Tuesday, March 28, 2006

CC Picks Up Another Recruit

Chris Heisenberg's Recruiting Page reports that the Tigers have signed another recruit for either the 2007 or 2008 season. The addition is Nick Dineen of the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL. Last season Dineen, a right wing, had six goals and eleven assists in 53 games. At 5'10", 175 pounds, Dineen should bring some good size to CC's offense, especially with a year or two to develop. I'll add some more to this update when I find out more about Nick, so stay tuned.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Tigers End Season With Loss to Cornell

Despite dominating the first period of play, Colorado College allowed a two goal lead to slip away and saw their season ended by the tenacious Big Red of Cornell. The Tigers scored two goals in the first period, courtesy of Brian Salcido and Jack Hillen, and allowed the Big Red only one shot on net. But Cornell rallied in the final two frames, scoring three unanswered goals and earning the chance to play Wisconsin tonight, with a trip to the Frozen Four on the line.

Marty Sertich had two assists for CC and Brett Sterling and Scott McCulloch each had one. McCulloch also had a shot hit the post in the first period that would have put CC up by three. While the Tigers and their fans are surely disapointed about the loss, it wasn't exactly surprising. CC finished the season 1-4-1 in their final six games. While Cornell could muster no offense in the first period, they did play a solid physical game that eventually wore down on the smaller CC players and allowed Cornell to control the final two periods.

Cornell and Wisconsin will play today, with the winner heading to the Frozen Four along with Boston College, Maine, and North Dakota.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

David Slays Goliath

Holy Cross pulled off probably the biggest upset in tournament history last night, downing the overall No. 2 seed Minnesota 4-3 in overtime. Tyler MacGregor scored only 53 seconds into overtime for the Crusaders, who also received stellar play in goal from Tony Quesada. Some Gopher players looked as though they may have been out at Blarney's before the game, including goalie Kellen Briggs, who allowed one of his four goals against after giving up on the play thinking it had been blown dead. Holy Cross will now have a shot at North Dakota, who downed Michigan 5-1 last night, with a trip to the Frozen Four on the line.

In other games, Boston College surprised many with a 5-0 win over Miami. Enrico Blasi also surprised many in this game by pulling his goalie with almost half a period left to play. The Eagles added two empty net goals. Boston College will move on to play Boston University, who crushed Nebraska-Omaha 9-2. It was not a good night for the CCHA, who's three teams (Michigan, Miami, UNO) went 0-3 against teams from the WCHA and Hockey East. The last surviving team, Michigan State, will play New Hampshire tonight in Albany.

The Tigers make their tournament debut tonight against Cornell of the ECAC. This game should be similar to the games that Colorado College played against St. Cloud State in the WCHA playoffs - Cornell's offense is somewhat lacking, but the defense has kept them in games this year. In net for the Big Red will be David McKee, who had a stellar season last year, but has seemingly fallen off a cliff this year in terms of stats. While his .904 save percentage and 2.16 GAA are not bad numbers, they aren't close to his numbers of last season: a .947 save percentage and 1.24 GAA. CC has yet to play a game since their 3-1 loss to St. Cloud State in the playoffs and few know what to expect from the Tigers. The dynamic duo of Marty Sertich and Brett Sterling, along with the rest of a very strong senior class have their last chance to bring a national championship back to Colorado Springs. The game being in Green Bay will undoubtedly help CC, who should receive support from the hometown Badger fans against Cornell. I'd love to do more analysis of this matchup, but if I've learned anything from watching college hockey, it's that statistics and percentages are all thrown out the window come game time - the game is played on the ice, not on computers. So this game, which should be close, will probably just come down to which team is hot and which team is not. Let's hope the Tigers are hot coming off their two week break.

There are some other notable games worth watching tonight as well. First, the rematch between Maine and Harvard. Maine spoiled Harvard's tournament chances two years ago with a 5-4 comeback win over the Crimson, who had been up 4-1 in the third period. Another interesting game will be between familiar foes Boston University and Boston Cnllege (in Worcester). The Terriers look unstoppable after their 9-2 drubbing of Nebraska-Omaha last night, but the Eagles silenced many doubters with their 5-0 win over a very highly ranked Miami team. I think it will also be very interesting to see what Holy Cross can do against a Fighting Sioux team that has the entire arena behind them. Could get ugly. Hopefully Holy Cross can keep the game close and maybe even steal one (don't hold your breath) - everyone would love to see an AHA team in the Frozen Four.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Tigers Headin' To Green Bay

The NCAA tournament brackets came out today and Colorado College has been given a three seed in the Green Bay regional. CC will open with a game against Cornell, while top seed Wisconsin will face Bemidji State. Cornell has played only one game against a WCHA opponent this season - a 1-1 tie (which they won in a shootout) against Minnesota-Duluth. The Big Red also split a series against tough opponent Michigan State early in the season. Their most recent game was a 6-2 loss to Harvard in the ECAC championship. Cornell goaltender David McKee should be a familiar face to CC stars Marty Sertich and Brett Sterling, who joined him at the Hobey Baker award ceremony last year in Columbus.

