Friday reading: Bloggers preseason poll, USCHO rankings, Lagrone, Face Off Luncheon, Mankato, Michigan Tech, Wisconsin, Gross

Eighteen bloggers, including yours truly and gmf1a of the CC fan forum, made their preseason picks and ranked CC eighth in the 3rd Annual Web Site and Bloggers Preseason Poll compiled by Tradition of Excellence. Give it a look.

USCHO announced its preseason Top 10 forwards, led by Minnesota’s Nick Bjugstad, who is pictured.

CC 2013/14 defenseman commit Duggie Lagrone of Dallas will play for NAHL Fairbanks this season.

Both Air Force coach Frank Serratore and CC coach Scott Owens are feeding off the enthusiasm of their players as the season nears.

There is a definite buzz around the Minnesota State program this preseason.

Six second-year coaches are discussed, including Michigan Tech’s Mel Pearson.

Here is a season preview about Miami.

Wisconsin really needed its new on-campus hockey facility. There is a lot for the Badgers to celebrate this season.

Pine Creek High School graduate Taylor Gross leads the Penn State women into the 2012-13 season.

Friday reading: Hall contract,Tech jerseys, Army obit, PSU arena

Former Tiger Tim Hall, pictured, performed well enough late last season to get another contract with the ECHL’s Alaska Aces, who travel to Colorado to face Arthur Bidwill‘s Eagles Oct. 12-13. Unfortunately for Tiger fans, CC opens against Clarkson that weekend. Colorado hosts Alaska Wednesday, March 20 and Friday-Saturday March 22-23, which is the WCHA Final Five weekend.

Hall, 22, will enter his first full pro season after joining the Aces as an amateur last year. A week after his CC career ended, Hall made his pro debut in mid-March. He appeared in eight games for Alaska and registered a pair of assists. He also played in five postseason games for Alaska. The 5-foot-8, 175-pound Pennsylvania native and defensive forward finished with 40 points (16g, 24a) in 135 college games. As a senior, Hall recorded five goals and three assists in 34 games. Four of his five goals came in the final 12 games of the year. Hall was a mathematical economics major who twice made the WCHA All-Academic team. His best offensive production came as a sophomore when Hall had 18 points (5g, 13a) in 38 games and received the team’s Most Improved Player Award.

Michigan Tech has announced its three new jerseys for the coming season. Here are links to the home white, the road black and gold alternate pictures.

From Tech sports information: “This design is a throwback to the 70s, when Tech played in three straight NCAA Championship games,” said head coach Mel Pearson, who lettered for the Huskies from 1977-81. “As I said when we released the black jersey, we want to honor the tradition and long-standing history of the Michigan Tech hockey program.”

The Army hockey program is mourning the death of former player and officer representative Tom Kennedy, who was killed in Afghanistan. He was stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado after leaving West Point.

The first seating section for Penn State’s Pegula Ice Arena was installed Tuesday night.

Weekend reading: Duluth, Pearson, UND, USA Hockey, PSU, lawsuit

Here is a look at Minnesota-Duluth’s expected 2012-13 roster and likely line combinations according to the team’s radio guy.

With Red Berenson looking to coach Michigan until he is 76, if not longer, Michigan Tech coach Mel Pearson made the right call moving to Houghton.

UND’s Derek Forbort’s potential was on display at a recent NHL camp. Here is a review of Brock Nelson and Danny Kristo as well. T.J. Oshie signed a $21 million contract with St. Louis.

USA Hockey announced that Josh Brown (Robert Morris) and Trent Palm (Minnesota-Duluth) have been named intern coaches for the U.S. National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich., for the 2012-13 season and Ryan Breen (Providence) has been selected as the third recipient of the Brendan Burke Internship.

Joe Paterno‘s statue should be taken down by Penn State, which should expect very harsh penalties, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

College Hockey News expressed support for The Michigan Daily and its reporter, who are targets of a lawsuit from the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL.

