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.

Notebook: Air Force upperclassmen lead second-half surge

Ledford_3065-1Senior Tyler Ledford (above) scored the OT goal that lifted Air Force to the Atlantic Hockey semifinals, and he is one of five juniors and seniors leading the team offensively.

The Falcons won the tournament last year and six of the past 11 years. Their veteran presence will certainly help entering Friday’s semifinal vs. Canisius, as it has in the second half – Air Force is 12-4-2 since it started the season 8-10-3. They face Dylan McLaughlin, who is the league’s Hobey Baker Top 10 finalist.

The Atlantic Hockey scoring champion and First Team all-conference playmaker has vaulted to sixth in the national scoring charts. He got off to a fast start, collecting points in 15 of his first 16 games. His 31 assists in 36 games ranks him sixth in the nation. He has 17 goals, 31 assists for 48 points in 36 games – only five minor penalties all season.

Robert Morris (17-19-3) is the only team under .500 in action this weekend, but the Colonials are 4-1-1 in their last six … Regular-season champion Mercyhurst is seeking its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2005.

Largest Senior Classes
11 – Mercyhurst
9 – Connecticut, Robert Morris
8 – Air Force, Canisius, five other teams
Note that the four AHC semifinalists are listed.
Fewest Even-Strength Goals Against per Game
0.81 – Cornell
1.19 – Clarkson
1.38 – Minnesota State
1.39 – Minnesota Duluth
1.47 – Northeastern
1.49 – Air Force
The NCAA Tournament Selection Show is slated for 10 a.m. MT on Sunday, March 18 (ESPNU, TSNGO)
This marks the third straight season that the top four seeds advanced to the NCHC’s Frozen Faceoff … No team has swept the NCHC regular-season and playoff titles in the same year entering this, the fifth year of the conference.

Thanks and a request

press hatHello everyone:

As some of you already know, I was recently rehired for my former college hockey reporter position at The Gazette. As a result, I have to end my personal college hockey blog because of time constraints and also to avoid competing for page views with the Gazette’s College Hockey Blog: http://blogs.gazette.com/collegehockey/

The new/old blog will be much the same as Paisley Hockey and Eye of the Tigers before it with more Air Force and CC coverage since I am covering the teams full-time and even getting paid to do it now. That is good news for me and hopefully for college hockey fans looking for more news and links.

The @Paisleyhockey Twitter account will continue with score updates and story links from around the WCHA and AHA and soon, the NCHC. I will also maintain my Paisley Hockey Facebook page as a convenient news feed to find blog updates, etc.  I would also encourage CC fans to join the Colorado College Hockey group on Facebook where my blog updates appear regularly.

Thank you all for following Paisley Hockey. Maintaining this blog kept me up to speed on college hockey even while I juggled freelance assignments. No doubt, that preparedness played a large part in me being rehired by The Gazette.

For that and you all, I am grateful.

Joe Paisley

Joe.paisley@gazette.com

Air Force rallies with two goals in third period

Air Force needed a hero to step forward.

Two did, and they were not the usual suspects most of the 2,107 fans on hand expected to spark a stirring 3-2 comeback win over Canisius on Saturday night.

Sophomore Scott Holm scored twice in the third period, including banging home a rebound for the game-winner with 8:22 remaining, as the second-place Falcons swept the Golden Griffins at Cadet Ice Arena.

It was the third-liner’s sixth and seventh goals this season.

Here is the rest of the article.

Canisius power play puts Griffs ahead after one

Canisius left wing Doug Beck tipped in a rebound with 5:32 left in the first period after Mitch McCrank one-timed a crossing pass from Kyle Gibbons for a power-play goal and a 1-0 lead.

Air Force out shot the Golden Griffins 15-8 in the period but goalie Tony Capobianco started well and di not allow many rebounds.

Canisius has a couple other good chances thanks to turnovers in the Air Force zone to keep AFA goalie Jason Torf busier that his seven saves suggest.

Saturday’s lines: Canisius at Air Force

airforce-kruseCanisius

LW-C-RW

Shupe-Sullivan-Gibbons

Miller-McCrank-Cuddemi

Beck-Larsson-Wiseman

Lindsay-Rigney-Bohrer

LD-RD

McKellar-Danford

Roe-Rumble

Parker-Jessey

Goalies – Capobianco, Asmundson

Air Force

LW-C-RW

De Laurell-Carew-Gunner

Thomas-Demers-Timar

Holm-Carey-Kruse

Kleisinger-Fabian-Persian

Extra forward — Hartner

LD-RD

McKenzie-Weissenhofer

Artman-McDonald

Halloran-Walsh

Goalies – Torf, Moberg, Bosner

De Laurell sparks AFA to 1-0 lead after one

Air Force senior Kyle De Laurell continued his scoring tear, recording his 10th goal in 11 games when he knocked in his own rebound only 19 seconds in the Atlantic Hockey Association game against visiting Canisius.

De Laurell sckated in hard through the right faceoff circle, firing  a hard shot that went off canisoius goalie Tony capobiancos chest pad and bounced out in front.

De Laurell skated through the sot after his shot and found the loose puck in front to wrist the pcuk into a wide-open net for a 1-0 lead. It was his 14th goal this season.

The score energized the crowd and the Golden Griffins, who played better defense the rest of the period and killed off two Falcon power plays. AFA had its chances with Capobianco, one of the better goalies in the AHA, allowing some juicy rebounds that the falcons were unable to convert. Scott Holm had a shot go off the crossbar with about two minutes left in the period.

