Serratore lifts Gophers past Tigers in third

serratoreNo. 4 Minnesota kept up the pressure and the Colorado College defense finally cracked, with hometown boy Tom Serratore scoring on a shot through traffic with 6:37 remaining in the third period to lift the visiting Gophers to a 4-2 victory on Friday night.

“For Tom, it’s big to score the game-winner in his hometown,” said Minnesota head coach Don Lucia. ”He has been such a good solider. We moved him up to the third line and he has been producing.”

The goal came 47 seconds after a CC clearing attempt failed and the tiring Tigers could not clear the zone before the puck ended up in front for a shot CC goalie Joe Howe did not appear to see clearly with the four players locked up in front screening him. Serratore, the son of Air Force head coach Frank Serratore, was happy to bang the loose puck in.

“It is always good to score against the Tigers,” he said.

Minnesota’s Zach Budish scored an empty-netter with 1:08 left for the final margin.

The loss drops CC to 1-5-1 in its last seven games during a stretch of 10 straight games against ranked opponents to close out the first half. The Tigers have struggled to close out the close games, dropping to 4-6-1 in one-goal games (not including empty-netters).

“We have to find a way to win those close games,” said Tigers head coach Scott Owens. “I like the team. It was 6:37 left and we were right there. I would like to see someone step up and take charge.”

The Tigers held a upperclassmen-only meeting following the loss.

The game was delayed for seven minutes when Minnesota defenseman Justin Holl broke the Zamboni door glass as he tried to check CC junior wing Archie Skalbeck. Holl went high, missed the crouching Skalbeck and busted the glass to the delight of the announced crowd of 7,021 fans at Colorado Springs World Arena with 2:43 left in the third.

The Tigers awoke from their slumber in the second period thanks to their top line.

Senior captain William Rapuzzi took a pass as he skated across the face of the Minnesota net and backhanded the puck past UM freshman goalie Adam Wilcox to tie the game at 2-2 headed into the third period.

The goal was CC’s second in only 101 seconds.

“There were good things,” Owens said. “I like how the defensive corps played after (sophomore Aaron) Harstad went down.”

Harstad is out with an undisclosed upper body injury and will not play on Saturday, Owens said.

Rapuzzi’s ninth goal of the season came with 3:22 left, only 1:41 after Archie Skalbeck, who made the pass to Rapuzzi, scored off a pretty crossing pass from senior Rylan Schwartz to spark the host Tigers only 1:45 after Minnesota’s Sam Warning scored his second goal of the night and season. Skalbeck’s score made it 2-1 Gophers.

Warning scored three seconds after a UM power play expired on a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle to stake the visiting Gophers to a 1-0 lead in the first period.

He added his second goal of the night and the season when he corralled a loose puck in the left faceoff circle and wristed the puck under CC goalie Joe Howe’s arm as he slid over.

“It’s good to see Sam score,” Lucia said. ‘He had been hurt (nine games, upper body injury) and it took him a couple games to get back to speed. We needed him to score those two big goals or we would not have won.”

UM out shot the host Tigers 12-4 in the first period, but CC came back with a superior effort in the second to trim the advantage to 20-15. The Tigers, which gave up 88 sots last weekend and the 97 two weeks ago made some progress by allowing only 31.

“We did a good job keeping out of the box,” Owens said. “We had 2-3 pretty good efforts late but either (freshman goalie Adam) Wilcox came up with a play or we could not convert. I would like to have us get one goal on the power play.”

Notes

U.S. national junior prelim camp roster invitee Brady Sjkel of Minnesota was a coach’s scratch on Friday. … The Gophers’ ranks were depleted by the flu. … The Tigers held a seniors-only meeting after the game. … Last night’s CC lineup was identical to the previous Friday when it beat No. 9 North Dakota 5-2. … Minnesota coach Don Lucia served as head coach at CC from 1993-99, leading the Tigers to three WCHA titles, a 1996 national runner-up finish and a return to the 1997 Frozen Four. … UM sophomore Kyle Rau, younger brother of former Tiger standout Kyle, is a good harbinger of the Gophers’ success. They are 10-0-0 this season when he records a point. The Gophers won for the first time when he did not record a point. … Erik Haula’s two assists makes it 11 games in a row with a point or more. … Baseball Hall of Famer “Goose” Gossage, a Colorado Springs native, dropped the ceremonial first puck before the game. … Rapuzzi has recorded a point in eight straight games.