Tigers beat Tech; will play them in playoffs Friday

The two teams liked this past weekend’s series so much that they’ll try it again next week

No. 19 Colorado College’s 2-0 win and results of other Western Collegiate Hockey Association games on Saturday night dropped Michigan Tech to the No. 8 seed in the upcoming best-of-three first round of the league playoffs when they will face the host Tigers on Friday.

The Huskies (14-18-4, 11-13-4 WCHA) will stay in Colorado Springs since the school is on spring break.

Tech head coach Mel Pearson likes his team’s chances after spending another week getting used to the altitude, the Olympic-sized ice sheet, and not having to travel.

“This could end up being an advantage,” Pearson said. “We know what they’re trying to do and they know what we’re doing. We just need to figure out a way to score goals.”

“That will help them,” Tigers head coach Scott Owens. “I like that we finished fifth instead of sixth and we’ve won both games in March. I like that it kept our Pairwise chances going.”

MTU last advanced to the WCHA Final Five in 2007, when the Huskies swept the host Tigers (18-14-2, 15-12-1), which also marked the last time Tech has won at the World Arena. The Huskies are 6-2 against CC in eight all-time postseason games.

Here are the other playoff matchups, pending a late Alaska score, for the best-of-three series starting Friday:  No. 12 seed Alaska-Anchorage at No. 1 Minnesota; No. 11 Minnesota State at No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth; No. 10 Bemidji State/Wisconsin at No. 3 Denver; No. 9 Wisconsin/Bemidji State at No. 4 North Dakota, and No. 7 Nebraska-Omaha at No. 6 St. Cloud State.

The Huskies have not finished higher than sixth place in the WCHA since 1992-93, when they were fourth. It was also the last time MTU hosted a WCHA playoff series.

CC senior defenseman Gabe Guentzel wound up and fired a hard slap shot that beat Tech goalie Kevin Genoe, making only his seventh appearance this season. The 5-on-3 power play goal was set up by penalties against the Huskies’ Alex MacLeod and Riley Sweeney only 42 seconds apart.

The goal, coming on CC’s sixth shot of the game, energized both teams with a lot of the rough stuff in the final three minutes of the second period.

CC picked up a huge insurance goal when Jaden Schwarz forced a MTU turnover along the left boards and skated in alone on the breakaway. He skated across the face of the goal, beating Genoe with a backhander inside the right post for s 2-0 lead with 52.2 seconds left in the second.

“They’re a good team and we can’t afford to give them a 5-on-3 or let Schwartz come clean for a breakaway,” Pearson said.

The third period was marked with a lot of end-to-end play with the Huskies coming out playing hard in hopes for staging a rally. Genoe made a huge legpad save on a one-timer by Rylan Schwartz from three feet away midway through the period to keep CC from pulling away.

“He gave us a chance to win tonight,” Pearson said.

MTU pulled Genoe with 2:44 remaining but the Huskies could not solve Thorimbert, who made 31 saves for his third career shutout.

“The guys in front of me worked their (butts) off,” Thorimbert said.

“Josh came up big and we found a way to win,” Owens said.

Michigan Tech put together a solid first period, but could not capitalize on its chances. Captain Brett Olson muffed a one-timer 4:28 in and his rebound attempt was stopped by Josh Thorimbert with 14:21 left.

Later, the Tigers killed off a 5-on-3 lasting an entire two minutes, being served by penalty-killing defensemen Guentzel and Joe Marciano, late in the period. The Huskies out shot CC 15-4 during the period and had a 19-4 edge early in the second.

“We had a good first period but we had nothing to show for it,” Pearson said. “We held them to two goals on the road. That’s usually good enough to win.”

Thorimbert made two big saves during that 5-on-3 man advantage for Tech, including a point-bank attempt by MTU 6-foot-5 right wing Milos Gordic, while CC captain Nick Dineen twice disrupted the MTU power play with a block and poke check out front.