The other brackets look like this:

Midwest Regional
No. 1 Wisconsin vs. No. 4 Bemidji State
No. 2 Cornell vs. No. 3 Colorado College

West Regional
No. 1 Minnesota vs. No. 4 Holy Cross
No. 2 North Dakota vs. No. 3 Michigan

East Regional
No. 1 Michigan State vs. No. 4 New Hampshire
No. 2 Harvard vs. No. 3 Maine

Northeast Regional
No. 1 Boston U. vs. No. 4 Nebraska-Omaha
No. 2 Miami vs. No. 3 Boston College

You'll notice that the possibility of another all-WCHA frozen four has been squashed this year, with the four WCHA teams that made the tourney being placed in only two brackets. Minnesota, the overall number two seed, seemed to get the shortest end of the stick, being placed in the Grand Forks Regional with the hometown Fighting Sioux of North Dakota. The East Regional also has an intriguing rematch between Harvard and Maine. Some might remember the Black Bears epic third period comeback against Harvard two years ago, where Maine stormed back from a 4-1 deficit in the third period to win 5-4 and eventually advance to the national championship against Denver. The Northeast Regional, with hometown teams Boston University and Boston College, will be an interesting test for the two CCHA teams that they will face, Miami and Nebraska-Omaha.

As I've said before, CC would probably be in better shape being in a bracket with Boston University or Michigan State, both of whom they have already beat, but the Tigers still should have the ability to steal one in Green Bay. If CC can get past Cornell, they most likely will face a very tough game against the hometown Badgers. CC is winless against Wisconsin this season, including a 9-1 drubbing at the World Arena. It's not all bad though; aside from that contest, the Tigers games against Wisconsin have generally been close. Their first game resulted in a 2-2 tie on the road, and they lost a very close 3-2 game at home. The 9-1 loss can mainly be attributed to Brian Salcido's checking from behind penalty (five minutes) in the first period, and the subsequent power play in which the Badgers scored four goals.

Of course, I couldn't finish the update without mentioning defending champion Denver's absence from the tournament. Denver played a very solid WCHA regular season, but their atrocious play in out of conference games eventually came back to haunt them. The Pioneers kicked off their season with a suicidal series at Maine, losing both games at the very hostile Alfond Arena. Then, while out east, Denver beat non-TUC Massachusetts but lost to Boston University. The real killer, however, was the Denver Cup, where the Pioneers dropped two games to Princeton and Ferris State. Being knocked out of the WCHA tournament by Minnesota-Duluth didn't help either. Regardless of how it happened, it's time for the boys from Denver to break out the golf clubs and start preparing for next season.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Underdogs Advance To WCHA Title Game

No. 4 North Dakota and No. 6 St. Cloud State advanced to the championship game of the WCHA Final Five tonight with wins over Wisconsin and Minnesota. North Dakota edged Wisconsin 4-3, while St. Cloud State and Minnesota went to overtime before the Huskies could win the thrilling 15 goal game. Hobey Baker candidate Ryan Potulny notched four goals for the Golden Gophers, including one with 15 seconds left to send the game to overtime. He also had one assist. The Huskies' Chris Harrington set up four goals, and Minnesota's freshman phenom Phil Kessel had three assists as well. Meanwhile Jeff Frazee, Kellen Briggs, and Bobby Goepfert teamed up to produce one of the uglier defensive games I've ever seen played in the WCHA. Goepfert allowed an incredible seven goals after holding Minnesota-Duluth to one, and our own Tigers to five in three games. Briggs was pulled after allowing five goals on 22 shots. Frazee allowed three goals on 16 shots and just plain looked like a freshman. After he allowed St. Cloud State's seventh goal on a missed poke check/five hole shot, I found myself wondering, "Is this guy really drafted? Who drafted him? It must be the Knicks. Isiah Thomas has gotta be behind this."

Potulny's four goals and assist may have killed Matt Carle's Hobey Baker hopes. While Carle is still my pick, the voters will now have an even tougher time overlooking Potulny's gaudy statistics and big game heroics. Potulny now has 63 points on the season - one less than Marty Sertich had last year when he won the Hobey. The results may have also killed Denver's hopes for the NCAA tournament.

