COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — After tying the Sacred Heart University Pioneers 2-2 the previous night, Colorado College coach Scott Owens thought it was time to make some changes.
The line changes Owens instituted paid off, as his Tigers shut out Sacred Heart 7-0 Saturday night at World Arena.
“I think a lot of guys were excited to be trying to play with new guys,” said CC assistant captain Chad Rau. “We kind of knew something had to change after our performance on Friday night, so I think it worked out well and I thought each line played well together.”
“I liked the fact that we won, but I think even more so I liked that we played well,” said Owens. “Some of the offensive struggles that we had were kind of reversed tonight. We had more traffic, our forwards kicked the puck back to the late guy or the defenseman if we didn’t have a play, our defensemen shot the puck with authority and we had a lot of different people contributing.”
The Tigers started off the scoring 4:51 into the opening frame and never looked back. Kris Fredheim put the Tigers up 1-0 when his shot through traffic banked off the left goalpost in behind Pioneers’ goaltender Stefan Drew (20 saves).
“We came out and established ourselves right away and I think Sacred Heart noted that and I thought it was just what we needed,” said Owens.
About two minutes later at the 7:08 mark, Tim Hall made it 2-0 off his first goal as a Tiger. Eric Walsky hit Hall in the low slot with a pass and Hall wristed it behind Drew.
With 5:15 remaining in the period, Chad Rau put CC up 3-0. Linemate Bill Sweatt won a puck battle behind the net with a Sacred Heart defenseman and passed it in front to Rau, who put his own rebound past Drew.
The Tigers continued their scoring outburst in the second, with their first four-goal period of the season.
CC went up 4-0 just 19 seconds into the second period when Andreas Vlassopoulos’s shot from the high slot beat Drew low to his glove side.
Sweatt tipped in a Brian Connelly shot five-hole on Drew to put the Tigers up 5-0 about four-and-a-half minutes later.
About halfway through the middle frame, Stephen Schultz’s goal to make it 6-0 Tigers prompted Pioneers’ coach Shaun Hannah to replace Drew with back-up Olivier St. Onge.
Still, CC wasn’t done, as the team got its seventh goal of the game at the 12:26 mark of the period. Fredheim passed the puck from the top of the zone to Brian McMillin, who fired it past St. Onge (20 saves).
“I don’t know if everybody’s head was clear because finals were over or it’s Saturday or again, that desperation, but I thought we moved well, we looked more clear-eyed and everybody contributed,” said Owens.
“It was good to see scoring from pretty much all four lines going and I think we had seven different guys scoring, so it was good. It was what we needed,” said Rau.
The teams stayed scoreless through the third period, with Tigers’ netminders Drew O’Connell (18 saves) and Tyler O’Brien (6 saves) sharing the shutout. Owens put O’Brien in net at the 14:15 mark of the third.
“It’s a tougher call than you think taking a goalie out who’s got a shutout because that’s sometimes taboo, but in this situation, we weren’t able to play Tyler against [Alabama-] Huntsville or even Alberta so it was really nice in that sense,” said Owens. “Drew [O'Connell] understood and Drew was good about it. Drew waits (for a start) and was taken out for that, but one of the things about the team is that its a pretty close team and a pretty unselfish team.”
The Tigers are off until January 9, when they host Minnesota State University, Mankato while the Pioneers return home to host non-conference foe Niagara.