Updated Thursday reading: Another injury at North Dakota, NCHC reaction, preview notes

North Dakota announced that sophomore forward Derek Rodwell is out for the season with a shoulder injury. North Dakota already is playing without Rocco Grimaldi, Corban Knight, Mario Lamoureux and Derek Forbort.

New National Collegiate Hockey Conference commissioner Jim Scherr is a veteran sports administrator but does not have a ton of hockey experience as the St. Cloud Times points out. That’s a fair question, but a good hire for director of hockey operations should assuage any misplaced fears.

The Grand Forks Herald reports Scherr’s salary is $150,000 a year.

Brian Gomez continues to do a sound job on the the CC beat. His NCHC commissioner announcement sidebar has good info on future CC foes and the likely 24-game league slate. Here’s his main announcement story.

There’s hope for CC fans that sophomore Jaden Schwartz will play in Friday’s home game against Cornell. I’m guessing he will.

The WCHA announced its players of the week. CC’s Mike Boivin was nominated.

Here’s an update on Minnesota State, which continues to have injury troubles.

Legendary Notre Dame icon Lefty Smith passed away.

Game preview notes for this weekend:

No. 13 Cornell at  No. 6/8 Colorado College;

Alabama-Huntsville at No. 10/11 Denver

No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth at No. 8/9 Western Michigan;

Notre Dame at No.3 /5 Minnesota;

Minnesota State at St. Lawrence; RIT at Wisconsin; and Clarkson at North Dakota (single game in Winnipeg on Saturday).

CC’s defense shines in 2-1 win over No. 10 Union

A stellar team defensive performance proved to be the catalyst for No. 5-ranked Colorado College’s 2-1 nonconference win over No. 10 Union before an announced crowd of 5,882 fans at the World Arena on New Year’s Eve night.

“I thought both team’s defenses were good tonight,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said, “When you’re taking on the top-rated defensive team in the country you know it will be a tight, one-goal game.”

Union came into the game allowing only a Division I-best 1.94 goals, but it was CC’s defense that proved decisive.

A hard check along the boards led to Colorado College’s opening goal early in the second period.

Freshman defender Peter Stoykewych collided with a Union wing, forcing a turnover that was hauled in by sophomore wing Dakota Eveland. He passed across ice to junior defenseman Mike Boivin, who then sent a long pass forward to senior center David Civitarese just before he crossed the Union blue line.

He split the two Dutchmen defenders and charged toward the Union net. He beat sprawling sophomore goalie Troy Grosenick with a backhander with 14:35 left in the second for the 1-0 lead.

Boivin’s assist gave him a point in a team-high 14 games, one ahead of junior Rylan Schwartz (13) and two ahead of sophomore Jaden Schwartz (12).

A Dutchmen turnover led to a goal for senior captain Nick Dineen, who scored from the slot with 1:01 left in the second to make it 2-0 Tigers (12-6-0, 9-5-0 Western Collegiate Hockey Association).

It proved to be the game-winner after Union junior wing Wayne Simpson scored with 39.7 seconds left in the third with the Grosenick pulled for the extra attacker.

CC sophomore goalie Josh Thorimbert made 20 saves in a solid performance to improve to 7-2-0 on the season. Union fell to 9-5-5, 3-2-2 ECAC after losing to No. 15 Denver 3-1 on Friday.

“Josh was great tonight,” Boivin said.

The Tigers’ back checking and sound play from the blue-liners kept a good Union offensive team (17th in Division I) under control.

“The forwards, led by David Civitarese, did a good job getting back in support,” Owens  said. “We knew we had to play that way. Even then we were worried for the final 40 seconds because they can put six dangerous players out there.”

The win garners CC a split on the nonconference weekend after falling 2-1 to crosstown foe Air Force.

“It doesn’t take the sting completely away from Friday but this win will help us later this season in the Pairwise (rankings),” Owens said.

Colorado College hosts No. 13-ranked Cornell Jan. 6-7.

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.

Friday reading

Captain Nick Dineen and senior Tim Hall (pictured) may not be honored by the midseason awards, but both are big reasons the Tigers are in third and four points out of first place in the WCHA halfway through the season.

It’s time to look at the first half of the WCHA season. Here’s Bucky’s Fifth Quarter’s take which honors Rylan and Jaden Schwartz, Mike Boivin and Gabe Guentzel.

Here’s more on the Canada captaincy of CC sophomore Jaden Schwartz, including a feature touching on the influence of his sister Mandi.

Former Tiger Mike Testwuide looks due for a breakout later this season.

Minnesota’s Nick Bjugstad remains day to day for Team USA at the world juniors. Here’s an update on the Americans.

Nebraska-Omaha picks up a goalie commit.

