Where Are They Now? Former Tigers competing in the pros

731d5940-91a4-4f25-8b3f-cb70da1daf8f-stanley-cup-16While there is talk and/or hope of a resumption of the NHL schedule, it is the offseason for many former Colorado College Tigers now plying their skills in the professional ranks in North America or overseas.
I listed everyone I could track down who was under contract this past season with whatever information I dug up on websites and databases (IHDB.com, Eliteprospects.com). I did not include any players who did not play. I include some links to past articles where relevant.
The list is organized by where the former Tiger played the majority of his games or where he was when that league’s season was suspended or canceled. I included some links to past articles if you want to read more.
Former Tigers currently in the pros
Curtis McElhinney, G — The Ontario native, 36, went 8-7-0-3 in 18 appearances (2.89 goals against, .906 saves percentage) in a backup role for the Tampa Bay Lightning. He is now 90-89-0-18 in 237 NHL games (.909. 2.82 goals).
Jaden Schwartz, F — The 27-year-old winger was on a tear, recording 57 points (22 goals) in 71 games for St. Louis this season. He was second in the NHL with tip-in goals (seven) behind San Jose’s Evander Kane (eight). He led the Blues with 12 playoff goals during the 2018-19 playoffs, which culminated in hoisting the franchise’s first Stanley Cup. Now in his eighth full NHL season, the Saskatchewan native, 27, has 364 points (146 goals) in 520 appearances.

Jaccob Slavin, D — The Erie, Colo. native, 25, recorded 36 points (30 assists) in 68 games for the Carolina Hurricanes this season. He is now at 151 points (122 assists) in 377 NHL career game since his debut on Nov. 18, 2015. And he continues to improve. He was named to the 2020 NHL All-Star Game, where he won the accuracy shooting competition. His time of 9.505 seconds was the best since the NHL expanded to five targets. He is under contract with Carolina through the 2024-25 season.

Teemu Kivihalme, D — Recorded 18 points (14 assists) in 55 games for Toronto Marlies before receiving a short call-up by the Maple Leafs (DNP). The 24-year-old spent the previous two seasons playing for Karpat in his father’s native Finland.
Gustav Olofsson, D — The native of Sweden recorded 16 points (15 assists) in his first season with the Laval Rocket. The 25-year-old has 11 assists in 59 NHL appearances, including three Canadiens games (no points) this season. His contract with the Montreal organization was extended on March 21 and lasts through the 2020-21 season.
Nate Prosser, D — Recorded 10 points (nine assists) in 59 games (his first full AHL season) for Lehigh Valley after signing a one-year deal with the Flyers organization. The Phantoms assistant captain, 33, spent his previous nine pro seasons with the Minnesota Wild. He has recorded 47 points in 354 NHL contests (one game, no points, 2017-18 Blues).
Peter Stoykewych, D — Manitoba Moose captain’s season was cut short by injury (12 games, one assist). The Winnipeg native, 27, has 72 points in 267 games for his hometown AHL team.

l4yj7OTVMason Bergh, F — Started the 2019-20 season with AHL Ontario Reign (three points, 25 games) before being sent down to Fort Wayne, where the 25-year-old recorded 19 points (10 goals) in 29 contests.
Trey Bradley, F — The 23-year-old winger recorded 34 points (14 goals) in 48 games for the defending champion Newfoundland Growlers.
Trevor Gooch, F — The New Jersey native, 25, put together a solid first full pro season with 22 points (12 goals), 22 penalty minutes and a plus-10 rating in 40 games for the Reading Royals.
Alex Krushelnyski, F — The 29-year-old fought through injuries to record 30 points (11 goals) in 28 games for the Indy Fuel.
Richard Bachman, G — The 32-year-old started the season with AHL Utica before being loaned by the Canucks organization on Feb. 12 to last-place Oskarhamn of the top Swedish league. His season ended with three appearances overseas.
Nick Dineen, F — The former Pikes Peak Miner, 31, is under contract for his 10th pro season (2020-21) in Europe. He served as captain in his third year with Norway’s Lillehammer (site of the 1994 Winter Olympics), recording 50 points (22 goals) in 45 games.
Hunter Fejes, F — We should only hope for his frequent flyer miles. The 25-year-old forward finished this season with his 10th pro team, LInz of the Austrian league, where he tallied 21 points (13 goals) in 24 games. He also played this season with ECHL Orlando Solar Bears (10 points, 15 games) and the AHL Manitoba Moose (one assist, seven games).