Colorado College now sits at 9th in the Pairwise Rankings. The biggest change tonight was Miami's shift from a comfortable No. 3 ranking to a three-way tie for 5th. The Redhawks will likely need to win the CCHA to secure their number one seed. Meanwhile, out east, Maine is likely out of the tournament after losing to Boston College, and Boston University annihilated New Hampshire 9-2. The Wildcats remain tied for 12th in the Pairwise Rankings. St. Cloud State and North Dakota will meet tomorrow night to decide the WCHA champion - the Huskies could earn an autobid to the tournament with a win. Wisconsin and Minnesota will meet in the consolation game.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Sertich Included In Hobey Finalists

The ten Hobey Baker finalists were announced, and the big surprise is that Marty Sertich was included. Not to take away from Marty - he's had a very good season and he's a special player - but not many people expected him to make it with his 48 points and CC's relatively disapointing season thus far. I don't have enough time to do any real analysis of the list, but here it is (I'll write some more on it later):

Matt Carle - Jr., D, University of Denver
Chris Collins - Sr., F, Boston College
Andy Greene - Sr., D, Miami University
Brian Elliott - Jr., G, University of Wisconsin
Greg Moore - Sr., F, University of Maine
Scott Parse - Sr., F., University of Nebraska-Omaha
Ryan Potulny - Jr., F, University of Minnesota
Marty Sertich - Sr., F, Colorado College
Brett Sterling - Sr., F, Colorado College
T.J. Trevelyan - Sr., F, St. Lawrence University

Congrats to Marty and Brett on being named finalists.

Another note: Check out the blog for the Nottingham Pandas (Not enough time to set up a link so wanted to give a shoutout): http://nottinghampandas.blogspot.com

Til next time...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Hunt Is On For The Hobey

Eight players from the big four college hockey leagues have accumulated at least 50 points this season. They are, in order of points scored: Scott Parse (UNO), Ryan Potulny (UMN), Chris Collins (BC), our own Brett Sterling, Matt Carle (DU), Paul Stastny (DU), Alex Foster (BGSU), and TJ Hensick (UM). Only three of these players will be playing games this week. So who is the favorite to take the prestigious award this season? With last year's winner, our own Marty Sertich, likely out of the running with 48 points, I'll take a look and give some opinions on who could be getting some love from the Hobey voters.

Why Scott Parse will win: He's scored the most points (61) of anyone in the country, with 20 goals and 41 points. That's 1.52 points per game. Along with linemate Bill Thomas (49 points) Parse has led Nebraska-Omaha to an overacheiving season and deserves credit for being such a playmaker.

Why he won't win: Well, let's see. A few weeks ago it looked like Parse really had a shot at the Hobey Baker despite the Mavericks being only a mediocre team in the CCHA. Now, UNO has been knocked out of the CCHA tournament and is hanging on by a thread in the Pairwise. While not all Hobey Baker winners are expected to lead their team to NCAA championships, getting a little further at least in the CCHA tournament would have helped Parse's chances.

Why Ryan Potulny will win: Potulny has scored 1.53 points per game while leading Minnesota to the top spot in the country. The Golden Gophers have just been unstoppable lately and Potulny deserves credit for this. He also has a nation leading 34 goals to go with his 24 assists.

Why he won't win: It's hard to make an argument against Potulny winning. He's scored the most goals, he's probably going to pass Scott Parse in points by the time the season is over, and he plays for the best team. What more could you ask for? We'll find out as we continue.

Why Chris Collins will win: Collins is third in the nation in scoring with 57 points (30 goals, 27 assists). Collins is also a good penalty killer, compiling an impressive five shorthanded goals this season. Does CC's whole team even have that many shorthanded goals? If Boston College makes a run in the postseason and Collins can put up some more points, he's going to be right up there in the voting.

Why he won't win: Collins' biggest problem is going to be that he is overshadowed by more recognizable names from the WCHA. Potulny has more points while playing in a better conference, Matt Carle is close as a defenseman, and don't forget about the dark horse galloping back from a midseason injury: Brian Elliott. Also, BC is dangerously close to being knocked out of the tournament. If the Eagles don't make it, it will probably hurt his chances - especially considering how impressive their PWR was just a few weeks ago.

Why Brett Sterling will win: It's easy for us to see how important Sterling has been this year. With 31 goals and 23 assists, Sterling has been CC's offensive constant throughout the year. He even scored against DU. Sterling also leads the nation with 17 power play goals. If it weren't for his hat trick against Boston University (completed in overtime) earlier this year, the Tigers' season would likely be over right now.

Why he won't win: While he has compiled 54 points this season, Sterling has only scored at a pace of 1.35 goals per game. Combine that with CC getting knocked out in the first round of the WCHA playoffs and Sterling is a big longshot to get solid Hobey consideration. There's really no reason that Sterling would win the award over Ryan Potulny when Potulny has scored more points per game and led his team to the top spot in the rankings.

Why Matt Carle will win: Here's where things get interesting. Carle has 53 points and probably will not have the chance to get any more. While Sterling, Potulny, Collins, and Parse have all accumulated points, Carle merits serious consideration due to the fact that he is a defenseman. In addition to playing solid (better than solid) defense all year long, Carle has been DU's leading scorer (along with Paul Stastny). No one expects a defenseman to put up 50+ points in a season - that's just sick. Let's cross our fingers and hope Salcido can put together a year like this next year.

Why he won't win: As far as I'm concerned the only thing that can hurt Carle in the voting is that the Pioneers' season looks to be over. Great players are expected to at least get their team into the tournament, and it looks like Denver is a huge longshot to make it at this point.

