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.

Seven sign on with Tigers; four coming this fall

Here is the CC press release ….

Colorado College has received signed letters of intent from seven hockey players who will enroll at and play for CC in the future, head coach Scott Owens announced today.

The list of Tigers-to-be includes five forwards and two defensemen. Four will join the team later this year as freshmen on the 2012-13 roster, while three more will arrive in time for the 2013-14 season.
Additions for the ’12-13 campaign are center Cody Bradley of Tampa, Fla., left wing Hunter Fejes of Anchorage, Alaska, and right wing Jared Hanson of Palmer, Alaska, along with defenseman Michael King of Prince George, British Columbia.

“We are very pleased with the talent, skill and character of this group,” said Owens. “Joe and Eric (assistant coaches Joe Bonnett and Eric Rud) have done a great job of bringing this class together. We’re bringing in an excellent mix of hockey ability, size and players who come from winning programs. I’m very excited to see them on the ice in the fall and to watch their development while at Colorado College.”

Bradley, 5-10 and 166 pounds, has played in 15 games for the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United States Hockey League this season, scoring six goals and adding four assists. In time split between Dubuque and the USHL’s Indiana Ice, he’s collected 18 points (9g,9a) in 31 games. His father, Brian Bradley, played 14 years in the National Hockey League before retiring with 503 career points (182g,321a) in 1998. The Fighting Saints wrap up their regular season this weekend before opening Clark Cup playoffs action as a No. 3 seed in the USHL East.

“Cody is a skilled, clever center iceman,” Owens said. “He has the ability to score goals and to distribute the puck as well. He gets around the sheet very well and is suited to our style of play here at CC.”

Fejes, a standout at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Faribault, Minn., is ranked 91st among North American skaters in the final 2012 draft rankings released earlier this week by the National Hockey League. At 6-1 and 191 pounds, he is expected to be selected within the top five rounds in June. Shattuck-St. Mary’s, a perennial powerhouse in the USA Hockey Tier I Under-18 ranks, recently claimed its fifth national championship in nine years with an overall record of 50-5-2. Fejes led the team with 38 goals and finished second with 78 points in 55 games.

“Hunter is a power left wing who also can score,” said Owens. “He has the ability to get to the net front and makes good things happen down low.”

The 6-0, 190-pound Hanson, currently in his second full season with the USHL West-leading Lincoln Stars, has compiled 51 points (26g,25a), four game-winning goals and a +29 plus-minus rating in 53 appearances so far in 2011-12. Lincoln currently leads the second-place Omaha Lancers by one point in the conference standings, with two games to play. The Stars finished fifth in the West Conference during Hanson’s rookie season in 2010-11.

“Jared has had an excellent season for Lincoln,” Owens said. “He’s continued to get better and better all year long. He’s a goal scorer, with 22 of his 26 tallies so far having come in 5-on-5 situations.”

King, 6-4 1/2 and 210 pounds, finished the 2011-12 season with the Lloydminster Bobcats of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. He collected 19 points (4g,15a) in 32 games with the Westside Warriors of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League before being traded, then added a power-play goal and two assists in five appearances, including a pair of playoff games, with Lloydminster. In 2010-11, he compiled 23 points (5g,18a) while playing in 48 outings for Westside.

“Michael has very good foot speed and stick skills for a young man his size,” said Owens. That range and mobility will enable him to improve and develop throughout the season as he adjusts to the tempo and rigor of the WCHA.”

Also signing letters of intent to join the Tiger Hockey family a year later, in time for the 2013-14 season and CC’s debut as a member of the of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, were forwards Matt Hansen of St. Cloud, Minn., and Christian Heil of Westminster, Colo., as well as defenseman Jaccob Slavin of Erie, Colo., who all will play another year of junior hockey before launching their collegiate careers.

“Matt, Christian and Jaccob represent the beginning of a projected, very strong class in 2013,” said Owens, who has compiled a record of 299-185-43 (.608) in 13 years behind the bench. “All three are playing significant minutes for their respective junior teams at this time. Matt has tremendous speed and skill, Christian is a power forward with the ability to make plays and finish, and Jaccob plays both ends of the rink extremely well as an offensive ‘D-man’ who can defend as well. We are extremely pleased to have them as future Tigers and look forward to monitoring their progress next season.”

Hansen, who actually signed his letter of intent previously, currently plays for the Austin (Minn.) Bruins of the North American Hockey League, while Heil and Slavin are teammates with the Chicago Steel of the USHL.