Cody Lampl, D — The 33-year-old fan favorite recorded six assists in 45 games in his third season for the Mannheim Eagles. The 13-year pro has 92 points (69 assists) in 228 games in German league after playing in 276 ECHL games (87 points, 71 assists) earlier in his career. He is under contract for his 14th season (fourth in Mannheim) in 2020-21.
Alex Leclerc, Dundee Stars,Alex Leclerc, G — The Quebec native, 25, appeared in 56 games, winning 23, while stopping a Elite Ice Hockey League high 1,773 shots for the Dundee (Scotland) Stars, which named him as the franchise’s player of the year.
William Rapuzzi, F — The 30-year-old Anchorage native recorded 27 points (15 goals) in 39 games for Austria’s Dornbin.
Rylan Schwartz, F — The center ended the season with the Stavanger OIlers of Norway, recording seven points (three goals) in eight games. During his seventh full pro season, the 30-year-old left the Nurnberg Ice Tigers of Germany on Feb. 11 after tallying 10 points (five goals) in 31 games.
Mike Testwuide, F — He played his second season with the Daemyung Killer Whales (21 points, 35 games). He has 283 points in 267 games over seven seasons in the Asia League. The Vail native, 33, is a dual citizen of the U.S. and South Korea, allowing him to play for the host team in the 2018 Winter Olympics.



Tigers announce 2020-21 schedule

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The National Collegiate Hockey Conference announced its league schedule with Colorado College hosting the first NCHC contest of the 2020-21 season on Thursday, Nov. 5 against the Miami RedHawks. No times were announced.

The Thursday night game was one of a few deviations from the usual Friday-Saturday formula. The first two games of the Gold Pan series versus rival Denver will be spread out over two weekends — at Magness Arena on Saturday, Feb. 6 and at the Broadmoor World Arena on Feb. 13. The usual home-and-home series concludes the regular season March 5-6. CC’s Senior Night is set for March 6.

There is no Air Force game for the first time since the 1982-83 season but CC has since announced that was simply due to a scheduling problem that was fixed for the 2021-22 season, when the new on-campus Robson Arena opens.

The only 2020-21 games against Omaha will be at home on Dec. 11-12 to close out the first half of the season before winter break. The first half is heavy on home games,. giving the Tigers an opportunity to get off to a good start.

CC returns to action in the four-team Mariucci Classic Jan. 2-3 on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis. That four-team field reportedly includes St. Cloud State and UMass-Lowell.

“We are excited for another challenging schedule,” Tigers coach Mike Haviland said in a CC media release on Wednesday. “Once again, we will face several Top-20 teams and I think our fans will enjoy seeing some teams that usually are not on our schedule.”

Tigers 2020-21 schedule

Monday, Oct. 5  British Columbia Thunderbirds (exhibition)
Oct. 9-10 MAINE
Oct. 16-17 UNION
Oct. 23-24 at Michigan State
Oct. 30-31 OPEN
Thursday, Nov. 5 MIAMI *Conference foe
Friday, Nov. 6 MIAMI*
Nov. 13-14 at St. Cloud State*
Nov. 20-21 at Western Michigan*
Nov. 27-28 PRINCETON
Dec. 11-12 OMAHA*
Jan. 2-3, 2021 at Mariucci Classic (host Minnesota, St. Cloud State, UMass-Lowell)
Jan. 8-9 at North Dakota*
Jan. 15-16 OPEN
Jan. 29-30 at Minnesota Duluth*
Feb. 6 at Denver*
Feb. 13 DENVER*
Feb. 19-20 at Miami*
Feb. 26-27 NORTH DAKOTA*
March 5 at Denver*
March 6 DENVER* (Senior Night)
March 12-14 NCHC Quarterfinals
March 19-20 NCHC Frozen Faceoff (St. Paul, Minn.)

Two future Tigers named to NHL Central Scouting’s final draft list

schweitzerTwo future Tigers were listed in the final NHL Central Scouting 2020 Draft rankings released on Wednesday.
The 2020 NHL Draft scheduled for June 26-27 in Montreal has been postponed to a date to be announced.
Benilde-St. Margaret’s righthanded defenseman Nathan Schweitzer, listed at 6-foot, 200 pounds, is projected as a fourth-round selection.  He is pictured above.
Cretin-Durham Raiders lefty forward Matthew Gleason (5-8, 170 pounds) was picked as a possible seventh-round pick. The two MInnesota high schoolers, scheduled to join CC at the start of the 2021-22 seasons, were also named to the midseason list.
Schweitzer, 18, committed to CC in September 2018. He recorded 32 points (26 assists) in 21 games during his second season as the B-SM captain after recording 42 points (27 assists) in 43 games as a junior. He also played in four games for the Sioux Falls Stampede.
Gleason, who turns 19 in September, committed to the Tigers in October 2018.
Gleason was named as the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ 2019 East Metro Boys’ Hockey Player of the Year and as the 2020 Minneapolis Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year. He recorded 78 points (36 goals) in 27 high school games as a senior. He recorded 52 points (34 goals) in 26 games as a junior
Here is a link to the pdf  listing all the players ranked.

