Sunday, December 30, 2007

Game day: No. 4 CC 4, No. 9 Massachusetts 5 (OT)

CC dropped to 1-3 in nonconference games, with only one series versus a 'team under consideration' (TUC) -- that's PairWise speak for a team that stands a decent chance to make the NCAA Tournament -- left this season: No. 8 Clarkson on Feb. 1-2. All three of those losses come against the Hockey East. And a little explanation for those of you who are new to this whole college hockey thing: the PairWise rankings mimic the process used to select the NCAA Tournament field. A major criteria is record against TUC's... My take? The Tigers could really use a sweep over Clarkson; they need to finish in the top three of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association; and they need to advance to the WCHA Final Five to ensure a spot in the NCAA tournament. CC also can't tank against Bemidji State and Air Force in January.

Here's how it unfolded tonight:
First period
1. Colorado College 1, UMass 0: Jack Hillen 3 (Tyler Johnson 3), 4:33. Hillen wove through a couple of UMass players and bounced the puck off of goaltender Paul Dainton's shoulder and into the net.

2. Colorado College 2, UMass 0: Eric Walsky 7 (Nate Prosser 8), 16:19. Walsky took the puck from the defensive blue line, through four UMass players and tucked it inside the right post for the score.

Second period
3. Colorado College 2, UMass 1: Alex Berry 3 (Martin Nolet 2, Chris Davis 10), 2:41. Just as CC killed its second 5-on-3 of the game, UMass left wing Alex Berry tossed a shot from the blue line on net and beat goaltender Drew O'Connell between his blocker and leg guard.

4. Colorado College 2, UMass 2: Michael Lecomte 5 (Justin Braun 8, James Marcou 12), 14:53. On a 4-on-4, O'Connell rebounded Braun's shot off to his glove side and Lecomte was there to bang it in.

5. Colorado College 2, UMass 3: P.J. Fenton 3 (James Marcou 13, Michael Kostka 6), 16:33, pp. Fenton's shot from the left circle beat O'Connell glove side.

6. Colorado College 3, UMass 3: Chad Rau 11 (Scott Thauwald 6), 16:47, sh. Rau answers Fenton's goal as the announcer reads out the scoring line with a top-shelf shot. It was Rau's third short-handed goal of the season.

Third period
7. Colorado College 3, UMass 4: Cory Quirk 6 (Chris Davis 10, Michael Kostka 6), 0:48. With left wing Scott Thauwald and defenseman Jake Gannon following, Quirk slammed in a cross-crease pass from Davis.

8. Colorado College 4, UMass 4: Chad Rau 12 (Jimmy Kilpatrick 5, Ryan Lowery 1), 7:09, pp. Kilpatrick slid a pass behind UMass's penalty kill to Rau at the left circle. Rau paused for a moment before finishing in the upper right corner.

9. Colorado College 4, UMass 5: Matt Burto 4 (James Marcou 14, Michael Lecomte 3), 1:55. Burto skates from the bench straight to the left side of the crease and redirects Marcou's pass into the open net for the game-winner.

Game day: No. 4 CC vs. No. 9 Massachusetts

Colorado College
10 Thauwald--14 Rau--23 Kilpatrick
26 McCulloch--19 Vlassopoulos--5 DeBoer
28 Schultz--17 Johnson--22 Walsky
18 Overman--9 McMillin--25 Testwuide

8 Hillen--15 Prosser
27 Wysopal--4 Gannon
11 Connelly--24 Lowery

31 O'Connell
30 Bachman
1 O'Brien

14 Fenton--12 Quirk--11 Davis
17 Langeraap--25 LeComte--19 Marcou
24 Berry--26 Watson--10 Ortiz
67 Burto--15 Keane--16 Crowder

2 Nolet--28 Kostka
7 Leaderer--27 Braun
5 Bevis--18 Kublin

31 Dainton
33 Meyers
30 Gedman

Tiger Tracks:
--Colin Stuart turned heads in his NHL debut with the Atlanta Thrashers, picking up an assist in a 5-0 win over brother Mark's Boston Bruins.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Game day: No. 4 CC vs. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Pregame notes:
1. Junior Eric Walsky will play tonight, despite injuring his right wrist Wednesday. Walsky skated briefly in a noncontact jersey toward the end of Thursday's practice with heavy tape on his wrist. Walsky will center the fourth line, so he'll only play about 12 minutes at most. But Walsky's presence means the Tigers will have a full lineup. I would have to guess that with center Chad Rau available Sunday against either UMass or No. 6 Notre Dame - UMass knocked off the Fighting Irish 4-3 in the first game - coach Scott Owens will give Walsky a rest.

