But a two-goal deficit late in the second period proved too big a margin to overcome as Colorado College lost 3-2 to Wisconsin in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five tournament championship Saturday, ending the Tigers’ season. The loss also marked CC;s last chance to win the WCHA trophy named after the landmark Colorado Springs hotel
The never-say-die approach by CC (18-19-5) started with the leaders in the locker room.
“It would have been easy to give up, especially after the adversity (losing streak) we faced,” senior captain William Rapuzzi said. “But we never lost the faith that if we kept working we could turn things around. I am so proud to have been the captain of the guys in that locker room.”
The championship gives Wisconsin (22-12-7) a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers needed that automatic qualifier to make the 16-team field.
The scrambling Tigers managed only four shots in the third as fatigue and a tight Wisconsin defense wore them down.
“They are a tough kind of team to play against in your sixth game in nine days,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said. “The part that hurts is knowing you were one goal away from the Broadmoor Trophy; one goal away from the NCAA Tournament.”
The Tiger never doubted they could come back after Nic Kerdiles scored the eventual game-winner with 3:45 left in second.
Schwartz scored on breakaway after a pass from Alexander Krushelnyski. The senior beat Joel Rumpel (20 saves) with 27.6 seconds left to make it 3-2 headed into the third.
“Rylan was a man this weekend,” Owens said. “After that goal, everyone sat up a little on the bench. It was one goal (deficit) entering the third period and Joe Howe (30 saves) was playing well.”
Earlier, Schwartz started a 3-on-2 rush that led to a Charlie Taft tap-in to trim the Badgers lead to 2-1 and give the senior his 100th career assist. He moved into the national scoring lead with 53 points (20 goals).
Wisconsin took a 2-0 lead on scores by Tyler Barnes with 17 seconds left in the first and Sean Little with 16:32 left in the second.
It may take some time, but the Tigers will eventually look back on their 9-5-3 run to conclude the season with pride, Schwartz said.
“It’s hard right now,” he said. “But maybe in a few days, it will be something we will take pride in Hopefully this is something the young guys can take into next year.”
This year’s Final Five drew the third-largest crowd ever with 87,295 fans. The top two are 2007 (88,900) and 2006 (87,579). … Schwartz and Peter Stoykewych were named to the all-tournament team along with MVP Kerdiles, Barnes, John Ramage and Rumpel, all of Wisconsin. … Another WCHA Final Five tradition is coming to an end. Longtime Minnesota fans Cathy St. Martin and her late husband Tom hosted a league hospitality room for officials, coaches and media for the past 25 years … The new WCHA debuted a revised logo and that the top eight teams in the final regular-season standings will play in a best-of-three first-round series at the home site of the top four finishers, followed by the first-round winners advancing to the WCHA Final Five the following weekend for two first-day semifinals and the Broadmoor Trophy championship on Day 2. … Minnesota coach Don Lucia will coach the 2014 U.S. National Junior Team. SCSU coach Bob Motzko will serve as an assistant.
Wisconsin 3, Colorado College 2
Colorado College 0 2 0 – 2
Wisconsin 1 2 0 — 3
First period – 1. UW, Barnes (Kerdiles, Simonelli) 19:43. Penalties – UW, McCabe, interference, 3:54; CC, Taft, tripping, 8:20. CC, DiGiando, cross-checking, 14:01.
Second period – 2. UW, S. Little (McCabe, Dahl) 3:28; 3. CC, Taft (Schwartz) 7:19; 4. UW, Kerdiles (Ramage, Zengerle) 16:15; 5. CC, Schwartz (Krushelnyski) 19:33. Penalties – CC, Marciano, interference, 11:16.
Third period – No scoring. Penalties – UW, LaBate, tripping, 1:59; CC, Rapuzzi, tripping, 19:50.
Power play – CC 0-2, UW 0-4. Shots on goal – CC 9-9-4 – 22; UW 13-11-9 – 33. Saves-minutes – CC, Howe 12-9-9 – 58:43; UW, Rumpel 9-7-4 – 59:57. Referees – B. Shepherd, Anderson. Linesmen – Dokken, Hills. Attendance – 18,872.
CC freshman Cody Bradley is out for the second straight game with an upper body injury.Colorado College
Goalies– Howe, Thorimbert.
R. Little-Dahl- S. Little
Goalies – Rumpel-Peterson.
Former Tiger Joey Crabb cleared waivers and was assigned to AHL Hershey.