WCHA names playoffs championship after former CC player, coach Jeff Sauer

20180227jstThe Western Collegiate Hockey Association announced that its men’s postseason trophy will be called the Jeff Sauer WCHA Championship Trophy starting this March.

“This is a truly proud and joyful day for the WCHA,” league president and men’s commissioner Bill Robertson said in a media release on Wednesday. “Jeff Sauer embodied all that is wonderful about hockey and everything we strive to represent as the WCHA. A legendary coach and ambassador for the game, Jeff was, above all, a wonderful person. All who knew him are better for the experience, and Jeff’s legacy – his passion, generosity, camaraderie and commitment – live on today. We are thrilled to introduce this new tournament championship trophy as a tangible reminder of Jeff Sauer’s enduring impact on our league and our sport.”

Jeff Sauer’s association with the WCHA spanned six decades, beginning with his playing career at Colorado College in the 1960s, continuing through 31 years as head coach of the Tigers (1971-82) and Wisconsin (1982-2002), and for 14 seasons (2003-17) in various consulting capacities to the WCHA league office.

The only WCHA head coach with 30 years behind the bench, he is the league’s all-time winningest coach with 665 victories – the 10th most in NCAA men’s hockey history. A two-time WCHA Coach of the Year, Sauer guided his CC and UW teams to a pair of league regular season titles and six WCHA playoff championships – the league pinnacle for which teams will now raise a trophy in his honor. Additionally, Sauer coached in 12 NCAA tournaments, advancing to the Frozen Four on three occasions and winning the 1983 and 1990 national championships with Wisconsin.

“Through his lifelong relationship with the league, first as a player, then a coach, and finally an administrator, Jeff valued the league’s heritage of success and the active role that the WCHA took in the growth of college hockey for both men and women,” the Sauer family said in a statement. “We are honored that the WCHA has chosen to name the Championship trophy in Jeff’s name, ensuring that his spirit will carry forward as a reminder of both the league’s distinguished history and as a guide for the future.”

Here are more details from USCHO.com, which includes a better picture of the trophy.

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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.

17 Tigers receive NCHC all-academic accolades

bergh nchc logo

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.