2. Who is going to replace Cody Lampl? Owens liked to say that Lampl never had to score a point or dish an assist to make a contribution to the Tigers. Lampl's high-energy, big-hitting style of play reminded his teammates to finish their checks. But with Lampl suspended until January 2009 unless his appeal is successful, CC will have to find another way (or ways) to generate that same spark. Most are looking to left wing Scott McCulloch, but right wing Jimmy Kilpatrick said Thursday that it will have to be a collective effort.

3. Goalies tend to be a superstitious bunch, but goaltender Richard Bachman is excited to debut a new set of pads tonight. Instead of a metallic gold, these leg pads have a yellow gold that matches more closely that of the Tigers' uniform. Bachman said the equipment company rep delivered his pads to his house in Highlands Ranch just before Christmas and he started breaking them in during his week off. He prefers stiffer pads, so he said he's happy to have a new set midseason. As for the glove, Bachman has been working extra hard to break that in. "It's still a little stiff," he said.

4. CC practiced this morning at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon, Fla., about 15 minutes from the team hotel.

Colorado College
10 Thauwald--17 Johnson--23 Kilpatrick
26 McCulloch--19 Vlassopoulos--5 DeBoer
28 Schultz--9 McMillin--25 Testwuide
12 Quilico--22 Walsky--18 Overman

8 Hillen--15 Prosser
27 Wysopal--4 Gannon
11 Connelly--24 Lowery

30 Bachman
31 O'Connell
1 O'Brien

23 Colling--17 Lord--16 Klerer
15 Helfrich--8 Morissette--26 Contini
27 Uryadov--11 Kerins--21 Polacek
9 Ornelas--22 Angers-Goulet--10 Halpern

6 Merth--7 Foss
4 Brutlag--3 Jensen
12 Vassel--2 Burgdoerfer

31 Lange
1 Alford
25 Neubert

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Morning Practice Update

Defenseman Kris Fredheim, who left Wednesday night's practice to get X-rays after a hard check from roommate Mike Testwuide, has a sprained right shoulder, he said Thursday. With his arm in a sling, Fredheim said he expects to be back on the ice "soon" but has no set timeline.

Forward Eric Walsky, who also went for X-rays Wednesday, was not at practice and his prognosis is unknown.

Here's how the Tigers are lining up:

*As reported in today's paper, the Tigers' top scorer, Chad Rau, will serve a one-game, team-imposed suspension Saturday against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, leaving CC with 11 forwards if Walsky remains out of the lineup.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Go Figure soon as I'm home in North Carolina on vacation, all havoc breaks loose in the college hockey world.

--Minnesota's offensive woes are likely continue now that sophomore Kyle Okposo has decided to join the New York Islanders after World Junior Championships, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and first reported by Minneapolis radio station KFAN.

--Follow World Juniors via podcasts and videos here. Also, the medal round of World Juniors will be broadcast by NHL Network, which is available on Comcast, DirecTV, Dish Network and other major distribution channels. The schedule is here:

IIHF World Junior Championship Schedule
NHL Network U.S. Coverage

Date Event Time (EST)
Jan. 2 Quarterfinal #1 10:00 a.m.
Quarterfinal #2 2:00 p.m.
Jan. 3 Quarterfinal #1 re-air 3:00 a.m.
Quarterfinal #2 re-air 12:00 p.m.
Jan. 4 Semifinal #1 10:00 a.m.
Semifinal #2 2:00 p.m.
Semifinal #1 re-air 5:30 p.m.
Semifinal #2 re-air 10:00 p.m.
Jan. 5 Bronze Medal Game 10:00 a.m.
Gold Medal Game 2:00 p.m.
Jan. 6 Gold Medal Game re-air 3:00 a.m.
Bronze Medal Game re-air 5:00 p.m.
Gold Medal Game re-air 7:00 p.m.

Recruiting news:

--Colorado College picked up a recruit for 2009 in defenseman John Moore of Winnetka, Ill. Moore, who attends New Trier High School and plays for the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League. Moore will be brought in to replace Jake Gannon, another Illinois native, and join Ryan Lowery and Brett Wysopal, also Illinois natives, on the defensive corps. Moore was also recruited by Dartmouth. More on Moore when I return from vacation. Updated recruit stats are here.

