Friday, February 29, 2008

No. 4 CC 5, No. 10 Minnesota State-Mankato 2 (final)

At the start, Colorado College just wasn't clicking against Minnesota State-Mankato.
Heck, 90 seconds into the game, already trailing 1-0, center Andreas Vlassopoulos found right wing Jimmy Kilpatrick at the top of the crease with goaltender Mike Zacharias down and out of position, but Kilpatrick's shot on the open net was inexplicably wide right.
Then, something happened not too long after Mankato took a 2-0 lead at 13:42.
Defenseman Jack Hillen began breaking the puck out of CC's zone with aplomb, taking it deep into Mankato's zone to start the cycle and open up space. The Tigers began to finish checks and connect passes.
And then came the comeback:
--CC drew within a goal before the period was out when it clicked on its go-to power-play set with Hillen sending a pass from the high slot to center Chad Rau in the left circle. Against Minnesota-Duluth, Rau had one-time slap shots. Friday, Rau collected the puck and rocketed a wrist shot past Zacharias. It was the third power-play goal in a row to be scored in that fashion.
--Just 25 seconds into the second period, Hillen's slap shot from the top of the right circle tied the score.
--A series of saves by goaltender Richard Bachman while the Tigers killed a 5-on-3 situation--including a windmill denial of right wing Kael Mouillierat destined for a gazillion hits if it ever makes YouTube -- would preserve the tie long enough. Bachman won the praise of the crowd through the 20-save period about 90 seconds later when he spent about 10 seconds trying to figure out where in his pads the puck was hiding.
--A minute or so later, defenseman Kris Fredheim put the puck into a Mankato player's feet as CC's Bill Sweatt emerged from the box. Fredheim recollected the puck and fed left wing Scott Thauwald for a breakaway during which he was hooked by Mankato's Mick Berge.
CC again went on the power play after 43 seconds of 4-on-4. Hillen slid a pass across the top to defenseman Brian Connelly whose wrist shot was tipped by left wing Scott McCulloch past Zacharias to put CC ahead 3-2.
Hillen scored with less than seven minutes left in the third when he crashed the net and the puck passed by Eric Walsky slid down the shaft of his stick, over Zacharias' left shoulder and into the goal.

By the numbers:
--20: Shots in the second period for Mankato. Surprisingly, that exorbitant number has been topped by another CC opponent this season. Minnesota launched 21 shots on goal in the third period of CC's 2-1 overtime win on Oct. 20.
--33: Faceoffs were dead even at 33 apiece. Rau won 14 of 23. Vlassopoulos won 8 of 15.
--If you're counting: Bachman gets better as the game goes on. And as the Tigers allow more shots.
In 28 games this season:
195 first-period saves--17 goals allowed = .919 save percentage
260 second-period saves--18 goals allowed = .935 save percentage
234 third-period saves--13 goals allowed = .947 save percentage
5 overtime saves--0 goals allowed = 1.000 save percentage

No. 4 CC 1, No. 10 Minnesota State-Mankato 2 (end of 1st period)

The Tigers nearly worked their way out of an early deficit, but Minnesota State goaltender Mike Zacharias played a brilliant first period, saving 13 of 14 shots, including three on a CC power play with less than two minutes to go.
CC went down after 48 seconds when Kael Mouillierat intercepted a pass at the blue line and scored from the left circle. At 13:50, Mavericks center Zach Harrison hit left wing Jon Kalinski as he streaked in the slot. Kalinski made a nifty move and flicked the puck to right wing Mick Berge who finished for the 2-0 lead.
The Tigers capitalized on their first power play, scoring on a play that has provided three of their last four goals. Defenseman Jack Hillen got the puck in the high slot, drew a Minnesota State penalty-killer, and passed to center Chad Rau at the left circle. Rau gathered the puck and ripped a wrist shot past Zacharias' glove side.

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

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

30 Bachman
31 O'Connell
Scratches: Stephen Schultz (season--concussion); Addison DeBoer (1-3 weeks--separated shoulder); Dan Quilico (healthy); Tyler O'Brien (healthy)

Minnesota State-Mankato
37 Kalinski--10 Harrison--21 Berge
29 Hanson--23 Bruess--9 Mouillierat
19 Irwin--7 Sackrison--20 Wiley
12 Galiardi--13 Gunderson--15 Stewart

22 Davis--4 Kilburg
5 Youds--17 Friesen
25 Linder--2 Canzanello

1 Zacharias
49 Tormey

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mankato Eve

When Colorado College looks back on one weekend that made a difference in its quest for the MacNaughton Cup and a top seed in the NCAA West Regional, it may look no further than the St. Cloud State series.

The Tigers stretched their lead to 4-1 just 24 seconds into the second period in Friday's game (Feb. 8) and went on to win 5-3 after the Huskies put the pressure on.

