, Knowlton) 15:07; 10. DU, Larazza (Didier, Ostrow) 17:18. Penalties – DU, Mayfield, holding, 10:08.

Overtime – CC, Fejes (unassisted) 4:49. Penalties – none.

Power play – Denver 1-1, CC 1-3. Shots on goal – DU 13-7-14-2 – 36; CC 9-16-9-4 –38. Saves-minutes – DU, Olkinuora 9-12-8-3 – 64:49; CC, Howe 11-7-11-2 – 64:49. Referees – Shepherd, Beaurline. Linesmen – Swaider, Pedigo. Attendance – 7,750 (sellout).

CC scores four to take lead into third

CC vs Denver 2 actionColorado College scored four goals in one period for the first time this season to rally from down 2-0 to take a 4-2 lead into the third period.

Three of the four goals came from the point with CC senior captain William Rapuzzi playing a role in the final three.

Rapuzzi assisted the tying and go-ahead goals (Hunter Fejes, Joe Marciano) and then screened Denver goalie Juho Olkinuora on Mike Boivin’s score, his 13th of the season, to stake the Tigers to the two-goal lead.

CC junior wing Archie Skalbeck jumpstarted the Tigers and energized the World Arena crowd when he snapped a wrister inside the post as he skated across the point. That made it 2-1 and the added energy led to a Denver penalty 15 seconds later.

The CC power play generated three quality chances but could not convert.

The game settled down for a few minutes until Rapuzzi made a strong crossing pass to freshman Hunter Fejes, who redirected the pass top shelf to beat DU goalie Juho Olkinuora to tie the game at 2-2 midway through the second period. Rapuzzi pass from the opposite post caught Olkinuora a half-second slow sliding over for Fejes’ shot.

Charlie Taft nearly put CC ahead less than two minutes later, but Olkinuora made the save on the breakaway and the puck landed on top of the Denver net. A DU defenseman knocked the net from its moorings to stop play.

Rapuzzi then set up Marciano’s goal a shot from just inside the blue line that beat Olkinuora glove side to the roar of the crowd. Boivin scored from the same area to make it 4-2.

Denver had seized control early with Nick Shore rifling a shot over CC senior goalie Joe Howe’s left  should less than five minutes into the game.

Colorado College has taken a 1-0 lead only 10 times out of 30 games so far this season.

DU made it 2-0 when Ty Loney redirected a shot by defenseman Joey LaLeggia only moments into a power play with 8:44 left in the opening period.

The Tigers had their chances with three Grade A chances missed, either with a missed redirect or pass through the crease that went through untouched. Olkinuora also made two good saves early in the period to keep the game scoreless for a time.

Notes

Associate athletic director Scott Lowenberg said before the game that Saturday’s contest may be the “most sold-out ever” with people showing up during the day being turned away. The game was officially sold out on Tuesday.

More Monday reading: Stolarz quits school, polls, UConn coach

UNO celebration 2Apparently Nebraska Omaha freshman goalie Anthony Stolarz, who did not start Saturday as usual, was already headed out the door to the OHL.

From UNO sports information …

OMAHA, Neb. – University of Nebraska Omaha head hockey coach Dean Blais announced today that freshman goaltender Anthony Stolarz has chosen to leave the program and is expected to sign with the London (Ontario) Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.

“I’m obviously disappointed by Anthony’s decision,” said Blais.  “He has been making a very challenging transition from the North American Hockey League to the WCHA, and we, as coaches, saw good progress from him in the first half of the season.  But ultimately, it’s his decision where he wants to play, and we wish him the best in the next chapter of his career.”

Stolarz, a 6-6, 220-pound native of Jackson, N.J., appeared in eight games for UNO, starting seven.  He had a record of 2-5-0 with a 2.56 goals-against average and a .898 save percentage.  He earned his first career win with 20 saves in an 8-0 shutout of Alabama-Huntsville on Nov. 24, UNO’s only shutout so far this season.  He also made 27 saves while backstopping the Mavericks to a 5-1 win over Minnesota State on Dec. 15.

In other news …

Six WCHA teams were ranked or received votes in this week’s USCHO.com and USA Today/ USA Hockey Magazine Division I men’s ice hockey polls. Minnesota remained atop both rankings.

Western Collegiate Hockey Association member North Dakota, tied for third in the league with Denver, remains at No. 7 in both while the Pioneers moved up two spots to No. 9.

Minnesota State moved up three spots to No. 11 in both polls.