--Colorado Springs native Corson Cramer, a former Pikes Peak Miners goaltender, committed to Michigan Tech of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. Cramer's dad, Scott, was a World Professional Figure Skating champion from The Broadmoor Skating Club and attended Colorado College. Cramer plays for the Ohio Jr. Blue Jackets (USHL) with CC recruit Tim Hall.

Colorado College roundup:
The Tigers head into break ranked fourth nationally, behind rival No. 3 Denver and tied with the Pioneers for first place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. On Tuesday, defenseman Jack Hillen was named WCHA Defensive Player of the Week, the third time this season a Tiger has won the award (goaltender Richard Bachman won twice).

CC's individual honors stack up like this:
WCHA Offensive Player of the Week: Chad Rau (11/20, 11/27)
WCHA Defensive Player of the Week: Bachman (10/23, 11/27), Hillen (12/18)
WCHA Rookie of the Week: Bachman (11/13)
Commissioner's Choice Rookie of the Month: Bachman (November)

Tiger Tracks:
--Aaron Slattengren was a named an ECHL All-Star and a starter for the American Conference team.
--The Grand Rapids Press' Griffins beat writer implores fans to fill out AHL All-Star ballots and suggests they include Mark Cullen, who is second on the team with 23 points.
--This is pretty cool. Former CC defenseman Lee Sweatt has been hard to track since I can't read Finnish. But his girlfriend, a CC alumna, has been keeping a blog on what I assume is the local newspaper's Web site. Check it out.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Game day: No. 3 CC 2, St. Cloud State 4

Aside from about four too many penalties, Colorado College did a great job executing the game plan last night. Tonight, the Tigers won't have to contend with Garrett Roe, who is out because of a bruised hip. But CC will need to continue its diligent defense on top threats Andreas Nodl and Ryan Lasch. The keys for the game:
1. Richard Bachman in net. Friday, the freshman kept the Tigers in the game during the second period and late penalty kills.
2. Assertive play by the defensemen. CC's defensemen came out hitting early and set the tone with their physical play. The result was St. Cloud State turnovers and offensive opportunities for the Tigers.
3. Go hard to the net. Both Nate Prosser and Ryan Lowery said their Friday night goals resulted when they saw forwards going hard to the net. Each threw a hard shot on net with the hopes of creating a rebound for the forward, but they beat St. Cloud State's goalie instead.

Colorado College
10 Thauwald--14 Rau--23 Kilpatrick
21 Sweatt--19 Vlassopoulos--5 DeBoer
26 McCulloch--17 Johnson--22 Walsky
2 Lampl--9 McMillin--25 Testwuide

8 Hillen--15 Prosser
7 Fredheim--4 Gannon
11 Connelly--27 Wysopal

30 Bachman
31 O'Connell

Healthy scratches: D Ryan Lowery, RW Steve Schultz

St. Cloud State
12 Nodl--10 Hartman--18 Volpei
27 Mosey--13 Dey--19 Lasch
22 Borgen--17 Marvin--15 Oslund
21 Brocklehurst--8 Olson--20 Peckskamp

26 Swanson--24 Stephenson
4 Anderson--7 Raboin
6 Barta--2 Ammerman

33 Weslosky
30 O'Brien
41 Dunn

Friday, December 14, 2007

Gameday: No. 3 CC 3, St. Cloud State 1 (final)

Final thoughts:

1. If you didn't catch Friday's article on CC's penalty kill, it might be worth a read ("Treads realign CC's play"). The Tigers' penalty kill was phenomenal tonight, holding St. Cloud State to just one goal on 10 shots in eight power plays. The Huskies entered the game clicking at 22.8 percent (21 of 92), but that dropped to 22 percent (22 of 100) after Friday.Of course, goaltender Richard Bachman deserves a lot of credit, but the forwards -- especially Scott Thauwald, Chad Rau and Scott McCulloch -- did a stand-out job possessing the puck when they took it away from the Huskies' power play. All of the defensemen kept St. Cloud State off of Bachman's pads and combined for several takeaways in the slot. Impressive.

2. Speaking of McCulloch, it was good to see him score for the first time since Nov. 3 against North Dakota. The senior left wing and alternate captain has been doing so many positive things while playing on the third line, but scoring hasn't been one of them. Coach Scott Owens has repeatedly praised McCulloch's defensive efforts and leadership this season. In three of the Tigers' four losses -- all of which came on the road -- that third goal proved elusive. It was a big goal.

"I've been focusing on getting chances," McCulloch said. "When the chances stop coming, that's when you have to start worrying. I think just focusing on that and helping the team win in other ways is what has kept me going and just kept me in a positive mind-frame. I don't think being negative around the guys would help me any or help us win."

