Saturday, April 29, 2006

Doobie Brothers Ready To Rock CC

The Doobie Brothers play at 9:00 tonight on CC's campus. The rtage is set in the middle of CC's campus on Cascade Ave. CC ID or alumni ID needed to attend, I believe. (But it's easy enough to sneak in!)

Another Recruit For The Tigers

The Tigers have picked up another recruit for the 2008 season according to college hockey recruiting guru Chris Heisenberg. Andrew Hamburg, a 6'2", 175 lb. forward of the Dallas Stars Midget AAA program, joins two other former Stars players on the CC roster: Chris Kawano and Cody Lampl. With two years to bulk up, Hamburg could bring some great size to the Tigers' offense. Hamburg is the second player to commit to CC for the 2008 season, joining defenseman Ryan Lowery, who will be playing for Lincoln of the USHL next season.

Friday, April 28, 2006

North Dakota Loses Appeal; "Walker, Texas Ranger®" Mascot in UND's Future?

It might not be the "Fighting Sioux" for much longer. Friday, the NCAA denied North Dakota's appeal concerning their allegedly offensive mascot. North Dakota has threatened to take legal action against the NCAA if the decision stands. I have to say I've heard both sides of the argument in this one and I still don't really care either way. Personally I don't really see the mascot as being offensive, but I can also understand that some do. With the future of the Fighting Sioux looking grim, I thought I'd help get North Dakota fans started with some brainstorming for new mascot ideas:

North Dakota Fighting Raptors * Weren't there a lot of dinosaur fossils found up in the badlands? A North Dakota tradition for 65 million years.

North Dakota Fighting Irish * The jerseys are already green anyways, and no doubt there's an awful lot of drinking going on up in Grand Forks.

North Dakota Fighting Snoopies * Red Baron's arch-enemy. With a mascot as unique as this one, they won't be confused with North Dakota State anymore.

North Dakota Fighting Ethnic Minorities * Nothin' offensive about this one.

North Dakota Fighting Canadians * With ten Canadians on the roster, this might not be such a bad name. Minnesota is basically a Canadian province, and there's 11 Minnesotans on the roster to boot. Maybe this isn't such a bad name after all.

North Dakota Fighting Gamblers * Rather than offending Native Americans, encourage gambling at their casinos!

North Dakota Fighting Seagals * Here's a great solution to UND's problems. Steven Seagal always seems to be pretending to be a Native American in his movies. Using a white man's name to represent an Indian people? Brilliant.


North Dakota Fighting Texas Rangers * Like Seagal, action star Chuck Norris pretends to be a half Indian crime fighter in this entertaining TV series. The Texas Ranger badge design would look spectacular on UND jerseys. As an added bonus, less courageous squads may be afraid to suit up against a team who's mascot is so proficient in the martial arts.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

2006-2007 Schedule Released

The 2006-2007 Tiger Hockey schedule is now available on CC's website.

The notables:

October 20th/21st - University of New Hampshire (home) * The last time these teams faced each other was 2001 (CC lost 6-2). UNH will probably be CC's strongest out of conference opponent in the regular season.

October 27th/28th - University of Minnesota (away) * The Tigers start their WCHA schedule with a trial by fire series in Mariucci.

November 24th/25th - University of North Dakota (away) * UND figures to be one of, if not the top team next year. This series should be an extremely tough one for the Tigers.

December 1st/2nd - University of Denver (home and away) * Self explanatory.

February 2nd/3rd - University of Wisconsin (home) * The defending champs come to town again and the Tigers will be looking for some revenge after the Badgers laid the smack down 9-1 in their last contest.

March 2nd/3rd - University of Denver (home and away) * Self explanatory again.