No. 4 Minnesota 4, No. 19 Colorado College 2

Minnesota          1              1              2 —         4

Colorado College             0              2              0              –2

First period – 1. UM, Warming (Marshall, Reilly) , 7:36. Penalties – CC, Hamburg, hooking, 5:33; UM, Isackson, boarding, 12:51.

Second period – 2. UM, Warning (Schmidt) 13:12; 3. CC, Skalbeck (Schwartz, Rapuzzi) 14:57; 4. CC, Rapuzzi (Skalbeck, Schwartz) 16:38. Penalties – UM, Reilly, interference, 3:29; UM, Haula, unsportsmanlike conduct, 6:33; CC, Bradley, unsportsmanlike conduct, 6:33; UM, Serratore, charging, 10:12; UM, Rau, unsportsmanlike conduct 17:10; CC, Hanson, unsportsmanlike conduct, 17:10.

Third period – 5. Minnesota, Serratore (Budish, Haula), 13:23; 6. Minnesota, Budish (Condon) 18:52 (EN). Penalties – UM, Holl, tripping, 6:54; UM, Helgeson, roughing,  19:50; CC, Taft, roughing, boarding. 19:50.

Power play – Minnesota 0-2, Colorado College 0-4. Shots on goal – Minnesota 12-8-11 – 31; Colorado College 4-11-11 – 26. Saves-minutes – Minnesota, Wilcox 4-9-11 – 60:00; Colorado College, Howe 11-7-9 – 59:48. Referees – Bokai, Thul. Linesmen – Stankevich, Stodgell. Attendance – 7,021.

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Thursday reading: McDermott, WCHA column, picks, BSU video

CC defenseman’s Eamonn McDermott stretch passes in transition has helped him  emerge as a potent offensive player in his junior season. The Tigers are happy to be home for nine of the next 10 games

The following link is to the weekly USCHO WCHA column I share with a colleague. He wrote the larger piece on goaltending and more on Denver while I handled the rest.

Here are the Gophers beat writer’s picks for the weekend. Picking a home sweep for St. Cloud State versus North Dakota was a bold call.

Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore held his weekly press conference about upcoming opponent Colorado College.

Updated Saturday reading: Minnesota, Great Lakes Invitational, Air Force, North Dakota commit, Union injury, New Hampshire, CCHA

Janet Hostetter/The Associated Press

Here are more details from No. 2 Minnesota’s home win over Minnesota State.

Holy Cross 3, Air Force 2

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — Holy Cross scored three goals in a little more than 10 minutes during the second period to rally past the struggling host Falcons (1-3-3, 1-1-1 AHA). Holy Cross moved into first place in the AHA with 3-1 record (4-1 overall).

Holy Cross outshot Air Force, 43-28, in the game. The Crusaders outshot the Falcons, 43-19, in the final 47 minutes.

“We are not very disciplined right now and we are playing a soft game,” Falcons head coach Frank Serratore said. “We had a two-goal lead and had a chance to come out and punch them in the mouth in the second period. Instead, they imposed their will on us. They took it to us in the second period. I have no beef with the way we played in the third period, but why can’t we play like that in the first two periods.”

With the NHL Winter Classic scrapped, the Great Lakes Invitational is moving back indoors.

Here is a feature on Minnesota forward Tom Serratore.

North Dakota is likely to lose a commit to Canadian major juniors.

No. 10 Union beat RPI but may have lost its captain for a good while. No. 9 New Hampshire, CC’s foe on Nov. 23,  lost at UMass.

A Canisius player is suspended for seven additional games for a hit that injured an Air Force player last Thursday.

Here are CCHA results from Friday of note:

Ferris State 3, No. 4 Miami 0

BIG RAPIDS – Sophomore goaltender C.J. Motte blocked all 25 shots he faced as Ferris State shut out Miami, 3-0. Freshman defensemen Brandon Anselmini and Connor Schmidt each potted a power-play goal, while sophomore forward Justin Buzzeo added an even-strength marker for the Bulldogs. For the Redhawks, freshman goaltender Jay Williams made 28 saves in the loss.

