Three Tigers among top western college free agents

CC Rylan Schwartz actionThe Western College Hockey Blog announced its top 15 college free agents from the CCHA and WCHA and that list included three Tigers. Here are the list’s write ups on each with my take on the other seniors at the bottom.

8. Alex Krushelnyski, Junior, Forward, Colorado College

Krushelnyski was a player barely on the radar heading into this season, but has had an incredible year. Krushelnyski has 32 points through 30 games this year, including 28 points at even strength. He’s the nation’s third best scorer at even strength behind Walters and Boston College’s Johnny Gaudreau. There’s nothing flashy about his game, but he’s the type of player that wins battles and rarely makes a mistake. He has the type of tools to be an effective bottom line player in the NHL.

11. Rylan Schwartz, Senior, Forward, Colorado College

While never quite as dynamic as younger brother Jaden, Schwartz has always been a dangerous offensive player in his own right. He’s having a very strong final campaign, with 35 points through 30 games this year, and his playmaking abilities could be valuable for some NHL club.

15. Mike Boivin, Senior, Defense, Colorado College

Boivin is an offensive defenseman that has been a rock on the power play for the Tigers this year. Colorado College has a long history of getting offensive defensemen into the NHL including players like Mark Stuart, Jack Hillen, Nate Prosser and Tom Preissing.

The other three senior free agents (Scott Winkler is a Dallas draft pick) are Andrew Hamburg, Joe Marciano and William Rapuzzi. I expect all three to garner some attention as well, especially Rapuzzi (33 points, 19 assists).

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Notebook: Winkler shines, line changes pay dividends

forsaleThis weekend’s unsung hero: Scott Winkler

The Colorado College senior may not have registered a point on Saturday’s scoresheet but coach Scott Owens rightly credited the Dallas draft pick for his efforts in the 5-1 home win.

“(Scott Winkler) didn’t register a point but his line was up against the (UMD freshman Tony) Cameranesi line all weekend,” Owens said referring to the Bullddog’s top-scoring line. “His line (including wings Archie Skalbeck, Jared Hanson) did a good job defensively tonight. We had nine blocks in the second period and Winkler made a big one during that span. That was huge”

Winkler and senior captain William Rapuzzi both created screens for defenseman Mike Boivin when he skated over a step and snapped off a wrister that beat UMD goalie Matt McNeely high glove side for the 1-0 lead.

Lines change-up pays dividends

After Friday’s 3-2 loss, the CC coaches shifted around the Tiger lines and, at least for now, looked like a good move.

Charlie Taft added more speed at right wing on the Rylan Schwartz line, which includes left wing Alexander Krushelnyski.  Those three recorded six points with Krushelnyski (two assists) ad Schwartz (three assists) generating three apiece

Moving Rapuzzi to the third line with freshmen Hunter Fejes and center Cody Bradley added more offensive potential with the senior providing some savvy and an ability to create offense off redirects. That gave CC three lines with considerable offensive ability.

It paid off. Rapuzzi’s goal early in the third period off assists from Bradley and Fejes clinched the win.

Wednesday reading: Duluth suspensions, league news, Hobey voting

rylan roadAccording to the Duluth News Tribune, Minnesota-Duluth will have three top players out of the lineup for Friday’s home game against Michigan Tech to serve a one-game suspensions for violating team rules.

Senior forward and captain Cody Danberg, senior defenseman Wade Bergman and freshman forward Austin Farley will sit for the unspecified violations. The Bulldogs had a bye last weekend.

Here is a look at recent developments in the WCHA and an update from North Dakota.

Colorado Springs native Josh Holmstrom, a junior forward at UMass-Lowell, and Colorado College seniors Mike Boivin and Rylan Schwartz made the first phase of fan balloting for the 2013 Hobey Baker Memorial Award. The three are among the 77 student-athletes under consideration.

Fan voting opened earlier this week at hobeybakeraward.com and will remain open until March 10.

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.

Tuesday reading: Engelstad, CC seniors, Kerdiles, commits, web poll

As part of its NCAA deal, the Ralph Engelstad Arena removed some Sioux references (though certainly not all). Courtesy GOON’S WORLD.

The seven CC seniors have stepped forward into the leadership roles nicely through the first two weeks of the season.

Badgers freshman Nic Kerdiles will serve his suspension and stay at Wisconsin, easing fears he would bolt for the WHL.