On Feb. 9, CC suffered its first -- and so far, only -- home loss of the season, falling behind 3-1 after a period and eventually losing 4-2.

That series was sandwiched between two dominating performances: the sweep of Clarkson and the road sweep of Minnesota-Duluth, in which the Tigers shut out Duluth both nights.

Coach Scott Owens hopes CC can become a model of consistency, starting with this weekend's series against No. 10 Minnesota State-Mankato, a squad that has won seven of its past nine.

"As soon as you think it's automatic, that's when you get into trouble," Owens said after the Tigers' final skate before the series in which they could clinch the MacNaughton Cup. "We're on a one-game losing streak at home. We can't go on autopilot and expect to win."

Coming off of the defensive corps' strongest performance of the season last weekend at Duluth, defenseman Jack Hillen said his fellow defensemen have adapted a playoff mentality and hope to cut down on the amount of shots allowed this weekend.

"It was a good lesson after we lost to St. Cloud," said Hillen, the top-scoring Western Collegiate Hockey Association defenseman with 28 points. "We didn't play that well. Against Duluth, we got into a roll a little bit. ... It was maybe a good reminder to play hard every night, that we've got to play well no matter what. But no one's dwelling on the loss."

Captain Scott Thauwald, who returns to the lineup for the first time since Feb. 9, said that if anything, CC's focus and intensity has only increased this week with the knowledge that two wins gives the Tigers a share of the MacNaughton Cup. If North Dakota loses or ties a game at Duluth this weekend, CC will win the Cup outright with two victories over Mankato.

Again, Thauwald pointed to the loss to St. Cloud State as added inspiration in CC's bid for its first regular-season title since it shared one with Denver in 2004-05.

"It wasn't necessarily the worst thing in the world," he said. "It was a good eye-opener. Guys are fired up because we lost the last time we played at home. We're ready to start a new streak here."

Because right wing Stephen Schultz (concussion) will not return to the lineup this season and left wing Addison DeBoer (separated shoulder) will be out this weekend, the Tigers will have just 12 forwards plus converted defenseman Brett Wysopal at their disposal.

1,000 tickets remain for Friday's game against Mankato...400 tickets remain for Saturday's game...CC's regular-season finale against Denver on March 8 is sold out.

Anticipated CC lines for Friday:
Bill Sweatt--Chad Rau--Mike Testwuide
Scott McCulloch--Andreas Vlassopoulos--Jimmy Kilpatrick
Scott Thauwald--Tyler Johnson--Eric Walsky
Brett Wysopal or Dan Quilico--Brian McMillin--Matt Overman

Kilpatrick Selected For Frozen Four Skills Challenge

This season has been remarkable for senior right wing Jimmy Kilpatrick, who thought he might miss the first two months of the season because of hip surgery in August. Instead, the New Prague, Minn., native returned in the third game and is second on the team in goals and third in points. The NCAA announced this morning that Kilpatrick will be at the Frozen Four even if the Tigers aren't.

NCAA Announces 2008 Frozen Four Skills Challenge Participants
WCHA Players Include CC’s Kilpatrick, DU’s Thomas & Mannino; OSU’s Bonhomme, UM’s Ross, UMD’s Demeule, MSU’s Kehler, SCSU’s Fast

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The NCAA has announced the participants for the third annual Frozen Four Skills Challenge, which will be held April 11 at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

The competition will be conducted in an East versus West format with each team having six male position players, six female position players, two male goaltenders and two female goaltenders. An alternate list has been established in the event that players have to withdraw from the competition due to other commitments, such as their team’s participation in the Men's Frozen Four.

To be eligible, all players must have exhausted their collegiate eligibility and be nominated by their head coach. The players were selected by representatives from the American Hockey Coaches Association, the NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Committee and NCAA national office staff. The competitions will include puck control relay, fastest skater, hardest shot, rapid fire shooting, accuracy shooting and penalty shot. Each competitor will receive a complete set of equipment and a full uniform from Nike Bauer Hockey.

"The Frozen Four Skills Challenge has really taken off as an event," said Joel Maturi, chair of the Division I Men's Ice Hockey Committee and director of athletics at the University of Minnesota. "Each year the caliber of the student-athletes in this competition has gotten stronger and stronger, and we feel this year is no different. The Skills Challenge will once again be a showcase of the nation’s best senior student-athletes."

The men's portion of the East squad is highlighted by the one of the nation's current leading goaltenders, Kevin Regan of New Hampshire. The other goaltender is David Leggio from Clarkson. The six male skaters on the East squad include Luke Flicek, Army; Michael Brennan, Boston College; Pete MacArthur, Boston University; Jesse Winchester, Colgate; Jon Rheault, Providence and Jake Morissette, RPI.

