COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Before 6,890 fans at the World Arena, No. 5 Colorado College rode effective special teams’ play to a 5-0 win over the University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves. William Rapuzzi scored two goals and four other Tigers’ players each notched two points, and freshman goaltender Joe Howe recorded his second shutout.
“All in all, I thought it was a good 60-minute game for us,” said Tigers’ coach Scott Owens. “I thought it was pretty solid. Special teams and goaltending has been carrying us, and that’s what kind of happened tonight. We came out pretty good for a Friday night; I thought we had good jump and good speed. I thought it was a pretty good team win.”
After a slow start, CC used their special teams to take over the period. First, while on a power play, Stephen Schultz made a perfect set up pass, taking the puck at the left point and stepping towards the circle, then feeding the puck cross ice to Kris Fredheim coming down from the right point. Fredheim got the puck near the right faceoff dot and fired a shot high glove side past Seawolves’ goalie Bryce Christianson.
The Seawolves had a golden opportunity to tie it when Matt Overman got called for slashing at 14:37 with Tigers’ right wing Brian McMillin already in the box for a kneeing infraction on Luka Vidmar, giving the Seawolves 1:15 of five-on-three. However, their power play never got untracked, as they passed the puck around the perimeter and fanned on several shots.
“He (Vidmar) has a grade three MCL tear; he’s done,” said Seawolves’ coach Dave Shyiak.
As Overman’s penalty was about to expire, Lee Baldwin made an ill-advised change, leaving Overman to get the puck behind the Seawolves’ defense on a turnover by Curtis Leinweber in the Tigers’ zone. Overman raced in down the right boards on a partial breakaway and behind the net. No Seawolves’ forwards were able to get back, leaving William Rapuzzi and Addison DeBoer alone in the slot. Overman threw a pass out that Rapuzzi fanned on. The puck went off DeBoer’s stick and came back to Rapuzzi, and he rifled a shot top shelf at 16:49.
“That was a good play,” said Rapuzzi. “Whenever you’re down five-on-three and you have the lead, it’s a big kill. Our guys stepped up, and it kind of killed their momentum. Penalty kill is unreal right now; guys are stepping up and blocking shots. They were a little tired, and it was a good play by him (Overman) stepping out of the box.”
“They’re a team that’s been really good on special teams, and that’s what’s winning hockey games,” said Shyiak. “He came up with some saves on the five-on-three. It’s a game of momentum, and I thought we had it. Territorially, for the first period, we were playing well.”
CC’s special teams play continued to make the difference in the second. First, with CC’s Gabe Guentzel in the box for holding, CC got a clear and broke in two-on-one. Nick Dineen carried the puck into the right circle and fed a cross-ice pass to a streaking Mike Testwuide, who ripped a one-timer top shelf stick side at 11:23 for the short-handed goal.
“Beautiful; it was a beautiful play,” said Owens. “The timing of it was such that we were sitting around, 2-0, 2-0, and everybody was waiting for something to happen and it was a great pass by Dineen. It was a bomb of a shot. That was a little bit of a back-breaker.”
“I thought the two turning points of the game were not scoring on the five-on-three and giving up the shorty; it killed us,” said Shyiak.
Next, CC’s power play went to work. Right off the draw after Kane LaFranchise got called for tripping, Fredheim got the puck at the left point and fed Ryan Lowery at the left point, and Lowery ripped a slap shot low stick side past Christianson at 14:07.
The Tigers’ offensive onslaught continued in the third when Rapuzzi got his second of the night at 7:50, firing a shot from the bottom of the right circle that beat Christianson five-hole.
At the other end of the ice, Joe Howe was sharp when he needed to be, though many of the Seawolves’ shots came from the perimeter, as they were unsuccessfully trying to get someone down low for the tip.
“I think the guys are being unselfish with the puck, and when we do that, we’re a pretty good team, especially on the big sheet,” said Owens. “Our ‘D’ core is playing pretty well right now, very quietly getting it done.”