Bemidji State adds a commit while Minnesota added two. Here is the weekly WCHA web media poll:

Team Pts Previous Record High Low
1) Minnesota (9) 141 1 3-1-0 1 2
2) Denver (3) 131 3 2-0-0 1 3
3) North Dakota 123 2 1-1-0 2 4
4) Minnesota Duluth 96 4 2-2-0 4 8
5) Michigan Tech 87 8 2-2-0 3 9
6) Colorado College 80 5 3-1-0 4 10
7) St. Cloud State 72 7 2-2-0 4 9
8) Nebraska Omaha 67 6 2-2-0 4 10
9) Minnesota State 52 10 2-0-2 5 11
10) Wisconsin 46 9 0-2-0 6 12
11) Bemidji State 24 11 1-1-0 9 12
12) Alaska Anchorage 17 12 2-1-1 10 12
Representing Name Publication Twitter
Alaska-Anchorage, Taylor Hall College Hockey News @thall907
Bemidji State, Troy Mills The Beaver Pond
Colorado College, Joe Paisley, Paisley Hockey @Paisleyhockey
Denver, Mike Chambers, Denver Post @MChambersDP
Michigan Tech, Tim Braun, Tech Hockey Guide @TBraunTHG
Minnesota, Dan Myers, Minnesota Hockey Magazine @1DanMyers
Minnesota Duluth, Bruce Ciskie, The Ciskie Blog @BruceCiskie
Minnesota State, Chris Dilks, Western College Hockey @ChrisDilks
Nebraska-Omaha, Matt Semisch, Radio Free Omaha @matthewsemisch
North Dakota, Eric Burton The Hockey Writers Combine and Goon’s World @goon48
St. Cloud State, Jeremy Larson, Husky Hockey Time @jclarson02
Wisconsin, Andy Johnson, Bucky’s 5th Quarter @andyjohnsonB5Q

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.

CC holds on for 3-1 home win over Huskies

COLORADO SPRINGS  –  One too many mistakes, a hot goalie and a disallowed goal handed St. Cloud State a tough loss, 3-1, at No. 8-ranked Colorado College on Friday night

The Huskies dominated the final 40 minutes, but squandered two big scoring opportunities in the third period before CC junior Scott Winkler’s empty netter with 5.6 seconds remaining sealed the Tigers’ win before 6,736 fans at the Colorado Springs World Arena.

CC goalie Josh Thorimbert’s left leg pad save with 8:38 left on SCSU freshman Nick Oliver during a breakaway kept CC ahead 2-1. It was the biggest of his 32 saves.

“You have to credit their goalie,” said Huskies head coach Bob Motzko. “He may have stolen one for them tonight. That was probably the best we’ve played for two straight periods.”

Earlier, David Eddy’s shot clanged off the post 88 seconds into the third during one of the Huskies’ three power plays that period.  Later, the Huskies (8-11-4, 5-7-3 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) couldn’t capitalize on a 6-on-4 advantage with a late power play and freshman goalie Ryan Faragher (23 saves, 12 in the first period) pulled with 1:31 left.

It was far too close for Tigers head coach Scott Owens’ comfort.

“We didn’t have that killer instinct,” he said. “We let a good team hang around and it came down to a couple big penalty kills and our goaltending.”

The win pushed the third-place Tigers (13-7-1, 10-5-0) within two points of second-place Minnesota, which lost 2-1 at North Dakota earlier.

The Huskies battled back in the second period behind a power-play goal by sophomore defenseman Nick Jensen, his fifth score of the season. Travis Novak helped screen Thorimbert, who was unable to glove the slap shot by Jensen.

SCSU had appeared to tie the game at 2-2 with 3:18 left in the second period when Andrew Prochno’s stick came to rest on the back of Thorimbert’s helmet as a teammate’s shot caromed in off the right post.

“He hooked my helmet and pulled my head down so I told the referee immediately and they reviewed it,” Thorimbert said.

The goal was waved off after 3:27 of video review by the officials, who ruled that Prochno’s stick didn’t amount to goalie interference, but it was enough to negate the score.

“That was a pretty ticky-tack call,”Motzko said.

St. Cloud State was unable to shake off the rust from another weekend off quickly and the Tigers’ second line, centered by captain Nick Dineen, took advantage to stake CC to a 2-0 lead.

A turnover forced by Winkler and controlled by defenseman Mike Boivin led to a breakaway for Alexander Krushelnyski, who scored his sixth of the season when his hard shot trickled between Faragher’s leg pads for a 1-0 lead with 11:31 left in the opening period.

Dineen scored the eventual game-winner when he banged home a rebound off a shot by Krushelnyski with 4:48 left in the period.

“It shows how fragile we are,” Motzko said. “On that second goal, we made a turnover and it cost us. We were unable to battle back for the win. My Lord, we had three power plays, and a goal disallowed with the score 2-1.”