COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Aided by strong efforts by their freshmen, the Colorado College Tigers beat the Northeastern University Huskies Friday night, 4-2, in the first contest between the two teams since January 1989.
It was a good win, it was a good win opening night, said CC head coach Scott Owens. I was very impressed with their speed, the pace they played at and their game plan, but I liked the fact that we bent a little bit but didnt break.
Though the Huskies had the first good scoring chance early on, the Tigers struck first just under three minutes into the first period. Freshman defenseman Doug Leaverton snagged a puck high in NU territory, carried it through the neutral zone and let a shot fly from the right point. The shot beat Husky freshman netminder Chris Rawlings on the far side, possibly surprising the rookie.
When the guy put the shot in from 65 feet, I think it was a reflection of how nervous [Rawlings] was, said Northeastern head coach Greg Cronin. I was actually hoping the kid would shoot it on the goal because we had the puck the whole time the kid shoots from 65 and I said, well, maybe he stops that one and kind of gets a little confidence from it.
I didnt see it. I was looking at my notepad because I assumed it was going to be a harmless shot, but then I heard the crowd and I was like, uh oh.
The Tigers extended their lead two 2-0 about three minutes later. Bill Sweatt sent a pass from behind the net to freshman William Rapuzzi who snuck it under Rawlings shoulder with a chip shot in front of the net.
Hopefully it was a sign of things to come, when the freshmen score the first two, said Owens.
Northeastern narrowed the lead to one halfway through the period. Defenseman David Strathman broke up a play in their zone and sent a pass to Alex Tuckerman in the neutral zone, who proceeded to break in on CC rookie goaltender Joe Howe and beat him top shelf with a wrist shot.
Both teams exchanged scoring chances throughout the second period, with CC finally getting another goal to take a 3-1 lead at 9:16 of the period on a fluky play. Rylan Schwartz took a shot from the face-off dot that trickled past Rawlings. Tim Hall picked it up in the corner, fired it up front and junior Tyler Johnson tipped it in up high for the score and the two-goal lead.
Northeastern had plenty of chances in the period, but couldnt capitalize, whether even strength or on one of their three power-play opportunities.
Colorado College extended their lead to make it 4-1 3:26 into the third period. Rapuzzis initial shot on Rawlings forced the goaltender out of position, leaving the rebound prime for Sweatt to backhand past the sprawled Rawlings.
Northeastern pulled within two about six minutes later on the power play when freshman Garrett Vermeersch took a pass from Drew Muench and fired a laser from the center of the blue line that beat Howe over his left shoulder.
I thought [Howe] played well, said Owens. He gave up a breakaway and a power play blast and I thought that especially for a freshman, he looked poised and relaxed.
Sweatt very nearly made it 5-2 with a wraparound attempt on Rawlings, but instead took a slashing penalty to give the Huskies a 55 second two man advantage. However, the Tigers were able to help negate its effects by drawing a penalty of their own.
We had shots there. Again, it was 5-on-3 and guys were teeing up shots and whiffing on them and it was bizarre, said Cronin.
He pulled Rawlings late in the third to try to draw closer, but to no avail.
I think we were good at times, I think we were in rhythm at times, but then we just looked a little fragmented, said Cronin. I think we just left a lot of quality chances on the ice.
The two teams face off again Saturday night at the Colorado Springs World Arena.