Tigers knock off No. 2 Denver, end 17-game winless streak against Pioneers

CC Hockey vs WisconsinColorado College bounced back from an embarrassing home loss to end a 17-game winless streak against No. 2 Denver behind a 40-save shutout by sophomore goalie Alex Leclerc at Magness Arena on Saturday.

“I’m feeling pretty good right now,” Leclerc said on 1240 AM. “We felt we let our fans and teammates down (in a 5-1 Friday loss) and we needed to bounce back. Guys were sacrificing their bodies to block shots (19) and make my life easier even though I am the one with the equipment.”

“We told ourselves that we needed to win against them,” he added. “We only had one thing on our minds and that was to come out of here with a win. We need to savor this moment of success and take that into practice and next weekend (against No. 13 Omaha).”

The win in Denver pushed CC (13-13-4, 7-10-3-2 National Collegiate Hockey Conference) into sixth place ahead of Omaha (15-14-1, 8-12-0) and only two points behind No. 15 and fifth-place Western Michigan (14-14-2, 9-10-1).

Tonight really helped us put ourselves in position to get home ice,” coach Mike Haviland said.

Colorado College played better as the game went on to put further pressure on the Pioneers as the early 1-0 lead held.

“It was a factor of us not being hard enough offensively,” Denver coach Jim Montgomery said in a media release. “Our effort was great. I thought we skated well, we protected pucks well…but I thought they played with more desperation.”

DU pulled goalie Tanner Jaillet with about 80 seconds left but shot blocks by Westin Michaud (:20 left) and Troy Conzo (:08 remaining) helped the Tigers hold for their first win over Denver since Feb. 22, 2014 – a span of 1,424 days —  and the Tigers’ first under Haviland. The victory ended a 17-game winless streak (0-15-2).

“Tonight was a big step for us,” CC junior co-captain Andrew Farny said. “We had guys selling out all game long.”

“These guys don’t like to lose and they take it personal,” Haviland said. “We didn’t play hard enough last night but we certainly did tonight. Going 1-1-2 against the defending national champs shows the progress this program has made.”

Denver kept the puck in the CC end for most of the opening period, but it was the Tigers that entered first intermission with their initial lead of the weekend. Few at the time guessed it would prove to be the game-winner.

Conference-leading scorer Nick Halloran (41 points) scored his 18th goal of the season on the power play with 29 seconds remaining for a 1-0 lead. The power-play tally ended on 0 for 14 skid over three games.

halloran road unisIn other NCHC action, No. 11 Minnesota-Duluth downed last-place Miami 3-0 for its second shutout of the weekend against the reeling RedHawks. It is the first time in program history that Miami has been shut out for three-straight games. The scoring drought is now at 212 minutes, 1 second dating back to the second period on Friday, Feb. 9 (5-2 loss to No. 3 St. Cloud State.

No. 9 North Dakota bounced back for a road split by downing No. 13 Omaha, 3-0, and end the Mavericks’ seven-game home win streak. Cam Johnson returned to action after two games off to make his 11th career shutout (26 saves); second all-time at UND behind 15 for Karl Goehring.

League-leading St. Cloud State, ranked third in the USCHO poll but tops in the Pairwise rankings, defeated No. 15 Western Michigan 4-2 for the road sweep. The Broncos fell into in fifth place.

SCSU, which clinched home playoff ice on Friday, now has 45 standings points to second-place Denver’s 40, setting up a huge weekend series in Minnesota that will determine ownership of the Penrose Cup regular-season championship. UMD and North Dakota are tied for third with 30 points.

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17 Tigers receive NCHC all-academic accolades

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Seventeen Colorado College players, second-most in the league, were among the 111 who earned National Collegiate Hockey Conference all-academic team (3.0 cumulative grade point average) with four Tigers listed among the 38 NCHC distinguished scholar-athletes (3.5 or better) for their exceptional academic accomplishments.