The Tigers will also be playing out of conference games against Bemidji State (CHA), Air Force (CHA), Alabama - Huntsville (CHA), and Merrimack College (Hockey East). CC also faces the University of Calgary and US Under-18 national team in exhibition games.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Awards Dished Out; Sterling MVP

Brett Sterling was recognized as team MVP on Saturday at the annual Colorado College hockey awards banquet. Sterling was given the Thayer Tutt Award in recognition of his leadership and his team leading 55 points. Fellow seniors Marty Sertich, Joey Crabb, and Trevor Frischmon were also honored with the following awards:

Marty Sertich - Rodman Award Given to the player most representing leadership and sportsmanship.

Joey Crabb - Shout Award Given to the "grittiest" player.

Trevor Frischmon - Steve Ebert Award Given to the player displaying "dedication, desire, ability and sportsmanship."

Other awards given out included:

Chad Rau - Bob Johnson Award Rookie of the year.

Matt Zaba - Tony Frasca Award Given to playoff MVP. Weren't a whole lot of options on this one.

Chris Kawano - Dave Peterson Award Most improved player.

J.P. Brunkhorst and Lee Sweatt - Paul Markovich Award Given to the Tigers' best student-athletes.

Visit the Tigers' official website for a full writeup of the awards along with descriptions of each one.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Colorado College 2005-2006: Season Review

With the Tigers' season having ended last month with a loss to Cornell in the NCAA tournament, it's time to take a look back on the ups and downs of another Colorado College hockey season. The Tigers were ranked 13th in the preseason polls, but most people knew that with returning seniors like Marty Sertich, Brett Sterling, and Joey Crabb, CC would soon be within the top ten. It didn't take long, as CC got off to another fast start this season. The Tigers opened the season with a 6-1 win over Union in the Icebreaker Tournament. Three of the six CC goals in that game came from sophomore Derek Patrosso, and Chad Rau also added his first in a Tiger uniform. The next night, CC took on a very strong Maine team and once again Derek Patrosso was the hero as he scored in overtime to give the Tigers their second win of the season. Chad Rau was impressive again, scoring his second goal in two games. Returning Hobey Baker finalist Brett Sterling also had two goals on the weekend.

The next weekend the Tigers experienced their first loss of the season at the hands of Ohio State. The next night, CC won despite being outshot 34-23, on the strength of a Marty Sertich goal and stellar play from Matt Zaba. The win over Ohio State started a seven game winning streak for the Tigers, as they ran off consecutive wins over Notre Dame and Air Force at home, Minnesota State, Mankato on the road, and then St. Cloud State at home. CC's record at this point was a stellar 9-1-0 and the Tigers were now the #1 ranked team in the country.

It was not to last, however, as CC's next series sent them on the road to Madison to face the #5 ranked Badgers. Things looked good on Friday night as CC took a 2-0 lead in the first period. The Badgers came back, however, and managed to tie the game. The next night, Brian Elliott backstopped the Badgers to a 3-0 shutout victory, and the Tigers run at #1 was over as soon as it had started. CC needed to get back on track, and the next weekend presented the perfect oppurtunity as Michigan Tech came to town. The Tigers held Tech scoreless on the weekend, winning 5-0 and 3-0 as team captain Marty Sertich scored two goals to go with two assists.

The next week, the Tigers were back on the road for games against Massachusetts and Boston University. On Friday night, CC outshot the Minutemen 45-24 but couldn't capitalize on oppurtunities and lost the game 4-3. Massachusetts goalie Gabe Winer was stellar in net, with 42 saves, including 17 in the third period. The next night, the Tigers headed to Boston University's beautiful Agganis Arena with hopes of turning things around. It looked good early for CC, as Chad Rau and Brett Sterling both found the back of the net in the first period, and the Tigers outshot the Terriers 15-4. Jack Hillen scored another one for CC in the second period before the Terriers finally got on the board, striking for two goals of their own before the period was over. With the score at 3-2 heading into the final frame, the Tigers quickly regained control as Brett Sterling scored another one less than two minutes into the third period. 90 Seconds later Scott McCulloch rang up another one for CC thanks to a 5 on 3 oppurtunity due to a bench minor on Boston University. It looked like CC was cruising to an easy victory until the Terriers started an amazing rally late in the period. Down 5-3, Boston University struck for two extra attacker goals in the final 90 seconds to send the game into overtime. The Tigers weren't ready to squander another one, however, as Brett Sterling buried a gorgeous feed from Chad Rau less than a minute into overtime, quieting the Boston University crowd that had been ecstatic after the late comeback. Both teams finished the game with 33 shots on net.

