COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — In front of an announced attendance of 6,516, what looked to be a rout turned into a nail-biter as the Colorado College Tigers held off a furious rally by the Clarkson Golden Knights for a 5-4 win. Archie Skalbeck’s goal early in the third period proved the game-winner. The victory was the 300th career win for coach Scott Owens.
“I would have preferred to get it last March, but we’ll certainly take it in the home opener,” said Owens. “I was pleased. It was a good game for 45 minutes for us and it kind of deteriorated, but 300 is a nice round number. You don’t put too much into that. I’m most proud of the consistency and the number of excellent players who have come through and the great assistant coaches I’ve had.”
“It’s big for him,” said Rylan Schwartz, who had three points on the night. “Everyone wanted to get it for him tonight. He’s a great coach and has done a lot here.”
Both teams started slow, but the Tigers got on the board first at 6:20 when William Rapuzzi’s shot from the right circle beat Clarkson netminder Cody Rosen on the far post. Buoyed by the goal, the Tigers generated sustained pressure for most of the rest of the period, but were unable to get the second goal, despite several good chances from in the slot. At one point, the Tigers had a 12-6 shots on goal advantage. Only a late power play enabled Clarkson to get the shots on goal to a respectable 12-9 at the end of the first.
Just after CC finished killing off the penalty, Clarkson got the equalizer when Jarrett Burton made a nifty move with the puck in the crease area and lifted a backhand over Josh Thorimbert’s left shoulder at 1:11.
When Andrew Hamburg was called for a five-minute major and game misconduct for hitting from behind shortly after, it appeared that Clarkson had a golden chance. Instead it was Colorado College that scored, twice, while short-handed.
“That’s tough; I haven’t seen that in a long time,” said Clarkson coach Casey Jones. “It was unfortunate because we had just tied the game and drew the penalty to get some momentum, and they went right back at us.”
First, Jeff Collett got a pass at the left side of the slot from Schwartz and roofed it past Rosen at 3:28 with a quick forehand one-timer. Just two minutes later, Collett returned the favor, skating into the zone on the left side and then passing it across the crease to Schwartz, who beat Rosen with a quick shot past Rosen’s glove at 5:49.
“On the first one, I took off rushing and got the puck and when I turned to go to the net I blacked out but I saw Jeff back there and he made a nice finish, and on the other one Jeff made a really good read and saw me on the weak side,” said Schwartz. “After the first one, (Joe) Howe mentioned to me about the glove side, that he looked weak upstairs.”
The Tigers weren’t done, as Charlie Taft got his first goal as a Tiger on a breakaway, helped off a pass from Thorimbert, skating straight in on Rosen and beating him with a quick writer past his outstretched glove at 13:31.
The Tigers piled on early in the third when Archie Skalbeck skated through the slot from left to right and backhanded a shot top corner glove side at 2:03.
“It was kind of a strange deal,” said Owens. “We were up 5-1 and thinking, ‘You know what, we just have to play out the last 15 minutes.’ It’s a great opportunity to learn from it because we started to turn the puck over. It wasn’t that all of a sudden our play was collectively poor; we just made some bad turnovers and they converted.”
Clarkson got one back quickly at 3:52 when Pat Megannety beat Thorimbert from the side of the slot. CC still seemed to have the game in hand, but Clarkson kept plugging away. Simon Bessette drew the Golden Knights within two at 10:50 when he poked the puck in from the slot during a mad scramble, and then Ben Sexton stole the puck from a CC player and scored from the left circle unassisted at 17:26. However, the Knights’ rally feel short.
“The guys fought hard,” said Jones. “They’re committed to doing that; they’ll never stop. It’s a situation where we got a couple of breaks and we’re right back in the game, and one bounce away from tying it. We want to look at the third period and see what we were able to execute. I thought we got pucks deep on them in the third. We’ll try to adjust our game plan for tomorrow night.”