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.

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.”

Friday reading: Previews, features and predictions

Nebraska-Omaha coach Dean Blais wants an on-campus ice arena badly.

CC will find out about its defensive depth with sophomore Eamonn McDermott out of action for the next month. Senior Arthur Bidwill is a more than capable replacement.

Here’s a capsule preview on the SCSU at CC series.

Bemidji State is becoming a familiar foe to Denver. They play at Magness this weekend. DU freshman Ty Loney’s role continues to grow for the Pioneers.

The rivalry between host North Dakota and Minnesota dates back to 1948 in this lookback article. The Gophers may not be back to the Ralph very often with each team leaving the WCHA for 2013-14.

Minnesota hopes to steady the ship a bit after a 6-6-1 run of late. The superior play of Erik Haula has been a key development. The Gophers have had their share of secondary scoring though, a key to getting on another tear, even if they’re not taking on the AHA’s weak sisters. Here’s a video preview of the series.

Nebraska-Omaha coach Dean Blais isn’t leaving the Mavs any time soon, despite a rumor to the contrary. The defending NCAA champs Minnesota-Duluth, ranked No. 1 in both major polls, have been a big fan draw at home or on the road, like this weekend in Omaha.

Wisconsin travels to Minnesota State in Mankato. Here’s a capsule preview and a feature on UW’s Ryan Little.

The parity in the WCHA gives Alaska-Anchorage an outside chance at home playoff ice. They’ll need to get on a roll starting this weekend at Michigan Tech.

Here’s the Star Tribune’s predictions.