Colorado College hockey climbs in both national polls

IMG_8514The two national polls were released on Monday and idle Colorado College saw its position improve in both rankings.

The USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll features the 4-1-1 Tigers at No. 16 (if that poll went past a top 15) and at No. 21 (if the USCHO poll went past a Top 20).

Last week, CC was No. 20 in the USA Hockey poll and tied for No. 21 in the USCHO rankings.

The Tigers will get a chance to improve their rankings when they host No. 2 St. Cloud State (both polls) this weekend nto open National Collegiate Hockey Conference play.

 

Colorado College flirting with Top 20 following 4-1-1 start

Colorado College continued its climb in the U.S. College Hockey Online national poll, moving up from No. 25 into a tie for No. 21 with 0-1 Boston University after a 1-0-1 home series result against Hockey East’s New Hampshire.

The Tigers are now 4-1-1 entering their first bye weekend and host No. 2 St. Cloud State in early November.

CC leads Division 1 with 27 goals, paced by five for junior Alex Berardinelli. That puts the junior in a four-way tie for goals in D1 while his two shorthanded goals lead the nation.

Here is this week’s USCHO poll.

 

uscho poll oct 22

CC freshmen, top line spark Tigers in nonconference victory over New Hampshire

halloran_action-628x379

File photo from 2017-18 season.

Colorado College’s top line and freshmen stepped forward in a big way Saturday night to help the Tigers hold off New Hampshire, 4-3, and extend their unbeaten streak to four nonconference games.

Freshmen Ty Pochipinski and Bryan Yoon both scored their first NCAA goals while Erik Middendorf recorded his first college assist. Pochipinski’s score, assisted by Middendorf, put CC ahead for good and Yoon’s late first-period tally that made it 4-2, proved to be the eventual game-winner after an empty-net goal for the Wildcats late in the third.

“We’re bringing in guys who have played a high level in juniors and been successful,” coach Mike Haviland said. “They have been real good — the whole class. We have a couple good ones who aren’t playing which is a good sign for (the National Collegiate Hockey Conference program).”

Pochipinski’s goal came on his first shot on his second shift. His parents, including former Tigers player Trevor Pochipinski, and grandparents were on hand for the milestone.

“It’s a wonderful feeling,” Ty said.

The Tigers enter their first bye week with a 4-1-1 record because they shook off the disappointment of sliding into a 3-3 tie Friday night and responded with a fast start on Saturday. That start was sparked by the play of the top line, paced by Trey Bradley (one goal, two assists), Nick Halloran (one goal, one assist) and Mason Bergh (two assists).

CC never trailed thanks to Bradley’s opening goal 103 seconds into the contest.

“It was nice to see them get going a little bit there,” Haviland said. “There’s a lot of pressure on them and they are putting a lot of pressure on themselves. Teams are checking them. They’re not an unknown group now. That’s the key. They are going to have to work even harder now because people are going to go hard against them and check them. They have been pressing a little too hard and worrying about it, so it was nice to see (the production).”

CC played better overall defense on Saturday and avoided the lapses that allowed UNH to answer the Tigers’ goals on Friday.

Instead the 2,984 fans on hand saw Halloran and his familiar quick release stake the hosts to a 3-1 lead midway through the first period. The goal was set up by Bergh winning a battle for a loose puck the boards, from where he passed to Bradley, who set up Halloran.

CC’s penalty kill was sound but struggles on the power play, especially during the second period, helped the Wildcats (0-3-1) stay in the contest.

“(The power play) could have won us the game there but it was a little lackluster,” Haviland said. “That is something we certainly need to work on.”

Post-goal letdowns drop Colorado College into 3-3 home tie against New Hampshire

blumenscheinThose looking for a high-octane offensive battle got their wish in the third period.

Those hoping for a third-straight Colorado College win? Well, they left the Broadmoor World Arena disappointed albeit entertained after New Hampshire battled back twice to forge a 3-3 tie Friday night.

After a tight 1-1 battle through the first two periods, the third was characterized by end-to-end action and sudden bursts of scoring. And to the frustration of the majority of 3,312 fans and the Tigers, UNH had an answer each time CC went ahead.

The Wildcats scored 16 seconds after Alex Berardinelli’s team-high fifth goal put CC ahead 2-1 with 13:52 left. Later, Chris Wilkie gave the hosts a 3-2 lead that lasted only 93 seconds.

Those momentum killers are something the Tigers must avoid, coach Mike Haviland said.

“We need to learn that when we have a goal we have momentum and we can’t give it right back,” he said. “We did that twice tonight.”

The teams combined for 40 shots in the third and 5-on-5 overtime with CC goalie Alex Leclerc (39 saves) making some huge stops after the game was tied at 3-3 midway through the third.

He stopped Angus Crookshank, who scored the third UNH goal, with a leg-pad save with 6:57 left and later got a piece of a rising shot with his glove with 2:57 remaining. He recorded 36 saves in regulation, one more than he needed in last weekend’s wins combined. He made five saves early in OT as well.

UNH goalie Mike Robinson (34 saves) shined early and late, making two big stops in the final six seconds of overtime to secure the nonconference tie for the Wildcats (0-2-1). Robinson made 13 saves, including five stops on shots from within eight feet, in the first period.