Why Paul Stastny will win: Stastny is an incredible player. We saw it firsthand two weeks ago. He's the first sophomore on this list and if he sticks around, he is really going to be nasty next year for Denver. Stastny led the WCHA in scoring this year and there's no reason that he won't do it again next year. He's a pure sniper who can also set up nice plays. If he stays at Denver, he should get serious Hobey consideration next year.

Why he won't win: For starters, Stastny is young, and there's no real reason to give the award to a sophomore over a junior or senior with comparable statistics. Furthermore, there isn't really anything that sets Stastny apart from the rest of this group - he's obviously a great player, but he doesn't have the stats of Potulny or overall game of Carle. And, like with Carle, I do think it will hurt that DU is likely going to miss the tournament.

Why Alex Foster has a sliver of a chance: Well, he probably won't win, to tell the truth. Foster played for last place Bowling Green this season and scored only 11 goals. Not enough? Bowling Green is in the CCHA - no reason to vote for a CCHA player who has less goals than a WCHA player. This isn't exactly politically correct, but sometimes the truth hurts.

Why TJ Hensick has a somewhat better chance: The odds are against Hensick getting serious consideration for the Hobey. He could end up being a top 10 finalist, but to make the Hobey Hat Trick he'll have to really catch fire in the postseason. Hensick has 16 goals and 34 assists - nice stats, but he can't be considered a favorite.

Enough of the scorers, let's take a look at my aforementioned dark horse, Brian Elliott. If Elliott hadn't been injured in January, I think he'd be a lock for the Hobey. Elliott is still one of the top goalies in the country, with a 1.68 GAA and .934 save percentage, but some ugly performances post-injury will certainly hurt his stock. At midseason, Wisconsin looked completely unstoppable, no one could solve Elliott, and he practically had the award in hand. As things stand now, Elliott could use an impressive run through the playoffs to help his chances.

So who would I choose? A lot depends on what happens in the league playoffs. If Elliott can get a shutout or two, or have a gamechanging performance in net for Wisconsin, the award might be his. On the other hand, if Potulny gets on a hot streak and solidifies his points total, he could become the clear favorite. As of right now, though, I'd have to give the award to Matt Carle. Yes, as much as I hate to admit it, Carle is just a special player. A defenseman who plays this well both offensively and defensively is a rarity and I don't expect to see anyone put up a season like Carle's for quite some time. Unforunately for Carle and Denver fans, his absence from the NCAA tournament is probably going to weigh heavily on the minds of the voters as Potulny, Elliott, and maybe even Sterling shore up their stats. Regardless, the award should go to Carle; his season statistics, including his sick +21 rating, speak for themselves. While Carle's 2005-2006 should win him the Hobey Baker by itself, some voters will undoubtedly consider the fact that he anchored Denver's defense during back to back title runs the past two years.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Tigers Bounced From WCHA Postseason

It all fell apart for Colorado College on Sunday night. Matt Zaba allowed a few fluky goals, and the Tigers were once again plagued by a dysfunctional offense. St. Cloud State got on the board first in the second period when a shot from the point bounced off a player and snuck past Matt Zaba. CC started the third period on a five on three after Nate Raduns took an unsportmanlike minor at the 20:00 mark of the second period. The Tigers capitalized only 11 seconds into the period, with Brett Sterling one timing a shot past Goepfert after a beautiful pass from Chad Rau. Marty Sertich also assisted. This would prove to be the only time that CC's offense could find the back of the net against Goepfert.

St. Cloud State took a 2-1 lead later in the period and that would be all that they needed. The Huskies added another one to make the score 3-1, and things began to look bad for CC. With just a few minutes to play, it looked like the Tigers might have a slim chance at a come back when St. Cloud State took another penalty. The game was effectively over, however, after Marty Sertich was tossed from the game and given a 5:00 major on an inexplicable checking from behind call from referee Todd Anderson. Despite allowing CC to handle the puck after the hit, which appeared clean, Anderson finally blew the whistle when the St. Cloud State player would not get up and it looked like Bob Motzko was going to have a heart attack. After finally putting a stop to play, Anderson skated to the scorers' box and gave Sertich the five minute major. Fans at the World Arena, having had enough of Anderson's officiating, reacted furiously and a few drinks were tossed to the ice.

On a happier note, CC fans can take solace in the fact that somehow #2 seed Denver was upset once again by Minnesota-Duluth. The loss effectively ends the Pioneers' hopes of making the NCAA tournament. Denver now sits tied at #16 in the Pairwise with Northern Michigan and will need a PWR miracle to keep their season alive. CC slips to #10 in the rankings with the loss, but is still a likely bet to make the tournament.