3. As I said below after the first period, the defensemen really established themselves early. St. Cloud State only scored once and did not score on even strength for a reason.

"They have a few high-end skill guys that we had in mind," defenseman Ryan Lowery said. "Our goal was to knock them around and knock them in. Collectively, as a D-corps, I think we did that pretty well. I would say it was a goal coming into the weekend."

When asked if the defensemen contributing two of the Tigers' three goals was a result of aggression or luck, Lowery grinned as he threw out some fighting words: "Actually, this week in practice, the D-corps was winning all of the small games, so it carried over into tonight."

Lowery is referring to competitions throughout practice that pit the defensemen against the forwards. And, yes, the defensemen were cleaning up this week.

After a period:
1. Defensemen making the difference. Nate Prosser and Ryan Lowery each had first-period goals. In their defensive zone, the Tigers are forcing St. Cloud State to take outside shots and the defensemen established a physical presence early.
2. So much for least penalized team. St. Cloud State took three first-period penalties. Perhaps coach Bob Motzko thought the Huskies weren't playing aggressive enough during their five-game losing streak.
3. Strong start. Any worries of rust after the bye week looked misplaced during the first-period effort from CC. The Tigers outshot St. Cloud State 13-6, converted on one of their three power plays and generated plenty of short-handed offense out of their penalty kill.

Three thoughts:
1. Crash the net. Last season, the Huskies had proven goaltender Bobby Goepfert in net. Tonight, St. Cloud State has freshman B.J. O'Brien, who has played in just one game this season. Because St. Cloud State is the least penalized team in the nation, averaging just 9.4 penalty minutes per game, the Tigers can't expect to get many power-play opportunities and will need to do their damage in even-strength situations.
2. Stop the Viennese twins. One is from Vienna, Austria, the other is from Vienna, Va., but sophomore Andreas Nodl and freshman Garrett Roe both have the offensive skill to change a game. Look for the Vlassopoulos line to be given the task of neutralizing Roe's line.
3. Rusty? CC players and coaches alike felt good about their preparation for tonight's game during the past two weeks. Will the Tigers pick up where they left off after Alaska-Anchorage? Or will they take a period or more to get back into the rhythm of WCHA play?

Ice chips:
**CC alum and former radio color commentator Jim Paradise will be joining Ken Landau on the call tonight on 103.9 FM.
**Scouts from Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators, Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs and New Jersey Devils are in attendance.

Colorado College
10 Thauwald--14 Rau--23 Kilpatrick
21 Sweatt--19 Vlassopoulos--5 DeBoer
26 McCulloch--22 Walsky--25 Testwuide
2 Lampl--17 Johnson--28 Schultz

8 Hillen--15 Prosser
7 Fredheim--4 Gannon
11 Connelly--24 Lowery

30 Bachman
31 O'Connell

Healthy scratches: Brett Wysopal and Brian McMillin
Did not travel: Derek Patrosso (ankle), Dan Quilico, Matt Overman, Tyler O'Brien

St. Cloud State
27 Mosey--13 Dey--19 Lasch
12 Nodl--9 Roe--10 Hartman
21 Brocklehurst--17 Marvin--18 Volpei
22 Borgen--8 Olson--15 Oslund

26 Swanson--24 Stephenson
28 Carlisle--7 Raboin
6 Barta--2 Ammerman

30 O'Brien
33 Weslosky
41 Dunn

Referees: Derek Shepherd and Marco Hunt
Linesmen: Jonathon Morrison, Tony Czech

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Tiger Tracks

Updated alumni statistics can be found here. Some highlights:

Iowa Stars captain and former Colorado College captain Toby Petersen is third in the American Hockey League scoring standings (13 goals, 14 assists). Mark Cullen, who played with Petersen for two seasons at CC, also leads his team, the Grand Rapids Griffins in scoring (six goals, 15 assists).

In his second AHL season since he left CC after his junior year, Brian Salcido is the top-scoring defenseman with 23 points (six goals, 17 assists).

In just 14 games, Brett Sterling is fourth on the Chicago Wolves' scoring list with 20 points (13 goals, 7 assists).

In the ECHL, Aaron Slattengren of the Augusta Lynx is second in league scoring with 17 goals and 10 assists (27 points) and was named player of the week. Read here.

