Denver senior Chris Knowlton took over in the first five minutes of the third period, scoring a power-play goal and assisting another score four minutes later to help the host No. 2 Pioneers pull away for a 6-2 Western Collegiate Hockey Association win over No. 14 Colorado College on Saturday before 6,096 fans at Magness Arena.
Knowlton’s second goal of the night (his eighth of the season) with 2:29 left accounted for the final margin. He finished with two goals and two assists after recording a goal in Friday’s 6-5 win in Colorado Springs, his hometown.
“After a little bit of a drought early (in the season) when he was playing well, it seems like he is a threat to score every time he touches the puck,” Denver coach George Gwozdecky said. “He was one of those guys we were hoping would step up and provide some scoring, because that was one of our question marks coming into the season.”
The CC penalty kill was tested while facing a power play lasting 4:10 to start the third after senior Scott Winkler was sent off for contact to the head with 49.5 seconds left in the second. Knowlton fired a one-timer from in front of the CC net to beat Tigers senior goalie Joe Howe only 31 seconds into the third period to make it 4-2.
“We got a big power-play goal there,” Gwozdecky said.
Being without centers Winkler and Rylan Schwartz (suspension) proved too much for the Tigers.
“We were hoping we could kill that power play off and keep it 3-2,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said. “They started strong as usual in the first period, but we had a good second period until that penalty.”
The league sweep, Denver’s second in a row, puts the Pioneers in position to regain the Gold Pan Trophy, which goes to the annual winner of the four-game, regular-season series. CC must sweep DU Feb. 8-9 to tie the series and retain the traveling trophy. It was Denver’s first weekend sweep of CC since December 2-3, 2005.
“Not having Rylan was a big factor for them,” said Gwozdecky, referring to a one-game suspension for the CC senior stemming from a scuffle along the DU bench at the end of Friday’s game.
The Tigers (7-5, 4-2 WCHA) killed off the rest of the DU power play, but the Pioneers benefited from a little luck with 14:59 remaining. Freshman Quentin Shore’s shot was deflected by CC defenseman Ian Young’s stickblade, redirecting a low shot just under the crossbar to surprise Howe, who was headed downward to stop the shot. That made it 5-2 and set the stage for a lot of end-to-end action over the final 14:59.
Colorado College controlled play for much of the second period, with the payoff coming when senior captain William Rapuzzi re-directed a hard power-play shot by defenseman Mike Boivin past Denver goalie Sam Brittain with exactly two minutes left in the second period.
Before then, the Tigers were unable to generate any sustained pressure on Brittain while failing to generate a shot during two earlier power plays.
After Denver (9-1, 7-1) took a 3-0 lead in the first, Winkler pumped in a goal only 15 seconds later to trim the host Pioneers lead to 3-1 entering the second period. Archie Skalbeck pounced on a loose puck along the boards and sent a pass in front for Winkler, who scored his seventh of the season.
“If it wasn’t for a miscue between Brittain and our defenseman behind the net we may not have given them life then and it could have been a very different second period,” Gwozdecky said. “We were very good in the first and third periods.”
Denver senior Shawn Ostrow scored the power-play goal, batting in a pass from David Doremus that beat CC goalie Joe Howe with 2:39 left for the 3-0 margin.
Freshman Gabe Levin scored his first goal as a Pioneer, backhanding the puck into the open net after senior forward Chris Knowlton made a good pass to the unmarked left wing near the CC left post.
About seven minutes later, Matt Tabrum, son of former CC assistant Matt Tabrum, fired a hard-angle shot that went into the CC net off senior goalie Joe Howe’s back for a 2-0 lead midway through the first period. It was Tabrum’s second goal of the series.