WCHA roundup: Howe shines as league road teams go 4-0-2

Howe road saveColorado College 1, No. 8/9 Denver 1

DENVER – Colorado College senior goalie Joe Howe showed why he has started 100 games as a Tiger, competing and playing well to help the visiting Tigers hold on for their third tie in a row and forge a 1-1 deadlock at rival Denver Friday night.

“Joe battled and played like a senior,” said Tigers coach Scott Owens of the Plymouth, Minn. netminder, who made 33 saves, including seven in overtime. “It was a good, road playoff-type game for us, and I thought we competed hard and won more puck battles. I liked our level of competition and effort tonight, and the only thing missing was a W. That was a really good goalie we were playing against who’s been unbelievable since Christmas.”

The tie gives Denver the annual Golf Pan Trophy with five points out of a possible eight in the four-game series with only Saturday’s 7:07 p.m. game in Colorado Springs remaining.

Owens was ready to use a road tie against a Top-10 foe as another stepping stone toward becoming a better team as the playoffs approach. CC (10-14-5, 7-10-4 WCHA) would have had to sweep Denver to tie the four-game series.

Tigers sophomore Jordan DiGiando scored midway through the second period to tie the game at 1-1. Both squads had chances to break the deadlock.

“It could have gone either way,” Owens said. “We would prefer wins but I am happy to get a point on the road.”

CC’s Eamonn McDermott forced a DU turnover and generated his own breakaway in the third period. Denver goalie Juho Olkinuora made a desperate sprawling save from his back to make the stop.

Denver (15-8-5, 10-6-5) also had a number of chances with a couple 2-on-1 breakaways that Howe smothered and a power-play goal by Nolan Zajac that was negated by goalie interference on Denver’s David Makowski in the second period.

“I feel decent about the result but as a senior I am disappointed about not retaining the Gold Pan,” Howe said. “The team defense was probably the best we have had in 5-6 games and the forwards had a lot to do with that. That showed in our shots on goal.”

The Tigers out shot the Pioneers 36-34. The last time CC out shot an opponent was the 4-3 win at North Dakota on Jan. 11. The time before that was the 6-5 home loss to DU on Nov. 16.

No. 8/9 Denver 1, Colorado College 1

Colorado College              0              1              0              0              — 1

Denver                 1              0              0              0              — 1

First period — 1. Denver, Jacobson (Makowski) 17:11. Penalties – DU, Jacobson, holding, 14:58; DU, Knowlton, hooking, 17:59.

Second period – 2. CC, DiGiando (Maric, Hamburg) 10:46. Penalties – None.

Third period – none. Penalties –  CC, Schwartz, cross-checking, :30; CC, Krushelnyski, holding, 5:03; DU, Mayfield, roughing, 5:03; CC, Hanson, slashing, 13:12; DU, Phillips, slashing, 13:12; CC, Young, high sticking, 16:55.

Overtime – none. Penalties – DU, Ostrow, 5-minute contact to the head, game misconduct, 4:54.

Power play – CC 0-3, DU 0-2. Shots on goal – CC 11-13-11-1 – 36, DU 10-12-5-7 – 34. Saves-minutes – CC, Howe 9-12-5-7– 65:00; DU, Olkinuora 11-12-11-1 – 65:00.  Referees – Shepherd, Beaurline. Linesmen – Swaider, Pedigo. Attendance –  6,065  (6,026 capacity).

No. 7 North Dakota 2, No. 14/15 Nebraska-Omaha 1

OMAHA — Senior forward Danny Kristo scored a goal and an assist and freshman netminder Zane Gothberg made 33 saves to help North Dakota to a 2-1 victory against Nebraska Omaha on Friday night at CenturyLink Center.

Gothberg has started five of the last six games, losing once (2-1-2) with a 1.95 goals against average and .935 save percentage.  Gothberg’s .917 save percentage is tied for 8th-best by a UND freshman, just ahead of Ed Belfour (.915), who was at tonight’s game.

Alaska-Anchorage 5, Michigan Tech 4

HOUGHTON —  Senior forward Jordan Kwas scored two goals and an assist while freshman forward Blake Tatchell added a goal and two assists to lead Alaska Anchorage to a 5-4 win against Michigan Tech on Friday night at John MacInnes Student Ice Arena.  MTU had led 4-1.

Bemidji State 2, No. 19 Wisconsin 2

MADISON — Sophomore forward Danny Mattson scored at 6:08 of the third period to lift Bemidji State into a 2-2 tie with Wisconsin on Friday night at Kohl Center.

