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.

Advertisements

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.

CC back in USCHO poll at No. 19

Colorado College, which debuted at No. 20 in the preseason poll and fell out after its exhibition game, is back in the weekly USCHO poll at No. 19 following a home sweep (5-4, 5-4) of ECAC Member Clarkson.

Air Force, CC’s Friday road foe, received votes.  UMass-Lowell, which plays at No. 7 Denver Friday before coming to Colorado Springs World Arena on Saturday, fell from No. 6 to No. 10 after tying Vermont in its only game last weekend.

Not surprisingly, new No. 1 Minnesota received 46 out of the possible 50 first-place votes.

From USCHO …

Four teams received first-place votes in this week’s USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll, but with 46 of 50 No. 1 votes, Minnesota is the new top team in the weekly poll.

Minnesota jumps from No. 2 to the top spot, while last week’s No. 1 team, Boston College, falls to No. 3, but did receive two first-place votes.

North Dakota, up two places to No. 2, had a first-place vote, while No. 8 Union garnered the other first-place vote on the voter’s ballots.

Michigan drops to No. 5 this week, followed by Cornell at No. 6, Denver staying in seventh, Union, Notre Dame up five to No. 9 and Massachusetts-Lowell falling four to sit tenth this week.

At No. 11, Boston University rises one notch, Western Michigan falls three spots to No. 12, Minnesota-Duluth remains 13th, Northeastern enters the poll at No. 14, as does New Hampshire in the 15th slot.

Ferris State drops five to No. 16, while Harvard and Northern Michigan sit tied for 17th. NMU enters the rankings after being unranked last week.

Quinnipiac falls from No. 18 to No. 20 this week.

The USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll consists of 50 voters, including 28 coaches from the Division I conferences and 22 beat writers and sports professionals from across the country.

Saturday reading: J. Schwartz, Guentzel, Hall, playoff recaps, previews

Here’s a preview of tonight’s St. Louis at Tampa Bay game when former Tiger Jaden Schwartz will make his NHL debut. (TV: 5 p.m. Mountain FS Midwest, SUN Network).

Expect Gabe Guentzel, pictured at left, to make his pro debut Saturday night for AHL Syracuse against Adirondack and former CC teammate Mike Testwuide. Guentzel will wear No. 10 judging from the roster.

Tim Hall made his pro debut for ECHL Alaska in a 3-1 loss at Colorado. It reads like he played his defensive role well, drawing two penalties.

Here’s a lot of good information on CC and its available personnel next season by the Gazette’s Brian Gomez: CC wing Dakota Eveland will not play next season after offseason neck surgery this Tuesday. Look for one or two more 2012 commits or one of the 2013 players to be brought in a year early.

North Dakota could be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, judging from the latest Pairwise rankings, if it wins its third Broadmoor Trophy in a row against Denver tonight in the WCHA Final Five championship game. ( TV: 6 p.m. Mountain ROOT Sports Rocky Mountain). Here’s plenty of recap and preview notes.

Western Michigan cruised past Miami in the CCHA semifinals on Friday. Top remaining seed Michigan defeated last-place Bowling Green State 3-2 in double overtime to end the Falcons’s memorable run at an NCAA berth.

In Hockey East, Maine downed Boston U in one semifinal while Boston College ended No. 7 seed Providence’s Cinderella run. Maine plays BC at 6 p.m. Mountain (TV: NBC Sports Network).

In the ECAC, Harvard kept its NCAA hopes alive by advancing to tonight’s championship against top seed Union. Harvard is rated at No. 19 in the Pairwise and must win the automatic berth to move on.

In the Atlantic, Air Force will take on No. 3 seed and host RIT tonight (Radio: 1300 AM, 5 p.m. Mountain)

Pairwise calculator available

So what does a Providence win over Boston College in the Hockey East semifinals mean for North Dakota’s chances of making the NCAA Tournament? Should I really root for my team’s archrival?

Figure it out and drive yourself a little crazy with College Hockey News’ You Are The Committee’ tool, which calculates what each win/loss scenario does to the Pairwise rankings, which determine the 16-team NCAA Tournament field.

Monday reading: Polls, Pairwise update, standings

Colorado College dropped to No. 15 in the USCHO.com weekly poll and to No. 14 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll:

School                                                    Last Week   2011-12 Record     Weeks in Top 15
1 Ferris State University, 476 (20)    5                     20-8-4                       14
2 Boston University, 446 (4)              2                     17-9-1                       16
3 Minnesota Duluth, 443 (3)              3                    19-7-4                        19
4 Boston College, 418 (6)                 4                    18-10-1                      19
5 University of Michigan, 366 (1)      6                    18-10-4                      15
6 UMass Lowell, 335                         7                     19-8-0                          7
7 University of Minnesota, 310         1                    19-11-1                      18
8 Union College, 251                       11                    17-6-7                        17
9 Merrimack College, 223                 8                     15-7-6                       18
10 University of Denver, 209          14                     17-9-4                        18
11 University of Maine, 166            12                     17-9-3                          4
12 Cornell, 156                                 13                     13-6-6                          9
13 Notre Dame, 80                            9                    16-13-3                      19
14 Colorado College, 59               10                     15-11-2                      19
15 North Dakota, 48                       15                     16-11-2                         7

More importantly, the Tigers are No. 22 in the Pairwise rankings, well short of the 15th spot needed to make the NCAA Tournament if it started today.

Notice who was in first? That’s right, Ferris State is No. 1 for the first time in school history.

The outdoor game between Nebraska Omaha and North Dakota will officially be announced on Tuesday.

MSU-Mankato won 2-1 Saturday night for a sweep at Alaska Anchorage. Here’s the latest standings:

WCHA Games
Overall
GP
W
L
T
Pts
GF
GA
W
L
T
GF
GA
Minnesota
22
15
7
0
30
72
47
19
11
1
114
68
Minnesota Duluth
22
13
6
3
29
82
57
19
7
4
111
76
Denver
22
12
6
4
28
77
65
17
9
4
106
82
Colorado College
22
12
9
1
25
76
67
15
11
2
91
78
Nebraska Omaha
22
10
7
5
25
69
66
13
11
6
91
86
North Dakota
22
12
10
0
24
63
60
16
11
2
89
81
Michigan Tech
22
10
9
3
23
75
68
13
14
3
92
90
Bemidji State
22
9
10
3
21
60
69
15
12
3
85
81
St. Cloud State
22
9
10
3
21
64
59
12
14
4
90
84
Minnesota State
24
8
15
1
17
65
87
12
19
1
89
107
Wisconsin
22
7
13
2
16
58
71
12
14
2
83
84
Alaska Anchorage
24
4
19
1
9
49
94
7
19
2
66
103

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.