COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — No. 4 Minnesota kept up the pressure and the Colorado College defense finally cracked, with hometown boy Tom Serratore scoring on a shot through traffic with 6:37 remaining in the third period to lift the visiting Gophers to a 4-2 victory on Friday night.
“For Tom, it’s big to score the game-winner in his hometown,” said Minnesota coach Don Lucia. “He has been such a good soldier. We moved him up to the third line, and he has been producing.”
The goal came 47 seconds after a CC clearing attempt failed, and the tiring Tigers could not clear the zone before the puck ended up in front for a shot CC goalie Joe Howe did not appear to see clearly, with the four players locked up in front screening him. Serratore, the son of Air Force coach Frank Serratore, was happy to bang the loose puck in.
“It is always good to score against the Tigers,” he said.
Minnesota’s Zach Budish scored an empty-netter with 1:08 left for the final margin.
The loss drops CC to 1-5-1 in its last seven games during a stretch of 10 straight games against ranked opponents to close out the first half. The Tigers have struggled to close out the close games, dropping to 4-6-1 in one-goal games (not including empty-netters).
“We have to find a way to win those close games,” said Tigers coach Scott Owens. “I like the team. It was 6:37 left, and we were right there. I would like to see someone step up and take charge.”
The Tigers held an upperclassmen-only meeting following the loss.
The game was delayed for seven minutes when Minnesota defenseman Justin Holl broke the Zamboni door glass as he tried to check CC junior wing Archie Skalbeck. Holl went high, missed the crouching Skalbeck and busted the glass to the delight of the announced crowd of 7,021 fans at Colorado Springs World Arena with 2:43 left in the third.
The Tigers awoke from their slumber in the second period, thanks to their top line.
Senior captain William Rapuzzi took a pass as he skated across the face of the Minnesota net and backhanded the puck past UM freshman goalie Adam Wilcox to tie the game at two headed into the third period.
The goal was CC’s second in only 101 seconds.
“There were good things,” Owens said. “I like how the defensive corps played after (sophomore Aaron) Harstad went down.”
Harstad is out with an undisclosed upper body injury and will not play on Saturday, Owens said.
Rapuzzi’s ninth goal of the season came with 3:22 left, only 1:41 after Archie Skalbeck, who made the pass to Rapuzzi, scored off a pretty crossing pass from senior Rylan Schwartz to spark the host Tigers only 1:45 after Minnesota’s Sam Warning scored his second goal of the night and season. Skalbeck’s score made it 2-1 Gophers.
Warning scored three seconds after a Minnesota power play expired on a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle to stake the visiting Gophers to a 1-0 lead in the first period.
He added his second goal of the night and the season when he corralled a loose puck in the left faceoff circle and wristed the puck under CC goalie Joe Howe’s arm as he slid over.
“It’s good to see Sam score,” Lucia said. “He had been hurt (nine games, upper body injury) and it took him a couple games to get back to speed. We needed him to score those two big goals, or we would not have won.”
UM outshot the host Tigers, 12-4, in the first period, but CC came back with a superior effort in the second to trim the advantage to 20-15. The Tigers, who gave up 88 shots last weekend and 97 two weeks ago, made some progress by allowing only 31.
“We did a good job keeping out of the box,” Owens said. “We had 2-3 pretty good efforts late, but either (freshman goalie Adam) Wilcox came up with a play or we could not convert. I would like to have us get one goal on the power play.”
U.S. national junior prelim camp roster invitee Brady Sjkel of Minnesota was a coach’s scratch on Friday. … The Gophers’ ranks were depleted by the flu. … The Tigers held a seniors-only meeting after the game. … Last night’s CC lineup was identical to the previous Friday, when it beat No. 9 North Dakota, 5-2. … Minnesota coach Don Lucia served as head coach at CC from 1993-99, leading the Tigers to three WCHA titles, a 1996 national runner-up finish, and a return to the 1997 Frozen Four. … UM sophomore Kyle Rau, younger brother of former Tigers standout Kyle, is a good harbinger of the Gophers’ success. They are 10-0-0 this season when he records a point. The Gophers won for the first time when he did not record a point. … Erik Haula’s two assists makes it 11 games in a row with a point or more. … Baseball Hall of Famer Richard “Goose” Gossage, a Colorado Springs native, dropped the ceremonial first puck before the game. … Rapuzzi has recorded a point in eight straight games.