No. 1 Minnesota 4, No. 8/10 SCSU 2

ST. CLOUD — Junior forward Erik Haula scored two goals and junior defenseman Nate Schmidt had a goal and an assist to help Minnesota earn a 4-2 win against St. Cloud State on Friday at National Hockey Center.

No. 11/13 Minnesota State 4, Minnesota Duluth 2

DULUTH — Freshman forward Teddy Blueger and captain Eriah Hayes each had a goal and two assists to lead Minnesota State to a 4-2 win against Minnesota Duluth on Friday at AMSOIL Arena.

Tigers back in USCHO poll at No. 19

A road sweep at Wisconsin, which included a Saturday shutout by senior goalie Joe Howe, pictured,  moved Colorado College back into the USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll at No. 19, matching its preseason ranking.

The Tigers (5-3, 2-0 WCHA) host Bemidji State this weekend.

With 36 teams receiving votes, the parity in college hockey has never been greater in the poll voters’ estimation.

From USCHO …     

The top three teams remain the same as last week, including top-ranked Boston College as the Eagles received 48 of 50 first-place votes and further solidified its hold on No. 1 with two wins while many other top teams split their weekend series..

Minnesota is still No. 2 and Denver stays No. 3. The Pioneers received a first-place vote this week as well.  Cornell jumps two spots to No. 4 and Miami drops one to sit fifth.

North Dakota is also down one place to No. 6, while Notre Dame remains seventh, Union moves from 10th to eighth and tallied the other first-place vote, New Hampshire is again ninth and Western Michigan moves from No. 11 to No. 10.

Boston University climbs one to go to No. 11, Michigan falls four spots to No. 12, St. Lawrence jumps three places to No. 13, Harvard drops one spot to sit 14th and St. Cloud State gets into the top 15 with a three-spot jump from No. 18 last week.

At No. 16, Northern Michigan rises four, Massachusetts-Lowell falls three places to No. 17, Ferris State climbs one to No. 18, Colorado College gets back into the rankings at No. 19 and idle Minnesota-Duluth drops three places to No. 20 this week.

Additionally, 16 other teams received votes.  The USCHO.com Poll consists of 50 voters, including 28 coaches from the Division I conferences and 22 beat writers and sports professionals from across the country. The poll, published weekly by the Associated Press, is a production of USCHO.com, which provides in-depth coverage of college hockey.

Monday reading: Howe mask, coach Straub, Delich, Mankato

Here is a link to some other views of CC goalie Joe Howe‘s new mask, pictured. It looks very good. I am curious if he has the Serenity Prayer on the back as he has had in the past and who the old-school goalie in the picture may be. I think his grandfather was a goalie.

Former Tiger Brandon Straub is now an assistant coach for the Pikes Peak Miners 16U AAA club team. The Colorado Springs native played four years of professional hockey in the ECHL and AHL.  In 230 professional games, Straub accumulated 9 goals, 18 assists, and racked up 612 penalty minutes.

“Brandon is the perfect complement to our staff,” said head coach Lucas Trombetta said in a press release. “I have watched him work with players in our summer development camps over the past two years, and his ability to teach kids at this level is astounding.  He has the ability to break the game down into the smallest of details and his message to players is clear, concise, and spot-on.  Brandon took a path to professional hockey that is very similar to the path that all of our Pikes Peak players are on, and his experience at the Junior and NCAA level will no doubt have a positive impact on the guys in our organization.”

Dave Delich won the Colorado Golf Association Senior Stroke Play Championship on the third hole of a playoff on Friday.

Two former MSU-Mankato defenseman signed with ECHL Las Vegas.

Monday reading: Labosky, UMass, Howe, Carle, Cullen, Tech, UVM

Please, Tiger fans, do not make a “Big Lebowski” reference when you first meet 2013/14 CC commit Dan Labosky. He’s nice about it, but he is getting tired of hearing it. Here is a feature and Q&A on the Benilde-St. Margaret’s standout.

The fourth time is the charm: Vermont associate head coach John Micheletto accepted the UMass head coaching job on Sunday and may be announced officially as early as today. Three previous offers were made, reported by various media, and subsequently turned down.

CC goalie Joe Howe participated in the Wild’s prospect development camp, where DU’s Jason Zucker has performed well.

