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.

Halloran repeats as National Collegiate Hockey Conference player of the month

halloran road unisA breakthrough season for CC sophomore Nick Halloran has not gone unnoticed.

Halloran became only the second National Collegiate Hockey Conference athlete to be named as the league player of the month twice in a row after receiving the honor for Dec. 2017 and now Jan. 2018. The first to do so was Denver’s Joey LaLeggia (Jan.- Feb. 2015).

Halloran tied for the NCHC scoring lead and tied for fifth nationally in January with 12 points in six games, while his 2.00 points per game and 1.17 assists per game both led the conference, with the 2.00 points per game also ranking second nationally during the month.

He scored five goals in January, while also tying for the NCHC lead with seven assists in the month, including six on the power play. Halloran recorded points in five of six games in January, including four multi-point games, in which the Tigers went 2-1-1.

The Draper, Utah native logged four points against Minnesota Duluth Jan. 12-13. After going scoreless in CC’s series opener at Western Michigan Jan. 19, his only game without a point during the month, he recorded three points the next night in a 6-5 overtime win, handing out two assists before scoring the game-winning goal in overtime to give the Tigers their first ever win at WMU.

Halloran concluded his month with a five-point outing against Miami last weekend, which earned him NCHC co-offensive player of the week.

Entering this weekend, Halloran is tied for the NCAA lead with 39 points (23 assists) in 26 games, while his 16 goals are tied for the NCHC lead and his 23 assists lead the league. Halloran is now a candidate for Hockey Commissioners’ Association (HCA) National Player of the Month for January, which will be announced on Friday.

 

Wednesday reading: 3 Things, Big Ten struggles, WCHA rankings

Here are my three observations on the WCHA from this past weekend.

The future members of the Big Ten hockey league, with the exception of No. 3 Minnesota, are struggling so far this season.

Here is one former Merrimack intern’s take on the conference power rankings and another take on the WCHA. Here is a look at each teams’ strength of schedule.

Bemidji State is letting its first full-time athletic director go at the end of the school year.

Notre Dame’s coach was fined and reprimanded for lambasting a call made during his team’s 2-1 loss to North Dakota.

Here is this weekend’s league schedule courtesy of the WCHA:

Fri
11/30/12
Minnesota Duluth
at Michigan Tech
7:07 p.m. ET
Fri
11/30/12
Nebraska Omaha
at Minnesota
7:07 p.m. CT
Fri
11/30/12
Bemidji State
at Minnesota State
7:37 p.m. CT
Fri
11/30/12
North Dakota
at Colorado College
7:37 p.m. MT
Fri
11/30/12
Wisconsin
at Denver
8:07 p.m. MT
Fri
11/30/12
St. Cloud State
at Alaska Anchorage
7:07 p.m. AT
Sat
12/01/12
Minnesota Duluth
at Michigan Tech
7:07 p.m. ET
Sat
12/01/12
Bemidji State
at Minnesota State
7:07 p.m. CT
Sat
12/01/12
Nebraska Omaha
at Minnesota
7:07 p.m. CT
Sat
12/01/12
North Dakota
at Colorado College
7:07 p.m. MT
Sat
12/01/12
Wisconsin
at Denver
7:07 p.m. MT
Sat
12/01/12
St. Cloud State
at Alaska Anchorage
7:07 p.m. AT
Tue
12/04/12
Michigan Tech
at Northern Michigan
7:35 p.m. ET

CC falls to No. 18 in USCHO poll

After a home tie and loss, Colorado College dropped to No. 18 from No. 14 in the USCHO poll and still received some votes from USA Hockey.

Here is the latest Pairwise rankings, which show the Tigers (19th) are 0-6-1 against teams under consideration for the NCAAs. That has to change.

Minnesota is the top-rated WCHA team at No. 3 in both polls. New Hampshire moved up from No. 3 to No. 2 in both rankings while Yale made its first appearance in both.