The female skaters on the East squad include Hayley Moore, Brown; Jaclyn Hawkins, Connecticut; Martine Garland, New Hampshire; Jennifer Hitchcock, New Hampshire; Marykate Oakley, Princeton and Sabrina Harbec, St. Lawrence. The goalies will be Sarah Perry, Sacred Heart and Meghan Guckian, St. Lawrence.

The West team is led by the nation’s leading point scorer, Michigan’s Kevin Porter, who has 51 points on 25 goals and 26 assists. The rest of the skaters include Jimmy Kilpatrick, Colorado College; Andrew Thomas, Denver; Bryan Lerg, Michigan State; Tommy Goebel, Ohio State and Mike Forgie, Wayne State (Mich.). The West goaltenders will be St. Norbert’s Kyle Jones, who leads Division III with a goals against average of 1.18, and Denver’s Peter Mannino, who was the 2006 Men’s Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player.

The women's portion of the West roster includes Ohio State’s Tessa Bonhomme, who is in the top 10 in the nation in assists with 27. Also on the team is Courtney DeHoey, Lake Forest; Karine Demeule, Minnesota Duluth; Bobbi Ross, Minnesota; Shannon Moulson, Niagara and Laura Fast, St. Cloud State. The two female goaltenders will be Laura Hosier, Mercyhurst and Britni Kehler, Minnesota State, Mankato.

Tickets for the event are $10 and will go on sale March 1 at the Pepsi Center box office, all Ticketmaster outlets, or by phone at 303/830-8497. The Frozen Four Skills Challenge will begin at 7 p.m. Mountain time and will be preceded by the Hobey Baker Memorial Award at 5:30 p.m. and the Hockey Humanitarian Award at 6:05 p.m. The Frozen Four Skills Challenge and the Hobey Baker Award will both be shown live on ESPNU.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Bachman Named INCH Player of the Week

For the second time this season, goaltender Richard Bachman has been tapped as Inside College Hockey's player of the week for his 60-for-60 performance against then-No. 13 Minnesota-Duluth. The Tigers have earned the honor three times overall as right wing Mike Testwuide was named player of the week after the Clarkson series.

Bachman was also tapped as WCHA rookie of the week, the third time this season he has received that honor.

Center Andreas Vlassopoulos, who had two goals and two assists at Duluth, was named WCHA offensive player of the week.

Around the horn:
--I can hardly wait to hear what Jimmy Kilpatrick has to say about this story. Kilpatrick and his sister, Jenna, a freshman on Ohio State's hockey team, trained with an Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter this summer.
--Tough break for former CC right wing James Brannigan. The would-be senior was released from the Augusta Lynx (ECHL) for the second time last week. He had eight points in 20 games.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

No. 4 CC 4, No. 13 Minnesota-Duluth 0 (final)

Whoever uses the "Richard Bachman is a freshman" argument to deny him of post-season accolades would be a fool. Among his many accomplishments this season, Bachman became the first CC goaltender to shutout a series on the road Saturday, when he saved 29 shots in the Tigers' 4-0 win over Duluth. Bachman ranks first in the nation in both goals against average (1.71) and save percentage (.935).

But as Bachman himself pointed out after the game, he had some help.

"I thought tonight the team played very well," Bachman said. "I didn't think they had too many grade-A shots. Even compared to last night, I thought our 'd' stepped up bigger, so that really helped a lot. ...They did their job, which enabled me to do mine."

Several of Tigers' defensemen also played their best series of the season.
--Senior Jack Hillen, who had three assists Saturday, was mentioned several times among press-box members as the following: "best player on the ice," "first-team All-America" and "best defenseman in the league."
Duluth coach Scott Sandelin agreed after the game. "I like the way Jack Hillen plays," Sandelin said. "He's arguably one of the top defensemen in the league. Some people might not like the way he plays, but I do. He's involved a lot in the play. I like his skating ability and he sees the ice." Hillen, who leads WCHA defensemen in scoring and is tied for second nationally in that category, now has 28 points (3 goals, 25 assists), making him one of the top-scoring defensemen in recent CC history. (He needs 12 points to draw even with Brian Salcido, who had 40 points in the 2005-06 season.)
--Coach Scott Owens mentioned the series as Kris Fredheim's best in 2008.
--I can't begin to list the number of key blocked shots by the defensemen or the odd-man rushes they thwarted, but Nate Prosser, Brian Connelly, Ryan Lowery and Jake Gannon all did an excellent job of keeping the play to the perimeter and chipping the puck up, off the glass, and out of the zone.
--Team defense was also at a premium. The ability of the Tigers' forwards to keep the puck in the offensive zone could only be topped by that of the Clarkson series, but CC had more depth to work with that weekend.

