Skalbeck's focus, work leads to improvement down the stretch

February 27, 2014 Updated: February 27, 2014 at 9:37 pm
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University of British Columbia's Scott Wasden, left, and CC's Archie Skalbeck fight for the puck in the first period of CC's 3-1 win Sunday, October 7, 2012 at the World Arena. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette

The Colorado College coaches and players know what they will get out of Archie Skalbeck this weekend: his best effort.

"He's everything you want in a line mate," senior center Jeff Collett said. "He knows our systems so well. He's always in the right spot and very reliable, especially on defense."

Now, the senior, like his team, is getting some payoff for that diligence.

The fourth-year forward has six points (four assists) over the past six games headed into this weekend's National Collegiate Hockey Conference road series at third-place Nebraska-Omaha (13-15-2, 10-8-2-1 NCHC).

"He's playing with determination and focus," CC assistant Joe Bonnett said. "He's doing good things with the puck. He was promoted to the first power-play unit for it. He competes all the time and has a strong will with the puck."

The secret to his improved play and for many of his fellow Tigers (6-18-6, 6-9-5-1 NCHC) over the past eight games (4-2-2) was simplifying things.

He credited student assistant Dakota Eveland with pointing that out.

"I was working hard but skating around burning up a lot of energy," Skalbeck said. "He pointed out that I needed to simplify things and focus more."

It's paid off.

His assist to sophomore Jared Hanson for the opening goal last Friday at Denver was critical for a team that is 0-13-2 when their foe scores first and now 6-5-4 when ahead 1-0.

His contribution to the seventh-place Tigers goes beyond statistics. He is an aggressive forechecker who logs big minutes on special teams.

"He gives everything he's got for the team," senior captain Eamonn McDermott said.

"It's nice to see a senior being rewarded down the stretch for doing things the right way," CC assistant Eric Rud said.

Skalbeck learned early that a 5-foot-9, 176-pounder needs to play hard to be effective.

"I learned in high school that I needed to give everything I have to get ice time," said the Hopkins (Minn.) High School single-season record-holder (61 points, 32 goals).

He is one of six Tigers to play in all 30 games this season. He has played in 136 career contests (57 points, 27 goals), including all 42 as a junior.

"He plays hard and with passion all the time," Tigers coach Scott Owens said. "He wears his heart on his sleeve and is a leader in how he plays."

It's paid off with improved play for Skalbeck and his teammates, who have a four-game unbeaten streak headed into the final two weeks of the season.

"If you work hard every day and keep at it eventually you're going to get the payoff," he said. "(Winning the Gold Pan) was huge for the team and our individual and overall confidence. That reinforces that we are doing things the right way; the way we need to keep doing things this weekend."

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