“Their guy made some unbelievable saves,” Haviland said. “(Leclerc) was good and then so was (Robinson). We had a breakaway with six seconds left. That’s how wild the game was.”

UNH survived a good first period by the Tigers (3-1-1) and then outplayed Colorado College to tie the game at 1-1 in the second on a score by Max Gildon (1 goal, 2 assists Friday).

During the second frame, the Wildcats avoided the penalty box, allowing them to out shoot the hosts by a 13-4 margin to offset a 14-8 deficit through the first 20 minutes. UNH out shot CC by a 42-37 margin.

“Give them credit,” Haviland said. “We were standing around and watching (during the second). In the third we woke up and it becomes a wild game in the third. We need to tighten up to be sure. I don’t like the backdoor goals that were scored on us tonight. That’s some missed assignments there.”

Saturday’s video session will likely focus on the Tigers closing off the shooting lanes against UNH, which got 42 shots on goal despite 30 blocked shots by CC.

“They are a team that shoots it from everywhere,” Haviland said. “They have some really good D that can make some moves and get it to the net. We have to really do a better job in the lanes. We hurt ourselves turning it over at their blue line. Instead of chipping it in instead we tried to make a (1-on-1) play and that doesn’t work at this level.”

CC opened the scoring after Bryan Yoon sent a pass out to fellow rookie Grant Cruikshank, who ripped a rising shot on net. The shot blew past Robinson’s glove attempt and made it 1-0 only four seconds into the man advantage late in the first.

Colorado College blows past Air Force to win program’s first Pikes Peak Trophy

IMG_8514Colorado College senior Trey Bradley was tired of seeing the Air Force Falcons hoist the Pikes Peak Trophy.

He and the rest of the Tigers made sure that didn’t happen in 2018. Bradley scored twice in the opening two periods, including a did-you-just-see-that? tally midway through the second period for the eventual game-winner during a 6-1 rout on Saturday night at the Broadmoor World Arena.

“He’s been snake-bitten to start the year but he’s gotten a lot of chances,” Haviland said about Bradley. “He got the monkey off his back. I am proud of those seniors. They were on a mission tonight starting with Trey. It hasn’t been the greatest three years against them and to do that in their final season is something special (for the seniors).”

Bradley’s go-ahead goal sparked an eventual flurry of scoring for the Tigers. Junior Alex Berardinelli scored two shorthanded goals in 57 seconds (during the same power play) midway through the third for the final margin and his team-high fourth goal.

But it started with Bradley. He forced an Air Force turnover in the neutral zone, collected the puck and raced toward the Falcon net.

The 158-pound senior, the lightest player on the ice, then bulled his way to the front of the Falcons net, lifting the puck with a near-side backhanded shot past Air Force goalie Billy Christopoulos’s glove attempt before colliding with the netminder.

Bradley drew a goalie interference penalty for the contact after the puck crossed the goal line so the tally stood for a 2-1 lead. Air Force was unable to convert the subsequent man advantage and CC began to draw penalty after penalty for the remainder of the period.

“I’ll take it,” said Bradley, who also scored the opening goal for his first tally this season. ”They had our number for the past couple years. It feels great but it is just a step in the right direction for us.”

A speed advantage throughout the CC lineup proved telling. Air Force players were caught out of position often, which led to holding, interference and hooking calls that turned the game against the visitors.

CC cashed in its second power-play goal of the night when Westin Michaud batted in a rebound off a hard shot by Nick Halloran to make it 3-1, Tigers with 3:14 remaining in the second. Moments after a power play to start the third expired, Tigers freshman Ben Copeland knocked in a rebound off a Christiano Versich shot for a 4-1 edge.

Then things got even uglier for the Falcon faithful.

The speedy Berardinelli  converted a shorthanded chance to end Christopoulos’ night (18 saves). The junior then scored on a similar rising shot inside the far post against Falcons backup Zack LaRocque 57 seconds later for a 6-1 lead midway through the third period.

Program archives were unclear if that was a school record but it was the first consecutive shorthanded scores on the same penalty kill for CC since Jeff Collett and Rylan Schwartz did it against Clarkson on Oct. 12, 2012.

CC cruised to its first win of the rivalry trophy since its creation in 2013. The 3-1 start for the National Collegiate Hockey Conference program is its best since the 2012-13 season.

The loss stings but what concerned AFA coach Frank Serratore was how the 0-2 Falcons went down quietly with little intensity displayed over the final 10 minutes of the rout.

“I like our talent but I don’t like our testosterone level,” Serratore said. “We went out with a whimper and that is not us. We fight until the end. When someone is kicking sand in your face you better respond and I don’t think we responded well. We have a long ways to go.”

CC overcomes red-hot Chargers goalie to grind out 1-0 home-opening victory

Colorado College fans were treated to excellent performances by both goalies in the Tigers’ home-opener.

And fortunately for the Tigers (2-1), they eked out a 1-0 nonconference win despite a Herculean effort by Alabama-Huntsville sophomore goalie Mark Sinclair, who recorded 46 saves, including 23 in the first period. His performance Friday stymied an otherwise dominate performance by CC.