**I didn't get a chance to speak with him in the hustle and bustle that occurs after a game, but I spotted left wing Addison DeBoer (shoulder) with his left arm in a sling. I'll catch up with him this week.

No. 4 CC 3, No. 13 Minnesota-Duluth 0 (end of 2nd period)

The second period was much more defensive. CC struggled to maintain pressure in the zone, both on even strength and on the power play. But with the clock winding down on the Tigers' second power play of the period, defenseman Brian Connelly sent a pass across the top to defenseman Jack Hillen, who again set up a one-timer for center Chad Rau.
Goaltender Richard Bachman's shutout streak over the Bulldogs extended to 177 minutes, 46 seconds, but could have seen its end when the puck took a strange bounce off the back wall at 12:20 of the second. Just as Bachman went to retrieve the puck, it bounced back into the slot, but defenseman Ryan Lowery managed to get there in time.

No. 4 CC 2, No. 13 Minnesota-Duluth 0 (end of 1st)

Colorado College owns a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission Saturday against Minnesota-Duluth.
Right wing Eric Walsky and left wing Matt Overman executed a textbook give-and-go around Duluth defenseman Travis Gawryletz. Walsky finished inside the right post to put CC up 1-0 less than nine minutes into the game.
Then, the Tigers got their first power-play goal in 16 tries when center Chad Rau one-timed a pass from defenseman Jack Hillen under goaltender Alex Stalock.
CC goaltender Richard Bachman stretched his shutout streak against the Bulldogs to 157 minutes, 46 seconds.

No. 4 CC vs. No. 13 Minnesota-Duluth

Colorado College
21 Sweatt--14 Rau--25 Testwuide
26 McCulloch--19 Vlassopoulos--23 Kilpatrick
18 Overman--17 Johnson--22 Walsky
27 Wysopal--9 McMillin--12 Quilico

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

30 Bachman
31 O'Connell

10 Gergen--15 Bordson--19 Kemp
23 Fulton--13 McKnight--37 Fontaine
20 Carroll--8 Akins--16 Greer
11 Schmidt--18 Sharp--27 Curry

14 Cascalenda--17 Meyers
4 Oberg--22 Gawryletz
5 Palm--26 Huttel

32 Stalock
34 Ziegelmann
1 Reiter

Friday, February 22, 2008

No. 4 CC 3, No. 13 Minnesota-Duluth 0 (final)

Colorado College didn't played well on the NHL-sized sheet at Michigan Tech a month ago and Minnesota-Duluth's surface is even smaller.
But the Tigers were able to match Duluth's physicality at moments and got clutch saves from goaltender Richard Bachman whenever they had breakdowns.
CC took advantage of two Duluth miscues midway through the second period, with centers Chad Rau and Andreas Vlassopoulos, and got a crucial third goal from Vlassopoulos less than 5 minutes into the third period. Getting the three-goal lead has typically proved elusive for CC.
Short two players for the final 40 minutes, CC was able to earn two points and sole possession of first place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. (North Dakota is playing a series against Bemidji State this weekend.)

See shot chart here.

--CC and Duluth showed why their penalty kills are ranked first and second, respectively, in the nation. The Tigers edge Duluth by .1 percent with a 90.2 percent clip.
--The Tigers' centers had one of their best nights on faceoffs. Rau was 11 for 22. Vlassopoulos was 8 for 16. Brian McMillin was 6 of 10. Tyler Johnson was 6 of 12. (Left wing Scott McCulloch was 0 for 1.)
--McCulloch was scoreless on five shots, including three point-blank opportunities. He should be fired up tomorrow.
--Rau and Vlassopoulos each snapped eight-game scoreless streaks.

No. 4 CC 2, No. 13 Minnesota-Duluth 0 (end of 2nd period)

Colorado College centers Andreas Vlassopoulos and Chad Rau scored two goals within 25 seconds to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead heading into the final 20 minutes.
CC managed to kill three penalties in the final 10 minutes of the period, thanks to nine saves by goaltender Richard Bachman, who had 15 saves in the frame. Bachman's best sequence came when he made three consecutive saves on shots by Duluth's Michael Gergen and two from Drew Akins.
After left wing Scott McCulloch missed his third breakaway of the game, Bachman preserved the 0-0 tie with a chest save on right wing Justin Fontaine.
A minute later, CC's Jimmy Kilpatrick dug the puck out of the right corner and passed to Vlassopoulos in the right circle. Vlassopoulos' shot beat goaltender Alex Stalock five-hole to give CC the 1-0 lead.
Just 25 seconds later, right wing Mike Testwuide caused Duluth's Josh Meyers to turn over the puck at the blue line. Testwuide skated hard into the offensive zone and made a cross-slot pass to Rau, who finished gloveside on Stalock.

