COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — In a defensive, penalty-marred game, the No. 20 Colorado College Tigers edged Rensselaer 2-1. Brothers Rylan and Jaden Schwartz scored power-play goals for the Tigers.
“I thought, as expected, the first real game, it was called tight,” said Tigers’ coach Scott Owens. “It was a gritty, hard-nosed game; there was a lot of contact. For us, there was none last weekend, so there was a bit of an adjustment. I thought we took too many penalties, especially with the pressure put on our D-core.”
CC had the better of the play early, but back-to-back penalties to Ryan Lowery and Joe Marciano for tripping and cross checking respectively gave the Engineers the first good chance of the game. RPI couldn’t capitalize however, and was kept to the perimeter for much of the five-on-three power play, never really testing Howe.
“It’s great to be back,” said Engineers coach Seth Appert, who was an assistant at DU. “See a lot of friends, see a lot family, and there’s so many great memories from being here, but not so many great memories from this rink, because they are so tough to play in this rink. I have a pretty strong familiarity with Colorado College and Scott Owens’ teams, how they play and what you need to be prepared for. I thought it was a good hockey game. It was fast, it was physical, it was a little sloppy, which is typical of early season.”
With the penalties expired, CC resumed pressure in the offensive zone, drawing a five-on-three power play of their own. Jaden Schwartz got the Tigers on the board at 13:22 with a low shot that beat RPI goalie Allen York glove side. Though they still had 1:44 of power play time on the second penalty, CC couldn’t get the two-goal lead.
“I thought we struggled a bit (on the power play,” said Rylan Schwartz. “A lot of guys aren’t playing when you have so many penalties. I thought a few of them were pretty cheesy, but that’s part of it.”
It appeared the Tigers would take the one-goal lead into the intermission, but a turnover in the waning seconds cost them when Nick Bailen picked it up in the neutral zone, took one step over the blue line on the right side and fired a shot that caught Tigers goalie Joe Howe by surprise and beat him with only 7.2 seconds left in the period.
“Any time you score in the last minute, especially seven seconds left in the period, it takes the wind out of you,” said Owens.
The second period started more defensive for both teams, and a series of penalties, 11 in all, kept either team from developing momentum. CC had the first great chance when York robbed Jeff Collett on a partial breakaway. Collett tried to deke to his backhand and slide it low glove side, but York held his position at the post.
RPI got their second five-on-three of the game at the 10:20 mark when Gabe Guentzel went to the box for slashing while Jaden Schwartz was in for boarding. Once again, RPI couldn’t capitalize, though they did a better job of generating pressure down low near the crease until an interference call at 13:24 on John Kennedy ended the power play.
“I don’t feel that the game hinges on one play,” said Appert. “Certainly you need to capitalize on the five-on-three. When you earn five-on-threes by outworking a team and forcing them to take a penalty, you need to make them pay and take advantage of it. At the same time, you have to give a lot of credit to Colorado College. I thought their will to block shots was very high.”
CC got another late power play chance, but couldn’t grab the lead, as York made several strong stops from down low.
At 7:55 of the third, the Engineers thought they had scored the go-ahead goal, but it was waived off. Upon review, the call on the ice stood.
“I disagree with it, but on the road in a WCHA building, you’re not expecting to get a lot of calls go your way,” said Appert. “They were intending to blow the whistle. I find that pretty interesting; you can intend to blow the whistle at any time. At the end of the day, the puck went in before the whistle blew, but they explained it, they reviewed it, and they were sure of their call, and you have to give them respect for it.”
Penalties continued to plague the Engineers in the third, and the Tigers finally took advantage at the midway point of the period. RPI was pinned in its own end for most of the penalty, and the Engineers looked tired and slow to react. Guentzel fired a shot high from the right point that bounced off the boards and came right back out to Rylan Schwartz at the left post, and he slammed it over York’s outstretched right left at 10:42 to give the Tigers the lead.
“I was calling for my brother and I saw him feed it back to Gabe, and I was trying to screen him,” said Rylan Schwartz. “I saw it bounce off the glass right beside the net and I took a swing at it and it went in.”
RPI had a couple of late chances to tie it, forcing Howe to make several tough saves in the last two minutes to preserve the win.
“The whole game was an emotional roller-coaster,” said Owens. “I thought Joe Howe really made up for that goal. He was very strong in the third period. He played very well.”