Incoming goalie Dominic Basse was selected in the sixth round (167th overall) by Chicago in 2019. He is part of a freshman class joining the National Collegiate Hockey Conference program that is ranked fifth nationally by the Neutral Zone scouting website.

The full class will be announced between April 15 and Aug. 1 when the NCAA signing period resumes.

Rising sophomore forward Josiah Slavin (13 points, 34 games) was chosen by the Blackhawks in the seventh (193rd) in 2018.


A story about former Colorado College bench boss Scott Owens, who announced his retirement from coaching hockey

Colorado College Hockey, 2010-11 season

Scott Owens is a very good coach and an even better person. There are numerous examples. You may have some of your own.
Here is one of mine that I wish to share upon news of his retirement from coaching.
I was laid off by the Gazette on Dec. 1 , 2011, the day before the DU at CC game. I was sitting down to write the preview when I got the call to come in immediately and bring my work laptop.
I joined the unemployed ranks of so many sportswriters before me and since. I knew the possibility but kept working, hoping and half expecting that it wouldn’t happen to me.
Now, I was stunned, scared and did not know what to do. It makes me queasy thinking about it now.
Everything is pretty much a blur until about 3 1/2 hours later. In the interim, then-Gazette sports editor Jim O’Connell had called former CC sports information director Dave Moross to inform him someone else would be covering Friday night’s home game.
Moross passed the news on to Owens after that night’s practice.
Owens called me to see how I was doing. Most coaches wouldn’t. He had no reason to treat me any differently. We got along, but we weren’t friends.
He asked how I was and gave me some words of encouragement. I babbled a response. I thanked him for calling. Hopefully, I cannot remember the call clearly.
But I do remember the gratitude I felt.
That gesture showed me a lot about why so many think the world of Owens. That gesture meant a lot to me then. It still does.
Best wishes to Scott Owens in his retirement.

Furious Colorado College comeback forces overtime, but Denver reclaims Gold Pan Trophy

UMD_vs_CC_2_28_2020_12_webThe Gold Pan Trophy will return to Denver.

But Colorado College made sure the hardware was well-earned by the sixth-ranked Pioneers in a hard-fought game befitting for one of college hockey’s best rivalries.

The Tigers mounted a memorable third-period comeback behind two goals by senior Chris Wilkie, including the tying tally with 7.3 seconds left, to force overtime in an eventual 3-2 shootout win for the Pioneers (20-9-6).

CC pulled goalie Matt Vernon while on the penalty kill (too many men) in a last-ditch effort to pull out the OT win, but Denver goalie Magnus Chrona made three of his 36 saves to stymie the effort.

“This one hurts,” Wilkie said. “It’s disappointing to not be able to get it done there, especially late in overtime. We had some chances around the (Denver) net on the one shift. We had the goalie pulled and we were going for it all there.”

CC had to sweep DU to retain the trophy. Because the Tigers were unable to win the game outright in the first overtime, the Pioneers reclaimed the trophy with a 2-2 tie that clinched a winning record in the season series (2-0-1).

The regular-season finale is 8 p.m.  Saturday on CBS Sports Network.

“It is a big moment for our program and this rivalry,” Denver coach David Carle said. “Certainly, when you lose it in the fashion we did last year (CC sweep) there’s some motivation.”

Denver looked headed to victory before Wilkie took over, adding another memorable individual performance in this rivalry.

He blasted the puck into a wide-open net after a long rebound to the opposite side was given up by Chrona on a hard shot by Grant Cruikshank. The 4-on-3 power-play goal came with 5:36 left in the game and made it 2-1, Pioneers.

CC was on a roll for the rest of regulation. CC coach Mike Haviland pulled goalie Vernon (15 saves) with 1:13 left for the extra attacker.

A final burst into the DU zone by Alex Berardinelli got the puck in deep. From there, he found Wilkie open in the right faceoff circle for a one-timer blast past Chrona with 7.3 seconds left for his 23rd goal this season.