**Addison DeBoer has not returned to the bench after leaving the ice midway through the first period with an unknown injury.

No. 4 CC 0, No. 13 Minnesota-Duluth 0 (end of 1st)

Tied 0-0 after a period, two unfortunate plays will make the going tough for Colorado College over the next two periods against Minnesota-Duluth.
Midway through the period, left wing Addison DeBoer took a blind-sided open-ice check and was able to drag himself to the bench, where he gripped his left shoulder, grimaced and rocked back and forth. When a penalty was whistled less than two minutes later, DeBoer and trainer Jason Bushie left the ice. DeBoer has not returned.
Then, DeBoer got some company in the locker room when defenseman Nate Prosser checked Duluth's Andrew Carroll into the boards and was called for checking from behind and the accompanying game misconduct, which will make him ineligible for the last 40 minutes tonight. Duluth didn't get much off of the subsequent five-minute power play, but still has 2:15 left in the man-advantage.

No. 4 CC at No. 13 Minnesota-Duluth

Colorado College
21 Sweatt--14 Rau--25 Testwuide
26 McCulloch--19 Vlassopoulos--23 Kilpatrick
5 DeBoer--17 Johnson--22 Walsky
27 Wysopal--9 McMillin--18 Overman

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

30 Bachman
31 O'Connell

18 Sharp--13 McKnight--19 Kemp
20 Carroll--8 Akins--16 Greer
10 Gergen--23 Fulton--37 Fontaine
21 Danberg--15 Bordson--27 Curry

14 Cascalenda--17 Meyers
4 Oberg--22 Gawryletz
5 Palm--26 Huttel

32 Stalock
34 Ziegelmann
1 Reiter

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wednesday Notes

The Tigers departed this afternoon for Duluth without right wing Stephen Schultz, who is still recovering from a concussion suffered in the first period against St. Cloud State on Feb. 9. Captain Scott Thauwald will travel, but hasn't skated since he suffered a concussion in the third period of the Feb. 9 game. Defenseman Brett Wysopal could pull spot duty on the fourth line after practicing at forward Monday and Tuesday for the first time in his life. Wysopal, who marveled at going through a whole practice without skating backwards, will be CC's only extra skater.

Travel roster:
D: Fredheim, Gannon, Hillen, Prosser, Connelly, Lowery
G: Bachman, O'Connell

UPDATE: Per Chris Heisenberg, CC landed its first Wisconsin kid since Brady Greco in defenseman Ted Behrend. Behrend hails from Oregon, Wisc., which is just south of Madison, coach Scott Owens' hometown.

Around the league
The WCHA handed out more penalties for fights that occurred in last Saturday's Denver-North Dakota game. Kyle Radke and J.P. Testwuide dropped gloves and squared off, which should have been an instant ejection and game disqualification, but referee Marco Hunt allowed them to go to the penalty box instead. Then, at the end of the second period, an all-out brawl broke out (YouTube) and Radke and Denver's Brandon Vossberg went at it (from Vossberg's perspective). Although the WCHA isn't the first league to come out with additional penalties after the fact (this Canisius-RIT fight resulted in additional sanctions from Atlantic Hockey), when you take Hunt's under-call into account with previous missed calls by now-suspended referee Randy Schmidt, it has been a rough year for officiating in the WCHA.

Denver, North Dakota Players Suspended for One Game
MADISON, Wisc. – The Western Collegiate Hockey Association today (Feb. 20, 2008) announced that J.P. Testwuide, a junior defenseman at the University of Denver, and Kyle Radke, a senior forward at the University of North Dakota, have been suspended for one game each as the result of an on-ice incident that occurred in the game between the two teams on Saturday, Feb. 16.

The supplemental disciplinary action was taken by WCHA Commissioner Bruce M. McLeod after a review of the incident that occurred at 6:38 of the second period and originally resulted in each player receiving two-minute slashing, two-minute roughing and 10-minute misconduct penalties.

Testwuide will be required to serve his one-game suspension during Denver’s home game against Alaska Anchorage on Feb. 22.

Radke, who also received a fighting penalty and game disqualification penalty later in the game on Feb. 16, will now be required to serve a two-game suspension during North Dakota’s upcoming home series against Bemidji State on Feb. 23-24.

USA Today featured CC recruit Colten St. Clair of Gilbert, Ariz., as evidence of the spread of talent beyond traditional hotbeds like Minnesota. Kevin Allen writes that St. Clair is "considered one of the top 1992-born players in the U.S. and maybe even the world."

