In the pros: Connelly, Hillen, Prosser

Nashville Predators' Jack Hillen, right, takes a shot against St. Louis Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak, of the Czech Republic, as the Blues' Jason Arnott (44) defends during the first period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Dec. 30, 2011, in St. Louis. - Sarah Conard /AP Photo

Former Tiger Brian Connelly recorded an assist in a loss for the AHL Rockford IceHogs (Blackhawks affiliate) and a goal in another setback.

He is only one point (28, 24 assists) behind Mark Barberio of Norfolk (29 points, 26 assists) for the league lead among defensemen.

Nate Prosser was in the middle of things for the Wild during a snippy 4-3 win over Edmonton.

WCHA roundup: Denver downs Union

Compiled from WCHA.com …

No. 15 Denver 3, No. 10 Union 1

DENVER – No. 15 Denver returned from the holiday break with a solid 3-1 win over No. 10 Union before a sellout crowd of 6,053 Friday night at Magness Arena.

Denver (9-7-3) started fast with first-period goals from Drew Shore, Joey LaLeggia and Shawn Ostrow and Juho Olkinuora made a career-high 42 saves in the win.

Jeremy Welsh scored for Union (9-4-5) and Colin Stevens took the loss after yielding two power-play goals in the first eight minutes of the game.

No. 2 Minnesota 5, Niagara 1

MINNEAPOLIS — Playing for the first time in 20 days, the Minnesota men’s hockey team started the second half of its season strong, defeating Niagara 5-1 at Mariucci Arena on Friday night. The victory put the second-ranked Golden Gophers in the Mariucci Classic championship game against Northeastern of Hockey East on Saturday at 6 p.m.

Without the aid of two of its top scorers, U.S. World Junior Championship team members Nick Bjugstad and Kyle Rau, UM never let go of a lead it took just 1:58 into the opening frame.

Senior forward Nick Larson buried a Jake Parenteau rebound just before the two-minute mark of the first period to give the Gophers a 1-0 lead.

The assist was Parenteau’s first collegiate point. It came in the 26th game of his career and the 18th game of his sophomore season.

The Gophers built on their lead just over a minute after Larson’s tally when another senior, Jake Hansen, converted on a Sam Warning rebound to make it a two-goal game.

Nebraska-Omaha 2, Quinnipiac 2

OMAHA — Sophomore forward Ryan Walters scored at 11:42 of the third period to lift the Nebraska Omaha Mavericks into a 2-2 tie against the Quinnipiac Bobcats on Friday night at the CenturyLink Center.

North Dakota 4, Harvard 4

GRAND FORKS — Freshman defenseman Nick Mattson scored two goals and freshman forward Brendan O’Donnell had a goal and an assist as North Dakota skated to a 4-4 tie against Harvard at Engelstad Arena on Friday.

Bemidji State 4, Bowling Green 1

BEMIDJI — Junior forward Aaron McLeod, senior forward Drew Fisher and junior forward Ben Kinne each scored in the second period as Bemidji State defeated Bowling Green, 4-1, on Friday at Sanford Center.

USA U-18 3, MSU-Mankato 3 (exhibition)

MANKATO — Junior forward Eriah Hayes scored a shorthanded goal at 19:09 of the third period to lift Minnesota State to a 3-3 tie against the US Under-18 Team on Friday night at Verizon Wireless Center.

Air Force knocks off CC

Air Force’s Casey Kleisinger broke free for a shorthanded goal with 4:56 left in the second period  for the eventual game-winner as the Atlantic Hockey Association leaders knocked off No. 5 Colorado College 2-1 Friday at World Arena.

It was Air Force’s first win at the current World Arena and fists road win since 1985 at the Broadmoor World Arena (6-5 OT).

Tigers junior defenseman Mike Boivin fired a slap shot past AFA goalie Stephen Caple early in the third to male it 2-1. The Tigers dominated the final period, outshooting Air Force (10-4-2) 17-2 before slowing down in the final five minutes.

“We got what we deserved,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said. “They played hard and smart and got the win. We had a great third period but it wasn’t enough.”

On Kleisinger’s goal, the puck was passed  off the far boards by Mike Walsh and ended up in the middle of the CC blue line where Kleisinger skated forward to get the puck and split the CC defenders, who were slow to react.

He skated straight up ice and beat CC goalie Josh Thorimbert to give Air Force a 2-0 lead and the cushion the Falcons needed to weather the CC storm.

Air Force dominated the first period outshooting Colorado College 9-5 thanks to two power plays, including a score with the man advantage by Scott Mathis to give the Falcons a 1-0 lead headed into the first intermission.

CC (11-6) will look to bounce back against No. 10 Union, which lost at Denver 3-1 on Friday at 7 p.m. Saturday.

“I feel confident in the the guys we have in (the locker room),” Boivin said.

Air Force 2, No. 5 Colorado College 1

Air Force 2, No.  5 Colorado College 1

Air Force              1              1              0              –2

Colorado College              0              0              1              — 1

First period –1. Air Force, Mathis (Kruse, Demers) 8:32 (PP).  Penalties – AFA, Gunner, holding, 3:52; CC, Morin, tripping, 7:28; CC, Eveland, interference, 10:02.

Second period –  2, Air Force, Kleisinger (Walsh) 15:04 (SH).  Penalties –  AFA, McKenzie, interference, 13:17;

Third period – 3. Colorado College, Boivin (R. Schwartz, Skalbeck) 7:50. Penalties – AFA, Mathis, hooking, :22.

Power play – Air Force 1-2, Colorado College 0-3. Shots on goal – Air Force 10-5-2 – 17; Colorado College 6-11-17 — 34. Saves-minutes —  Air Force, Caple 6-11-16-60:00; Colorado College, Thorimbert  9-4-2 – 59:33. Attendance –7,673.