Tigers Rally To Even Series

Things weren't looking good last night with the game halfway over. St. Cloud State was up 2-0 and Colorado College just couldn't seem to get any good scoring chances. The Tigers seemed to be plagued by the sloppy play that ruined their chances on Friday night. This time, however, CC was able to turn it around, tying it up in the second period with two goals only 44 seconds apart. Brian Salcido started the scoring with a shot from the point that beat a blind Bobby Goepfert, who was being screened by Trevor Frischmon (Frischmon also assisted). 44 seconds later, Brett Sterling tied it up, slamming home a rebound that Goepfert left in the crease. Jimmy Kilpatrick and Derek Patrosso assisted. Rejuvenated, the Tigers headed into the third with the momentum and finally with some confidence. CC was able to convert again 11:28 into the third period, once again with Brett Sterling muscling in a rebound through the pads of Goepfert. Marty Sertich and Jimmy Kilpatrick set up the final goal.

The win moves CC back into comfortable position in the Pairwise Rankings, after they had been sliding dangerously close to the bubble. The Tigers are now tied for sixth with Cornell and Harvard. With a win tonight, CC would most likely clinch a tournament bid. Other favorites around the league took control on Saturday night, with Minnesota and Wisconsin punching their tickets to the X-Cel Center, and North Dakota, Denver, and CC tying up their series. North Dakota had a comfortably 4-1 victory over Minnesota State-Mankato. Denver, on the other hand, won 3-2 thanks to a Minnesota-Duluth game-tying goal being called off with only seconds left to play in the game due to a controversial high stick call. Nevertheless, the Pioneers are stuck at 15th in the Pairwise Rankings, and desperately need a win tonight to keep their season alive.

To win tonight, CC is going to have to keep up the pressure on the net. None of the goals last night were particularly pretty, but when it comes to hockey, it's quantity over quality. Both of Sterling's goals last night looked like if Goepfert had one more second, the puck would have been smothered. The Tigers need to keep someone in close to put on the pressure and to put home any pucks that are sitting around in the crease. CC will also have to keep playing solid defense. Matt Zaba has been playing very well in net (aside from a flukey one last night) and hopefully can continue. If a trip to the WCHA final five isn't enough incentive for the Tigers, they still aren't exactly guaranteed anything in the Pairwise at this point. While they are tied for 6th, a loss tonight would force CC to wait and hope for a tournament bid, rather than play for one.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Huskies Take Game One

Colorado College tried desperately to solve Bobby Goepfert but came up empty in the end Friday night at the World Arena. The Tigers struck first courtesy of Jimmy Kilpatrick, but couldn't hold the lead as St. Cloud State quickly tied it and then jumped out to a lead of their own in the second period. Sloppy play on the power play and in general doomed the Tigers as they gave St. Cloud State breakaway after breakaway. While Matt Zaba made some nice stops, all it took was one ugly play to give the Huskies a permanent lead. CC squandered quite a few oppurtunities on the power play, going 0 for 4 and failing to capitalize on a five minute major in the third.

Bobby Goepfert had to stand on his head at the end of the third period as the Tigers bombarded his net with shot after shot. The seventh best goalie in the country lived up to his billing, making some unbelievable saves and robbing the Tigers on several occasions. Brett Sterling played in the game, but clearly was not at full health. He seemed to be playing limited shifts, and did not quite look to be at full speed. Likewise, Marty Sertich had a lackluster performance, missing a number of chances and at times making careless mistakes with the puck.

The World Arena came alive in the third period when Michael Olson of St. Cloud State was awarded a penalty shot after being hauled down by Jack Hillen. With thunderous noise and chants of "Zaba - Zaba - Zaba" coming from the stands, Olson skated in on Zaba and shot it wide to the left. While Goepfert played an exceptional game in net, Matt Zaba deserves mention as well for making several breakaway stops and saves in close. The Huskies goals were scored by Konrad Reeder and Michael Olson, with assists from Dan Kronick, Brock Hooton, and Nate Raduns. Kilpatrick's goal for CC was unnassisted.

The loss hurts the Tigers in the Pairwise Rankings in a big way. CC only drops one spot, to 7th, but five teams move into a tie for 8th with only one pairwise "point" seperating them from the Tigers.

It seemed to be the night of upsets around college hockey, with three lower seeds winning in the WCHA and some notable CCHA favorites losing as well. In the CCHA, Alaska-Fairbanks defeated Michigan State and Northern Michigan beat Nebraska-Omaha 4-1. In the WCHA, in addition to St. Cloud State's win, Minnesota State-Mankato beat North Dakota in overtime, and Minnesota Duluth stunned Denver, breaking a six game losing streak with a 3-2 overtime win. Wisconsin and Minnesota beat Michigan Tech and Alaska-Anchorage respectively.

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Here Come The Huskies

Needing two wins this weekend to keep the season alive, St. Cloud State figures to be a hungry team when they come to Colorado Springs tomorrow night. Just four weeks ago, Colorado College traveled to St. Cloud to take on a Husky team that was on a six gamd winning streak and flirting with an at large NCAA tournament bid. Since CC split that weekend, however, St. Cloud State's stock has plummeted - they now sit at 26th in the Pairwise Rankings and will likely miss the tournament unless they can win the WCHA autobid.