“The whole team wanted it,” Haviland said. “We never stopped fighting and battled back. We pulled the goalie in OT to try to keep the Pan.”

“The Gold Pan means an awful lot,” he added. “I cannot ask any more of them than what they did tonight. They poured their hearts out on the ice and that is all you can ask for as a coach.”

The rivalry intensity amped up in the second period and CC defenseman Zach Berzolla was in the middle of it as usual. He leveled DU’s Slava Demin with 11:26 left and was then tied up with wrestling behind the CC net with Denver’s Cole Guttman. Both were sent off for roughing.

That got the Broadmoor World Arena crowd of 4,466 going until Denver opened the scoring when Ian Mitchell’s shot bounced in off a sprawling CC defenseman with 9:03 left in the middle period. The Tigers had two of their better scoring chances during the 4-on-4 stretch before Mitchell scored.

Ruck (20 saves, 39:23) playing very well in his first start since returning from an upper-body injury. But then he suffered a lower-body injury that forced him to leave the game with 37.4 seconds left in the second.

Vernon came in cold off the bench and gave up a goal about nine seconds later on the first shot he faced. Tyler Ward scored off Brett Stapley’s second assist of the night for a 2-0 Denver lead. Stapley later scored in the shootout.

After Ward’s goal, Vernon shut the door, making 15 saves the rest of the way to give the Tigers (11-19-3) a chance. He will get the start Saturday in a game important for the rivalry and for the Tigers as they prep for the playoffs after riding Friday’s emotional rollercoaster.

“Our guys responded,” Haviland said. “(Vernon) was really good in the third. That’s tough going in after 40 minutes. (Saturday) is an important game. We have played well the past nine games. We have to make sure we go there and take the momentum we had tonight in the third and really the whole game. I thought it was an excellent game.”

Now, the Tigers must bounce back from a gut-wrenching loss.

“Any other game, if the stakes were not so high, we’d be pretty happy with how we played,” Wilkie said. “If we play that way (over) this next week, we’ll be a tough team to beat.”

“Every guy up and down the lineup gave it their all tonight,” he added. “It was a pretty draining game emotionally but now it’s over. We look forward to going to Magness (Arena Saturday), playing the same way and hopefully getting a win.”

Injuries, playoff foe TBD

CC defenseman Bryan Yoon was knocked out of the game with an upper-body injury sustained on the opening shift. Ruck has just returned from an upper-body injury last weekend. Blumenschein played more minutes in his first game back due to Yoon’s injury. The sophomore Yoon usually plays about 20 minutes a game. His status is uncertain for Saturday. … CC’s first-round opponent is to be determined. With a second North Dakota loss this weekend and a Minnesota-Duluth sweep of St. Cloud State, the Bulldogs would garner a share of the Penrose Cup, the top playoff seed and the right to host CC in the first round. …  The Gold Pan Rivalry is the second-most contested series in the NCAA with 323 games played as of Friday, just behind 328 for Michigan-Michigan State. Denver now holds a 182-120-21 lead (72-63-10 in Colorado Springs) in the series.

The new mascot name is …

RoCCy was announced as the new name for the CC mascot, beating out Roary and CC by an undisclosed margin.

The new costume and name were introduced during first intermission. The school announced that the former mascot, Prowler, graduated Friday with the mascot taking a final lap around the ice wearing a cap and gown.

Senior Night

The CC players honored before the game were: graduate students Andrew Gaus and Ruck; redshirt senior Wilkie and seniors Berardinelli, Blumenschein, Nick Halloran, Cole Josefchak and Alex Pernitsky.

Junior goalie Jon Flakne (injured) was also honored. He is scheduled to graduate in three years. Josefchak retired to focus on academics after his junior season. Pernitsky suffered a season-ending injury earlier this year. Blumenschein returned to action for the first time since mid-January.

Tiger seniors hope to retain Gold Pan, mimic last year’s playoff surge

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Forward Alex Berardinelli has a simple, albeit challenging goal going into the final weekend of the regular season.

“We don’t want to be the senior class that gives the Gold Pan (Trophy) back to Denver,” Berardinelli said. “We have to focus on what we need to do to win the series this weekend and get the ball rolling going into the playoffs.”

He and his fellow seniors play their final home game on Friday night against No. 6 Denver (20-9-5). The last-place Tigers (11-19-2) must sweep the Pioneers this weekend to forge a season series tie and retain the rivalry hardware. DU swept CC earlier this season. The Tigers are 3-3 in their last six games.