Next up for CC was the hated Denver Pioneers. Denver entered the series with just one win in their last six games and hopes were high that the Tigers would have a good oppurtunity to reclaim the Gold Pan. It looked like the Tigers were on their way to victory halfway through the game, as they led 2-0 on goals from Joey Crabb and Jack Hillen. Paul Stastny, Ryan Dingle, and Matt Carle had other ideas though, and the Pioneers came back to make it 3-2 before adding an empty netter at the end of the game. Stastny had two assists, Carle had three assists, and Dingle scored two goals. The next night, the Pioneers cruised to an easy 5-1 victory at Magness. Drew O'Connell had the start in net and struggled, allowing 5 goals on 30 shots.

The Tigers' next series was against Minnesota Duluth at home, and despite a 7-2 beatdown on Friday, CC could not get the sweep as the Bulldogs took the Saturday contest 4-3. The Tigers then travelled to Anchorage, winning 5-4 and 2-1 (ot) before heading to Michigan for the Great Lakes Invitational over Christmas break. CC put on probably their most impressive performance at the GLI, dominating #6 Michigan 6-1 and then cruising to an easy win over Michigan State, 6-3. Senior Joey Crabb had an impressive seven points on the weekend (four goals, three assists). Marty Sertich set up four goals against the Spartans.

The good times did not last though, as the Tigers got off to a truly atrocious start in 2006. CC's first series of the new year was at home against Wisconsin, and hopes were high that the Tigers would fare better than they did in Madison. It was not to be though, as the Tigers fell 3-2 on Friday before being humiliated 9-1 on Saturday night. The losing streak was just getting started at this point. Next up was the Golden Gophers of Minnesota, and once again CC could not collect any points on the weekend. The Tigers dropped both games, 4-2 and 3-2. With CC basically out of the running for the WCHA title, the focus became on home ice for the playoffs. With that in mind, the Tigers next series was a critical one, with North Dakota coming to town for a series with WCHA standings implications. On Friday night, the Tigers' win streak was extended to five as North Dakota won 4-2. North Dakota freshmen TJ Oshie, Ryan Duncan, and Jonathan Toews each scored a goal in the win. On Saturday, CC finally snapped its longest losing streak since the 90's with a 3-2 comeback win.

Next up for CC were the red-hot Huskies of St. Cloud State. The Huskies entered the series on a six game winning streak, but Bobby Goepfert did not show up for Friday's game and the Tigers scored five goals on 17 shots before Goepfert was finally pulled. The next night, Goepfert was back to his usual self, stopping 40 of 41 CC shots on net and backstopping St. Cloud State to a 2-1 win. After the St. Cloud State series the Tigers had a chance to score some valuable WCHA points with series against the league's two worst teams, Alaska-Anchorage and Minnesota-Duluth. CC took advantage, winning all four games. The Tigers scored 19 goals in the four wins and allowed only five. Things were looking good again going into the final series of the regular season, against Denver.