Tigers To Be
Name                Pos.    Hgt.     Wgt.     Shoots        DOB            Hometown                              Arrival at CC

Cody Bradley       C      5-10     166            L           5/26/94          Tampa, Fla./Dubuque (USHL)          2012-13
Hunter Fejes      LW      6-1       191            L           5/31/94         Anchorage/Shattuck-St. Mary’s       2012-13
Christian Heil        F      6-1       178            L           3/25/95         Westminster/Chicago (USHL)         2013-14
Matt Hansen         F     5-10      163            R           5/11/93          St. Cloud, Minn./Austin (NAHL)       2013-14
Jared Hanson    RW     6-0       190            R           1/24/93        Palmer, Alaska/Lincoln(USHL)      2012-13
Michael King        D      6-4 1/2   210            R           1/22/93      Prince George, B.C./(AJHL)          2012-13
Jaccob Slavin      D       6-2       170            L            5/1/94           Erie, Colo./Chicago(USHL)            2013-14

Updated Thursday reading: Frozen 4, Guentzel, Penrose award, predictions,Owens, Hall, Mankato, Rud, Sterling, Connelly, C. Stuart

Former CC standout Gabe Guentzel of the Syracuse Crunch at bottom tangles up with Corey Cowick of the Binghamton Senators in a mid-ice collision in the second period at the Onondaga County War Memorial. Mike Greenlar / The Post-Standard.

Here is a link to all the stories by the Union beat writer in preparation of today’s 2:30 p.m. Mountain semifinal (ESPNU) vs. Ferris State. Here is a video made by ECAC fans hopeful the league will win its first NCAA title since 1989.

Western College Hockey Blog talks about why Ferris State has made it this far.

The Boston College-Minnesota semifinal (6 p.m. Mountain, ESPN2) is discussed here along with other preview notes. The fan blog BC Interruption weighs in on the second semifinal. The teams will face off often in the future.

Goon’s World breaks down the Frozen Four and picks the Dutchmen to win it all. My prediction? Boston College over Ferris State. Let the second-guessing begin.

FSU’s coach garnered the Spencer Penrose Award ahead of UMass-Lowell’s Norm Bazin.

Who says that college does not prepare you for the pros and NHL? For the second year in a row, four of the six all-AHL rookie team members played in college:

  • G: Eddie Pasquale, St. John’s (34 GP, 21-11-1, 2.36 GAA, .913 save pct., 4 SO) OHL
  • D: Matt Donovan, Bridgeport (69 GP, 10-32–42, +9) Denver (NHL debut on Tuesday)
  • D: Cade Fairchild, Peoria (63 GP, 7-25–32, +28, 3 GWG) Minnesota
  • F: Cory Conacher, Norfolk (70 GP, 34-39–73, +11, 7 GWG) Canisius (Favorite to win Rookie of the Year)
  • F: Tyler Johnson, Norfolk (70 GP, 29-35–64, +13, 5 GWG) WHL
  • F: Gustav Nyquist, Grand Rapids (56 GP, 22-36–58, +7, 7 PPG) Maine (NHL debut earlier this season)

CC coach Scott Owens has been under fire of late from fans that were dissatisfied by the early end to this past season. The Colorado Springs Independent’s Ralph Routon does his usual good job outlining the situation.

Not included, but I think worth mentioning is the class workload these players have to handle while facing the full-time demands of playing hockey. The block system is intense and I could see the fatigue in the players’ eyes before every block final. I think the off-ice workload definitely plays a role in the second-half struggles.

The Anchorage Daily News found out some good detail on former Tiger Tim Hall’s move from CC to the ECHL, including how CC assistant Eric Rud connected with Brian Swanson to put Hall on the Alaska Aces’ radar.

Rud is mentioned by the Mankato beat writer as a possible replacement for the ousted Troy Jutting. He and longtime CC assistant Joe Bonnett are both worthy of serious consideration.

Brett Sterling had a goal and an assist in a big win for Portland as the Pirates battle to make the AHL playoffs.

Brian Connelly recorded an assist and Colin Stuart, the captain of the Rochester Americans, was interviewed about Abbotsford’s 4-3 overtime win over the Americans.

More Monday reading: Tigers in the pros, Mankato, USA U18 roster

I wrote a feature on Richard Bachman, pictured at left, for CC sports information and an update on the other former Tigers under AHL and NHL contracts.

The coaching change at Minnesota State Mankato continues to be the big news around the league for the time being (I suspect the Gophers will be the focus again within 24 hours). Here are more Frozen Four links.

Here’s more from the Monday morning press conference where Troy Jutting shows why he is the respected man he is around the WCHA.

Now it is time for people to guess about possible replacements, which mentions current CC assistant Eric Rud as a possibility. In my opinion, both he and Joe Bonnett are more than qualified.

Here is the USA U-18 national team roster for the upcoming world championships in Europe. There are plenty of college commits on the list.