CC coach Mike Haviland is hoping that a home-and-home sweep this weekend would provide the spark last year’s Tigers experienced when they took back the trophy by sweeping the Pioneers. They used that renewed confidence to upend Western Michigan and win the program’s first National Collegiate Hockey Conference playoff series.

“The last two years 17 and 15 wins for them after their tough start their freshmen year but they’ve been part of us climbing back to where we want to go,” Haviland said. “They’re certainly not done yet. You have a chance to retain that Gold Pan which means an awful lot to everyone; yourself, your fans, your community. So certainly, they know how important this all really is.”

It all starts with Senior Night at the Broadmoor World Arena. Denver already has much to play for this weekend with home playoff ice on the line. The teams close out the regular season on CBS Sports Network. Friday’s result determines the stakes for the DU Senior Night on Saturday.

Fans are encouraged to get into their seats earlier than usual on Friday.  The Tigers expected to be honored include Kristian Blumenschein, who may return to action this weekend, Berardinelli, Nick Halloran, Cole Josefchak, Alex Pernitsky, and leading scorer Chris Wilke. Graduate students Andrew Gaus and Ryan Ruck will also be recognized.

“It’s crazy,” Berardinelli said. “The last four years flew by. But right now, what surrounds that is more important to me and to this team. The focus is on the Gold Pan, DU and the series.”

Colorado College Tigers cannot match Minnesota-Duluth’s play in decisive second, fall in series-clinching rout

cc vs wmu2Fifth-ranked Minnesota-Duluth showed why it’s the two-time defending NCAA champions with a 6-1 rout of last-place Colorado College Saturday night.

The Bulldogs dominated the second period, potting four goals, including the game-winner just 59 seconds into the middle frame.

This weekend’s series sweep mirrored the one in Duluth in November — a close game won by the Bulldogs on Friday (4-3) followed by a rout on Saturday (5-0).

“We talked about that (Saturday) morning,” Tigers coach Mike Haviland said, referring to the team’s morning meetings. “This team across the hall elevates their game. You need to elevate our game and I think we did for the first 20 (minutes). But the game is 60.”

It’s a familiar pattern for the Tigers against the National Collegiate Hockey Conference powerhouse.

“In the last couple years against these guys we are really good against them on Fridays and on Saturdays they go to another level,” Haviland said. “We need to find that level. That’s the reason they’re two-time defending champs. They know how to go to that level and keep pushing you.”

The stats show it. With the win, Minnesota-Duluth improved to 91-2-3 (18-1 this season) since March 13, 2015 when taking a lead into the third period.

One of the few Colorado College highlights was when the Tigers spoiled UMD goalie Hunter Shepard’s shutout bid. A hard shot by Grant Cruikshank forced its way under the senior’s right arm and landed behind him. CC senior Nick Halloran tapped in his 11th of the season to make it 5-1 midway through the third. That excited the home crowd, but UMD scored about a minute later for the final margin.

Vernon stood tall against several quality scoring chances for the Bulldogs, making 11 of his 15 saves and allowing just the opening goal late in the closely-contested first period.

But the second was all Bulldogs (20-10-2, 15-5-2-0 NCHC).

An inauspicious start put UMD ahead 2-0 when Nick Swaney lifted in a wraparound attempt over Vernon’s left leg pad after seemingly surprising the freshman netminder. The tally came just 59 seconds into the middle frame.

That goal deflated the Tigers, who could not match UMD’s intensity and skill the rest of the second.

“The second goal is the one that really took the wind out of our sails,” Haviland said. “Verny (Vernon) needs to make that save. From there, they get all the confidence and we were on our heels. I didn’t see us with much bite there in the second. There were a couple easy goals our guys could have prevented, not meaning our goalie.”

A prime example came less than five minutes later when Luke Lohei split two flat-footed CC defenders and lifted the puck over Vernon’s shoulder by the near post. That ended Vernon’s night as Haviland tried to jump start the Tigers (11-19-2, 4-16-2-1) by putting in Ryan Ruck (23 saves).

But Ruck was rusty, having not played since Jan. 10 and not practiced much either.

UMD added two goals about four minutes apart. Noah Cates scored off a breakaway set up by a long pass by Scott Perunovich (31 assists) with 6:35 left. Quinn Olson and Cates then played back-and-forth with Olson burying the chance with 2:39 left for a 5-0 advantage.