The future National Collegiate Hockey Conference teams had seven of eight ranked. Idle Miami moved up from No. 5 to No. 4 in both polls while Denver dropped three spots to No. 5 in the two weekly rankings released on Monday.

North Dakota, CC’s foe this weekend, stayed at No. 7 in the USCHO rankings but fell to No. 8 according to USA Hockey’s 34 voters.  Idle Western Michigan dipped one spot to No. 10 in both polls.

Nebraska-Omaha is 13th according to the 50 USCHO voters and 14th in USA Hockey’s estimation.  St. Cloud State fell to No. 14 in USCHO’s poll and No. 15 in the USA Hockey ratings.

Tuesday reading: Labosky, BC, UNH, UND, SCSU, USA Hockey poll

CC commit Daniel Labosky, pictured, is on this blogger’s Minnesota Mr. Hockey watch list.

Here are some impressive stats for No. 1 Boston College and No. 6 New Hampshire, a future CC opponent, and a look back at the North Dakota loss at St. Cloud State on Saturday.

The U.S. national teams won all four major tournaments last week with rosters stocked with current (women) and future college hockey players.

Boston College is the unanimous No. 1 in today’s USA Today/USA Hockey magazine poll.

Denver is now No. 2 followed by Minnesota, Miami and No. 5 North Dakota.

Future NCHC foe Western Michigan is No. 9 followed by No. 14 Colorado College and No. 15 St. Cloud State. Nebraska Omaha received some votes.

More Friday reading: Colorado College at Wisconsin TV/video stream options, McElhinney, Denver, Air Force, North Dakota, predictions

Photo: Kyle Daudelin

A tape-delayed free streaming option for any CC fans who don’t have access to Altitude2 (6 p.m. Mountain) is available for the Tigers at Wisconsin game Friday night. Wisconsin Public Television will broadcast the game at 9 p.m. Mountain on The Wisconsin Channel  at http://wpt.org/wisconsinchannel/ .

Colorado College is sixth in the WCHA in scoring at 3.17 goals per game but has struggled on the power play. The Tigers have not converted on their last 12 power-play chances and are ninth in the league at 13 percent (4 of 30).  Senior forwards Andrew Hamburg (four goals, one assist), William Rapuzzi (two goals, three assists) and Scott Winkler (three goals, two assists) are tied for the team lead in points at five.

Former Tiger goalie Curtis McElhinney, pictured, of the Springfield Falcons is the AHL Goaltender of the Month for October. In six appearances during the month, McElhinney went 5-1-0 with a 1.51 goals-against average, a .949 save percentage and two shutouts, helping the Falcons to the best record in the Eastern Conference. Here are the rest of the details.  Former Wisconsin standout Justin Schultz was named as player of the month suggesting that all the summer hype was not too overblown.

Here is the Denver Post’s preview for all three Front Range schools.

No. 12 Boston University is playing at No. 5 North Dakota for the first time since December 1996. Expect more such nonconference match-ups with the new league alignments forcing more nonconference games. Expect more such trips for the Terriers and Boston College, including to the state of Colorado. Fun fact: The last time UND and BU played in Grand Forks, both teams played in the national championship game (UND won 6-4 in spring 1997).

Here is Western College Hockey blog’s weekend preview and the USCHO predictions.

More Thursday reading: 2014 regionals, Badger Bob, diving, AFA

Wisconsin coach Bob Johnson poses with trophies won  during the 1976-77 season. COURTESY WISCONSIN ATHLETICS

The sites for the 2014 NCAA regionals were announced Thursday morning.

Here is the weekly USCHO column featuring “Badger Bob” Johnson and all the connections between CC and Wisconsin.

The new head of Hockey East officials has noticed a lot of players are taking dives. He plans to fix that.

Air Force may be turning the corner now that it can string together points in league play while Army’s offense looks much improved.

Dartmouth is enjoying a strong start in ECAC play.

