Altitude set to televise Denver at CC game Nov. 16

From CC sports information …

It’s official. Altitude Sports has a special treat on tap for hockey fans in Colorado and nine other western states this fall.

The Denver-based network announced this week that it will televise Colorado College’s game against the University of Denver from the World Arena on Friday, Nov. 16.
The scheduled telecast starts at 7:30 p.m. MT and features the initial meeting of the season between the archrivals, who battle four times annually for the coveted Gold Pan.
“Given the storied hockey history of Colorado College and DU,” said Doug Ballmer, senior director of programming for Altitude, “We are thrilled to be able to bring our viewers the season’s first match-up between these two longtime rivals.”
Seen in more than 3.1 million homes in its 10-state territory, Altitude is the television home of the Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Rapids, Colorado Mammoth, Colorado Eagles, Denver Outlaws, the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, ESPN Syndication (including Big 12 Conference and Western Athletic Conference events,) as well as other local and regional sports, entertainment and public service programming. Its programming also is available nationally to DirecTV and DISH sports package subscribers.
The Tigers, who went 2-1-1 against Denver last season, claimed possession of the Gold Pan for the 11th time in 19 years since inception of the trophy in 1993-94. The teams have played each other 283 times since the rivalry began more than 60 years ago. Colorado College owns a 19-8-4 edge, including a 4-3 overtime victory and 2-2 tie in 2011-12, in 31 all-time meetings at the World Arena.
“We are thrilled to partner with Altitude for one of our biggest games of the season,” said Scott Lowenberg, associate athletics director at CC. “The production with top announcers and a network available throughout the United States is huge for Tiger Hockey. Having the opportunity to televise this game from our home arena is a reflection of what head coach Scott Owens and his team have accomplished on the ice.”
The 2012-13 season opener is just 10 days away, as the Tigers play host to the University of British Columbia in a single exhibition game at 6:07 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7.
A full list of Altitude programming and other information can be found at www.altitude.tv.

My WCHA preseason picks

Here are my preseason picks for the WCHA this 2012-13 season. Try not to laugh out loud. Remember prognostication mean nothing after Oct. 12.

Here goes:

The parity of the WCHA is best exemplified by the bottom three. All three will be quite tough at home when they can set up their best individual matchups against the visitors. Each will get at least one home win (two is likely) over a ranked opponent that will shake up the league standings.

12. Alaska-Anchorage – Three of the top four scorers are no longer with the Seawolves. That and the usual toll travel takes will wear down UAA, but not before knocking off a couple ranked visitors.

11. Bemidji State – Always a tough opponent, the Beavers will need more balanced scoring to complement returning leading scorer Jordan George and Ben Kinne; replacing graduated goalie Dan Bakala will be a tough task.

10. MSU-Mankato – New coach Mike Hastings will revitalize the program and could push the purple Mavs into home-ice contention for a while until depth becomes an issue. This program, like Bemidji State, will be a contender year in and year out in the new-look WCHA starting with the 2013-14 season.

Spots 4-9 should be pretty fluid throughout the season. I would not be shocked to see this portion of the list flipped depending on injuries and which teams see the most improvement from key players. Here is my best guess:

9. St. Cloud State – Seniors Ben Hanowski and Drew LeBlanc and junior Nic Dowd and Nick Jensen combine to lead a heralded group of underclassmen including Joe Benik. Opening at New Hampshire is a tough opener but home series against Alabama-Huntsville and Mankato should help the underclassmen get their feet under them. Depth may be an issue.

8. Minnesota-Duluth – The Bulldogs have some key contributors back from last season but replacing Hobey winner Jack Connolly, Travis Oleksuk, J.T. Brown and Brady Lamb’s 131 combined points will be a huge challenge. It feels wrong putting UMD so low, but a slow start with games against Ohio State (home), at Notre Dame, Wisconsin (home), at Nebraska Omaha and then at North Dakota is possible.

7. Nebraska Omaha – Too much offseason tumult with two top scorers leaving early for the pros and a heralded recruit heading to Canada instead.  If freshman goalie Anthony Stolarz is the real deal, then UNO could garner home ice. Goalie John Faulkner could ride to the rescue if Stolarz stumbles.

6. Michigan Tech – Mel Pearson turned the program around quickly. Now with good returning talent and more of his recruits in the mix, the Huskies should contend for home ice and flirt with the top 20 especially with a strong start against area rival Lake Superior State and a home series against Minnesota (keep an eye on this series).

5. Colorado College – The Tigers have some good freshmen forwards coming in; Cody Bradley and Hunter Fejes spring to mind. Jared Hanson looks strong. With solid goaltending and more offensive production from a larger defensive corps, this team should grind out a winning record and home ice.  How well the underclassmen and some key seniors perform will make a big difference in whether the Tigers finish in ninth or third place or somewhere in between.

4. Wisconsin – The Badgers have to replace Justin Schultz, but with 15 of 16 top scorers back including Mark Zengerle and some defensive improvement, UW could contend for the league title and an NCAA berth.

The top three have a slight edge over the teams designated 4-9 because of more returning talent and balance. The known positives carry a lot of weight in my mind.

3. Denver – This team has enough remaining offensive talent (Joey LaLeggia, Nick Shore, Shawn Ostrow, Ty Loney), physical defenders and impressive goalie depth (Sam Brittain, Adam Murray, Juro Olkinuora) to overcome having only three seniors (captain Chris Knowlton, Murray and practice goalie Zack Hope) on the roster. Freshman Quentin Shore should be a big help.