Here’s a Gazette feature on AFA’s Kyle De Laurell, a product of the Colorado Rampage club in northern Colorado Springs.

CURRENT WCHA STANDINGS
WCHA Games
Overall
GP
W
L
T
Pts
GF
GA
W
L
T
GF
GA
1
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
3
Colorado College
14
9
5
0
18
59
48
11
5
0
67
50
4
Nebraska Omaha
14
7
4
3
17
46
43
9
8
3
62
60
5
Denver
14
6
5
3
15
47
45
8
7
3
59
55
6
North Dakota
14
7
7
0
14
39
37
9
8
1
51
50
7
Michigan Tech
14
6
7
1
13
41
43
9
9
1
54
55
St. Cloud State
14
5
6
3
13
43
41
7
9
4
64
62
9
Bemidji State
14
5
7
2
12
36
46
9
9
2
55
56
10
Wisconsin
14
4
8
2
10
40
50
7
9
2
57
59
11
Alaska Anchorage
14
3
10
1
7
29
54
6
10
2
46
63
12
Minnesota State
14
2
11
1
5
37
60
5
14
1
55
75

Around the WCHA: Tigers charge into third with road sweep

CC junior Rylan Schwartz scored twice to spark the Tigers for their fourth win in five games. Courtesy CC Athletics

No. 7 Colorado College ended the first half of its season with an exclamation point.

The Tigers (11-5, 9-5 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) scored twice early in the third period to seal a convincing 6-2 win at last-place Minnesota State-Mankato (5-14-1, 2-11-1). The road sweep moved CC into sole possession of third place, past idle Nebraska-Omaha (9-8-3, 7-4-3).

CC junior center Rylan Schwartz scored twice, with his team-leading 16th of the year proving to be the game winner when he put the Tigers ahead 3-1 with 15:27 left in the second period.

Defensemen Eamonn McDermott and Joe Marciano scored in the first 4:19 of the third to open up a 5-1 command. Mike Boivin scored the opening goal to give CC three goals by its blue-liners.

Mankato’s Michael Dorr scored a shorthanded goal to make it 5-2 midway through the final period. It was the sixth shorty allowed by the Tigers this season. It was the only negative for a power play that clicked at a 3-for-6 pace.

William Rapuzzi scored an empty-netter for the final margin. Rylan Schwartz got the assist.

CC goalie Josh Thorimbert recorded 24 saves, 13 in the third, to win his second in a row. The Tigers out shot Mankato 44-26, leading in that stat by a 43-18 margin midway through the third.

No. 2 Minnesota (14-5-1, 11-3) and No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth (12-3-3, 10-2-2) are tied for first with 22 points, four ahead of the Tigers.

No. 13 Denver (8-7-3, 6-5-3) lost 5-1 at St. Cloud State in the only other league series this weekend to remain in fifth.

Bemidji State beat Alabama-Huntsville 5-0 for the home sweep while North Dakota downed the Russian Red Stars 5-1 in exhibition play.

The league is idle until after Christmas. CC hosts Air Force on Dec. 30 and No. 12 Union on New Year’s Eve.

Union downed No. 5 Merrimack 3-1 on Saturday night.

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
Colorado College
14
9
5
0
18
59
48
11
5
0
67
50
Nebraska Omaha
14
7
4
3
17
46
43
9
8
3
62
60
Denver
14
6
5
3
15
47
45
8
7
3
59
55
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
St. Cloud State
14
5
6
3
13
43
41
7
9
4
64
62
Bemidji State
14
5
7
2
12
36
46
9
9
2
55
56
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
14
2
11
1
5
37
60
5
14
1
55
75

Friday’s lines: CC at MSU-Mankato

Colorado College

LW-C-RW

Skalbeck/R. Schwartz/Rapuzzi

Krushenyski/Dineen/Hamburg

Eveland/Civitarese/Collett

Morin/Hall/Taft

LD-RD

Guentzel/McDermott

Harstad/Marciano

Stoykewych/Boivin

Goalies — Thorimbert/Howe

From Puckato, which is hosting a live game blog both nights.
MINNESOTA STATE
23-Dorr     14-Jokinen     22-McInnis
15-Burkemper     19-Lehrke     25-Hayes
12-LaFontaine     18-Leitner     8-Gaede
24-Mueller     29-Zuck     9-Louwerse3-Cooper     26-Schiller
7-Palmquist     16-Elbrecht
17-Mosey     2-Nelson

1-Lee
31-Karambelas
30-Cook

Scratches: Grant, Heath, Knoll, Leivermann, Stern, Thauwald

Boivin’s goal with 2.8 seconds left caps thrilling CC comeback

Colorado College defenseman Mike Boivin’s goal with 2.8 seconds left lifted the sixth-ranked Tigers to a thrilling 4-3-come-from-behind win over Alaska-Anchorage at World Arena Saturday night.

