COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Colorado College wings William Rapuzzi and Archie Skalbeck have put a tough 2011-12 season behind them.
“Absolutely,” said Rapuzzi, whose game-winner with 60 seconds left lifted the host Tigers to a 5-4 come-from-behind nonconference win over Clarkson Saturday night. “I had trouble putting the puck in the net last year (three goals). But as an athlete, you have to put that behind you.”
The junior Skalbeck scored his third goal of the season and second of the game to force a 4-4 tie midway through the third period before an announced Homecoming crowd of 7,043 at Colorado Springs World Arena. The rally was sparked by a confident, positive bench feeding off the energy provided by some hitting on the forecheck.
“There were a lot of good hits that kept the bench alive,” Rapuzzi said. “We knew we could wear them down, and it showed in the sixth period on Saturday night.”
Rapuzzi collected a rebound off a hard shot by Mike Boivin, spun and fired with exactly one minute left to give CC (2-0) only its second lead of the game. It was his second goal this season.
Skalbeck scored his second goal of the night when senior Scott Winkler, in position by the right post, passed the puck across the face of the net to Skalbeck, who poked the puck past the right skate of a sprawling Clarkson freshman goalie Greg Lewis with 9:25 remaining to knot the game at four.
“Archie’s goal may be a little overlooked today, which it shouldn’t,” Rapuzzi said. “He’s been a big contributor. He is going into the dirty areas as a small guy taking on the bigger players.”
That work is behind his offensive resurgence this season. He recorded nine goals as a freshman and one last season.
“The puck is finding its way in for me this year,” Skalbeck said. “But it is because of a lot of hard work this offseason. Coaches told me I needed to do a better job in the dirty areas and that is paying off so far.”
CC had the jump on Clarkson after Skalbeck tied it. The Tigers kept dumping the puck into the Clarkson zone and forechecking to put pressure on the ECAC member Knights (0-2).
“We are a pretty well-conditioned team, but we had bad cramping both nights which affected our depth and shortened our bench,” Clarkson coach Casey Jones said. “It caught us, especially when we iced the puck a couple times and they were able to hem us in.”
The Knights played well and looked in position to garner a road split when they scored goals 57 seconds part to take a 4-3 lead with 6:35 left in the second period.
Clarkson’s Simon Bessette forced a CC turnover in the neutral zone and Jarrett Burton took advantage for the third unassisted goal off a Tigers’ miscue in the nonconference series. Allan McPherson scored 57 seconds later for Clarkson’s fourth goal on 10 shots against CC senior goalie Joe Howe at that point. Howe finished with 17 saves and collected his first win since a 4-3 overtime home victory against Denver on Dec. 2, 2011.
“He fought the puck a little, but Joe was pretty good in the third period (seven saves),” CC coach Scott Owens said. “Clarkson deserved a better fate this weekend. They certainly played well enough to get a tie.”
CC took a 3-2 lead with its first power-play goal of the season when sophomore Ian Young made a crossing pass from near the corner to Skalbeck, who recorded his second goal of the season. The two scores at that point doubled his output for the 2011-12 season.
Getting a win without top returning scorer Rylan Schwartz recording a point shows the Tigers are developing secondary scoring pretty quickly.
“Is Archie a primary or secondary scorer? That waits to be seen,” Owens said. “Guys stepped up. (Junior Alexander) Krush(elnyski) played well, as did Rylan. (Senior Mike) Boivin was all over but he played with a strong will. (Aaron) Harstad kept getting better.”
Scott Winkler scored with 5:15 remaining in the period to tie the game at two. Freshman Hunter Fejes collected his first point as a Tiger when he corralled a pass from Andrew Hamburg in front and backhanded a pass out to Winkler, who lifted a wrist shot through traffic to beat Clarkson freshman goalie Greg Lewis high. Lewis finished with 37 saves.
That goal came after Clarkson killed off a 5-minute power play on a checking from behind call on Joe Zarbo that knocked CC sophomore defenseman Peter Stoykewych out of the game. He sustained a cut on his nose and will be tested for a concussion.
Clarkson took a 1-0 lead only 77 seconds into the game when James Howden’s shot from inside the blue line found its way past Howe. CC answered when Krushelnyski lofted a shot high glove side off a good pass from Stoykewych with 14:21 left. Clarkson answered only 26 seconds later when Pat Megannety scored his second goal in as many games, firing the puck between Howe’s leg pads for a 2-1 lead.
A home sweep despite allowing eight goals shows there is plenty of work remaining. Turnovers, some unforced, kept CC from putting away Clarkson on Friday and sparked the Knights on Saturday.