CC had the chance to get some important WCHA points and solidify NCAA tournament positioning in the series with Denver, but could not get it done. On Friday, the Tigers took a 4-3 lead into the third period before allowing Denver to come back in the third period and eventually win in overtime. Things weren't looking good. The Pioneers had shot up in the Pairwise Rankings, and CC was slipping close to the bubble. Furthermore, Brett Sterling had left the ice halfway through the Friday game with a leg injury and was not expected to play in game two. A road playoff series wasn't looking so unlikely. The next night, the Tigers once again took the lead early thanks to goals from Joey Crabb and Chad Rau. Once again the lead did not last, as Denver scored three straight goals in the third period and took their 3-2 lead into the final minute before Chad Rau scored an acrobatic goal to tie the game with only 47 seconds remaining. Neither team could score in overtime, and CC prevented what would have been an embarrassing season sweep by Denver. The Tigers finished fifth in the WCHA standings and secured home ice for their playoff series against St. Cloud State.

CC entered the playoff series with St. Cloud having won three out of four against the Huskies, but could not solve Bobby Goepfert in game one of the series, and fell by a score of 2-1. CC fell behind 2-0 in game two but was able to come back and even the series at 1-1 thanks largely to Brett Sterling's two goals. In game three, however, Bobby Goepfert shut down the Tigers once again as the Huskies cruised to a 3-1 victory and to the WCHA Final Five play-in game. CC now had to let the NCAA decide if their season would continue.

When the dust had settled and each conference had a champion, the Tigers were awarded an NCAA tournament berth as a three seed. CC was sent off to Green Bay to face Cornell in their tournament opener, with a rematch against Wisconsin likely on the line. Once again the Tigers jumped out to an early lead, and once again they could not hang on. CC was up 2-0 after the first period, in which they outshot the Big Red 11-1, but could not put anything else past David McKee for the remainder of the game as Cornell scored one goal in the second period and two more in the third. The loss capped a disappointing season for the Tigers, who had one of the strongest senior classes in the country and performed well below expectations.

Friday, April 14, 2006

WCHA Stars Leaving Left and Right

Colorado College's hockey team seems to be improving by default this offseason thanks to early departures around the league. The first to go was Denver defenseman and Hobey Baker winner Matt Carle. Carle bolted after the Pioneers were left out of the NCAA tournament. He signed with the San Jose Sharks and has been contributing quite a bit to their strong playoff push. The next victim was the Minnesota Golden Gophers, who lost leading scorer Ryan Potulny to the Philadelphia Flyers. Shortly after they lost another one of their top players, Danny Irmen, who signed with the Minnesota Wild. North Dakota also got hit with a double-whammy as sophomore forward Travis Zajac signed with New Jersey and junior defenseman and team captain Matt Smaby agreed to a deal with Tampa Bay. Minnesota State, Mankato lost their team captain and best player, David Backes to the St. Louis Blues, who desperately need all the help that they can get.The latest big loss in the WCHA is Wisconsin's Robbie Earl, who recently came to terms with the Toronto Maple Leafs and will start playing for their AHL affiliate. There's also cause for concern in St. Cloud due to the fact that, as Western College Hockey writes, the Pittsburgh Penguins will lose Bobby Goepfert's rights if they don't sign him before this summer.

So what does all this mean for CC? It makes the outlook for next year a little better, but not much. Defending champion Wisconsin will likely return all their underclassmen but Earl, and if Denver can hang onto Paul Stastny, which remains to be seen, they'll have the top returning scorer for next season. Not to mention North Dakota, who will have two of the best sophomores in the country next year if they can hang onto Jonathan Toews and T.J. Oshie. Many other teams will return solid cores of players despite some early departures. The good news is that no early departures are expected for CC, although they're always possible. Players to watch for CC this offseason would be rising seniors Brian Salcido and Matt Zaba and rising sophomore Chad Rau, although none are all too likely to bolt for the NHL.

