CC unexpected team in Friday's Final Five semifinal vs. Gophers

  • Blog Post by: $author
  • March 22, 2013 - 8:51 AM

What? No, North Dakota. What happened?

Colorado College happened. The Tigers upended UND 4-3 in overtime, spoiling the expected matchup of UND and the Gophers in Friday's 7 p.m. semifinal.

The Tigers won the special teams battle -- and thus, the game. Sophomore defenseman Peter Stoykewych, of Winnipeg, got the game-winner about five minutes into overtime. It was his second goal of the season.

Senior Rylan Schwartz had a power-play goal and Alexander Krushelnyski a shorty for CC, which is now almost .500 at 17-18-5 and needs to win the Final Five to make the NCAA tournament. The Tigers have reached the title game three times but not won.

CC's penalty-killer held the team formerly known as the Fighting Sioux to 0-for-6 on the power play. And goalie Joe Howe of Plymouth did the rest, stopping 29 of 32 shots.

The Colorado Springs Gazette story is here.

The game drew 17,038 -- many if not most wearing UND green.

CC was the eighth seed for the first round of the WCHA playoffs but upset Denver two games to one. For the Final Five, when teams were re-seeded, CC was the sixth seed among six teams.

But St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko said one unexpected team always seems to arise in the postseason and his pick this year was CC because of the Tigers'  scoring ability.


The Gophers took three of four available points when they played the Tigers in Colorado Springs on Dec. 7-8. They won the first game 4-2. Tom Serratore's goal in the third period broke a 2-2 tie. Zach Budish added an empty-netter, so it was really a one-goal game.

The second night, the Gophers took a 4-1 lead into the third period but had to settle for a tie. Krushelnyski scored a shorthanded goal at 4:04 and then scored again two minutes later to make it 4-3.

Then senior Rylan Schwartz, with goalie Josh Thorimbert pulled for an extra attacker, tied the score with 24 seconds left.

The Gophers had a slight advantage in shots both nights, 31-22 and 29-27.

"We played Josh Thorimbert pretty much all the time at the beginnng of the seaosn," Owens said in a pre-tournament teleconference. "He was a returning all-WCHA. Then Joe started taking over. He really complete, he really battles, he give us a complete 60 minutes with a  minimum of soft goals ... And our penalty kill has been better of late.

"Joe sees tge puck well and has ton of confidence. He has been the backstop of the team the last two months."

* Owens said CC's two unsung heroes have been senior forward William Rapuzzi, the team captain, and defenseman Eamonn McDermott.

"[Rapuzzi] is a warrior and great leader, he does lot of things well ... Eamonn McDermott --  he's a guy who is the glue back there for the blue line. He plays lot of quality minutes, and has played very well for us."

Rapuzzi, of Anchorage, Alaska, is third on CC in points with 15 goals and 20 assists for 35 points. McDermott had 19 assists and 22 points.

* Owens was a CC assistant coach from 1991-95. And when Gophers coach Don Lucia took over the program there in the 1993-94, he made Owens his associate head coach for two seasons before Owens left.

So the two are friends.

Owens returned to CC as head coach in 1999-2000 and he has been there since.


Lucia said the Tigers are similar to the Gophers because they like to get up and down the ice quickly.

He said it is a great opportunity for the Gophers to get a chance to play in the Final Five with the great atmosphere there. "Next weekend teams will play in front of 3[,000] or 4000 people in some cases" at the regionals, Lucia said.

No matter what happens in the Final Five, the Gophers will be the No. 2 overall seed in the NCAA tournament and probably be assigned to the West Regional in Grand Rapids, Mich.





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