CC almost got the break the Broadmoor World Arena crowd (3,043 announced) desired. When his penalty expired, Jack Gates jumped out of the box, but he over skated the pass and was unable to get off a quality shot during the final seconds of the period.  That summed up the second for CC.

Looking ahead to next weekend, postseason

Miami’s sweep of Omaha (3-0, 4-0) relegated CC to last place in the eight-team NCHC and set up an all-but-assured trip to top-ranked North Dakota for the first round of the playoffs on March 13-15.

CC plays No. 6 Denver in a home-and-home series next weekend with the Tigers needing a sweep to retain the Gold Pan Trophy. DU downed St. Cloud State 5-2 on Saturday to garner a road series split and keep its sights on garnering home playoff ice.

Ruck performed well at times, prompting Haviland to keep the door open on the transfer starting on Friday.

“We’ll reevaluate on Monday, but I certainly will think about it,” Haviland said.

First Leap Day loss

The Tigers are now 3-1-1 on Feb. 29th starting with a 5-5 tie against Michigan State in 1964. CC later won at Denver, 4-2, in 1980, at UMD, 5-1, in 1992 and downed visiting Minnesota State, 5-2, in 2008.


Minnesota-Duluth converts critical power play, holds off CC’s comeback attempt

Colorado College goalie Matt Vernon and his 35 saves put the Tigers in position to knock off No. 5 Minnesota-Duluth on Friday.

But the last-place Tigers could not record the tying goal in an eventual 4-2 home loss to the two-time defending NCAA champions.

“I thought we were coming and we had some chances,” Tigers coach Mike Haviland said. “We had the push that we needed. We just didn’t get the third one. When you are that close against the No. 5 team in the country, you have to find a way to score there.”

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Duluth did convert thanks to the third major penalty called against CC versus the Bulldogs (19-10-2, 14-5-2-2-0 NCHC) this season in National Collegiate Hockey Conference play.

UMD defenseman Dylan Samberg put the Bulldogs ahead for good with 2:19 left in the second period during a 5-minute power play. That man advantage was set up by an interference call against CC senior Chris Wilkie, who leveled Tyler Laderoute at center ice. It also drew a game misconduct that ended the NCHC scoring leader’s night.

“I don’t have to agree with it (the penalty call) but we have to be smarter,” Haviland said. “That’s the third time we have taken a major against them and they made us pay. In the game up there on Friday, they had a score to beat us late (4-3, Nov. 22) and tonight it’s the game-winning goal.  It’s 2-2 and we cannot take that penalty.“

Vernon made eight saves during the extended power play to keep the Tigers in the contest.

“He settled down and did a good job,” Haviland said. “We have had a merry-go-round back there with injuries. He has given us a chance over the past 6-8 games.”

Minnesota-Duluth scored two early, but the hosts battled back.

Jack Gates tied the contest at 2-2 with 6:38 left in the second period. Wilkie cut the Bulldogs lead in half, 2-1, when he scored with 4:52 left  in the first period.

Two minutes earlier, UMD took a 2-0 lead with 6:52 left in the opening period when center Justin Richards won the offensive-zone faceoff cleanly, which led to a hard shot by Cole Koepke that resulted in a rebound for an unmarked Laderoute to tuck in past Vernon.

Koepke opened the scoring just 3:38 into the game when he knocked in his own rebound after another faceoff win for Richards.

Looking ahead to the NCHC playoffs

Miami picked up a 3-0 home win over Omaha on Friday, pushing the RedHawks up into seventh place at 4-14-3-2-0 league, 7-19-5 overall after enduring an 11-game winless streak. Last-place CC will play at either UMD or top-ranked North Dakota in the first round March 13-15.

Surging St. Cloud State knocked off No. 6 Denver 5-1 on Friday, moving within a point of the fourth-place  Pioneers in the standings and two behind third-place Western Michigan, which lost 3-1 at North Dakota.

Hockey Fights Cancer Night

As part of Hockey Fights Cancer Night, Janell Price-Smith, wife of former CC professor Andrew Price-Smith, and their children Will and Tori, took part in the pregame puck ceremony.

Last July, Andrew Price-Smith, who served as the team’s faculty advisor, succumbed to cancer at the age of 50. Price-Smith joined the school’s faculty in 2005 and was the founding director of the Global Health Initiative at CC.

Both teams used purple stick tape and wore helmet decals in support of Hockey Fights Cancer.

Ice chips

Omaha’s 24 shots were the second-fewest allowed by CC this season behind 22 by St. Cloud State on Nov. 15. Not coincidentally, both were Tiger victories. … UMD now holds a 105-82-10 advantage in the all-time series including a Bulldog sweep in Duluth earlier this season. … Wilkie entered the weekend leading the NCAA with 153 shots and shots per games (5.10). He recorded five shots on Friday.


