MONUMENT - Backup goalie Marcus Smith has been special this season for Lewis-Palmer (9-1).
The Rangers netminder has made saves on each of the 36 shots he's faced this season, and Friday, he extended his shutout streak to 153 minutes in Lewis Palmer's 9-0 win over Air Academy at the Colorado Sports Center.
Against the Kadets (3-4-1) - who understandably looked a little disoriented just a few days after Dave Meisinger, their coach of seven-plus seasons, was fired - Smith only had to make 11 saves for his third consecutive shutout.
"I can't take too much of the credit. I only faced six or seven shots out there," said Smith, a sophomore, who did not even make the team last year. "It's nice to help this team wherever I can though. And right now that's as a backup, and I'm going to try to be the best goalie on the ice when I'm given the chance, and let the offense do their thing on the other end."
And Friday, he let the offense do its thing - and they did it quickly. Brayden Yatsu finished off a touch pass in front of the net two minutes into the game, Julain Claudio redirected a goal a minute later and Kadets goalie Brandon Kurtz found himself in a 2-0 hole after just three Rangers' shots.
"He came out and struggled a bit, but then made a ton of great saves to keep us around," Air Academy interim coach Rich Hansen said about Kurtz, who eventually regrouped and made 33 saves on 37 shots before he was rested in the third period.
"It's been a tough week with Dave's departure for sure," said Hansen, who was an assistant under Meisinger for three seasons. "I mean I think that showed up a little. Dave did so much for the program for all the years he was here, and this is definitely a tough transition to go through in the middle of the season."
Later in the first, with a pass sliding in his direction, Zachary Williams fell to the ice, but managed to flick a goal between Kurtz's legs to give the Rangers the 3-0 lead into the second period. There, Ryan Reich scored early, before Jack Ryan, Lukas Lyszyk, Adam Schaefer, Casey McMullin and William Fraser each added ascore in the third to close out Lewis-Palmer's eighth win in a row.
"We've been playing well as a team this season," first-year Lewis-Palmer coach Hal Jordan said. "And when you get stories like Marcus, you feel that much better. As players keep standing up and doing things above and beyond, that will only push us farther come postseason."
Lewis-Palmer leads the Peak Conference by two points over Mountain Vista.
After being suspended for Wednesday's game, Meisinger was fired Thursday. Hansen is the third coach in Air Academy's lengthy history.