TROY, N.Y. • The Colorado College Tigers took an important step forward as a team, recording a road sweep with Saturday’s 4-1 win at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on the smaller NHL sheet.
The two wins, both by 4-1 margins, should help better prepare the third-ranked Tigers (4-0) for their return to Western Collegiate Hockey Association play when they travel to Nebraska-Omaha this Friday.
“It was a hard-earned victory,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said. “It’s good for the wins and for the experience of playing on a smaller sheet. It helps us in many ways. It gives us more confidence playing on the smaller sheet.”
Junior center Rylan Schwartz scored off a pass from Scott Winkler to put CC ahead 3-1 with 12:39 remaining and silence the 4,407 fans at Houston Field House on the RPI campus in Troy, N.Y.
It was fitting that Schwartz got the goal after he forced the RPI turnover which he tapped over to Winkler as Schwartz raced toward the front of the Engineers’ net.
“I really didn’t do much,” Winkler said. “It was all Rylan’s hard work. All I had to do was make an easy pass.”
Winkler also scored his first goal this season, which turned out to be an important momentum-turner against an RPI team (1-6) hungry for a break.
Winkler’s power-play slap shot from the left point found its way through traffic and past RPI goalie Scott Diebold only 51 seconds after RPI had tied the game at 1-1 on a short-handed goal.
Winkler’s goal made it 2-1 midway through the second. Goalie Joe Howe made 20 saves, 10 after allowing the short-handed goal, to keep CC ahead for good.
Jaden Schwartz scored on an empty-netter with 1:35 left for the final margin.
Alexander Krushelnyski scored a short-handed goal, his first score of the year, with an excellent second effort to put CC up 1-0 headed into first intermission. Krushelnyski’s first shot was stopped by Diebold’s left leg pad. But the rebound went back to Krushelnyski’s stick blade so he flipped the puck in over Diebold’s left shoulder as his momentum carried him into the corner for the score.
“He didn’t quit on it,” Owens said. “Then Winks ripped that goal and Rylan came up with that huge goal that made it 3-1. Lots of guys got the job done.”
“The penalty kill was good (6-for-6), Howe was good for the second night in a row and our power play struggled a bit,” Owens said. “It wasn’t always pretty, but we got it done.”