“We probably had 25 (Grade-) A chances,” Tigers coach Mike Haviland said. “Their goalie was outstanding. I would like to see us bear down more but that is what you get sometimes. You get a hot goalie. If you score a couple, it’s a different game.”

“He gave us a chance to win the game and that’s all you can ask for,” Chargers coach Mike Corbett said.

Friday’s result was decided during a 74-second sequence in the second period at The Broadmoor World Arena. CC junior goalie Alex Leclerc (18 saves) made a big-time save on a solo breakaway for UAH’s Christian Rajic, who collected the puck in the Tigers zone off an unforced turnover.

Leclerc made the short-range stop and 1:14 later, CC sophomore Christiano Versich score the only goal with 12:34 left. Versich collected a pass from senior defenseman Ben Israel and then skated right between the faceoff circles into the slot from where he lifted a wrist shot past Sinclair, who had made 25 saves, seven more than Leclerc needed for his eighth career shutout, by that point.

“The guys did a great job clearing the puck away and not allowing them to get to any rebounds, which made my job super easy,” Leclerc said. “My job is to stop the puck no matter how much time there is between shots. (Sinclair) came here to perform tonight and he did a tremendous job for them.”

The CC home-opener looked very much like an mid-October game with the Tigers having only one full week of practice. That was evident on the power play which seemed a tad deliberate at times, especially during the 5-on-3. CC is now 3 for 19 (15.8 percent) with the man advantage.

“Simplifying the power play is where we at and that means getting more shots,” Haviland said. “We also need more of a net-front presence. We didn’t have enough of that tonight.”

Tigers fans are also looking for the top line of Mason Bergh, Nick Halloran and Trey Bradley to replicate last season’s production. The threesome has a combined three points (one Halloran goal) in three games. They were held off Friday’s scoresheet.

“That top line for us had a ton of chances,” Haviland said. “Last year, some of those go in. They are not going in right now so they need to dig down and find a way to continue to get chances then really finish them off.”

Next up is another goalie, Air Force’s Billy Christopoulos, who can take over a game. He recorded 22 stops against No. 10 Denver in a 4-1 home loss heading into Saturday’s 7 p.m. Mountain Pikes Peak Trophy game. It is a piece of college hockey hardware the Tigers seniors have never won.

“You are going to see a lot more intensity,” Leclerc said. “We know how much is at stake.”

CC Hockey vs Wisconsin

Colorado College vs Wisconsin, Broadmoor World Arena, Nov. 25, 2016

Alaska-Anchorage rallies in third to secure series split against CC

uaa cc finalAlaska-Anchorage scored twice in about three minutes midway through the third period to forge a nonconference series split against Colorado College with a 4-3 win on Sunday night at Sullivan Arena The Tigers won the series opener by a 10-2 margin.

UAA’s Nils Rygaard scored on a blast past CC sophomore goalie Alec Calvaruso to tie the game at 3-3 with 12:22 left in the third period. About three minutes later, Tomi Hiekkavirta scored the game-winner.

CC took advantage of a string of UAA penalties, including a 5-minute checking from behind call, to retake the lead at 3-2 late in the second period.

Junior Chris Wilkie made his presence felt on the subsequent power play when Nick Halloran redirected his shot in to tie the game at 2-2 only 15 seconds into the extended man advantage.

Later, Wilkie scored while on the power play for the 3-2 margin heading into the third period. The Tigers almost made it 4-2 but freshman Bryan Yoon’s shot clanged off the post.

Alex Berardinelli scored his second of the year for a 1-0 lead in the first period. He scored CC’s opening goal on Saturday.

The last CC road sweep was at Wisconsin in November 2012.

National roundup

No. 13 Minnesota 7, No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth 4

MINNEAPOLIS — Mat Robson made 42 saves and the host Gophers chased UMD goalie Hunter Shepard en route to the win – coach Bob Motzko’s first leading UM.

The result ended a nine-game winless skid for the Gophers vs. Duluth that dated back to October 2014. The teams split on the weekend.

Miami 4, Alabama-Huntsville 0

OXFORD, Ohio – Miami swept the Chargers despite 41 saves by UAH goalie Jake Theut in Sunday’s loss. Miami out shot UAH by a 45-11 margin and 83-29 for the series. MU won 5-1 on Saturday night.

CC opens home play on Friday against the Chargers.

Lake Superior State 1, Merrimack 0

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Max Humitz scored 35 seconds into the second period for the only goal as the WCHA’s Lakers swept Merrimack, which was picked to place last in 11-team Hockey East.  CC plays at Merrimack on Dec. 31.

Arizona State 5, Alaska 0

TEMPE – The Sun Devils recorded their second shutout in a row to give the independent its first 2-0 start in program history. Joey Daccord made 13 saves in the shutout. CC travels to ASU for a Dec. 14-15 nonconference series.

Exhibition scores: Air Force 2, Alberta 2 OT; USA U-18 4, No. 2 Notre Dame 1; Omaha 6, Manitoba 1; No. 6 St. Cloud State 6, Mount Royal 2.