Having grit and determination and making clutch plays at key moments is often the difference between winning and losing, as Colorado College was reminded Friday night.
Rylan Schwartz scored twice, and Josh Thorimbert made numerous clutch saves down the stretch in the Tigers’ 3-2 nail-biting win over a pesky Bemidji State team at the World Arena. Colorado College (6-3, 3-0 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) has won three straight and will go for the series sweep Saturday night.
Thorimbert made a stellar save on a Bemidji State short-handed breakaway by David Boehm with 3:25 remaining to preserve the lead and then withstood a storm of Bemidji State shots in the closing seconds. The Beavers (2-2-1, 1-1-1) pulled goalie Andrew Walsh with a minute remaining and swarmed Thorimbert as time ticked down.
“It’s a good win for us, definitely, to keep the winning streak going,” said Thorimbert, who finished with 23 saves. “They’re a very defensive-minded team that can lull you to sleep with the way they play, so you know coming in it was going to be a low-scoring game. I think we won the battle of patience tonight.
“It was a great way to start the weekend off right with two big points.”
Schwartz’s game-winner came with 3:41 remaining in the second period off a give-and-go exchange with Archie Skalbeck, who also assisted on his first goal. It was the first time since the Tigers’ season-opening win over Clarkson that Schwartz was able to find the net.
“It’s definitely been a while (since I scored), but I’ve been working hard in all those games and today it just went my way a little more,” Schwartz said. “Archie gave me a great heads-up pass, and (the game-winner) was kind of an easy tap-in. It was a team win, and we battled hard for it.”
It was a hard-fought win over a team that can be frustrating to play against.
“You’ve got to learn how to win these games,” Colorado College coach Scott Owens said. “I’m pleased we found a way to win the game, and I was happy with our overall 60-minute patience. I’m just very happy that the right people stepped up to play well tonight.”
The Tigers jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Schwartz’s second goal of the season just 2:06 into the game, but the lead didn’t last long. Jordan George knotted the score at 1-1 with a goal at the 6:24 mark, with CC grabbing the lead again on a Scott Winkler goal with 4:45 remaining in the period.
Danny Mattson scored for the Beavers on the power play with 1:42 left in the first, and that sent the teams to the locker rooms for the first intermission tied 2-2. Thorimbert made a pair of crucial saves in the second period, both on his glove and stick side, to preserve the tie and set up Schwartz’s game-winner.
Captain William Rapuzzi missed an seemingly wide-open shot left of the Beavers’ net in the third period.