Cruikshank hat trick lifts Tigers to outdoor game victory over Air Force

200217_F_XS730_1003Colorado College sophomore Grant Cruikshank will always remember the Faceoff at Falcon Stadium outdoor college hockey game.

He has three good reasons. The Wisconsin native recorded his first NCAA hat trick, including the victory-clinching empty-net goal with about 37 seconds left, to lift the Tigers past Air Force, 4-2, before 7,178 hardy fans on a cold Monday night.

“It was a lot of fun,” Cruikshank said. “The experience of playing outdoors at Air Force was the biggest memory for me. To walk away with a win is icing on the cake. I grew up playing on ponds and lakes my whole life so I knew it wasn’t going to pretty. It would be a greasy game with pucks going over sticks. It was just a very cool experience.”

An experience all the better with a nonconference sweep for the Tigers (10-16-2), who resume National Collegiate Hockey Conference play at Omaha this weekend. Air Force fell to 8-17-5.

Tigers coach Mike Haviland was smiling broadly before and after the game.

“It just doesn’t happen often and may not happen (again) if they play 10, 15 years after,” he said. “I was certainly excited. It brings you back to being a kid. It was cold, it had snow flurries, it had everything. This is something that will last a lifetime.”

The Falcons knew they would eventually look back on the game more fondly.

“I have been on a couple NCAA Final Eight teams and this is definitely up there,” senior Matt Pulver said. “It’s certainly something I will never forget.”

The teams gathered at center ice to salute the fans, who stuck around to the end as the temperature dipped to 22 degrees by game’s end. Many of the former teammates and friends took pictures together.

“They’ll be happy to have those photos someday,” Falcons coach Frank Serratore said. “It was the classy thing to do by both programs. This was a big night for Air Force, for Colorado College and Colorado Springs.”

There was also an entertaining game that wasn’t decided until the moments.

CC pulled ahead early in the third period on Chris Wilkie’s 20th goal of the season, only to see Air Force answer back just 98 seconds later on a goal for defenseman Luke Rowe. That left the game at 3-2 with 15:01 left in the third and set up the exciting finish.

Both second-period goals came off rebounds when Air Force’s Brandon Koch cut the CC lead to 2-1 with 34.5 seconds left in the second period. Koch batted in the loose puck after a hard shot by Trevor Stone bounced out in front during the Falcons’ third power play.

Colorado College had taken a 2-0 lead by Cruikshank batted in his own rebound on a short-side breakaway less than eight minutes earlier for his second goal of the night and 10th this season. Bryan Yoon picked up his second assist of the game.

“We played a real good second period,” Haviland said. “We started to get our groove a little bit, hang onto the puck down low. I think that is when we really started to settle into the game. We found a way to get the empty-netter. It was a good road win for us. Hopefully (the Tigers are) going in the right direction now.”

Colorado College opened the scoring when Cruikshank redirected a pass to the front by Yoon with 6:42 left in the first. The power-play tally came 30 seconds into the man advantage.

“I don’t know if that was just roommate chemistry but he is a great passer,” Cruikshank said.

CC never trailed this holiday weekend, a troublesome problem for the Falcons, who much like CC are trying to play well and become a dangerous playoff opponent.

“It’s been that way all year,” Pulver said. “Whenever we get punched in the gut, we respond. We need to be the ones that punches first.”

“Pulvs is right,” Serratore said. “You can’t chase the scoreboard. That was a key for us this weekend; getting the first goal but CC wouldn’t allow that. CC, and this is no dig at our boys, was the better team this weekend. That’s a well-coached team that will be a team no one wants to face when their playoffs begin. I don’t care where they finish in the standings.”

Both teams played back a bit to start the game, with both getting used to the unusual lighting, different boards and unusually quiet atmosphere with fans so far removed from the ice.

“After the first couple minutes we settled in and started to grind them out, play to our strengths and kind of took over the game,” Wilkie said. “After a while we realized it was just a hockey game. You tune out the rest of the things after you get the Oohs and Aahs out of your system like Havi said to us all week.”

