William Rapuzzi hears the rumblings. He knows Colorado College fans are upset over his lack of production, wondering why it took so long for him to lose his spot on the top line.
“I haven’t had the greatest season,” said Rapuzzi, with nine points in 21 games prompting his demotion Friday to a third line featuring David Civitarese and Archie Skalbeck.
The Tigers right wing feels confident that if he keeps his persistence, that if he continues putting himself in positions for success, he’ll break out of his slump, especially with most of the focus by CC’s opponents on Jaden Schwartz since he has returned to full strength.
Rapuzzi has three goals and six assists, as well as 29 minutes in penalties and a plus-three rating, failing to record a point in the past five games. It’s a far cry from a run in the U.S. Hockey League in which he had 59 points in 65 games; from a freshman season in which he had 15 points in 30 games; and from a sophomore campaign in which he had 22 points in 43 games, with five multiple-point outings and two goals in the NCAA Tournament.
With Schwartz back from the world junior championships in his native Canada, Rapuzzi was notably active last Saturday in a 3-3 tie against Cornell, finding holes in the scoring areas and feeding off Jaden’s older brother, Rylan. “I need to keep playing hard, finishing hits, doing the dirty work, getting in the corners, getting the puck out, getting the puck to those two guys,” Rapuzzi said. “When they get the puck, they do something special.”
The intangibles are “definitely just as important” as what’s on the stat sheet, Rapuzzi said – even if there’s no glory. “That’s what it takes to win a game,” he added, “and that’s the beauty of being a team. Everyone is buying into that, and guys are doing their parts. Once we really get that to the full extent, that’s when we’ll get on a roll.”
Tigers coach Scott Owens said Rapuzzi looked “a little better” against Cornell. “He’s still capable of doing more. He’s a smart winger. When he moves his legs, he’s pretty good. When he doesn’t, he struggles. … I’m hoping he can contribute here the second half.”
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