COLORADO SPRINGS — In front of a sellout crowd of 7,571 at the World Arena, the No. 20 Colorado College Tigers beat the No. 2 Denver Pioneers, 3-2, in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the score might indicate.
“For us, it’s a huge win; we’re able to beat a top five team two weeks in a row here,” said Tigers coach Scott Owens. “They’re awfully good and it’s very difficult for us to hang on when they get all those big guns out there. Our penalty killing did a good job; Joe Howe was our best penalty killer. Our guys dug in really, really well. It wasn’t always pretty tonight, but I thought we came out and set the tone and got on top of them.”
CC came out with fire, and thoroughly outplayed DU in the first period, generating the better scoring chances and keeping Denver pinned in its own zone for much of the period. The Tigers had several excellent opportunities with the puck just rolling past the net, and it seemed it would only be a matter of time.
All that pressure finally got the Tigers the lead at 13:18 when Eamonn McDermott skated the puck out of the right corner and cut hard to the right post. The puck rolled off his stick, but Archie Skalbeck was there on the doorstop to knock the loose puck into the open net.
“He had the puck and just wrapped it, and I had a nice rebound and I threw it on net and it went in,” said Skalbeck. “It’s always nice to get the first goal.”
Less than a minute later, the Tigers stuck again when Rylan Schwartz picked up the puck on the boards behind and to the right of the net and threw it to William Rapuzzi in the right circle. Rapuzzi’s quick wrist shot beat Denver goalie Adam Murray high stick side.
“That was big; he has a snipe and just went short side shelf like he always does,” said Skalbeck. “It was a great feed by Rylan out of the corner.”
Skalbeck almost made it 3-0 a minute later when he beat Murray high glove side with a quick snap shot from the high slot, but the puck hit the crossbar and bounced out, and the referees immediately signaled no goal, even as the crowd roared for what it thought was another goal.
Denver came out with a little more verve in the second, and got back to within one at 4:54 when Drew Shore, stationed at the left post, grabbed a rebound of a Matt Donovan shot and shoved it home.
“I thought as the game went on we got better,” said Pioneers coach George Gwozdecky. “Certainly the first period put us in a big hole. We had some blown coverages, we over-handled the puck and gave it to them at times, and you’re down two. Is it a concern? Damn right it’s a concern; we have to fix it.”
The goal gave the Pioneers life, and they looked to have a golden chance to tie it when Rapuzzi was called for hooking at 12:51. Despite several good shots, Tigers goalie Joe Howe stood strong, and as the penalty expired, Gabe Guentzel got the puck behind his own net and spied Alexander Krushelnyski on the left side boards near the far blue line and hit him with a perfect home run pass. Krushelnyski skated down the boards and cut to the net near the left faceoff dot, firing a wrist shot that beat Murray high glove side at 14:58.
“The goal was great, and his penalty killing is good,” said Owens of Krushelnyski. “He’s got a lot of confidence right now and he’s getting a lot of minutes for us.”
In the third period, a parade of penalties slowed the action down. Denver’s power play was never able to get untracked. The Tigers had a five-on-three for almost a minute, and though they threatened, they were never able to break through.
“They came in flurries,” said Owens. “There was so much pressure on their power play, and I thought he (Howe) looked very confident, similar to last Friday, he looked calm and had everything under control.”
With under a minute left, Denver pulled Murray for the extra skater, and with 28 seconds left, Schwartz took a cross-checking penalty during a scrum in front of the net. Denver immediately capitalized when Kyle Ostrow, stationed at the crease, poked in a rebound of a Jason Zucker shot. However, Denver couldn’t penetrate the zone on the ensuing faceoff.
“We have to control our emotions better,” said Gwozdecky. “We had three bad penalties we took tonight and it really took the steam out of our game at times.”
Interview with Archie Skalbeck
Interview with William Rapuzzi
Interview with Colorado College coach Scott Owens
Interview with Denver University coach George Gwozdecky