Ice chips

It was the first outdoor college game played at the service academy. It was also the highest outdoor game at 6,621 feet. … The ice held up well, especially as the temperature dropped after sunset. …  In its 10 victories this season, the Tigers have allowed just 19 goals. CC has given up 80 in the other 18 games (0-16-2). … CC now holds a 63-13-2 record against the Falcons. … The Tigers retained the Pikes Peak Trophy on Friday with a 6-2 home win. The two schools established the rivalry hardware in 2013 in honor of John Matchefts, a former head coach at both schools. … About 400 attended the Robson Arena ceremonial groundbreaking on Saturday. … Wilkie’s 20 goals ties him with UMass’ John Leonard for second in Division 1, and behind NCAA leader Griffin Loughran (21) of Northern Michigan.

Tigers ride three-goal spurt past Air Force to retain Pikes Peak Trophy

ccafa imageThe muted trophy celebration suggested that Colorado College took Friday night’s 6-2 win in stride.

That would be wrong.

CC blew the game open with three goals in the opening 2:34 of the second period and then held on to defeat Air Force 6-2 and retain the Pikes Peak Trophy. But that large margin did not make the win any less sweet for the Tigers.

“It’s pretty big,” said freshman defenseman Connor Mayer, who scored twice. “The school takes a lot of pride in that. We were excited but we kept our emotions in check. It’s about a business-like approach and being ready for Monday.”

The series continues at 5 p.m. Monday with the Faceoff at Falcon Stadium outdoor game. Plenty of seats remain available with snow in the forecast that evening. The snow and Air Force’s mostly white uniforms will add a wrinkle to what could be an interesting game.

“You don’t want it to come down (to Monday),” coach Mike Haviland said. “They took care of business tonight. We wanted to play the game the right way and we certainly wanted to keep that trophy in our possession.”

Friday’s victory at the Broadmoor World Arena assured the Tigers of at least a nonconference series tie against the Falcons, assuring the hosts will keep the rivalry hardware for another year. CC won the trophy for the first time last season behind a 6-1 win.

The second period started off with a bang with three goals scored on the first three shots on goal by the Tigers (9-16-2). Senior Nick Halloran, whose older brother Alex was a standout player for the Atlantic Hockey-member Falcons (8-16-5), scored 11 seconds in for a 2-0 lead.

It continued for the surging Tigers, who scored twice in 21 seconds during 4-on-4 play to make it 4-0 with 17:26 remaining. Senior Alex Berardinelli stole the puck from Air Force’s Trevor Stone in neutral ice and then raced in to convert the breakaway. That goal ended Falcons goalie Alex Schilling’s night.

Colorado College did not let up and Connor Mayer (two goals) scored his first of the game 21 seconds later on the first shot faced by netminder Alex LaRocque with 17:26 left.

“Outstanding,” Haviland said. “We came out with a purpose and we finished the chances. I was really happy with their focus coming out strong. We want to keep going up and playing the right way down the stretch.”

Air Force simply made too many errors to win, coach Frank Serratore said.

“When we made mistakes they were huge ones,” he said. “We weren’t very good at anything. We got some things going in spurts but for the most part we didn’t get pucks in, we got beat along the walls, we turned pucks over that resulted in breakaways. The bottom line is CC came to play. They were pitching and we were catching.”

Air Force battled back when the Falcons’ Marshall Bowery tapped in a perfect diagonal pass by Brady Tomlak with 11:03 left. That power-play goal cut the CC lead to 4-1.

Later, Bowery made it 4-2 when he stole an errant CC pass and later fired the puck between Vernon’s leg pads with 3:02 left to make it a two-goal game heading into the third period.

Mayer scored an unassisted goal with 10:44 remaining for the final margin.

The National Collegiate Hockey Conference-member Tigers opened the scoring when Josiah Slavin fired a shot that bounced off Berardinelli’s backside to Chris Wilkie, who lifted the bouncing puck past a sprawled Schilling’s glove attempt. The tally came with 12:47 left in the opening period. It was Wilkie’s 19th goal, moving him into a tie for second with Northeastern’s Tyler Madden, a former CC commit.

Ice chips

Ed Robson was on hand for the ceremonial puck drop Friday. The CC alum and former Tigers hockey player is in town for the Robson Arena groundbreaking at 2 p.m. Saturday. The public is welcome. … CC won the season series against St. Cloud State (2-1-1) for the first time since the 2009-10 season. … A second Tigers goal during the opening period was immediately waved off due to goalie interference, denying McKay Flanagan his first college goal. … CC now leads the all-time series 62-13-2. … Bryan Yoon’s plus-5 rating Friday was a career high. … Three unassisted goals were scored, two by CC. Those two were the most by the Tigers since a 7-3 win over St. Lawrence on Dec. 29.