The Tigers sit comfortably at 6th in the Pairwise, and are a good bet to make the NCAA tournament regardless of the outcome this weekend. CC still has a slim shot at a number one seed if they can leapfrog Boston University and Michigan State, who are tied for 4th. However, the Tigers are more likely to end up a two or three seed come selection time.

The matchup this weekend should be a classic battle of a high flying offense (CC) vs. a very stingy defense (SCSU). Husky goaltender Bobby Goepfert has been one of the top goaltenders in the WCHA (and the NCAA) throughout the season. Goepfert enters this series with a .926 save percentage and 2.06 goals against average. While the play of Goepfert and the Huskies defense has been effective, the offense is a different story - last weekend against Wisconsin St. Cloud State tallied only one goal. In four games against CC this season, St. Cloud State has scored nine goals, for an average of slightly over two goals per game. They will likely need more production than that to win the series this weekend. CC's offense will need to be in high gear too, as St. Cloud State has lost only one game in which they scored at least three goals. That game? A 6-3 loss to the Tigers.

Meanwhile, our neighbors to the north prepare to welcome the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs to town tomorrow night for what should be a very easy series for Denver. I normally wouldn't consider any WCHA team to be an easy opponent, especially one like UMD that has been a thorn in CC's side the past few years, but the Bulldogs play over the second half of the seaon really has been shockingly horrible. They have one win in the last 14 games and enter this weekend with a nifty six game losing streak. The Bulldogs biggest problem has been their offense, which scores about as often as AC Green. Over their current six game losing streak, UMD has scored a whopping three goals. As much as everyone would love for UMD to take this series, if the Pioneers lose a game this weekend they should be embarrassed.

One of the more intriguing matchups this weekend will be North Dakota vs. Minnesota State-Mankato. The Fighting Sioux are likely to make the tournament at this point, but still need to close out the season well to solidify their position. With their strong play as of late, Minnesota State is now a TUC (team under consideration) - but barely. Their RPI, while good enough to be considered for consideration, is only .5041. A North Dakota sweep could knock the Mavericks out of consideration and have ramifications for other teams as Minnesota State loses TUC status. The Mavericks enter this series on a four game winning streak with impressive sweeps of St. Cloud State and Wisconsin, but nonetheless are 0-2 against the Fighting Sioux this season.

Another series that has potential to be interesting is Wisconsin hosting Michigan Tech. Wisconsin finished the regular season with a sweep of St. Cloud State, but looked to be in free fall mode prior to that. Before the series with the Huskies, Wisconsin had only three wins in eleven games, with those wins coming against Minnesota-Duluth, Ohio State, and Michigan Tech. This series with Michigan Tech will likely come down to the play of Brian Elliott. Elliott had a stellar weekend against St. Cloud State, allowing only one goal, but his play throughout the second half of the season has been questionable following an injury. I think there's a legitimate chance for an upset in this series if Michigan Tech can rattle Elliott. Don't forget that Michigan Tech handed Wisconsin its first WCHA loss of the season in a 4-2 shocker in Madison. Tech also a goalie with the ability to steal a game, which always makes an upset more likely. Wisconsin should win this series, but we'll have to wait and see which Elliott shows up.

The last series is top seed Minnesota taking on bottom seed Alaska-Anchorage. The Seawolves have had impressive wins this season over Denver and North Dakota, but will be hard pressed to take one from the Gophers on home ice. The Gophers have been playing phenomenal hockey to close out the season, whereas Anchorage's last win game on January 6th. They are winless in their last 13. The Gophers remain the top seed in the Pairwise Rankings and are a lock for a number one seed regardless of what happens from here on out.

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Tigers' Seniors Prepare for Final Home Series

Six Colorado College seniors will be playing their last games at the World Arena this weekend. The playoff series with St. Cloud State will be the last time to watch two of the most prolific scorers in CC history skate in the World Arena (in Tiger uniforms anyways). The six seniors making their final appearances in Colorado Springs are:

#7 Weston Tardy - A small but strong defenseman, Tardy was limited to 19 games this year due to injuries. Tardy hails from Duluth Minnesota, and he played for the Des Moines Buccaneers in the USHL before coming to play for CC. Tardy has played in 108 games for the Tigers and tallied three goals and fifteen assists while playing solid defense.

#15 Joey Crabb - One of only a few big, tough forwards on the Tigers, Crabb has had an outstanding career the past four years. A New York Rangers draft pick, Crabb has done particularly well working with Marty Sertich and Brett Sterling on the powerplay. This season Crabb has notched twelve powerplay goals in addition to six at even strength. For his career, Crabb has played in 155 games for the Tigers, scoring 53 goals and assisting on 58. His point totals have improved considerably each year he's played.

#22 Marty Sertich - Where to start? Last year's Hobey Baker winner, Sertich has combined with Brett Sterling to comprise possibly the most feared duo in all of college hockey. This season, Sertich has 46 points on 14 goals and 32 assists. An exceptional playmaker, Sertich has tallied 117 assists in his career to go with 61 goals. In his Hobey Baker season last year, Sertich had 27 goals and 37 assists, leading the Tigers to the Frozen Four. The gaudy point totals are impressive, of course, but the most impressive stat for Sertich? The ultimate college hockey ironman, Sertich has never missed a game in his career with Colorado College.