Finally, the latest on CC recruits can be found in this updated spreadsheet.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Sweatt Expected To Make U.S. National Junior team

All signs point to sophomore Bill Sweatt making his second U.S. national junior team, which will be announced tonight on Versus during the intermission of the Detroit Red Wings - Montreal Canadiens game at 5:30 MT. Forwards (Sweatt is a left wing) will be announced in the first intermission and defensemen and goaltenders will be announced during the second intermission.

The 2008 U.S. national junior team will travel to the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship on Dec. 26 - Jan. 5 in Pardubice and Liberec, Czech Republic, meaning Sweatt would miss the Lightning College Hockey Classic in Tampa, Fla., and provided the U.S. makes the medal rounds, the Wisconsin series in Madison.

Sweatt helped the U.S. national junior team to a bronze medal in 2007.

Speaking of Sweatt: According to The Hockey News, his little blunder at the NHL draft combine is included in a new book Future Greats and Heartbreaks: A year undercover in the secret world of NHL scouts. Sweatt wasn't able to participate in the combine because of a hurt wrist. The author couldn't figure out why Sweatt didn't lie about his wrist being cut at a frat party.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Game day: No. 4 CC 4, Alaska-Anchorage 1 (final)

Three thoughts:
1. The Tigers must be more determined about getting shots on net. Last night's total of 16 simply isn't enough. CC was outshot 46-36 overall with the breakdown like this:
--Shots blocked by defense: CC 10, UAA 12
--Shots off target: CC 9, UAA 6
--Pipes: CC 1, UAA 0
--Shots on target: CC 16, UAA 28
How CC fared Saturday: The Tigers were outshot 25-23. Early in the game, Anchorage was doing a great job of blocking shots, especially from CC's defensemen. But the game opened up once the Seawolves scored and the defensemen started to change the shooting angle. CC ended up taking 52 shots total to Anchorage's 42.
The breakdown:
--Shots blocked by defense: CC 17, UAA 10
--Shots off target: CC 10, UAA, 7
--Pipes: CC 2, UAA 0
--Shots on target: CC 23, UAA 25

2. Anchorage came off of a bye week. CC is heading into one. Who wants it more?
How CC fared: The Tigers got great goaltending from Drew O'Connell Friday and Richard Bachman Saturday. The pair combined to hold Anchorage by saving 52 of 53 shots. CC allowed its first power-play goal since Nov. 2, but has killed 34 of the last 35 penalties. The power play, thanks to opportunistic play from the Kilpatrick-Rau-McCulloch-Connelly-Lampl group, regained its somewhat shaky footing with two goals Saturday. All in all, CC gained some confidence heading into its next road series at St. Cloud State, but could stand to up the ante on offense after scoring just four power-play goals in the last three games.

3. Can the Tigers earn a road sweep? North Dakota beat Denver 3-1, meaning CC could pull six points ahead of the Pioneers, who have two games in hand, in Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings.
How CC fared: The Tigers proved they could get gritty on the road and rose to the occasion over the last 30 minutes of Saturday's game. With Denver's loss, the two points proved to be quite important. As right wing Jimmy Kilpatrick pointed out after the game, Anchorage hadn't been swept by any team home or away this season. Even though the Seawolves are in last place in the WCHA, they are much more disciplined than in years past and if they can get a few more goals, could be a dangerous team. Could be interesting in mid-January when the teams meet again.

--There was a brief moment with two minutes left -- after left wing Cody Lampl was checked from behind by Anchorage's Chris Tarkir and defenseman Kris Fredheim went for retaliation -- where it looked as if the series might end with a brawl as it did last December at World Arena.
"I must say I had a little flashback," coach Scott Owens said. "But (coach) Dave (Shyiak) did a good job of getting everyone settled down."

--Best fashion statement: Defenseman Ryan Lowery, inspired by classmate Brett Wysopal, was sporting some moccasins he bought Saturday in Anchorage with his CC windsuit.

Colorado College
10 Thauwald--14 Rau--23 Kilpatrick
21 Sweatt--19 Vlassopoulos--25 Testwuide
26 McCulloch--17 Johnson--22 Walsky
2 Lampl--9 McMillin-18 Overman

8 Hillen--15 Prosser
7 Fredheim--4 Gannon
11 Connelly--27 Wysopal

30 Bachman
31 O'Connell

21 Lunden--20 Crowder--9 Clark
24 Tassone--37 Cartwright--18 Tarkir
8 Selby--17 Parkinson--7 DayChief
28 Haddad--34 McCabe--16 Grant

4 LaFranchise--33 Robinson
13 Backstrom--23 Vidmar
10 Lovdahl--22 Tuton

30 Olthuis
39 Gordon
21 Mayo