It’s early in the season, but the question about who will step up to help replace the 40 percent of the offense Colorado College men’s hockey team lost from last season is beginning to be answered.
The 2-0 Tigers, ranked 19th in Monday’s U.S. College Hockey Online poll, got scoring from every line and nearly ever player who took the ice during their sweep of Clarkson this past weekend. In addition to star forward Rylan Schwartz, junior Archie Skalbeck and senior captain William Rapuzzi stood out.
Skalbeck scored three goals against the Golden Knights, including the game-tying strike in the third period of Saturday night’s 5-4 victory. That’s already two goals better than his total from last season, when he scored one goal and had four assists in 31 games.
Skalbeck had a breakout freshman season in 2010-11, scoring nine goals and nine assists before his disappointing 2011-12 campaign. It was a frustrating year for the 5-foot-9, 167-pounder from Hopkins, Minn.
“It was nice to get the first (goal) early and have some confidence,” said Skalbeck, who also scored in CC’s 3-1 exhibition win over British Columbia on Oct. 7. “The puck just seems to be bouncing my way this year.”
Skalbeck worked hard in the offseason, adding some weight so he could more easily get to the “dirty areas” where bigger players lock horns in battles for puck possession.
“(Getting more physical) was something my coaches told me I needed to work on, so I put some emphasis on it in the offseason,” he said. “It’s been paying off so far.”
Rapuzzi, who had the game-winning goal with a minute remaining Saturday night, has two goals and an assist so far this season. That’s just one goal shy of his total from 2011-12, when he scored three goals and had 12 assists.
That was a drop-off from his 12-goal, 10-assist sophomore season and six goals less than he scored as a freshman. But Rapuzzi, wearing the beloved “C” on his jersey, has re-emerged in CC’s lineup as an offensive threat.
“Last year, I had a hard time putting the puck in the net,” said Rapuzzi, of Anchorage, Alaska. “Being an athlete, you can’t dwell on things. Move on and live in the present. I put last year behind me, made sure I had a great summer and am working hard so it won’t happen again.”
In addition, junior defenseman Eamonn McDermott, who had 10 points last season, already has three points in two games. The Tigers had 11 players score points in each of their 5-4 victories over Clarkson, and a total of 15 players have points so far.
That’s music to coach Scott Owens’ ears as he looks to put together a potent offense to complement an experienced defensive crew.
“One of the big things for me is that some of the secondary guys followed up from the exhibition and scored again,” Owens said after Friday night’s win. “That makes me feel good.”