#11 Jesse Stokke - While Stokke does not have the impressive stats like some of his classmates, he has been a solid and versatile player for the Tigers in his four years. A defenseman who can also play forward, Stokke has one goal and eight assists in his career with CC. Stokke's first goal came this season in a game at Minnesota-Duluth. Stokke's solid play on the ice is all the more impressive when one considers that he is a neuroscience major at CC.

#6 Trevor Frischmon - One of the Tigers' captains, Frischmon is a quick, aggressive forward who also plays very good defense, particularly on the penalty kill. Frischmon has 30 goals and 35 assists in his career for the Tigers. Last season, Frischmon took the team on his back in the regional final game of the NCAA tournament, scoring two goals and assisting on another to bring the Tigers back from a 3-0 early deficit against Michigan and advance to the Frozen Four.

#21 Brett Sterling - Sterling has been a consistent offensive force throughout his career with CC. With his hat trick against Alaska-Anchorage last month, Sterling notched the 100th, 101st, and 102nd goals of his career. With 28 goals this season, Sterling now has an incredible 105 career goals. He also has 75 assists. Last year, Sterling was a Hobey Hat Trick finalist along with teammate Marty Sertich and Cornell goalie David McKee. In addition to being a phenomenal hockey player, Sterling is also a great student - he is an Academic All American and graduated high school with a 4.2 GPA. Sterling is an Atlanta Thrashers draft pick and has the potential to play at the NHL level.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Tiger Fans Breathe Sigh of Relief

Brett Sterling says there is a "98 percent chance" that he will be back in the lineup this weekend against St. Cloud State. In the Gazette article, Sterling makes it clear that he wants to play and it would take a significant setback to keep him off the ice, "Whatever we've got to do to make myself ready, I'm going to be ready. I've got to play." How much pain would Sterling have to be in to sit out this weekend? "It would have to be pretty bad. It better be like not being able to walk." Having Sterling back should provide a nice spark to a CC offense that's been lacking its number one scorer for the past game and a half.

The article also mentions freshman center Chad Rau. You've probably noticed that Rau's been on a hot streak lately, but even I didn't realize just how hot. Rau has six goals and seven assists in the past nine games for CC - very impressive numbers for a freshman. His season totals so far are 13-16-29. He's also proved that he can get it done in crunch time with his heroic goal against Denver on Friday.

Sunday, March 5, 2006

Keeping Up With Old Friends

Former Tiger Aaron Slattengren, who was dismissed from Colorado College earlier this year for an academic violation, has signed a contract with the Portland Pirates of the AHL. The Pirates are affiliated with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. Slattengren tallied his first professional point with an assist in Portland's win over the Providence Bruins on the 22nd of February.

Speaking of the Providence Bruins, we can't forget about last year's team captain, Mark Stuart. Stuart has played in 59 games for the Bruins this season and has recorded four goals and three assists. Hockeysfuture.com lists Stuart as the Bruins third best prospect, and says that Stuart "is going to be a top four NHL defenseman". Hopefully next year Stuart could start to see some time on the ice in Boston, who drafted him 21st overall in 2003.

Former Tiger and All-WCHA goaltender Curtis McElhinney has spent the season playing for the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights of the AHL. McElhinney has played 26 games this season and boasts a 2.57 GAA - good for eighth best in the league. He also has a .910 save percentage and two shut outs. His record in net is 8-11. McElhinney is a Calgary Flames prospect, taken 176th overall in the 2002 draft.

Yet another former Tiger playing in the AHL this season is Richard Petiot. Petiot, the #116 overall pick in the 2001 draft, has been playing for the Manchester Monarchs. He is currently rated the fifth best prospect in the Los Angeles Kings organization, ahead of familiar names Brian Boyle at No. 6 (Boston College), Noah Clarke at No. 13, and Matt Zaba at No. 17. Other notable Kings prospects include current NCAA players John Curry (Boston University), T.J. Fast (Denver), Joey Mormina (Colgate), and Scott Parse (Nebraska-Omaha), who currently leads the country in scoring with 61 points.

Scott Polaski, one of only three seniors on last year's team, has been playing for the Colorado Eagles of the CHL. In 55 games, he's tallied 16 goals and 20 assists. Polaski is a Phoenix Coyotes draft pick (#180 overall in 2001 draft). Last year he was one of the Tigers' captains.

Brady Greco, who surprised many this summer when he left prior to his senior year, has been playing for the Johnstown Chiefs of the ECHL. In 29 games, he has collected five goals and five assists, along with 65 penalty minutes. Greco is a Tampa Bay Lightning draft pick (#256 overall in 2003 draft).