Friday’s lines: Canisius at Air Force

Canisius

airforce-kruseLW-C-RW

Freeman-Sullivan-Gibbons

Shupe-McCrank-Cuddemi

Miller-Rogney-Wiseman

Lindsay-Larsson-Bohrer

LD-RD

McKellar-Danford

Roe-Rumble

Parker-Jessey

Goalies – Capobianco, Asmundson

Air Force

LW-C-RW

De Laurell-Carew-Gunner

Thomas-Demers-Timar

Holm-Carey-Kruse

Kleisinger-Fabian-Persian

LD-RD

McKenzie-Weissenhofer

Artman-McDonald

Halloran-Walsh

Goalies – Torf, Moberg, Bosner

Friday reading: MSU, Gophers, UND, UMD, previews, predictions

DSCF0396I am leading off with three WCHA series that more directly affect idle CC in its efforts to garner home playoff ice. The latest standings are at the end of the post.

Tenth-place Michigan Tech at sixth place (3-way tie) Minnesota State: Minnesota State is College Hockey News’ team of the week. Freshman Teddy Blueger is a big reason why the Mavs are enjoying a solid season.

MSU’s Matt Leitner is featured by the Mankato Free Press, which produces a capsule preview too.

Idle Denver’s one-point weekend against CC allowed MSU to move into CBS’ Top 10 Power Rankings.

Ninth-place Minnesota-Duluth at 11th-place Bemidji State: Minnesota-Duluth is struggling right now. Here is an injury update and more from the News-Tribune beat writer.  UMD is  one point back of the Tigers and winless since a victory at CC on Jan. 18. This may be 11th place BSU’s best chance to break through for its first win of 2013.

Third-place Minnesota (tie) at sixth-place Wisconsin (3-way tie): Here is a look at Minnesota’s league title prospects. The Gophers play Wisconsin indoors Friday and need to focus on that game to make a move up the standings against idle North Dakota and WCHA-leading St. Cloud State, which is also off this weekend.

UND’s troubles getting back to Grand Forks from Omaha this past weekend are detailed by the GF Herald folks in this video.

Third-place Nebraska Omaha is eager to pull off a road sweep of Alaska-Anchorage to try to keep up in the MacNaughton Cup race.  Despite a poor record, last-place UAA has only been swept once at home this season and Jordan Kwas is a big reason why.

Here are USCHO’s predictions for this weekend.

In other leagues, Air Force hosts Canisius in an important Atlantic series for the Falcons, who are battling to finish in the top four and earn a first-round bye. ECAC Colgate is relatively close to getting an on-campus hockey arena.

Updated WCHA standings …

WCHA Games
Overall
GP
W
L
T
Pts
GF
GA
W
L
T
GF
GA
St. Cloud State
22
15
6
1
31
74
47
18
11
1
99
72
North Dakota
22
11
5
6
28
72
56
16
8
6
96
74
Minnesota
20
11
5
4
26
68
48
19
5
4
105
54
Nebraska Omaha
22
12
8
2
26
74
65
16
12
2
103
83
Denver
22
10
7
5
25
70
64
15
9
5
98
77
Minnesota State
22
12
9
1
25
67
54
18
9
3
94
68
Wisconsin
22
9
6
7
25
49
48
12
9
7
63
57
Colorado College
22
8
10
4
20
72
77
11
14
5
100
105
Minnesota Duluth
22
8
11
3
19
56
67
10
15
3
70
84
Michigan Tech
22
6
12
4
16
59
72
10
14
4
86
84
Bemidji State
22
4
13
5
13
45
69
5
17
6
57
86
Alaska Anchorage
24
2
16
6
10
45
84
4
17
7
56
95

Wednesday reading: CLASS Award, CC schedule, ‘What If’ calculator

Minnesota  unveiled  its jerseys for the Hockey City Classic  at Soldier Field on Sunday Feb. 17 at 3:30 p.m. CT vs. Wisconsin (Big Ten Network).

Minnesota unveiled its jerseys for the Hockey City Classic at Soldier Field on Sunday Feb. 17 at 3:30 p.m. CT vs. Wisconsin (Big Ten Network).

Air Force senior Stephen Carew and St. Cloud State’s Ben Hanowski, who will play CC next weekend, are two of the 10 national  Senior CLASS Award finalists.

Carew is the seventh consecutive Falcon to be a finalist for the award, joining Billy Devoney (2007), Frank Schiavone (2008), Mike Phillipich (2009), Matt Fairchild (2010),  Jacques Lamoureux (2011) and Paul Weisgarber (2012). Lamoureux became the first Air Force player in any sport to win the award.

An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the award encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.

The award is divided up by sport.  Other men’s hockey finalists: Brett Beebe, Western Michigan; Danny Biega, Harvard; Kyle Bonis, Ferris State;  Alex Gerke, Connecticut; Brendan Jamison, Robert Morris; Brandon Nunn, Holy Cross; Cheyne Rocha, Army; and Steven Spinell, Miami.

Fan voting is underway at the award website or its Facebook page through March 25. Fan votes will be combined with media and Division I head coaches’ votes to determine the winner, which will  be announced during the NCAA Frozen Four® April 11-13.

CC has the fifth-toughest remaining schedule in the WCHA this regular season.

Sioux Sports put out its annual ‘What If’ calculator so fans can predict upcoming WCHA games and then see how that may affect the final standings. If anything, it may give CC fans a reason to care about that Anchorage-Omaha series, for example.