COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Taking advantage of the Olympic-sized ice sheet at World Arena, the No. 7 Colorado College Tigers rode two four-on-four goals to a 3-1 win over the Bemidji State Beavers in front of 6,931 fans.
Sophomore Jaden Schwartz’s second-period goal proved to be the game-winner.
“I thought it was a good first game,” said Tigers coach Scott Owens. “It wasn’t necessarily a thing of beauty. We were a bit ragged to start, but I thought we got better as the game went on. We had a very good second period and showed good patience.”
The first period featured lots of back-and-forth play and an even number of shots. The Beavers carried the play early, forcing Joe Howe to make several tough stops on his doorstep, robbing Jamie MacQueen from point blank range. At the other end of the ice, Dan Bakala had to come up big late, particularly on a rush by Tigers’ forward William Rapuzzi. Near the end of the period, the Tigers got a power play when Jordan George got whistled for tripping, but it was negated after only 29 seconds when Nick Dineen got called for tripping.
“I thought it was a pretty good game,” said Beavers coach Tom Serratore. “Bottom line is their two best players were very good tonight and they were the difference with Guentzel and Schwartz. Two turnovers hurt us. We were a little discombobulated defensively.”
While still playing four-on-four to start the period, the Tigers struck first when Gabe Guentzel scored 25 seconds in on an unassisted rush up the ice off a turnover, blasting it by Bakala from the top of the slot. The Tigers had a golden opportunity to take the two-goal lead while on a power play a minute later, but Bakala robbed Jaden Schwartz’s breakaway attempt.
“You don’t usually get this many four-on-four chances and our defensemen are shooting the puck well, and I thought it gave us an advantage on the big sheet,” said Owens.
The Beavers got the equalizer at 6:41 on a turnover in the Tigers’ end. Mitch Cain picked up a rebound of a Brance Orban shot in the slot and lifted it top corner stick side past Howe.
“We came back with a couple of good shifts afterwards; it’s one of our points of emphasis as a team,” said Owens. “Either way, goals for or against, we want to have a couple of good shifts afterwards.”
Special teams once again proved a boon for the Tigers offense, which took advantage of the Olympic-size sheet and their speed to create more open ice. Skating four-on-four again, Jaden Schwartz was left alone at the right side of the crease. He got a pass from Mike Boivin and had time to wait for a diving Bakala to commit, firing it into the wide-open net at 14:40 to give the Tigers the lead.
“It was a great pass by Boivin there,” said Schwartz. “I think the forwards took away his shooting lane and he saw me and passed it to me. I had some time there because I think everyone thought Boivin was going to shoot.”
Colorado College built on its lead on a soft goal at 5:35. Boivin got a pass from Dakota Eveland near center ice, skated into the Beavers’ zone one-on-two, and cut to his left near the top of the circles. As he did so, he lifted a backhand shot that handcuffed Bakala and beat him top corner glove side.
“I just kind of cut across and saw the defensemen were backed off a little bit and tried to throw it far side,” said Boivin. “Luckily it went off his glove and in.”
That was all the scoring on the night, as the Tigers played good defense. When the Beavers got a chance, Howe stood strong, including a couple of good saves late to preserve the win.
“I thought Joe Howe was good,” said Owens. “I thought he looked confident. He looked under control. He looked like it was going to take a really good shot to beat him.”
Colorado College defenseman Mike Boivin
Colorado College forward Jaden Schwartz
Colorado College coach Scott Owens
Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore