CC bounces back for series split, but inconsistency remains a concern

CruickshankCCH_Miami111618_030_webColorado College gave its fans a glimpse of how good the Tigers can play less than 24 hours after a lackluster series-opening loss had some concerned and a few fuming.

To their credit, the Tigers bounced back from a five-goal loss on Friday with a 4-2 victory on Saturday to garner a National Collegiate Hockey Conference series split against rebuilding Miami.

The Jekyll-and-Hyde nature of the series illustrated how CC struggles with consistency. The Tigers were hardly recognizable when comparing their performances this weekend.

“It was definitely a tough 24 hours for us,” said forward Troy Conzo, who scored twice in the first period Saturday to help stake CC to a 3-0 lead. “Our details weren’t there and our effort wasn’t there. It needs to be there for 60 minutes. Tonight, we knew what we needed to do and we executed those things.

“Consistency is definitely an issue for us right now. We have to realize we cannot split every weekend and expect to be in a good playoff spot.

“We have everything we need to win against anybody in the country. We have skill, speed and good goaltending. But it is a matter of everyone contributing for 60 minutes. which will give us that consistency.”

They got those contributions on Saturday.

Unlike Miami’s dominance in Friday’s 6-1 laugher, it was Colorado College that seized control by generating an early three-goal lead that ultimately proved decisive. A game-clinching goal by Josiah Slavin late in the third period stymied Miami’s comeback attempt.

“It wasn’t our best performance (Friday) night,” CC coach Mike Haviland said. “You cannot take anything for granted. You have to keep telling them that if you play that way, look what you just did. We know we can do it. We just have to get the consistency which is the big thing.”

In the first period, Conzo scored twice for his second and third goals of the season while Chris Wilkie’s hard shot off a Miami defender found the net during the Tigers’ first power play of the night. That was Wilkie’s team-leading 15th goal and came at the midway mark of the opening period to make it 2-0 CC (8-9-1, 3-6-1-0 NCHC).

Up to that point, the RedHawks were unable to get many shots on net with the Tigers out shooting the RedHawks (6-11-3, 3-6-1-1) by a 15-4 margin in the opening frame and 28-11 through two periods.

That was the kind of effort Haviland was looking for.

“Absolutely,” Haviland said. “Everything we talked about that we needed do with time and space was done. It was not an easy (Saturday morning) meeting.”

Miami came back during the second period with a more determined effort and cut the CC lead to 3-1 when John Sladic lifted in a rebound after a shot by Chase Pietzke with 3:24 remaining in the second.

Derek Dascke scored his second of the weekend early in the third period when he rifled a power-play one-timer that beat freshman goalie Matt Vernon (29 saves). Suddenly the result was in doubt and Miami was riding some momentum.

“You give them that a little bit of that (momentum) with their first goal at the end of the second,” Haviland said. ”You knew they were going to come and then we get the too many men (penalty) and they score and it’s a new ballgame.”

Miami was unable to score the equalizer and the Broadmoor World Arena erupted in cheers when Slavin took a pass from Alex Berardinelli and finished on a 2-on-1 breakaway with 6:40 left for the final margin.

“Getting that fourth one maybe put them away,” Haviland said. “You learn from it. I am super proud with how they came back from Friday.”

“It definitely relieved a little pressure but we knew we still had some work to do,” Slavin said. “We played our game for a full 60 minutes and it showed.”

Miami pulled goalie Ryan Larkin (32 saves) with 3:30 left by Vernon stood tall down the stretch.

Miami RedHawks rout Colorado College

cc vs wmu2A sub-par effort has Colorado College looking up at the rest of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference following a 6-1 home loss to Miami on Friday night.

Omaha’s 6-3 win at No. 1 North Dakota pulled the Mavericks ahead of the last-place Tigers (7-9-1, 2-6-1 NCHC). UNO and CC entered the weekend tied for seventh in the eight-team league.

Miami simply dominated the Tigers, who were never in the game.

“We lost a lot of battles early on,” CC coach Mike Haviland said. “These are guys who have been around, some of them for 100 (NCAA) games, and they lost battles. You can’t lose battles and expect to win a hockey game.”