Air Force shorty makes it 2-0 headed into third

Air Force’s Casey Kleisinger broke free for a shorthanded goal with 4:56 left in the second period to put the visiting Falcons ahead 2-0 headed into the third.

The puck was passed by CC off the far boards and ended up in the middle of the blue line where Kleisinger skated forward to get the puck and split the CC defenders, who were  toward the boards.

He skated straight up ice and beat CC goalie Josh Thorimbert to give Air Force a 2-0 lead and the cushion the Falcons need to collapse into a defensive shell for the third period, waiting for a counterattack chance.

Air Force dominated the first period outshooting Colorado College 9-5 thanks to two power plays, including a score with the man advantage by Scott Mathis to give the Falcons a 1-0 lead headed into the first intermission.

Air Force leads 1-0 after one

Air Force dominated the first period, outshooting Colorado College 9-5 thanks to two power plays, including a score with the man advantage by Scott Mathis to give the Falcons a 1-0 lead headed into the first intermission.

General admission seats still available

Because the CC students are out on the holiday break, plenty of general admission seats in Sections 102, 103 and 202 and 203  are available for people tonight and Saturday.

Go to the World Arena box office now to get a good seat.

Friday’s lines: Air Force at Colorado College

Air Force

LW-C-RW

DeLaurell/Demers/Kruse

Weisgarber/Carew/Gunner

Thomas/Michalke III/Kleisinger

Holm/Fabian/Torrel

LD-RD

McKenzie/Weisenhofer

Mathis/Kirby

Musselman/Walsh

Goalies –– Caple/Moberg/Torf

Colorado College

LW-C-RW

Skalbeck/R. Schwartz/Rapuzzi

Krushelnyski/Dineen/Winkler

Eveland/Civitarese/Collett

Morin/Hall/Hamburg

LD-RD

Guentzel/McDermott

Harstad/Marciano

Young/Boivin

Goalies — Thorimbert/Howe/Lockwood

Friday reading: Previews and recaps

North Dakota faces an unfamiliar foe, Harvard, with plenty of familiar players from Minnesota. As beat writer Brad Schlossman points out, this is an important series for UND, which needs to pick up some Pairwise ranking points.

That said, CC, No. 15 in the latest rankings, needs them too. Playing a tough, physical opponent like Air Force followed by No. 10 Union is business as usual for Nos. 5/6 Colorado College.

“It’s just like a weekend in the WCHA,” senior defenseman Gabe Guentzel said earlier this week. “You empty the tank on Friday and come back for more on Saturday.”

Last year  a 6-4 win over Air Force was followed by a rout at the hands of No. 1 Yale, which according to Pairwise analysts secured a top seed based on that 5-1 win. Fortunately for CC fans, Union plays Denver the night before.

Here’s the Gazette’s previews focusing on CC and Air Force, which hosts Denver on Saturday.

The NCHC commissioner search looks to be lasting until January.

Former CC goalie Michael Shibrowski is still waiting for his chance to play. Kent Patterson will start against Niagara tonight at the Mariucci Classic with a game against either Princeton or Northeastern on Saturday for No. 2 Minnesota. Here’s notes from the Minnesota beat writer, including a setback for UND nickname supporters.

Nebraska-Omaha has a chance to boost its nonconference record (2-4) with a weekend series against Quinnipiac.

A hot Bemidji State (5-1-1 of late) team takes on future WCHA foe Bowling Green, winless in its last eight, for the first time.

MSU-Mankato takes on the USA U-18 squad in an exhibition tonight.

Thursday’s recaps from WCHA.com …

St. Cloud State 4, No. 8 Western Michigan 2

ST. CLOUD —  The St. Cloud State University men’s hockey team (8-9-4, 5-6-3 WCHA) rallied to win a big 4-2 decision over #8 Western Michigan University (9-5-5, 7-4-3 CCHA) on Thursday, Dec. 29 at the National Hockey Center in St. Cloud, Minn.

The series concludes tonight in St. Cloud.

The Huskies relied on a pair of goals by senior forward Jared Festler to capture the victory, which included Festler’s game winner at 16:55 of the third period with power play assists from freshman defender Andrew Prochno and sophomore defender Nick Jensen.

No. 14 Michigan State 3, Michigan Tech 1

DETROIT – Michigan Tech held a 46-26 advantage in shots on goal but fell 3-1 to Michigan State in the first semifinal of the 47th annual Great Lakes Invitational Hockey Tournament at Joe Louis Arena. Down 2-0 after two periods, the Huskies (9-10-1) pulled within one with 12 minutes to play before the Spartans (11-6-2) added an empty net goal.

“I’m proud of our team,” said Tech’s head coach Mel Pearson. “We played a pretty good game today and just didn’t get the bounces. I’m disappointed for the guys because I feel like we deserved a better result.”

The Huskies play No. 3 Boston College which lost 4-2 to No. 20 Michigan later Thursday for third at 2 p.m. Friday.

Notes: Junior forward Chad Pietila played his first game in a Tech uniform after sitting out a year because of NCAA Division I transfer rules …Junior defenseman Tommy Brown saw his first action since the opening weekend against American International. He had sat out with a medical condition.

In the pros: Prosser, Sejna

 

Peter Sejna scores on a penalty shot last season in the Swiss A League. The league champs are representing Switzerland in the annual Spengler Cup.

Former Tiger Nate Prosser will play at 6 Mountain tonight for the Wild at Nashville.

Peter Sejna scored twice for host HC Davos in a 8-1 win over Canada in the Spengler Cup on Wednesday.

The Spengler Cup, the world’s oldest professional international hockey tournament, has been held in the picturesque mountain town of Davos since 1923. The competition features five European club teams and a Canadian entry comprised largely of European-based pros.