WCHA leader Nebraska Omaha moved up two spots No. 13 in both polls.  Second-place St. Cloud State dropped to No. 18 on the USCHO list and received votes in the USA Hockey rankings.

The all-time winningest coach in UConn history, who has been on medical leave since November, has resigned his position immediately.

Saturday roundup Part 2: UM downs AFA; Denver shocks BU

No. 4 Minnesota 4, Air Force 0

MINNEAPOLIS — Erik Haula, Ryan Reilly, Kyle Rau and Nate Condon scored with the hosts scoring twice in the third period to pull away despite 29 saves by AFA goalie Jason Torf.

Minnesota plays No. 1 Boston College on Sunday.

No. 14/15 Denver 6, No. 6 Boston University 0

DENVER — Senior Chris Knowlton scored his team-leading 11th goal while DU pumped in three power-play goals out of eight man advantages to rout the Terriers.

 

Friday reading: Video, columns, predictions, features, previews

North Dakota released its weekly preview video:

Here is this week’s USCHO column on the WCHA. I wrote about CC’s defense, Mark Zengerle, the players of the week and provided the quick hits.

Here are my predictions for this weekend.

Here is the Gazette’s preview for the North Dakota at CC series. The Grand Forks Heralds says UND wants to generate greasy goals and keep an eye on senior Rylan Schwartz, who leads a potent Tigers offense. You may recall he had hat tricks two nights in a row at Grand Forks last Thanksgiving. Those links and plenty of others are provided here. More links including info on video streaming is included in links found here.

Puckato provides links to preview from all around the WCHA on his morning blog post. Check it out.

Here is a preview of the Wisconsin at Denver series focusing on the college debut of freshman Nic Kerdiles tonight, which will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network at 8 p.m. Mountain. Goalie Juho Olkinuora will start for Denver on Friday with Sam Brittain slated for Saturday, the Denver Post reports.

Here are capsules previews for all three series being played along the Front Range this weekend and a more detailed DU preview with an injury update on Josiah Didier.

Here is the NBC SN schedule this weekend:

Nov. 30 – Boston College vs. Boston University, 7:30 p.m. Eastern, Wisconsin vs. Denver, 10 p.m.

Dec. 1 – Boston University vs. Boston College, 7:30 p.m.

The NBC executives certainly picked the right games: BC coach Jerry York is one win away from tying Ron Mason for most Division 1 wins all time.

WCHA roundup: UNH rallies past Denver; Gophers get road sweep

No. 3 New Hampshire 6, No. 2 Denver 4

DENVER — Sophomore forward Ty Loney had a goal and an assist but the Denver Pioneers were unable to hold on, giving up four goals in the third period to fall 6-4 to the New Hampshire Wildcats on Saturday night at Magness Arena. DU led 3-0 after the first period.

No. 6 Notre Dame 5, No. 7 North Dakota 2

SOUTH BEND — Sophomore forward Mark MacMillan and freshman forward Rocco Grimaldi each scored a goal but North Dakota was defeated by Notre Dame, 5-2, on Saturday afternoon at Compton Family Ice Arena.

No. 4 Minnesota 3, Vermont 1

BURLINGTON — Freshman forward AJ Michaelson’s first collegiate goal would prove to be the game-winner as Minnesota skated to a 3-1 victory against Vermont on Saturday night at Gutterson Field House.

No. 12 St. Cloud State 5, Minnesota Duluth 1

DULUTH — Junior forward Nic Dowd scored two goals and an assist while senior forward Ben Hanowski added a goal and two assists to lead the Huskies to a 5-1 win against the Bulldogs on Saturday at AMSOIL Arena.

No. 14/15 Nebraska Omaha 8, Alabama-Huntsville 0

OMAHA — Junior forward Ryan Walters registered two goals and an assist while freshman netminder Anthony Stolarz stopped 20 shots to lead the Mavericks to an 8-0 win against the Chargers on Saturday night at CenturyLink Center.

Minnesota State 4, Wisconsin 2

MADISON — Senior forward Eriah Hayes netted two goals and sophomore forward Matt Leitner added a goal and two assists to lead Minnesota State to a 4-2 win against Wisconsin on Saturday night at Kohl Center.

Bemidji State 5, Alaska-Anchorage 4

BEMIDJI — Sophomore defenseman Sam Rendle scored the game-winning goal at 17:31 of the third period to lift Bemidji State to a 5-4 win against Alaska Anchorage at Sanford Center on Saturday night.