Of the 38 distinguished scholar-athletes, 21 of them posted a GPA better than 3.7, including five with a 3.9 GPA or higher. Omaha led all NCHC schools with 10 while North Dakota had eight and Western Michigan seven. Omaha led the way with 20 all-academic (3.0 GPA) followed by CC with 17, Western Michigan, 16; North Dakota, 15 and Miami 14.

Freshmen become eligible for academic honors this offseason.

The 2017-18 NCHC Senior Scholar-Athlete Award will be announced at the NCHC Awards Celebration on March 15 in St. Paul, Minn. before the Frozen Faceoff.  

Those earning NCHC Distinguished Scholar-Athlete recognition in bold.

Colorado College — Mason Bergh, Kristian Blumenschein, Trey Bradley, Andrew Farny, Trevor Gooch, Nick Halloran, Ben Israel, Cole Josefchak, Kade Kehoe, Nate Kwiecinski, Alex Leclerc, Branden Makara, Cole McCaskill, Tanner Ockey, Alex Pernitsky, Max St. Pierre and Bryce VanHorn.

CC’s Troy Conzo garners first NCHC weekly award

conzoColorado College freshman Troy Conzo earned his first National Collegiate Hockey Conference offensive player of the week award on Monday.

The forward from Nesconset, N.Y. increased his career totals from three to five goals with his first NCAA multi-goal game in Friday’s 4-2 road upset of then-No. 8 North Dakota.

It was CC’s first win in Grand Forks since 2014. His second goal was an unassisted shorthanded tally for his first career shorty and the Tigers’ first this season. He finished a career-best plus-3 in the win.

The next night, Conzo had the primary assist on CC’s only goal in a 5-1 defeat, stretching his point streak to a career-long three games. He finished the series with two goals, an assist, a +1 plus/minus, three shots on goal and three blocked shots. He was also 25-25 in the faceoff circle. On the season, Conzo now has five goals and 13 points in 26 games.

Halloran repeats as National Collegiate Hockey Conference player of the month

halloran road unisA breakthrough season for CC sophomore Nick Halloran has not gone unnoticed.

Halloran became only the second National Collegiate Hockey Conference athlete to be named as the league player of the month twice in a row after receiving the honor for Dec. 2017 and now Jan. 2018. The first to do so was Denver’s Joey LaLeggia (Jan.- Feb. 2015).

Halloran tied for the NCHC scoring lead and tied for fifth nationally in January with 12 points in six games, while his 2.00 points per game and 1.17 assists per game both led the conference, with the 2.00 points per game also ranking second nationally during the month.

He scored five goals in January, while also tying for the NCHC lead with seven assists in the month, including six on the power play. Halloran recorded points in five of six games in January, including four multi-point games, in which the Tigers went 2-1-1.

The Draper, Utah native logged four points against Minnesota Duluth Jan. 12-13. After going scoreless in CC’s series opener at Western Michigan Jan. 19, his only game without a point during the month, he recorded three points the next night in a 6-5 overtime win, handing out two assists before scoring the game-winning goal in overtime to give the Tigers their first ever win at WMU.

Halloran concluded his month with a five-point outing against Miami last weekend, which earned him NCHC co-offensive player of the week.

Entering this weekend, Halloran is tied for the NCAA lead with 39 points (23 assists) in 26 games, while his 16 goals are tied for the NCHC lead and his 23 assists lead the league. Halloran is now a candidate for Hockey Commissioners’ Association (HCA) National Player of the Month for January, which will be announced on Friday.

 

CC’s Halloran named NCHC co-offensive player of the week

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Colorado College sophomore Nick Halloran and Omaha senior Tyler Vesel were both named as co-offensive players of the week by the National Collegiate Hockey Conference after recording five points apiece this past weekend.

This is Halloran’s third career NCHC weekly honor and second offensive in his career. 

Halloran led CC to a five-point weekend against Miami with a five points of his own. On Friday, he matched his career high with three assists by setting up the Tigers’ first three goals in a 6-3 victory.

