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.

Thursday reading: Weekend previews, Sioux nickname, GLI

Colorado College junior goaltender Joe Howe makes a save in the second period of an NCAA hockey game against the University of Denver at the DU's Magness Arena on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011. (Daniel Petty, The Denver Post)

Colorado College’s defense is much improved of late while junior goalie Joe Howe will be the likely starter this Friday at Bemidji State. Backup Courtney Lockwood is making his first road trip. BSU coach Tom Serratore previews (video) the home series against CC.

Because of injuries, North Dakota does not have the extra players needed for a “healthy scratch” when it travels to No. 3 Minnesota Duluth. The Sioux nickname returns at the University of North Dakota, at least temporarily. The Big Sky Conference, the new league home for the other UND sports, is not amused.

It looks the Big 10 and The National may end up holding its postseason tournaments at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul every other year.

The top line for No.1/2 Minnesota will be a real test for Denver, which hosts the confident Gophers this weekend and needs to do well down the stretch to avoid having to win the Final Five tournament outright for an NCAA bid.

Nebraska-Omaha travels to Michigan Tech in a battle of two teams tied for fifth place. Mankato travels to Anchorage to conclude the Seawolves’ homestand.

St. Cloud State is idle this week. Here’s a profile of goalie Mike Lee in the interim. The Badgers also have the weekend off.

The Great Lakes Invitational will be played outdoors Dec. 28 and 29, 2012 and will included future National Collegiate Hockey Conference member Western Michigan. The NCHC announced Wednesday that it would have a 24-game league schedule when it begins play in October 2013.

Here’s the weekend schedule courtesy of wcha.com …

Games for Friday, February 10: *Nebraska Omaha at Michigan Tech (WCHA), 7:07 pm ET; North Dakota at Minnesota Duluth (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; Colorado College at Bemidji State (WCHA), 7:37 pm CT; Minnesota at Denver (WCHA), 8:07 pm MT; Minnesota State at Alaska Anchorage (WCHA), 7:07 pm AT. * Winter Carnival

Games for Saturday, February 11: *Nebraska Omaha at Michigan Tech (WCHA), 5:07 pm ET; Colorado College at Bemidji State (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; North Dakota at Minnesota Duluth (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; Minnesota at Denver (WCHA), 7:07 pm MT; Minnesota State at Alaska Anchorage (WCHA), 7:07 pm AT. * Winter Carnival

Nothing special for CC in Friday’s loss

CC senior Tim Hall tried to split the Alaska-Anchorage defense. Via The Gazette (Mike Christy)

OK, the next sentence is pretty obvious. Shorthanded goals are huge momentum-turners. No kidding.

It was especially obvious Friday in No. 6 Colorado College’s 6-3 loss to visiting Alaska-Anchorage.

The shorty,  UAA junior wing Mitch Bruijsten’s first on his way to a hat trick, came on the Seawolves’ second shorthanded chance that power play. CC goalie Joe Howe made the first stop but couldn’t the second time.

CC then took six penalties in the second period, helping UAA score two power-play goals that period, including freshman Charlie Taft’s 5-minute major for checking from behind with less than a second left ( 0:00.6) in the second to give UAA 4:59 of the man advantage to start the third with a 4-3 lead already.

“The (struggling CC) power play in the first period kind of turned the tide early, then the penalty barrage in the second period, then our lack of moving our feet, to a certain extent, to generate two five-minute majors, which we’re not known for,” Tigers coach Scott Owens told the Gazette. “All those things kind of disappointed me in a sense because some of them were uncharacteristic.  All the way through, I was disappointed with virtually all aspects of the game.”

UAA scored twice in the first five minutes of the third to take a 6-3 lead, end Howe’s night, and clinch the road win.

Howe was hung out to dry much of the game but also appeared to struggle keeping track of the puck as evident when Curtis Leinweber scored on a backhander in front to make it 3-3. UAA recorded four power-play goals and the aforementioned shorthander. CC outscored Anchorage 2-1 in 5-on-5 play.

Freshman Courtney Lockwood made his first appearance as a Tiger in mop-up duty. Congrats to him though I’m sure he would have preferred mop-up duty with a  7-1 lead. Sending in Lockwood was a good idea for two reasons: 1. The move sparked the flat Tigers a bit; 2. Sending sophomore Josh Thorimbert, who I expect will start tonight, out there with a poor-performing team in front of him would only hurt his confidence.

Speaking of which, Alaska-Anchorage should have plenty as they look for a road sweep to conclude the first half of its season.

“We allowed them to gain confidence,” Owens said. “That was a team that didn’t have much confidence after last weekend, and we allowed them to gain confidence.”