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).

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.

Saturday reading: CC-UND video highlights; stories and column

CC Collett_CU1Here is the coverage from the Gazette and the Grand Forks Herald including a column about the motivated Tigers seeking redemption from last month’s  heartbreaking loss.

Here are game highlights for both teams provided by Goon’s World.

CC at St. Cloud State preview

CC Alexander Krushelnyski roadHere is part of a preview I wrote earlier this week.

Colorado College (8-8-2, 5-4-1 WCHA) at No. 17 St. Cloud State (9-7-0, 7-5-0) 7:37 p.m. Central Friday, 7:07 p.m. Saturday

The Tigers’ run of five weekends in a row against ranked opponents continues this Friday through Saturday in Minnesota. The league’s 11th-rated scoring defense (3.50 goals) is balanced out by CC’s potent offense (league-best 3.61 goals), although the Tigers start out slow with 51 of the team’s 65 goals coming in the second and third period.

“We just need to keep getting better,” said Tigers head coach Scott Owens. “Our 5-on-5 scoring has been good which is better than it has been the past three years.”

CC senior Rylan Schwartz is tied for the WCHA scoring lead with 24 points while senior captain William Rapuzzi is tied for third with 22 points (13 assists). Tigers senior Scott Winkler has 20 points and is tied with Schwartz and two others with a league-high 10 goals.  Junior Alexander Krushelnyski now has 19 points (11 assists), good for a tie for eighth on the WCHA point scoring list with two others.

They face a team that is every bit as good as the higher-ranked opponents CC has faced, Owens said.

“And it is at their home which only makes it tougher,” Owens added. “They have two top lines that are as strong as anyone’s. You knew they would be good coming into the season with (Drew) LeBlanc back. Their defensive corps is underrated, led by one of the league’s best in Nick Jensen, and they have had good goaltending. They are going to be good as always.”

SCSU Nick JensenThe Huskies are paced by senior LeBlanc’s 21 points (team-high 16 assists) and 20 points (12 assists) from junior Nic Dowd. Freshman Kalle Kossila has 13 points (eight goals) while junior defenseman Jensen has 12 points, with his first goal of the season last weekend.

Senior Ben Hanowski has 11 points (seven assists) while freshman David Morley has 10 points (four goals, including his first hat trick last Friday). Sophomore goalie Ryan Faragher is 8-6-0 with a 2.44 goals against mark and a .912 saves percentage.

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.

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.

More Friday reading: Colorado College at Wisconsin TV/video stream options, McElhinney, Denver, Air Force, North Dakota, predictions

Photo: Kyle Daudelin

A tape-delayed free streaming option for any CC fans who don’t have access to Altitude2 (6 p.m. Mountain) is available for the Tigers at Wisconsin game Friday night. Wisconsin Public Television will broadcast the game at 9 p.m. Mountain on The Wisconsin Channel  at http://wpt.org/wisconsinchannel/ .

Colorado College is sixth in the WCHA in scoring at 3.17 goals per game but has struggled on the power play. The Tigers have not converted on their last 12 power-play chances and are ninth in the league at 13 percent (4 of 30).  Senior forwards Andrew Hamburg (four goals, one assist), William Rapuzzi (two goals, three assists) and Scott Winkler (three goals, two assists) are tied for the team lead in points at five.

Former Tiger goalie Curtis McElhinney, pictured, of the Springfield Falcons is the AHL Goaltender of the Month for October. In six appearances during the month, McElhinney went 5-1-0 with a 1.51 goals-against average, a .949 save percentage and two shutouts, helping the Falcons to the best record in the Eastern Conference. Here are the rest of the details.  Former Wisconsin standout Justin Schultz was named as player of the month suggesting that all the summer hype was not too overblown.

Here is the Denver Post’s preview for all three Front Range schools.

No. 12 Boston University is playing at No. 5 North Dakota for the first time since December 1996. Expect more such nonconference match-ups with the new league alignments forcing more nonconference games. Expect more such trips for the Terriers and Boston College, including to the state of Colorado. Fun fact: The last time UND and BU played in Grand Forks, both teams played in the national championship game (UND won 6-4 in spring 1997).

Here is Western College Hockey blog’s weekend preview and the USCHO predictions.

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

Sunday reading: WCHA, Behrend, Howe, BC, North Dakota, schedule

The WCHA, not just CC, needed William Rapuzzi‘s goal on Saturday night. The league went 3-4-2 on Saturday and 9-6-2 on the weekend, not counting the two exhibition games.

Former Tiger Ted Behrend did not make the opening night roster for the CHL Denver Cutthroats.

Joe Howe picked up his first win since the 4-3 OT home win on Dec. 2, 2011 against Denver (Alexander Krushelnyski penalty shot) with a scoreless third period. Here is hoping he and Josh Thorimbert can build off the opening weekend. Giving up eight goals (certainly not entirely the goalies’ fault; CC’s unforced turnovers set Clarkson up well) and getting two wins will not happen often, especially in WCHA play.

There was yet another opening weekend surprise: Three freshmen scored goals as Northeastern beat Boston College 3-1 in a Hockey East game. Ryan Belanger, Kevin Roy and Colorado Springs native Colton Saucerman scored goals for Northeastern, which had been 0-1-8 against the Eagles in the past nine games.

Here is how Saucerman’s goal developed according to Hockey East: Boston College attempted to clear the puck, but the disc bounced off of Darcy’s skate and Saucerman collected it in the neutral zone, just a few feet before the blue line. Milner was out of position and Saucerman knuckled a slap shot to the right side of the net to give Northeastern the two-goal cushion, 3-1.

The Eagles won their last 19 games last season. Their last loss was on Jan. 21 to Maine 7-4.

Here is North Dakota’s TV schedule and this weekend’s league schedule:

Thu
10/18/12
Minnesota Duluth
at Notre Dame
7:35 p.m. ET
Fri
10/19/12
Minnesota
at Michigan Tech
7:07 p.m. ET
Fri
10/19/12
Minnesota Duluth
at Notre Dame
7:35 p.m. ET
Fri
10/19/12
Lake Superior
at Bemidji State
7:37 p.m. CT
Fri
10/19/12
Rensselaer
at Minnesota State
7:37 p.m. CT
Fri
10/19/12
Alab-Huntsville
at St. Cloud State
7:37 p.m. CT
Fri
10/19/12
Northern Michigan
at Nebraska Omaha
7:37 p.m. CT
Fri
10/19/12
Colorado College
at Air Force
7:05 p.m. MT
Fri
10/19/12
North Dakota
vs Alaska Anchorage
5:05 p.m. AT
Fri
10/19/12
UMass Lowell
at Denver
7:37 p.m. MT
Sat
10/20/12
Minnesota
at Michigan Tech
7:07 p.m. ET
Sat
10/20/12
Merrimack
vs Alaska Anchorage
4:05 p.m. AT
Sat
10/20/12
Lake Superior
at Bemidji State
7:07 p.m. CT
Sat
10/20/12
Rensselaer
at Minnesota State
7:07 p.m. CT
Sat
10/20/12
Alab-Huntsville
at St. Cloud State
7:07 p.m. CT
Sat
10/20/12
Northern Michigan
at Nebraska Omaha
7:07 p.m. CT
Sat
10/20/12
UMass Lowell
at Colorado College
7:07 p.m. MT
Sat
10/20/12
Air Force
at Denver
7:07 p.m. MT
Sat
10/20/12
North Dakota
at Alaska
7:05 p.m. AT

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.