NCAA president unwisely chose not to include the Division III championship game during the 2014 Philadelphia Frozen Four

Tuesday reading: CCHA, WCHA lookahead, web media poll

Here are notes of interest from the CCHA’s weekly Need to Know press release …

Miami- Miami split its CCHA opening-weekend series at Michigan, falling 4-2 Friday before rebounding for a 4-3 win Saturday. The RedHawks’ win was just their sixth victory in 53 tries at Yost Ice Arena. Miami is 6-46-1 all-time at Michigan.  On Saturday, U-M held a 2-1 lead entering the third period only to surrender three straight goals in a 4-3 loss to the RedHawks.

Notre Dame- Notre Dame’s 5-1-0 start this season equals the best start for the Irish since going 5-1-0 to start the 2010-11 season.  The last time that Notre Dame had a better start than that was in 2006-07 when the Irish started that year 6-1-0 on the way to a 9-1-1 start and a 32-7-3 final record.

Western Michigan- After a weekend off, the Broncos travel to Compton Family Ice Arena to take on Notre Dame. Sophomore goalie Frank Slubowski made all four starts against the Fighting Irish last season, posting a 2-1-1 record with a 1.96 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage.

From the WCHA …

The month of November launches later this week with four, two-game Western Collegiate Hockey Association series on the docket for Friday the 2nd and Saturday the 3rd as Michigan Tech hosts Nebraska Omaha, Colorado College travels to Wisconsin, Minnesota State visits Minnesota and Denver hosts St. Cloud State.

There will also be one non-conference set contested over the weekend as North Dakota entertains Hockey East Association-member Boston University.

At John MacInnes Student Ice Arena in Houghton, Michigan Tech (2-4-0, 1-3-0 WCHA) will take on Nebraska Omaha (2-3-1, 0-1-1 WCHA) in a pair of 7:07 pm ET face-offs on Friday and Saturday. The two teams will then conclude their four-game series on Feb. 1-2 in Omaha.

At the Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin will play its first regular season home games of 2012-13 as the Badgers (1-2-1, 1-0-1 WCHA) go up against visiting Colorado College (3-3-0, 0-0-0 WCHA) in back-to-back 7:07 pm CT puck drops. These will be the only two regular season meetings of the two clubs and will also be the Tigers’ first two league games this season.

Defending conference champion and pre-season favorite Minnesota (4-1-0, 1-1-0 WCHA) will play a home-and-home WCHA set against Minnesota State (2-2-2, 0-2-0 WCHA), with Friday’s contest at 7:07 pm CT at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis and Saturday’s match up at Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato at 7:07 pm CT. The No. 2-ranked Golden Gophers and Mavericks will then meet again on Jan. 25 in Minneapolis and Jan. 26 in Mankato.

And in the west, unbeaten and No. 3-ranked Denver (4-0-0, 2-0-0 WCHA) will entertain No. 18-ranked St. Cloud State (4-2-0, 2-0-0 WCHA) for a pair of league contests at Magness Arena, with game times at 7:37 pm MT on Friday evening and 7:07 pm MT on Saturday night. The Pioneers and Huskies will then meet again in St. Cloud on Jan. 18-19.

Outside the WCHA this coming weekend, No. 5-ranked North Dakota (2-1-1) will play host to No. 12-ranked Boston University (3-1-0) of the Hockey East Association. Face-offs at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks are 7:37 pm CT on Nov. 2 and 7:07 pm CT on Nov. 3.  Through 37 non-conference games so far this season, WCHA member teams stand 20-14-3 (.583) against other Div. 1 teams. Against each of the other leagues, the WCHA is 5-0-1 vs Atlantic Hockey, 7-9-0 vs the CCHA, 3-2-1 vs ECAC Hockey, 2-3-0 vs Hockey East, and 3-0-1 vs independents.

Three teams – Alaska Anchorage (2-2-2, 0-1-1 WCHA), Bemidji State (2-1-1, 1-0-1 WCHA) and No. 17-ranked Minnesota Duluth (2-3-1, 0-1-1 WCHA) – are idle this week.