Former SCSU standout Matt Cullen, brother of former Tigers Mark and Joe, had a foundation that recently donated $1 million to help children.

Former Denver player David Carle starts up his assistant coaching career in Green Bay.

Michigan Tech picked up a BCHL commit. Good news for the Fairbanks tournament. Bemidji State added a volunteer assistant coach.

Vermont signee Zemgus Girgensons decided to sign with Buffalo before donning the Catamounts uniform. The Riga, Latvia native was the 14th pick in the 2012 draft and put up 104 points in 100 games at USHL Dubuque.

Fargo Force defenseman Butrus Ghafari, a Western Michigan signee, turned down chance  to play for the U.S. NTDP, per Force assistant Jesse Davis via Ryan S. Clark of the Fargo Forum. He is on the USA U-17 Team that will compete in the Five Nations tournament next month.

Monday reading: Douglas, Prosser, polls, Pairwise, postseason

Minnesota Wild defenseman Nate Prosser (39) and Dallas Stars center Steve Ott (29) tangle during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Former Tiger Nate Prosser, pictured at left, received a two-year contract extension  according to a Monday announcement. The new paperwork changed his two-way deal, meaning he was often sent down to the AHL whenever the Wild needed roster room, to a one-way NHL deal, meaning he cannot be demoted without first going on waivers.

The Gazette looks back on what was a big weekend for Air Force and CC, which moved up to No. 10 from 11 in the Inside College Hockey rankings, the U.S. College Hockey online weekly poll and the USA Today/USA Hockey poll.

CC sits in 16th in the Pairwise rankings, which would mean the Tigers would not be in the NCAA Tournament today with the 16th spot going to the Atlantic Hockey Association playoff champion.

In the USCHO poll, Boston University is the new No. 1, just ahead of Minnesota and Minnesota-Duluth, which split at Alaska-Anchorage and is 1-2-1 in its last four league games after a home tie and loss to Michigan Tech. The USA Hockey rankings have Minnesota at No. 1 followed by BU and Duluth.

Here’s an update on the new-look WCHA looking for a 10th member and a side note that the WCHA will not be back at the Xcel Energy Center in 2014. That suggests strongly that the National Collegiate Hockey Conference will hold its postseason tournament there.

Here’s an NHL.com feature on Ed Belfour.

Former CC assistants Norm Bazin and Jason Lammers continue to lead a surging UMass-Lowell team that was won 13 more games than last year.

Joey Crabb talks about the Leafs’ struggling penalty kill.

Last, but certainly not least, I want to acknowledge the passing of News 5 sports director Lee Douglas, who succumbed to kidney problems Sunday morning. I cannot say I knew him well. I wish I had.

He was always positive, pleasant and professional in my interactions with him at the Air Force press conferences and the annual hockey banquet. He was a good example for all us on how to do things right. He is missed already. RIP.

CC battles back to win Gold Pan

The Gold Pan Trophy is back where it belongs after Colorado College deliverable a memorable, gut-check performance against its hated rival.

The 11th-ranked Tigers overcame the biggest adversity they had faced this season, rallying from down 2-0 to forge a 2-2 tie and garner the annual traveling trophy from No. 13 Denver Saturday night at World Arena.

Denver jumped out to a 2-0 lead before injuries started to take a toll on the Tigers (15-9-2, 12-71 WCHA). Senior captain Nick Dineen left the game in the first period with an apparent upper body injury.

But the Tigers dug deep and found a way to win behind the heroics of Jaden Schwartz who sparked a two-goal spurt to tie the game and junior goalie Joe Howe, who later stepped in for sophomore goalie Josh Thorimbert after he was knocked out of the game in the second period after a collision from Denver’s Chris Knowlton of Colorado Springs. Thorimbert also suffered an upper body injury.

“Down 2-0, losing your captain, one of your best players and emotional leader,  tying and later losing your goalie, Josh, who was one of the hottest in the country is a lot to overcome,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said. ““We definitely earned that point and that trophy.”

Schwartz jumpstarted the Tigers and the announced crowd of 7,733 with a highlight-reel goal, weaving around two Denver defenders and beating DU goalie Juho Olkinuora high stick side with a hard-angle wrist shot to make it 2-1.

“I had speed and I caught them flat-footed, I guess,” Jaden said. “We definitely battled through adversity tonight especially after losing our captain and Thorny.”

Jaden didn’t remember when he last scored such a goal.

“You don’t really remember when you have a goal like that. But I’ll remember that for awhile,” Schwartz said.

