Colorado College has scored only two goals in each of its past three games. At Michigan Tech last weekend, the Tigers were limited to four goals in a weekend for the first time this season.
Michigan Tech and Air Force, which the Tigers beat 2-1 Jan. 19, are very defensive-minded, meaning they protect the slot and area in front of the crease above all else. Michigan Tech is also one of the more physical teams CC has played, featuring a little more of an old-school clutch-and-grab style. Because of Michigan Tech's discipline, though, the Huskies managed to avoid penalties. And thanks to scoring first both nights, Michigan Tech could afford to play an extremely defensive style.
CC players are wary of a second-half slide, especially with only a five-point lead over streaking North Dakota and a tenuous seven-point lead over third-place Denver, which has played four fewer games -- so too, it seems, are the coaches. Several drills in Wednesday's practice centered on getting the puck to the net, including 1-on-1s to goal, in which the players had to fight past another player to get a shot on net.
Against Clarkson this weekend, an Eastern College Athletic Conference team which likely will resort to a defensive style to slow CC's fast-paced transition game on the Olympic sheet (the Golden Knights' first game on an Olympic sheet this season), the Tigers will try some brand-new groupings.
From Wednesday's practice:
As you can see, McCulloch is expected to be back in the lineup after a four-game hiatus.
You might be wondering about Clarkson. Located in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson has an enrollment of 3,000 (as compared with CC's ~1,950). The Golden Knights made the NCAA Tournament last season after winning the ECAC tournament and lead the ECAC standings this season. Clarkson and CC have played eight times and the Tigers own a 7-0-1 record. The most significant meeting between the schools was in 1957, the year of CC's last national championship, when CC defeated Clarkson to advance to the NCAA title game against Michigan. The past four meetings have been in regular-season series, with the most recent in October 2003. The Tigers met Clarkson in the 1997 and 1998 NCAA Tournaments.
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