Looking ahead to the conference schedule for the weekend of Nov. 9-11, North Dakota will play at St. Cloud State (Friday/Saturday), Denver heads to Minnesota State (Friday/Saturday), Alaska Anchorage hosts Minnesota (Friday/Saturday), Colorado College entertains Bemidji State (Friday/Saturday), and Minnesota Duluth visits Nebraska Omaha (Saturday/Sunday). Both Michigan Tech and Wisconsin will be idle.

Here are more details from the Tech Hockey Guide WCHA Web Media Poll for Week 3:

Team Pts Previous Record High Low
1) Denver (7) 138 2 4-0-0 1 3
2) Minnesota (5) 136 1 4-1-0 1 3
3) North Dakota 120 3 2-1-1 2 4
4) St. Cloud State 109 7 4-2-0 2 5
5) Colorado College 74 6 3-3-0 4 10
6) Wisconsin 72 10 1-2-1 5 11
7) Michigan Tech 69 5 2-4-0 6 10
8) Minnesota Duluth 64 4 2-3-1 5 11
9) Bemidji State 55 11 2-1-1 5 11
10) Nebraska Omaha 52 8 2-3-1 6 10
11) Alaska Anchorage 29 12 2-2-2 6 12
12) Minnesota State 18 9 2-2-2 10 12

WCHA roundup: Lucia records No. 600; Denver routs Air Force

No. 1 Minnesota 3, Michigan Tech 2

HOUGHTON — Sophomore forward Seth Ambroz scored twice to help Don Lucie secure his 600th career win as Minnesota skated to a 3-2 victory against Michigan Tech on Saturday at John MacInnes Student Ice Arena.

No. 7 Denver 5, Air Force 2

DENVER — Junior forward Nick Shore registered three goals and an assist to lead Denver to a 5-2 win against Air Force on Saturday night at Magness Arena.

No. 17 Northern Michigan 2, Nebraska Omaha 1

OMAHA — Junior forward Zahn Raubenheimer scored a goal but Nebraska Omaha was defeated by Northern Michigan, 2-1, on Saturday night at CenturyLink Center.

St. Cloud State 4, Alabama-Huntsville 0

ST. CLOUD — Senior forward Drew LeBlanc and sophomore defenseman Andrew Prochno each had a goal and an assist to help St. Cloud State earn a weekend sweep with a 4-0 win against Alabama Huntsville on Saturday at National Hockey Center.

Bemidji State 5, Lake Superior State 0

BEMIDJI — Sophomore goaltender Andrew Walsh stopped 25 shots and junior forward Radoslav Illo had a goal and an assist to lead Bemidji State to a 5-0 win against Lake Superior State on Saturday night at Sanford Center.

Minnesota State 5, RPI 4 OT

MANKATO — Senior forward Eriah Hayes scored at 1:09 of overtime to lift Minnesota State to a 4-3 win against Rensselaer on Saturday night at Verizon Wireless Center.

Alaska Anchorage 6, Merrimack 3

FAIRBANKS — Sophomore forward Scott Allen scored two goals and an assist and freshman forward Blake Tatchell added two goals to lead Alaska Anchorage to a 6-3 victory against Merrimack College on Saturday night at the Brice Alaska Goal Rush in Fairbanks

In the pros: Dimmen, Holmstrom, J. Schwartz, Testwuide

Colorado Springs hockey fans have three good reasons to follow the AHL’s Adirondack Phantoms– natives Jeff Dimmen (Maine) and Ben Holmstrom (UMass-Lowell) and former CC captain Mike Testwuide are all on the Opening Night roster.

Dimmen signed an AHL contract after entering training camp with a tryout deal. Holmstrom enters his second season as the Phantoms’ captain.

Former Tiger Jaden Schwartz is on AHL Peoria’s second line as left wing with center Phil McRae and right wing Jay Barriball.

Ted Behrend is on CHL Denver’s roster while Arthur Bidwill made the ECHL Colorado Eagles..