Tiger Tracks
--Several people brought up half-shields as I researched the concussion story that ran today with the argument being that if players wear visors, they keep their checks down and adhere to an honor code (enforced by fighting).
The American Hockey League requires half-shields, whereas the National Hockey League leaves it up to the players--visor or no visor. CC alum Noah Clarke, who plays for Lowell (AHL), may feel differently about facemasks after he was hit in the face with a slap shot last Saturday. Clarke was hospitalized. (In the notes section)
UPDATE: Clarke, who is out indefinitely, suffered a cheekbone fracture and nose damage, but his eyes are OK. Read here.
--I thought this story on former defenseman Tom Preissing, a Hobey Baker finalist in 2003, was pretty neat. The reporter got Preissing to open up about his senior thesis at CC. Paid to play hockey for the Los Angeles Kings at the moment, the 2003 WCHA student-athlete of the year has plenty to look forward to after hockey.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

CC's Recruiting Map Continues to Stretch

CC landed a recruit, Scott Winkler, from the Kansas City-based Russell Stover AAA hockey team Wednesday, according to Chris Heisenberg.

I assembled all of the recruits into a chart with their junior teams and their hometowns. CC is steering clear of Minnesota and instead, tapping every resource west of the Mississippi and also Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois, where the Tigers have really established something of a defensive pipeline. If I can figure out how to whip up a Google map, I'll add it on here. Does anyone else find this fascinating?

U.S. Hockey Report on Winkler:
Russell Stover makes those boxes of sticky caramel-filled chocolates your grandmother might keep around, but the Kansas City-based company also sponsors a hockey team. However, only one player on the team is from Kansas. A lot of the pro scouts filtered in to watch 6-foot-2 RC Scott Winkler, who, despite the name, is from Asker, Norway. Winkler, a ’90, has good speed for his size, a nice long stride and agility. He seemed a little perimeter in the game this typist watched, but it wasn’t exactly a physical game to begin with. Anyway, Winkler wants to play college hockey and Maine, CC, Mankato State, and Northern Michigan are just some of the teams who’ve made a point of checking him out.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Close calls with skates

For today's Gazette, I interviewed CC players and trainer Jason Bushie about the injury to Florida Panthers forward Richard Zednik.

YourHub editor Tim Bergsten, who covered the Tigers during the 1998-99 season, recalled a near-Zednik injury that happened in 1998.

Here's what he wrote on Nov. 1, 1998:
COOL COSTUME: Freshman defenseman Mike Stuart wore the scariest Halloween costume - a real slashed throat, practically ear-to-ear.
Stuart was cut by a skate in the second period and received 13 stitches.
"Somebody did a good number on him," team trainer Richard Quincy said. "It didn't have to be much deeper to be a real serious problem."
Fortunately, the skate blade didn't cut him deeply. Stuart is expected to skate Monday.

Mike Stuart now plays in Austria.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Bye Week Begins

CC is ranked No. 5 this week in both national polls (USA Today here, here) and the PairWise has the Tigers ranked fourth. ('s PairWise; College Hockey News' PairWise.)

Here's a great article on David Civitarese, who will join the Tigers this fall. Civitarese is riding an 18-game point-scoring streak. The Calgary, Alberta, native plays for the Alberta Junior Hockey League's Okotoks Oilers with future North Dakota goaltender Bradley Eidsness.

**If you have any neat Skate with the Tigers' pictures, email them to me at It'd be fun to post some on the blog!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

No. 4 CC 2, St. Cloud State 4 (final)

Less than 3 minutes into the second period of CC's first loss at World Arena this season, it looked like the Tigers were poised to make yet another comeback.

But CC just couldn't make enough happen, even with two big calls in the third period to swing momentum in its favor.

Most of CC's shots were from the perimeter as St. Cloud State had three, four and, at some points, five players clustered in front of the net. Saturday's game called for a bit more grittiness around the net than the Tigers gave. You can see it in the shot chart.

Before St. Cloud State took a two-goal lead with two goals in 27 seconds midway through the first, CC was doing a decent job of keeping the puck below the circles and maintaining pressure. Defenseman David Carlisle's slap shot from the blue line ricocheted off goaltender Richard Bachman's pads and into the net. Bachman was trying to go into a butterfly to make the save, but Carlisle's shot was simply too hard. Then, St. Cloud State's Matt Hartman fed Garrett Roe from behind the net and Roe knocked it in for the quick two-goal lead.

Five minutes later, CC drew within a goal when defenseman Jack Hillen ripped a shot from the high slot near the blue line. Center Tyler Johnson tipped it past goaltender Jase Weslosky for his fourth career goal. But 1:23 later, Hartman passed behind Bachman to Roe, who finished into the net.

CC scored 2:32 into the second when Johnson made a scrappy play and centering pass before being pancaked by Carlisle. Eric Walsky scored for his first goal since Jan. 11.

You can read about the third-period opportunities Sunday at

--Don't forget about Sunday's Skate with the Tigers at Sertich Ice Center from 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Friday, February 8, 2008

No. 4 CC 5, St. Cloud State 3 (final)

What a bizarre game.