Miami (6-10-3, 3-5-1-1) controlled the game all night, especially during the first period when the visitors jumped out to a 3-0 lead after an unassisted shorthanded goal for RedHawks defenseman Derek Daschke with 1:19 left in the opening frame.

The first boos of the night were heard at that point. They wouldn’t be the last.

MU had opened the scoring when defenseman Jack Clement’s bad-angle shot found its way past goalie Ryan Ruck (14 saves), whose mistake about seven minutes later pushed the RedHawks ahead 2-0.

Ruck came well out of his crease to poke away the puck, but sent the rubber straight to forward Chase Pletzke who fired toward the wide-open Tigers net. CC defenseman Brady Smith raced to the crease and blocked that shot, but center Ryan Savage put away the rebound for a 2-0 lead.

There would be no sustained comeback in the second period. Freshman Matt Vernon (22 saves) came on for Ruck and Miami beat him for a 4-0 lead just 1:42 into the middle frame.

A no goal ruling for Christiano Versich after he collided with Miami goalie Ryan Larkin (25 saves) midway through the period riled up the CC fans and seemed to jump start the Tigers. Chris Wilkie scored about two minutes later to make it 4-1.

But Miami would answer with Matt Barry scoring off a pass from Ben Lown for a 5-1 lead with about five minutes left in the second.

Miami opened the third period on a 5-on-3 power play and Gordie Green scored 51 seconds in for a 6-1 lead that finished off the Tigers, who are now 2-5-1 at home this season.

“We need to flush it and move on,” Haviland said. “It’s as simple as that. We will respond tomorrow.”

The series concludes at 6 p.m. Saturday at The Broadmoor World Arena.

Ice chips

Omaha’s upset win ended a 13-game home winning streak for North Dakota (16-2-2, 7-1-1), which had a 15-game unbeaten streak going as well.

CC lands commit from U.S. National Team Development Program forward

mckown photoColorado College has picked up a commit from the U-17 team of the U.S. National Team Development Program. The news was confirmed by the Team USA website and the U.S. Hockey League list of college commitments.

William “Hunter” McKown is listed at 6-foot-1, 182-pound right-handed forward who has seven assists in 24 games entering this weekend. The San Jose, Calif. native is listed as the third-line right winger in tonight’s line chart vs. the Tri-City Storm.

Here is an April 2019 feature on McKown, who played with the St. Louis AAA Blues before joining the NTDP squad. He was also listed as 4th-6th round pick (C rating) in next June’s draft by NHL Central Scouting’s preliminary rankings in October.

Former CC standout Mason Bergh garners ECHL rookie of the month accolade

l4yj7OTVFormer Colorado College and current Fort Wayne Komets’ forward Mason Bergh was named as the October ECHL Rookie of the Month after recording four goals and four assists  in six games to open the season.

The 24-year-old tallied at least one point in each of his six outings in October, and posted a goal and an assist on Oct. 12 against Kalamazoo and Oct. 25 against Jacksonville, according to a media release.

Bergh is tied for third among ECHL rookies with six goals and is tied for fourth with 10 points.  He remains under contract with  the Ontario (Calif.) Reign of the American Hockey League.

Bergh posted 105 points (62 assists) in 149 career games at Colorado College and had 86 points (54 assists) in 114 junior games in the United States Hockey League with Chicago and Waterloo.


Tigers show some bite, but lose late lead in tie, shootout loss vs. WMU

CruickshankCCH_Miami111618_030_webThe Colorado College team fans and coach Mike Haviland wanted eventually showed up on Saturday.

But the margin between victory and defeat in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference remains thin for the Tigers, who lost their first and only lead of the game in the closing seconds of regulation to fall into a 4-4 tie to visiting Western Michigan.

“This is what you get in this conference,” Haviland said. “You have to understand you have to play right to the very end. You’re (23.9) seconds away from going 1-1 and getting your three points. It’s a learning curve.”

Shootout scores by Ethen Frank and Josh Passolt to one by Grant Cruikshank gave WMU the extra NCHC standings point and five out of a possible six road points.

It was a good weekend for the Broncos, but it was a much harder-earned two points on Saturday. CC battled back from down 2-0 and 3-1 to pull ahead on Bailey Conger’s second power-play goal of the night late in the second period.

It wasn’t quite enough against a solid WMU team. But that pushback by CC gave Haviland reason to be both pleased and disappointed after garnering a single standings point.

“Absolutely,” he said. “We were down 2-0 and getting very badly outplayed early on but we found a way to battle back and go ahead there. It was a wild hockey game but I am happy with how we came back after (Friday) night, for sure.”

WMU routed CC with four goals in the third period Friday to pull away for a 6-3 win that didn’t seem that close late.

But Saturday was different. The Tigers battled back again and again only to see Western Michigan force OT with an extra-attacker goal with 23.9 seconds left in regulation.

Ronnie Attard’s blast from the left faceoff circle blew past CC freshman goalie Matt Vernon (1-1-1, 43 saves), who had stood up well for almost the entire third period.

The Tigers dumped and chased the puck to set up a forecheck that made the Broncos turn and then work the puck forward the full 200 feet. It almost worked, but an icing call off a missed empty-net attempt put the puck in the CC zone to set up Attard’s chance.

“I wish we could have put it in and gone up 5-3.” Haviland said. “I don’t know how it didn’t.”

“Nightmares for sure,” Bailey Conger said, referring to that miss and a couple earlier.

CC fell short of a series split and three standings points — a two-point swing that could prove telling by season’s end. But in November, Haviland was pleased to see the Tigers respond.

”It shows the fight is there,” Haviland said. “We had a long meeting Saturday morning and they had a chat amongst themselves too. We weathered the storm and kept at it.”

The hosts went ahead of Western Michigan when Conger one-timed a pass from Alex Berardinelli for his second power-play goal of the night to pull CC ahead 4-3, reversing deficits of 2-0 in the first period and 3-2 during the second. Conger’s goal, his fourth this season, put CC ahead with 54 seconds left in the middle period.

But the Tigers could not get any cushion against Brandon Bussi (30 saves), setting up Attard’s late heroics. It spoiled a strong performance by Vernon, who made a combined 21 saves in the third period and overtime.

“Unfortunate for sure,” Conger said. “We are proud of our guts in the first period there but we are not proud about blowing another lead. We need to tighten that up. It will be a focus this week.”

Vernon’s play helped CC bounce back from a miserable start to the first period that saw WMU go ahead 2-0. It was that response that Haviland hopes gives the Tigers (2-3-1, 0-1-1 NCHC) something to build on heading into a bye weekend.

“You move forward and take the positives from it,” Haviland said. “You get a weekend off and then it’s off to St. Cloud (State).”

Tigers’ mistakes costly in NCHC-opening loss to Western Michigan

WilkieCCH_MNDuluth020219_017_webWestern Michigan took advantage of Colorado College’s mistakes and won the 50-50 puck battles in front to reel off five unanswered goals and pull away for a 6-3 comeback win Friday.

The Broncos tied the National Collegiate Hockey Conference opener for both teams when Dawson DiPietro knocked in his own rebound with 14:27 left in the game.

The goals kept coming for the Broncos (3-3-1, 1-0 NCHC), who dominated the final 25-30 minutes of the contest after falling behind 2-0 and later 3-1.

Paul Washe scored the eventual game-winner with 12:59 remaining by batting in a loose puck in front before Drew Worrad recorded his second power-play goal of the night for a 5-3 margin. Washe’s tally was the Broncos’ first lead of the night.

Josh Passolt accounted for the final margin against goalie Matt Vernon, who came on for starter Ryan Ruck (27 saves) with 4:48 left.

“We take a not-good penalty and them we miss an assignment on the PK (penalty kill) on the back door,” Tigers coach Mike Haviland said. “We just got outworked in front of the net on two of them. I can’t have that.”

The second period featured a myriad of momentum swings before WMU took control.

Colorado College scored twice in 34 seconds on its first two shots of the second period to take a 2-0 lead only to see Wester Michigan answer with a power-play goal by Drew Worrad 1:21 later.