The losses haven't just affected WCHA teams - some big names from other conferences, such as Cornell's David McKee, Bowling Green's Alex Foster, and Nebraska-Omaha's Bill Thomas have also signed pro contracts.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Stuart Scores First NHL Goal

What a nice surprise to turn on OLN just in time to see former Tiger Mark Stuart score his first NHL goal. Stuart's goal came halfway through the third period in tonight's game against the Washington Capitals. Shawn McEachern and Glenn Murray set up the tally, which knotted the score at 1-1. Last year Stuart was the Tigers' captain and led the team to the Frozen Four. He was named last year's WCHA defensive player of the year and was a first team All-American for the West. Stuart has looked strong on defense for the Bruins so far and should be a regular in the lineup next season. Stuart, the 23rd overall draft pick in the 2003 draft, has a "great chance to play with the Bruins all of next season", according to GM Jeff Gorton.

Sunday, April 9, 2006

Wisconsin Tops Boston College, Claims Title

The Wisconsin Badgers won their sixth national title last night in what was a better game than I had been expecting. Coming into the game, I was pretty much expecting Wisconsin to steamroll Boston College, but the Eagles really made it a hell of a game to the bitter end, hitting a post on a potentially game-tying shot with one second left. So, the Badgers end their year on a high note after what had been an up and down season (basically, up when Brian Elliott was playing, down when he wasn't). Robbie Earl was named MVP of the Frozen Four in recognition of his three goals. For some CC fans, Wisconsin wasn't exactly a likeable team this year, with characters like the oft-diving Earl, and Adam "Thug Life" Burish, along with their dunderheaded coach Mike Eaves (we all remember the post-Burish press conference), but anyone can see that this was one very talented team. Not only were the Badgers supremely skilled, but unlike our own Tigers, they didn't have any one or two particular people they turned to for goals - they had a balanced attack with everyone contributing and it paid off. With the win, Wisconsin now has six national titles under their belt, just one behind Denver and North Dakota.

Also, I haven't mentioned yet that my pick for Hobey, Matt Carle, turned out to be correct. Check out LetsGoDU for plenty of coverage on that. Congrats Matt.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Wisconsin Powers Past Maine

The national championship is set, and it's going to be a battle between East and West. Wisconsin, the lone WCHA team left in the tournament, beat Maine 5-2 to advance to the final for the first time since 1992. The Badgers got solid play once again from goaltender Brian Elliott, who saw his impressive shutout streak snapped in the first period. The game went pretty much how one would have expected it, with Wisconsin's solid all-around offense and spectacular defense smothering Maine and eliminating the Black Bears' hopes for their first national title since 1999.

I had doubted that Wisconsin would score so much on Maine, but their persistent offense, along with a few breaks, caught the Black Bears off guard for five goals (one an empty netter). With the Badger win, college hockey is back to the usual WCHA/Hockey East matchup for the national title. Prior to last year (Denver vs. North Dakota), the national championship game had been between WCHA and HE opponents for six years in a row. The two teams will face off on Saturday at 7 o'clock Eastern time before what promises to be a largely Badger crowd in Milwaukee.

North Dakota Falls To Boston College

Hopes for another all-WCHA championship were dashed this afternoon as the Boston College Eagles downed the North Dakota Fighting Sioux by a score of 6-5. Hobey Baker Finalist Chris Collins scored three goals for Boston College. Jordan Parise was disappointing in net for North Dakota, allowing six goals on 31 shots, including three goals on five shots in the first period. North Dakota outshot Boston College 41-31 in the game.

This game could have gone either way. The Sioux were resilient, coming back from 3-0 to get within one in the second period, but it was not to be for North Dakota, as Boston College struck back for two more before the period was over. I think the Sioux could have had this game if Parise had just made stops on a few shots he should have saved. Then again, Boston College's Cory Schneider was letting in some ugly ones as well by the time the game was over. This game wasn't really what I was expecting, but nevertheless it was a lot of fun to watch. I hadn't seen a whole lot of Chris Collins before today and man, is he a sniper. He's certainly making the Hobey debate interesting (despite the fact that the voting is done). Boston College is a big, tough, and fast team and I'm expecting them to do well against whoever they end up playing on Saturday.