Playing Tech in the playoffs mirrors last season’s finish when CC played Wisconsin five times, winning Game 3 of the playoff series.

“I thought it worked out well last year,” Owens said. “It has the flavor of a Junior A five-game series which we liked. I know tonight was the kind of game that earned our players’ respect. We were fortunate to win this game.”

It’s going to be intense,” Guentzel said/ “It’s do-or-die hockey.”

CC clinches home playoff ice

COLORADO SPRINGS – Two shorthanded goals by Michigan Tech still weren’t enough for the visiting Huskies to keep momentum and pull out a critical road win.

Instead, No. 19 Colorado College scored two timely goals in response and grabbed fifth place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and home playoff ice before an announced crowd of 6.485 fans on Friday night.

Home playoff tickets went on sale immediately after the win and will again be for sale at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Two goals by CC senior Tim Hall in the second period helped the host Tigers take control.

Hall’s first goal snatched back the momentum only 2:23 into the second period after MTU sophomore defenseman Daniel Sova had scored on a shorthanded chance with 3:18 left in the first period.

“We needed to take better care of the puck,” head coach Mel Pearson said. ‘We didn’t play with as much aggression as we usually do until the third period. I liked how we played in the third period until all the penalties.”

Hall scored his second goal, beating a retreating MTU defender one-on-one, and using him for a screen to shoot the puck past MTU goalie Josh Robinson (36 saves) for the eventual game-winner and a 3-1 lead.

“We stayed pretty calm in the locker room (during first intermission),” Hall said. “We have had a rough stretch, going (1-5-1) in our last seven. But now we feel good. I don’t think we’re going to let up. Hopefully we can keep this rolling.”

The eighth-place Huskies (14-17-4, 11-12-4 WCHA) will try to win their first regular-season game in 22 tries at the Colorado Springs World Arena Saturday night. MTU must win and hope both sixth-place Nebraska Omaha and St. Cloud State lose to garner sixth place and home playoff ice next week.

The Huskies will need to approach Saturday night like it’s a playoff game, which was the last time Michigan Tech won in Colorado Springs with a best-of-three series sweep in March 2007.

The Huskies again took advantage of No. 19 Colorado College’s most glaring weaknesses – allowing shorthanded goals — during the third period.

Sophomore defenseman Bradley Stebner’s score was the 11th shorthanded goal allowed by Colorado College this season, second-worst in Division I behind Northeastern (12).

It trimmed CC’s lead to 3-2, but Tigers defenseman Mike Boivin scored 22 seconds later while on the power play to seize the momentum back in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association game. The goal was set up by a fac eoff win by CC captain Nick Dineen in the Huskies’ zone.

“The little things were what hurt us,” Pearson said. “You have to win face offs.”

Jaden Schwartz scored an empty-net, power-play goal with 10 seconds remaining for the final margin.

Michigan Tech had a chance at a third shorty with 9:12 remaining, but CC goalie Josh Thorimbert made the leg pad save on Alex MacLeod.

The Huskies later had two power plays in a row to make it a one-goal game but Thorimbert made four of his 26 saves to preserve the win.

“I thought their goalie was quite good, especially in the third period,” Pearson said.

Even with the sweep Saturday night, the host Tigers (17-14-2, 14-12-1) can finish no higher that fifth place after wins by Denver and North Dakota Friday.

The Huskies have not finished higher than sixth place in the WCHA since 1992-93, when they were fourth. It was also the last time MTU hosted a WCHA playoff series.

Colorado College used a good forecheck to put good pressure on the Husky blue-liners. Junior center Rylan Schwartz collecting a turnover inside the MTU blue line along the near boards, firing a crossing pass to junior right wing William Rapuzzi in front, whose shot ended up behind Robinson. Jaden Schwartz reached in behind Robinson to jam the puck in for the early 1-0 lead.