He scored Saturday’s first two goals in the opening three minutes to put CC ahead in an eventual 4-4 overtime tie. The Draper, Utah native recorded two goals on six shots in the series. Halloran leads the NCHC and is tied for the NCAA lead with 39 points (23 assists) in 26 games.

Christopoulos garners first Atlantic Hockey weekly goalie award

AFA_v_Lethbridge_Billy-Save-042s_pkAir Force junior Billy Christopoulos was named the Atlantic Hockey Conference goalie of the week after stopping 55 of 56 shots in a road sweep of league rival The Rochester Institute of Technology this past weekend.

He was also selected as one of NCAA Hockey’s Three Stars of the Week.

In his last four games, Christopoulos stopped 101 of the 104 shots for a .971 saves percentage. His 11 wins lead all Atlantic Hockey goalies.

The weekly award is the first of his career and the fifth by a Falcon this season. Christopoulos was also named the AHC Goalie of the Month for October.

Air Force (11-10-3, 6-8-2 AHC) hosts Sacred Heart Friday-Saturday at Cadet Ice Arena.

FINAL: No. 15 Minnesota Duluth blows past Tigers for NCHC series sweep

UMD Roth action

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Minnesota-Duluth dominated the final two periods by repeatedly punching holes in the Colorado  College defense during a 5-1 road victory that clinched a National Collegiate Hockey Conference series sweep.

The Tigers were out shot by a 45-19 margin after leading 10-9 after the first period with the game tied at 1-1.

The game at The Broadmoor World Arena turned against the hosts after CC’s players opted for individual rushes toward the Duluth net instead of dumping the puck deep to set up in the Bulldogs zone. UMD usually disrupted those forays and led to a number of UMD scoring chances in transition.

That tilted the ice in the Bulldogs’ favor with the visitors outshooting the hosts 36-9 over the final 40 minutes.

“We tried to make too many one-on-one moves and it doesn’t work against that team,” Tigers coach Mike Haviland said. “We turned it over instead of putting the pucks behind them and playing to our identity. We played OK in the first. In the second we did not play a smart hockey game and it cost us late in the period there when they get a huge goal late. We cannot do that. We cannot give up that goal that late with juniors on the ice. It’s unacceptable.”

UMD out shot the Tigers by a 15-4 margin in the second to go ahead for good on a tally by Kobe Roth with 1:32 left in the frame. It was Roth’s second goal this weekend and his second as a Bulldog. It came after a CC timeout that allowed Haviland to rest his players and put his better juniors — Mason Bergh, Trey Bradley, Andrew Farny, Nick Halloran and Ben Israel —  out on the ice.

“It was a crucial part of the period there and it kind of backfired,” Haviland said. “We put our top guys on the ice and we turn it over and they score. Big part of the game.”

The barrage continued in the third against CC sophomore goalie Alex Leclerc (18 saves), who stepped in for freshman Alec Calvaruso (22 saves), who suffered a lower-body injury late in the second period but stayed in until intermission with CC trailing 2-1.

In the third period, Duluth pumped in two goals in 40 seconds against Leclerc. Duluth went ahead 3-1 after a shot by Parker Mackay was inadvertently deflected in by a CC defenseman with 15:07 left. UMD pressed forward and Billy Exell scored off a scramble in front with 14:27 left for a 4-1 edge. The BUlldogs enjoyed a 38-15 edge in shots with that score.

Roth scored his third NCAA goal and third this weekend late in the third for the final margin in a rare blowout between the schools. The previous six games were one-goal games or ties.

“I was not happy with our last 40 (minutes),” Haviland said. “We did not play to our identity. That is not who we need to be to win a hockey game. We need to play a smart, simple game.”

In the first period, CC jumped out to the early lead when Westin Michaud scored on a one-timer off a pass by mason Bergh to convert the Tigers’ first power-play opportunity 7:27 into the game,

Duluth tied the game up when defenseman Nick Wolff fired a shot from the point past Calvaruso, who was screened by 6-foot-6 UMD forward Riley Tufte. The tally came with about three seconds left on the Bulldogs’ first power play and with only 5:37 left in the frame.