TROY, N.Y. • The final 4-1 score in favor of No. 3 Colorado College did not reflect how close the nonconference game at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute truly was.
“That was a 2-1 hockey game,” said RPI coach Seth Appert, a former Denver assistant. “That was the kind of game we needed to win against them; a physical, low-scoring game.”
The Tigers (3-0) scratched out the win Friday against the physical Engineers (1-5) behind two goals, including the eventual game-winner in the second period, by junior center Rylan Schwartz and an excellent performance by junior goalie Joe Howe.
“He was outstanding,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said. “He made the key saves and made the others look easy.”
Howe finished with 24 saves, but none was bigger than his right leg pad stop with 2:11 remaining against RPI freshman Zach Schroeder, the younger brother of former Minnesota standout Jordan Schroeder.
Schroeder’s attempt on his rebound went awry as Howe quickly moved his right leg pad toward the post to force the attempt wide. The miss forced a groan from the 3,236 on hand at Houston Field House.
“You get a few good bounces and the guys in front did a good job clearing the puck out,” Howe said. “The guys made it pretty easy on me.”
Howe was just being a good and humble teammate there. He made four big saves during the first period to maintain CC’s 1-0 lead headed into first intermission. He followed that up with a strong third period including 10 stops.
“I thought both goalies were very good tonight,” Appert said.
RPI’s Bryce Merriam finished with 30 saves.
Rylan Schwartz scored 4:10 into the nonconference game on a nice pass from Scott Winkler for the early Tigers lead. Rylan Schwartz made it 2-0 with 13.4 seconds left in the second only to see RPI’s Patrick Cullen score exactly 10 seconds later to make it 2-1 entering the third.
“That shouldn’t and can’t happen,” Owens said. “That kind of goal can really kill you.”
The late goal gave RPI life headed into the third and spoiled Howe’s shutout bid. Cullen forced a CC turnover in the corner and fired a pass in front. Howe made the initial save but Cullen swooped in to knock in the rebound.
“Patty got rewarded there,” Appert said, adding that kind of effort in the final 13.4 seconds will need to be sustained for 60 minutes tonight when the series resumes.
CC’s Mike Boivin added an empty-netter on the power play and William Rapuzzi scored an unassisted goal, all in the final 29 seconds, for the final margin.
Contact Joe Paisley: 636-0260