As for North Dakota, there isn't really much reason to be disappointed with this finish. With the Sioux relying so heavily on their freshman stars, it's very impressive that they made it this far to begin with. If a few of these guys (Oshie, Toews, Duncan) stick around, North Dakota will be a scary team for the next few years. Their great run through the WCHA tournament and NCAA regional is reason to be proud of this young squad.

The Eagles advance to the championship game, which will be played on Saturday against either Maine or Wisconsin.

Saturday, April 1, 2006

Frozen Four Ramblings

The WCHA is well represented in the Frozen Four this year, with Wisconsin and North Dakota set to take on Maine and Boston College. Not unexpectedly, CCHA teams fared quite poorly in the tournament, with just one team making it beyond the first round. I wouldn't normally wouldn't root against any particular conference, but it was nice to see some of these teams and their fans put in their places after a season of hearing about how the CCHA was the best conference in the country. Newsflash for those who insisted throughout the season that the CCHA was better than the WCHA: Beating up on Michigan Tech and Alaska-Anchorage (1-7-0 against CCHA teams) does not make your conference better. There's a reason that Wisconsin, CC, Denver, North Dakota, and Minnesota went 12-4-2 against CCHA teams this year (with an awful lot of those games against top CCHA teams like Miami, Michigan, and Michigan State). How does the Pairwise ranking system get fooled by stuff like this? Was there a CCHA scheduling conspiracy where they planned out how they would schedule games against WCHA bottom feeders to trick the computers into thinking they have the best conference? Anyway, the CCHA team that came the closest to the Frozen Four was Michigan State, who beat New Hampshire 1-0 in their first game but couldn't get by Maine in game two.

It's nice to see some Hockey East teams in the Frozen Four - brings me back to the 1990's when the balance of power throughout the country was a lot different. Boston College making it was the big surprise for me - at the end of the season it looked like they were ready to pack it in, and then they beat Miami and Boston University with ease? What's going on here? Did they sneak Brian Gionta back onto their team for the playoffs? While it was also surprising to see Maine make it as a three seed, the Black Bears were a very hot team in the second half of the season, and they've also got tournament experience. The older players on the team were there for the championship against Denver two years ago, and coach Tim Whitehead has done well in the playoffs. Maine is looking really good if you ask me: they have a balanced attack, they hit hard, they play tight defense, and they have a good goalie. Don't be surprised if they upset Wisconsin. If Brian Elliott can keep up his stellar play, however, Wisconsin will be very tough to beat.

While I think that Maine is looking good going into the FF weekend, the hottest team in the country has to be North Dakota. The Fighting Sioux walked through the WCHA tournament, manhandled Michigan, and then beat Holy Cross (that sounds funny) to advance to their second straight Frozen Four. Their star freshmen are looking spectacular, and the experience of last year's tournament has to help. I would have expected the Sioux to beat Boston College easily, but with BC's impressive run through their regional, it's tough to call. I'd still pick North Dakota, but I'm sure BC will make it interesting.

Stastny Announces Transfer to CC

Denver forward Paul Stastny announced today that he has decided to transfer to Colorado College. Last season, Stastny was tied with Matt Carle for sixth in the nation with 53 points (19 goals, 34 assists). When asked for a reason for the change of heart, Stastny reportedly said, "I want the chance to play for a NCAA tournament team, and this last season Denver just didn't give me that oppurtunity." Tigers coach Scott Owens said he was thrilled with the addition; "With three of our top guns (Marty Sertich, Brett Sterling, Joey Crabb) leaving this season, we could really use some new firepower for our top lines. Paul has shown steady improvement and should be one of the top players in the country next year. We look forward to welcoming him to the CC community." Denver head coach George Gwozdecky was disapointed to learn of the news, saying that Stastny had made too hasty a decision. "Listen, I know our team choked in the WCHA playoffs this season," he said, "but CC really didn't do much better. This is a huge loss for our team and it's a shame that (Paul) didn't put more time into this decision."