The score, which was reviewed for 3 minutes, 42 seconds by video officials, capped a Tigers comeback from down 3-1 early in the second period.

“Rylan had a good screen and the goalie couldn’t see anything,” said Boivin, who scored his second of the night. “I was just trying the get the puck on net. Rylan is good on rebounds in front.”

Schwartz didn’t have to be as the shot went in just inside the far post. Schwartz was shoved into the crease for a moment but did not make contact with UAA goalie Rob Gunderson.

“I was in the crease for a moment but I was out by the time the puck got there,” said Schwartz, who scored a great unassisted goal while CC was on the power play four minutes into the second to make it 3-2 Alaska-Anchorage.

David Civitarese scored an unassisted shorthanded goal seven minutes later to make it 3-3 and give the Tigers momentum headed into the third.

On Schwartz’s goal, the puck was hit up into the air by a falling Seawolves player near the UAA right faceoff circle. It hit Schwartz and ended up going off Schwartz’s body down to his stickblade as he skated between the circles.

He attacked the UAA net and beat a stickless Anchorage defender and Gunderson with 15:56 left in the second.

“It’s a good thing the defender didn’t have a stick,” Schwartz said with a grin.

Civitarese intercepted a UAA pass just inside the Tigers blue line and he split the two defenders to charge in on Gunderson, beating him glove side with 8:47 left in the second.

“After giving up a shorthanded goal (Friday) it was nice to make it 3-3,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said.

CC goalie Josh Thorimbert made 23 saves, 11 in the third, including three in rapid succession with 2:26 remaining to keep the game tied at 3-3 and set the stage for Saturday’s dramatic finish.

“Those three saves by him saved the day,” Owens said.

The video review couldn’t have ended sooner for Owens, who admitted that he, like most of the announced crowd of 6.552 fans, let out a sigh of relief.

“I wanted the game over now,” he said.

While the win makes the fans feel good, the CC defensive problems continued, putting CC behind 3-1 when Brett Cameron popped free unmarked for a goal only two minutes into the second period.

“It wasn’t a game of beauty but I thought we showed a lot of character and resiliency to come back,” Owens said. “We’re not clicking on all cylinders.”

Those same defensive miscues put the Tigers in a 2-0 deficit before a slap shot by Boivin, who recorded his first two-goal game and first game-winner, got past Gunderson to make it 2-1 headed into the first intermission.

Boivin’s goal, assisted by Jeff Collett, came 62 seconds after Brett Cameron scored off a great pass from Mickey Spencer, who intercepted a clearing attempt by Archie Skalbeck to make it 2-0 with 4:30 remaining.

Skalbeck’s misfire on defense was indicative of the troubles CC has battled in their own end this season. A defensive zone coverage mistake led to the opening goal for Alaska-Anchorage early in the period.

Alaska-Anchorage freshman Eric Scheid banged in a rebound after Thorimbert made a great first save on a shot by Austin Coldwell. No CC skater was in position to beat Scheid, who was unmarked, to the loose puck with 12:15 left for the 1-0 lead.

Despite the errors, the Tigers played much-improved team defense – admittedly not saying much – compared to Friday. Boivin credited a more focused effort by the entire team.

“We regrouped today,” Boivin said. “We were a lot stronger on our sticks. Our forwards were making it difficult for their defensemen to get the puck out. That made it a lot easier for our defensemen.”

CC travels to MSU-Mankato, which swept Alabama-Huntsville, next weekend to conclude the first half of the season.

Defensive struggles put CC behind 2-1 after one

Colorado College’s defensive troubles continued, putting the Tigers in a 2-0 deficit before a slap shot by defenseman Mike Boivin, his third goal of the year, got past Alaska-Anchorage goalie Rob Gunderson to make it 2-1 headed into the first intermission.

Boivin’s goal, assisted by Jeff Collett, came 62 seconds after Brett Cameron scored off a great pass from Mickey Spencer, who intercepted a clearing attempt by Archie Skalbeck to make it 2-0 with 4:30 remaining.

Skalbeck’s misfire on defense was indicative of the troubles CC has battled in their own end this season. A defensive zone coverage mistake led to the opening goal for Alaska-Anchorage early in the period.

Alaska-Anchorage freshman Eric Scheid banged in a rebound after Tigers goalie Josh Thorimbert made a great first save on a shot by Austin Coldwell. No CC skater was in position to beat Scheid, who was unmarked, to the loose puck with 12:15 left for the 1-0 lead.

A quick whistle by the referee negated a power-play goal by Archie Skalbeck less than two minutes later. CC played better than Friday (that is not saying a lot) and generated far more scoring chances with a 19-8 edge in shots on goal.