Midway through the second period, I had a short internal conversation.

K: "It's 4-1. Why aren't you writing your game story already?"
K: "Because it's hockey. And CC can barely string together more than two passes."

A few minutes later, Ryan Lasch, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association's top scorer, redirected a cross from Aaron Brocklehurst over goaltender Richard Bachman's outstretched stick. Bachman was out challenging Brocklehurst, who had the puck in the right face-off circle, but couldn't get back fast enough to cover the far post.

Just 56 seconds later, the league's No. 3 scorer, Andreas Nodl, sent a puck whizzing past Bachman's left ear so fast Bachman checked his glove afterwards because he thought he had nabbed it.

Suddenly, it's a 4-3 game. Not what I had envisioned after the first period, when the Tigers were up 3-1 and beating St. Cloud State to every puck. Especially not what I thought would happen after left wing Scott McCulloch scored just 24 seconds into the second--a short-handed goal no less.

But the Tigers pulled out the win and maybe got a bit of a wake-up call without the cost of losing their undefeated home record--now 14-0. It'll be interesting to see how CC responds Saturday.

Some stats for you:
--With his hat trick Friday, McCulloch has scored six goals in the past three games.
--Testwuide entered last Friday's game with two goals. After his breakaway in the first period, he has seven. That's five goals in the past three games.
--Bachman has allowed eight goals in three games against St. Cloud State. for a 2.67 goals against average. In two of the last six periods against the Huskies, Bachman has allowed two or more goals within a 90-second span.
--CC can clinch home ice with a win Saturday.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Thursday Notes

Right wing Jimmy Kilpatrick (concussion) won't play this weekend and did not practice this week. I haven't received official word if there's any reason to believe he won't be back for the Minnesota-Duluth series Feb. 22-23, but I would assume he will be and the coaches and trainer Jason Bushie are just being careful with the bye week coming up.

Lines will look like this:

Richard Bachman will be in net Friday.

**Also--ever important to even the most casual CC hockey fan--Denver's leading scorer Brock Trotter is gone for good.

DU Hockey Release:
University of Denver sophomore forward Brock Trotter (Brandon, Manitoba) has signed a three-year free agent entry level NHL contract with the Montreal Canadiens, two-time national coach of the year George Gwozdecky announced today.

Terms of Trotter’s three-year deal were not disclosed. Trotter will report to Hamilton of the American Hockey League. He could make his AHL debut as early as Feb. 9.

“We’re really happy for Brock and his opportunity with the Montreal Canadiens,” Gwozdecky said. “Brock accomplished a lot in his three years with our program and we wish him continued success during his professional hockey career.”

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Testwuide Recognized, Schmidt Suspended Indefinitely

--Mike Testwuide was picked as INCH's Player of the Week for his four-goal, five-point weekend against Clarkson.

--Randy Schmidt, the referee who waved off Wisconsin's last-second goal to give Denver a 3-2 win at Magness Arena on Jan. 11, has been suspended indefinitely.

And in case you missed it in today's Gazette, North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol was suspended for two games for his indecent gesture during the second period of last Saturday's game against Minnesota. That means Hakstol will miss the Sioux's series against Denver. The Grand Forks Herald blog has Hakstol's comments about the suspension.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

No. 6 CC 6, No. 10 Clarkson 1 (final)

I believe CC played its best back-to-back games of the season, minus two goofy plays by a couple of defensemen -- but hey, those happen, according to my commenters (thank you!). When I look back at my notes from Saturday, I kept scribbling over and over again how well the Tigers did pinning Clarkson in its defensive zone. CC did a nice job thwarting the Golden Knights' attempts to clear the puck and kept it cycling. I also thought the Tigers showed an opportunistic side this weekend that I haven't seen in a while. On Saturday, the Tigers scored on two of their first four shots and five of 14.

Not to get everyone too riled up, but I have to write this little tidbit down. On the night the Tigers sported throwback jerseys, which are replicas of the 1957 NCAA champions' jerseys, they extended their record at home to 13-0. (According to Mike Testwuide, those jerseys were "snazzy.") The last time CC went 13-0 at home was in the 1956-57 season. In that year, the Tigers went undefeated against NCAA schools at Broadmoor Ice Palace (16-0). Their only setback at home came to the Flin Flon Bombers, a team based in Manitoba, Canada. CC's record that season -- the last time the Tigers won a national title -- was 25-5-0 overall and 14-4 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

--Defenseman Jack Hillen has six assists in the past four games and reached the 20-assist mark with two assists Saturday.
--Testwuide had just two goals entering the weekend but added two in each game and five points overall.
--Center Chad Rau snapped a four-game pointless streak with an assist on Testwuide's second-period goal.
--Goaltender Richard Bachman has held opponents to two or fewer goals in 18 of 23 games this season.
--Back-up goaltender Tyler O'Brien made his season debut, playing the final 5:35 and making four saves.