Saturday, March 4, 2006

Tigers to Host Huskies in First Round

Colorado College will play host to St. Cloud State in the first round of the WCHA playoffs. The Tigers finish the WCHA regular season with a record of 15-11-2 for a total of 32 points, good for fifth place in the league. North Dakota's win tonight over Michigan Tech gives them 32 points as well, but they are awarded fourth place through a tiebreaker. The Sioux will host Minnesota State-Mankato in the first round of the WCHA playoffs. The Tigers matchup in the first round could give them a PWR advantage over other WCHA foes, as St. Cloud State is considered a team under consideration by the pairwise rankings. Two wins could give the Tigers a nice boost in the PWR.

The status of CC's leading scorer, Brett Sterling (28-23-51), remains unclear although the Tigers' trainer says that he is "probable" for next week's series. Sterling had trouble getting off the ice on Friday against Denver after being leveled by 220 pound center Geoff Paukovich, and it was later said that he had a groin injury. He had already scored two goals in the game when he had to leave, about halfway through the second period - his first goals against DU in the last eight games between the two teams.

CC has done fairly well this year against St. Cloud State. In November, the Tigers swept the Huskies by scores of 4-2 and 3-2, at the Colorado Springs World Arena. On the road against St. Cloud State, CC won 6-3 and lost 2-1. Chad Rau, the hero for CC on Saturday night, has five points in four games against St. Cloud State. Marty Sertich, Derek Patrosso and Brett Sterling each have three. St. Cloud State has allowed only 62 goals in WCHA play this year, second lowest in the league to Wisconsin (60), but they have scored only 79.

The other series taking place next weekend will be: No. 10 Alaska-Anchorage at No. 1 Minnesota, No. 9 Minnesota-Duluth at No. 2 Denver, No. 8 Michigan Tech at No. 3 Wisconsin, and No. 7 Minnesota State-Mankato at No. 4 North Dakota. CC remains sixth in the Pairwise Rankings, thanks in large part to out of conference wins against Boston University, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Maine.

Tigers Finish Regular Season at Sixth in Pairwise Rankings

Colorado College's regular season ended last night with a 3-3 tie against Denver at Magness Arena. It was the first time since the 2003-2004 season that CC did not lose at Magness. The Tigers took a 2-0 lead heading into the third period only to allow three straight in the third before tying it with less than a minute left, and with Matt Zaba on the bench in favor of an extra attacker. CC now sits at sixth in the pairwise rankings, used to select the NCAA tournament field. The win and tie move Denver into a tie for 11th in the rankings. CC could still have a shot at a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament with an impressive run in the WCHA tournament, but is more likely to end up with a #2 or #3 seed. CC's tournament chances will likely depend more on who else is in their bracket than what seed they are. Boston University and Michigan State are currently tied at 4th in the pairwise and one of them is likely to be a #1 seed. CC has wins on the road against both these teams, including a dominating performance against Michigan State in the Great Lakes Invitational. Being included in a bracket where one of these teams is the #1 seed could be a big boost to CC, who has no wins against the other two probable #1 seeds - Minnesota and Wisconsin. Ending up in overall #3 Miami's bracket could be interesting as well. While CC has not played Miami this season, they have done well against CCHA competition in 6-1 and 6-3 manhandlings of Michigan and Michigan State. Regardless of the seeding, CC will need stellar play all around if the Tigers want to go far in the postseason. CC still has no wins against higher ranked WCHA teams.

Friday, March 3, 2006

CC Salvages Tie in Denver

Chad Rau came up huge for the Tigers as he scored the first goal of the game, two minutes in. On the power play, Rau caught a Joey Crabb rebound, and then one of his own, to beat a sprawling Peter Mannino and tally CC's first goal of the night. Joey Crabb scored again in the second period to give CC a 2-0 lead heading into the third. In the third, however, Denver scored three unanswered goals and took their lead into the last minute of the game before Rau scored his second goal of the game to tie it at three. Neither team could capitalize in overtime. CC's offense performed admirably while lacking leading scorer Brett Sterling, who sat out with a groin injury. Denver's goals came courtesy of J.D. Corbin, Paul Stastny, and Ryan Dingle, each on wrists shots from the slot, and all beating CC goaltender Matt Zaba up high. Brian Salcido had two assists for CC, one while playing at left wing in Sterling's place.

Inaugural Update

Tonight's exciting for two reasons - the first ever post on this blog, and the last game of the regular season for CC, who heads up to Magness to take on Denver after suffering a comeback defeat in overtime last night, 5-4. The Tigers could be without top scorer Brett Sterling, who left early with an injury last night after scoring two goals. A win tonight would secure home ice for CC in the WCHA playoffs, while a loss would leave the Tigers fate up to North Dakota and St. Cloud State, who could pass CC in the standings with sweeps this weekend. CC has currently lost six straight to Denver dating back to their last regular season meeting in the 2004-2005 season. In other WCHA action, No. 6 Wisconsin hosts St. Cloud State, Michigan Tech travels to No. 11 North Dakota, and Minnesota-Duluth takes on No. 1 Minnesota at Mariucci.