2. North Dakota – Remember Rocco Grimaldi? I do and with him back healthy, UND has the playmaker it needs to challenge for the league championship. Corban Knight, Danny Kristo and Carter Rowney can produce points early if Grimaldi is slow to get back into form. Freshman Zane Gothberg and Huntsville transfer Clarke Saunders give UND good goaltending behind a solid defenseman corps (Nick Mattson, Dillon Simpson). The nonconference opener against Alaska-Anchorage just got a whole lot tougher because of those one-game suspensions. An early home series against Boston University will be a good measuring stick

1. Minnesota – Is any team more loaded with offensive talent with Erik Haula, Kyle Rau, Zach Budish, and Nick Bjugstad back? The only possible hiccup is the unproven goaltending.  I think former CC short-term backup Michael Shibrowski can take the step up into a starting role. I predict a fair number of 5-2 wins.

My preseason honorees:

F – Erik Haula, Minnesota

F – Mark Zengerle, Wisconsin

F – Rylan Schwartz, CC

D – Joey LaLeggia, Denver

D – Nick Jensen, St. Cloud State

G – Josh Thorimbert, Colorado College

ROY – Rocco Grimaldi, North Dakota

POY – Erik Haula, Minnesota

COY – Don Lucia, Minnesota

Monday reading: WCHA schedule, J. Schwartz, Heil, Slavin, Roos

The WCHA announced its composite schedule last week. Here is the press release.

Some think former Tiger Jaden Schwartz will have a breakout year this coming season for St. Louis. Sportsnet.ca predicts the same.

CC fans will want to follow the Chicago Steel of the USHL. Three future Tigers — Christian Heil, Jaccob Slavin and Alex Roos — are on the junior team’s 2012-13 roster.

New SCSU assistant Garrett Raboin chose to leave his playing days behind with the arrival of his and his wife’s first child.

The first goalie to win the Hobey Baker is inducted into his hometown Hall of Fame.

The RPI fan blog put out a well-written and thoughtful take on the the Sandusky scandal and how it may affect Penn State and college hockey.

Thursday reading: Year in review, WMU, NCHC season ticket prices

Here is the Mankato Free Press beat writer’s look back at the past year and the huge changes to the college hockey landscape. Seeing it all in a few hundred words is a good reminder of how different things became so quickly.

A big change for Western Michigan is the financial commitment the Broncos must make as a member of the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference. The story linked does a good showing that as part of a four-part series on the WMU athletic department budget.

Of interest to other NCHC fans is a box comparing season ticket prices for the eight member schools in the WMU article:

NCHC Season Ticket Prices for 2012-13

    • Denver: $360 – $624
    • Miami: $275 – $565
    • Nebraska-Omaha: $235 – $415
    • Colorado College: $149 – $409
    • Minnesota-Duluth: $400
    • St. Cloud State: $325 – $400
    • North Dakota: $390
    • Western Michigan: $190 – $210

Friday’s lines

A nagging injury has Scott Winkler scratched for Friday’s game while DU goalie Sam Brittain gets his second start in a row.

Colorado College

LW-C-RW

J. Schwartz/R. Schwartz/Collett

Krushelnyski/Dineen/Rapuzzi

Skalbeck/Civitarese/Hamburg

Wamsganz/Hall/Taft

LD-RD

Guentzel/Marciano

Harstad/Bidwill

Stoykewych/Boivin

Goalies — Thorimbert/Howe

Denver

LW-C-RW

Doremus/D. Shore/Salazar

Zucker/N. Shore/Knowlton

Dewhurst/Ostrow/Jackson

Jacobson/Tabrum/Mermis

LD-RD

Phillips/Mayfield

Ryder/Didier

LaLeggia/Lee

Goalies — Brittain/Murray/Olknuora

Tigers focused on power play headed into DU series

CC’s slumping power play may get a much needed jolt by a rejuvenated Jaden Schwartz, who had his first week off in some time, and a simplified approach that may minimize the first unit’s hesitation to pull the trigger.

“We’re going back to basics,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said.

The team has gone 1-for-16 in its last four games. The Tigers ares til No. 8 in Division I and second in the WCHA (23.1 percent , 25-for-108) overall for the season. CC is  first in league play at 23.8 percent (19-for-80).

“We’ve just hit a bit of a rut,” Owens said.

The talent in the loaded first power-play unit actually hurt things, captain Nick Dineen said.

“We just expected to go out there and score,” Dineen said. “We need to work hard and get the puck on net.”

The team worked on its power play Tuesday and Wednesday on the NHL practice sheet at the World Arena Ice Hall in preparation for Friday’s game at No. 13 Denver. The home-and-home series comes to Colorado Springs on Saturday.

Injuries and the flu bug bit into the team during the bye last week and limited their chances at practicing the power play.

Dineen said the team only had eight forwards and six defensemen (he didn’t mention the goalies) available at one point with the flu and some injuries left over from the Minnesota road series.

Any improvements to the power play will be tested with the return of All-WCHA goalie Sam Brittain for Denver from offseason knee surgery. His return will no doubt boost the Pioneers confidence even if the sophomore isn’t at 100 percent game shape yet, Owens said.

“We are in a good frame of mind right now,” Denver coach George Gwozdecky said in his weekly press conference. “We are certainly looking forward to renewing this rivalry series with CC this weekend.”

Expect the rested Tigers to be ready.

“We’ve had an edge this week,” Dineen said. “That’s probably because we’re rested and who we’re playing this weekend.”

CC needs to garner three points this weekend to reclaim the rivalry’s Gold Pan Trophy after Denver claimed it during the 2009-10 season and kept it last year.