Game day: No. 6 CC vs. No. 10 Clarkson

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

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

30 Bachman
31 O'Connell
1 O'Brien

27 Tuohimaa--15 Zalewski--8 Beca
77 DeFazio--32 Dodge--19 Cayer
21 Marks--11 D'Alvise--91 Guthrie
26 Willemsen--13 Tuttle--17 Arciero

14 Clitsom--4 Reed
12 Mason--2 Paquet
5 Bellows--89 Rufenach
3 Pizzo

33 Leggio
1 Potter

Friday, February 1, 2008

No. 6 CC 5, No. 10 Clarkson 2 (final)

CC's commanding 5-2 win over Clarkson was big for three reasons:

1. PairWise. Yes, I know it's only February 1. But the Tigers had slipped out of the top four in the PairWise rankings after the loss and tie at Michigan Tech last weekend, meaning they lost a No. 1 seed for the West Regional. With the win over Clarkson -- which brings CC's non-conference record to 4-3 -- the Tigers zoomed back up to a tie for third with Denver, which lost 5-1 at Minnesota State-Mankato. See the updated PairWise here.

For those who don't know: the PairWise rankings mimic the NCAA Tournament selection process, taking into account strength of schedule and performance against teams under consideration for the tournament. Clarkson has been ranked in the top 10 all season long and leads the Eastern College Athletic Conference standings.

2. Offense. The Tigers had 35 shots against Michigan Tech last Saturday and only two goals to show for it. In the two games before that, they had 30 and 31 shots, respectively. Still, just two goals per night. Not only did CC generate 42 shots, but it scored five goals -- the most it has had since Jan. 18 against Bemidji State.

That increased offensive output came from...

3. Team defense (and some line changes, too, which I will discuss Saturday. But first, team defense). Both coach Scott Owens and left wing Scott McCulloch, who had two goals on three shots in his first game back from a concussion, attributed this offensive resurgence to the forwards' commitment to the forecheck.

"Coach had kind of put the onus on us forwards to take control of the game," McCulloch said. "That's important for us to keep pressure off of (goalie) Richard (Bachman) and our defense. I think we did a great job to night with moving our feet, cutbacks and getting to the net."

Whereas the Tigers had continually been trapped in their defensive zone against Michigan Tech, they were able to confine Clarkson within its zone.

"It was nice to score five goals," Owens said. "It was even nicer to have the puck in their end most of the time. That was something we had stressed, trying to get our forwards to win the territorial battles and keep them bottled up a little bit. The last few weeks, it seems like we've been in our zone a lot and having to defend, so I thought they did a nice job."

Friday Night Links
--North Dakota, which has played 21 WCHA games to the Tigers' 20 games, pulled to within three points of first-place CC with an incredible overtime goal by Evan Trupp. See it here. If you ask me, that should be on ESPN's top 10.

--The Nanaimo Daily News profiled CC's newest recruit, Russell Goodman, a 19-year-old forward from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, who tore his MCL in early December. Read it here.

No. 6 CC 1, No. 10 Clarkson 1 (end of 1st)

If you've ever talked to me about the use of the word "bounces," you'd know that I don't really believe in that cliche. C'mon. But defenseman Ryan Lowery's blunder less than two minutes into the first period might qualify as an exception.

Clarkson's Adam Bellows rocketed a shot from the point, which bounced off Lowery's right skate and onto center Chris D'Alvise's stick. D'Alvise easily finished past goaltender Richard Bachman for the early lead. It was the second time in two games the Tigers had allowed a goal in the first two minutes of the game.

CC squandered three power plays in the period, but got a tying goal just as the second one expired. Right wing Jimmy Kilpatrick dug the puck out of the left corner and passed to Eric Walsky on the left faceoff dot. Walsky sent the puck to Scott McCulloch on the far post, who redirected it past goaltender David Leggio at 12:49.

Game day: No. 6 CC vs. No. 10 Clarkson

Looking at the lines:
Clarkson's youngest forward is 20 years old. Its youngest player in the line-up is 18-year-old defenseman Bryan Rufenach. By contrast, seven of the Tigers' forwards are 20 years old or younger.

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

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

30 Bachman
31 O'Connell
1 O'Brien

27 Tuohimaa--15 Zalewski--8 Beca
77 DeFazio--32 Dodge--19 Cayer
21 Marks--11 D'Alvise--91 Guthrie
26 Willemsen--13 Tuttle--17 Arciero

14 Clitsom--4 Reed
12 Tyrell--2 Paquet
5 Bellows--89 Rufenach

33 Leggio
1 Potter