No. 11 Western Michigan 3, No. 7 Notre Dame 2

SOUTH BEND – Senior forward Dane Walters’ two-goal performance led Western Michigan past Notre Dame, 3-2. Broncos’ junior forward Chase Balisy added a power-play goal and an assist in the contest. Notre Dame sophomore forward Anders Lee finished with a goal and an assist, while sophomore defenseman Robbie Russo added a power-play goal. Junior forward Jeff Costello tallied a pair of helpers for the Irish. Broncos’ sophomore goaltender Frank Slubowski stopped 35 shots in the win, while Notre Dame junior goaltender Steven Summerhays made 22 saves in the loss.

No. 8 Michigan 4, No. 20 Northern Michigan 4 (Michigan wins in shootout)

MARQUETTE – Senior forward A.J. Treais scored with one second left in regulation, and had the lone goal in the shootout, to give Michigan a 4-4 tie/shootout win against Northern Michigan. Sophomore defenseman Mike Chiasson and senior defenseman Mac Bennett each tallied a goal and an assist. Junior forward Kevin Lynch added the other goal and freshman goaltender Steve Racine stopped 24 shots for the Wolverines. For the Wildcats, freshman forward Cohen Adair finished with a 1-1-2 scoring line. Junior defenseman Wade Epp, junior forward Erik Higby and sophomore forward Ryan Daugherty each had single goals, while junior goaltender Jared Coreau turned aside 31 shots.

Thursday reading: Pros updates, weekend preview notes

Mark Stuart has been a leader at every level of hockey he's played.

Former Tiger Mark Stuart, pictured at left playing for Team USA last summer, is profiled by the Winnipeg Jets while listing all his considerable accomplishments.

Getting replaced by Joey Crabb on your line is a good motivational tool for Leafs’ coaches. Crabb has made the most of his chance this season.

From the “Hockey is a Small World” department, here’s a story by the Post’s Mike Chambers linking two Avalanche teammates to their peewee days when they lost to two former Denver standouts and a former CC goalie named Richard Bachman.

Here’s Goon’s World’s weekly predictions and an injury update for Colorado College, which looks to have lost sophomore Michael Morin for the season with surgery on a broken right ankle.

Here’s the Gazette’s capsule preview for the home-and-home series between CC and Denver.

The Minnesota AD announced he will retire soon.

Former Mankato standout and Blues captain David Backes used his free time over the NHL All-Star Break to save three shelter dogs by flying them from Houston  to a no-kill shelter in St. Louis.

The City of Mankato is looking to invest some serious money into improving the Verizon Wireless Center. Great job by Shane Frederick finding that Backers story.

After some talk of the Blues trading the rights to current CC sophomore standout Jaden Schwartz, that rumor has been dispelled.

Michigan Tech is no longer anyone’s doormat.  The Huskies take on MSU-Mankato this weekend.

Here’s Denver’s weekly press conference video  featuring coach George Gwozdecky.

Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore discusses his team’s road series at Nebraska-Omaha in this video.

Alaska Anchorage has the unenviable task of hosting No. 1/2 Minnesota Duluth.

Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves talks about his team’s home series against St. Cloud State.

North Dakota’s Corban Knight is the subject of the “Through These Doors” weekly video feature. UND is idle this week as are the No. 1/2 Gophers.

This Week in the WCHA …

Games for Friday, February 3: St. Cloud State at Wisconsin (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; Bemidji State at Nebraska Omaha (WCHA), 7:37 pm CT; Michigan Tech at Minnesota State (WCHA), 7:37 pm CT; Colorado College at Denver (WCHA), 7:37 pm MT; Minnesota Duluth at Alaska Anchorage (WCHA), 7:07 pm AT.

Games for Saturday, February 4: Bemidji State at Nebraska Omaha (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; Michigan Tech at Minnesota State (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; Denver at Colorado College (WCHA), 7:07 pm MT; St. Cloud State at Wisconsin (WCHA), 8:07 pm CT; Minnesota Duluth at Alaska Anchorage (WCHA), 7:07 pm AT.