Tigers senior Chris Wilkie then tipped away a WMU pass in the CC zone, collected himself and the puck in the neutral zone then raced in for a solo breakaway that he converted down low to make it 3-1.

But the Broncos would answer with a strong finish to the period with a pretty goal by Jason Polin, who was left undefended, giving him the space needed to lift the puck in over Ruck’s shoulder on a tough angle down low. His first NCAA goal made it 3-2 with 2:17 left.

The Tigers (2-3, 0-1) would push back, generating a couple late scoring chances only to see Luke Bafia make a big-time shot block on a Alex Berardinelli attempt toward a wide-open net with goalie Brandon Bussi still sprawled on the Broadmoor World Arena ice.

“The late goal in the second for them really gave them momentum,” Haviland said. “That’s a goal that should not have gone in. We were standing next to the guy (Polin). We could have went in (to the third) up 3-1. Instead, they got the momentum and we never got it back.”

Sophomore center Bailey Conger recorded his first assist as a Tiger on Nick Halloran’s first goal of the season. Zach Berzolla scored his first this season and second of his career to stake CC to a 2-0 lead early in the second, just 34 seconds after Halloran ‘s tally.

Ice chips

Freshmen Sam Renlund and Josiah Slavin and sophomore Jackson Ross all recorded their first NCAA points during the Michigan State series.  They were held of the scoresheet Friday (Ross inactive) … With no points on Friday, Bryan Yoon’s three-game points streak ended. … Friday’s loss was the Tigers’ first series-opening setback this season (2-1 Friday, 0-2 Saturdays).

‘Unacceptable’ effort drops Tigers into nonconference split with Michigan State

cc vs wmu2Colorado College co-captain Alex Berardinelli does not want to see a repeat of Saturday’s lackluster performance again.

Ever again.

“It’s just not acceptable,” the senior forward said after a 5-1 home loss to Michigan State Saturday night. “Something like that should never happen and will never happen again. That is not the structure we are built on. It’s not the culture we want to have here. It’s unacceptable and it will never happen again.”

But it did as Michigan State scored three early goals in little more than five minutes and never trailed in a contest that wasn’t as close as the score may indicate. The Spartans (2-2) easily shook off the lackluster Tigers for the nonconference series split.

“We have to learn that it is a series,” Tigers coach Mike Haviland said. “The team across the hall (that lost 3-1 Friday) is not happy. They came out and played like that. We came out and played like we wanted an easy game.”

“We lost the game in the first five minutes. You chase the game all night and you can’t play like that. We have to prepare better. That goes back on me. (The players) have to take some accountability on that too. We are all in this together.”

The three-goal surge ended the night for freshman goalie Matt Vernon (five saves, 6:48) who came one late power-play goal shy of a shutout in his Tigers debut Friday at the Broadmoor World Arena. On Saturday, Ryan Ruck made 20 saves in relief against the Spartans, who were picked to finish last in the seven-team Big Ten conference.

“We were standing around a lot,” Haviland said. “Give them credit. They were skating and moving and we were watching. That goes back to back to being ready to play, They were ready and we weren’t. We chased the game the whole night.”

The Tigers (2-2) were unable to capitalize on two breakaways in the first period before getting back into the game, at least temporarily, when Ben Copeland scored on the power play with 34 seconds left in the first period.

But CC’s inconsistent effort wasted that momentum and MSU put the Tigers away when Nico Muller scored midway through the second for a 4-1 lead.

The Spartans added another in the third for the final margin. Pat Khodorenko recorded three assists while Spartans goalie John Lethemon made 35 saves.

“I saw some push at times but not enough to where it should be,” Haviland said. “It doesn’t get any easier. We go into league play against the best teams in the country, I believe. We have to figure it out.”

Ice chips

CC’s all-time record is now 47-35-1 against the Spartans. This weekend’s series were the first games between the two programs since a 5-4 Tigers win at the Great Lakes Invitational in Detroit on Dec. 29, 2010. … Bailey Conger’s two goals Friday doubled his career total. … Chris Wilkie as kept of the CC scoresheet for the first time this season (six points, three goals). … CC opens National Collegiate Hockey Conference play against No. 18 Western Michigan Nov. 1-2 in Colorado Springs.