So will the Pioneers and their fans.

“I’ll be having nightmares about the Jaden Schwartz goal,” Denver coach George Gwozdecky said. “They had absolutely nothing going for them but that’s what great players do.”

CC rode the momentum from that four-on-four goal, tying the game with a Jeff Collett power-play goal a couple minutes later. Collett camped out in front and tipped in a Rylan Schwartz crossing pass.

The score came after senior defenseman Gabe Guentzel, who averaged 32 minutes this weekend, kept the puck in the zone. The goal stood after a short video review.

Howe made sure the two goals stood, making big save after save, including a leg pad stack in overtime to rob Daniel Doremus with 2:46 left.

“He lives for this stuff,” Guentzel said.  “We didn’t have any doubts that Howie could get the job done.”

Saturday reading: Tigers eyeing third place before break

CC senior David Civitarese scored 88 seconds into overtime to give the Tigers a 2-1 road win Friday night.

The Tigers (10-5, 8-5 WCHA) have a chance to move into third place in the league  tonight if they can pull off a road sweep at MSU-Mankato. Easier said than done in this league.

CC goalie Josh Thorimbert shined in Friday’s win but don’t be surprised if Joe Howe gets the start.

Here’s write-ups on CC’s 2-1 OT win at MSU-Mankato Friday night from the WCHA, the Gazette and the Mankato Free Press.

The Tigers defense looked better on Friday.

Some thoughts to ponder from the Mankato Free Press and a link to a live game chat for tonight by the Freep.

Former Tiger Richard Bachman suffered his first loss in the NHL, 6-3 at New Jersey Friday.

Here’s the writeup from the St. Cloud Times on Denver’s 3-2 overtime win at the Huskies, who took a tough call at the end of regulation to set up the winning power-play goal by Drew Shore.

Preview notes for North Dakota’s Saturday home exhibition against the Russian Red Stars.

From the WCHA …

Bemidji State 3, Alabama-Huntsville 0

BEMIDJI — Backed by a 20-save effort by freshman goaltender Andrew Walsh. the Bemidji State University men’s ice hockey team served the University of Alabama-Huntsville a 3-0 loss Friday night at Sanford Center.

In a game decided by sharp goaltending, solid defense and a good penalty-kill effort, BSU got goals from three different players, en route to its 16th win in the last 20 meetings versus UAH (16-2-2).

Both BSU and UAH struggled out of the gates to find enough ice to generate any offensive pressure and finished the first period of play tied 0-0.

The Beavers broke the scoreless tie 3:17 into the second period on an delayed penalty goal. Jake Areshenko netted his second goal of the season on a slap shot from the point.

The series concludes tonight.

Northern Michigan 4, Michigan Tech 1

MARQUETTE, Mich. – Northern Michigan jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead en route to a 4-1 non-conference hockey victory over Michigan Tech tonight at the Berry Events Center. The Huskies (9-9-1) pulled within 2-1 in the second period on a goal by Aaron Pietila before the Wildcats (9-7-3) scored twice in the third period including an empty netter with 1:10 remaining.

“The first period was the hockey game,” said Tech coach Mel Pearson. “They jumped us pretty good, won the battles and scored on their opportunities. We battled back and made it close but couldn’t get all the way back. Tonight really showed the importance of a good start.”

Both teams are off for the Christmas break.

Current WCHA Standings

WCHA Games
Overall
GP
W
L
T
Pts
GF
GA
W
L
T
GF
GA
Minnesota
14
11
3
0
22
51
28
14
5
1
83
41
Minnesota Duluth
14
10
2
2
22
59
32
12
3
3
73
44
Nebraska Omaha
14
7
4
3
17
46
43
9
8
3
62
60
Colorado College
13
8
5
0
16
53
46
10
5
0
61
48
Denver
13
6
4
3
15
46
40
8
6
3
58
50
North Dakota
14
7
7
0
14
39
37
9
8
1
51
50
Michigan Tech
14
6
7
1
13
41
43
9
9
1
54
55
Bemidji State
14
5
7
2
12
36
46
8
9
2
50
56
St. Cloud State
13
4
6
3
11
38
40
6
9
4
59
61
Wisconsin
14
4
8
2
10
40
50
7
9
2
57
59
Alaska Anchorage
14
3
10
1
7
29
54
6
10
2
46
63
Minnesota State
13
2
10
1
5
35
54
5
13
1
53
69