Updated Thursday reading: Another injury at North Dakota, NCHC reaction, preview notes

North Dakota announced that sophomore forward Derek Rodwell is out for the season with a shoulder injury. North Dakota already is playing without Rocco Grimaldi, Corban Knight, Mario Lamoureux and Derek Forbort.

New National Collegiate Hockey Conference commissioner Jim Scherr is a veteran sports administrator but does not have a ton of hockey experience as the St. Cloud Times points out. That’s a fair question, but a good hire for director of hockey operations should assuage any misplaced fears.

The Grand Forks Herald reports Scherr’s salary is $150,000 a year.

Brian Gomez continues to do a sound job on the the CC beat. His NCHC commissioner announcement sidebar has good info on future CC foes and the likely 24-game league slate. Here’s his main announcement story.

There’s hope for CC fans that sophomore Jaden Schwartz will play in Friday’s home game against Cornell. I’m guessing he will.

The WCHA announced its players of the week. CC’s Mike Boivin was nominated.

Here’s an update on Minnesota State, which continues to have injury troubles.

Legendary Notre Dame icon Lefty Smith passed away.

Game preview notes for this weekend:

No. 13 Cornell at  No. 6/8 Colorado College;

Alabama-Huntsville at No. 10/11 Denver

No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth at No. 8/9 Western Michigan;

Notre Dame at No.3 /5 Minnesota;

Minnesota State at St. Lawrence; RIT at Wisconsin; and Clarkson at North Dakota (single game in Winnipeg on Saturday).

CC’s defense shines in 2-1 win over No. 10 Union

A stellar team defensive performance proved to be the catalyst for No. 5-ranked Colorado College’s 2-1 nonconference win over No. 10 Union before an announced crowd of 5,882 fans at the World Arena on New Year’s Eve night.

“I thought both team’s defenses were good tonight,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said, “When you’re taking on the top-rated defensive team in the country you know it will be a tight, one-goal game.”

Union came into the game allowing only a Division I-best 1.94 goals, but it was CC’s defense that proved decisive.

A hard check along the boards led to Colorado College’s opening goal early in the second period.

Freshman defender Peter Stoykewych collided with a Union wing, forcing a turnover that was hauled in by sophomore wing Dakota Eveland. He passed across ice to junior defenseman Mike Boivin, who then sent a long pass forward to senior center David Civitarese just before he crossed the Union blue line.

He split the two Dutchmen defenders and charged toward the Union net. He beat sprawling sophomore goalie Troy Grosenick with a backhander with 14:35 left in the second for the 1-0 lead.

Boivin’s assist gave him a point in a team-high 14 games, one ahead of junior Rylan Schwartz (13) and two ahead of sophomore Jaden Schwartz (12).

A Dutchmen turnover led to a goal for senior captain Nick Dineen, who scored from the slot with 1:01 left in the second to make it 2-0 Tigers (12-6-0, 9-5-0 Western Collegiate Hockey Association).

It proved to be the game-winner after Union junior wing Wayne Simpson scored with 39.7 seconds left in the third with the Grosenick pulled for the extra attacker.

CC sophomore goalie Josh Thorimbert made 20 saves in a solid performance to improve to 7-2-0 on the season. Union fell to 9-5-5, 3-2-2 ECAC after losing to No. 15 Denver 3-1 on Friday.

“Josh was great tonight,” Boivin said.

The Tigers’ back checking and sound play from the blue-liners kept a good Union offensive team (17th in Division I) under control.

“The forwards, led by David Civitarese, did a good job getting back in support,” Owens  said. “We knew we had to play that way. Even then we were worried for the final 40 seconds because they can put six dangerous players out there.”

The win garners CC a split on the nonconference weekend after falling 2-1 to crosstown foe Air Force.

“It doesn’t take the sting completely away from Friday but this win will help us later this season in the Pairwise (rankings),” Owens said.

Colorado College hosts No. 13-ranked Cornell Jan. 6-7.

Air Force knocks off CC

Air Force’s Casey Kleisinger broke free for a shorthanded goal with 4:56 left in the second period  for the eventual game-winner as the Atlantic Hockey Association leaders knocked off No. 5 Colorado College 2-1 Friday at World Arena.

It was Air Force’s first win at the current World Arena and fists road win since 1985 at the Broadmoor World Arena (6-5 OT).

Tigers junior defenseman Mike Boivin fired a slap shot past AFA goalie Stephen Caple early in the third to male it 2-1. The Tigers dominated the final period, outshooting Air Force (10-4-2) 17-2 before slowing down in the final five minutes.

“We got what we deserved,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said. “They played hard and smart and got the win. We had a great third period but it wasn’t enough.”

On Kleisinger’s goal, the puck was passed  off the far boards by Mike Walsh and ended up in the middle of the CC blue line where Kleisinger skated forward to get the puck and split the CC defenders, who were slow to react.

He skated straight up ice and beat CC goalie Josh Thorimbert to give Air Force a 2-0 lead and the cushion the Falcons needed to weather the CC storm.

Air Force dominated the first period outshooting Colorado College 9-5 thanks to two power plays, including a score with the man advantage by Scott Mathis to give the Falcons a 1-0 lead headed into the first intermission.

CC (11-6) will look to bounce back against No. 10 Union, which lost at Denver 3-1 on Friday at 7 p.m. Saturday.

“I feel confident in the the guys we have in (the locker room),” Boivin said.

Friday reading

Captain Nick Dineen and senior Tim Hall (pictured) may not be honored by the midseason awards, but both are big reasons the Tigers are in third and four points out of first place in the WCHA halfway through the season.

It’s time to look at the first half of the WCHA season. Here’s Bucky’s Fifth Quarter’s take which honors Rylan and Jaden Schwartz, Mike Boivin and Gabe Guentzel.

Here’s more on the Canada captaincy of CC sophomore Jaden Schwartz, including a feature touching on the influence of his sister Mandi.

Former Tiger Mike Testwuide looks due for a breakout later this season.

Minnesota’s Nick Bjugstad remains day to day for Team USA at the world juniors. Here’s an update on the Americans.

Nebraska-Omaha picks up a goalie commit.

Here’s a Gazette feature on AFA’s Kyle De Laurell, a product of the Colorado Rampage club in northern Colorado Springs.

CURRENT WCHA STANDINGS
WCHA Games
Overall
GP
W
L
T
Pts
GF
GA
W
L
T
GF
GA
1
Minnesota
14
11
3
0
22
51
28
14
5
1
83
41
Minnesota Duluth
14
10
2
2
22
59
32
12
3
3
73
44
3
Colorado College
14
9
5
0
18
59
48
11
5
0
67
50
4
Nebraska Omaha
14
7
4
3
17
46
43
9
8
3
62
60
5
Denver
14
6
5
3
15
47
45
8
7
3
59
55
6
North Dakota
14
7
7
0
14
39
37
9
8
1
51
50
7
Michigan Tech
14
6
7
1
13
41
43
9
9
1
54
55
St. Cloud State
14
5
6
3
13
43
41
7
9
4
64
62
9
Bemidji State
14
5
7
2
12
36
46
9
9
2
55
56
10
Wisconsin
14
4
8
2
10
40
50
7
9
2
57
59
11
Alaska Anchorage
14
3
10
1
7
29
54
6
10
2
46
63
12
Minnesota State
14
2
11
1
5
37
60
5
14
1
55
75

Around the WCHA: Tigers charge into third with road sweep

CC junior Rylan Schwartz scored twice to spark the Tigers for their fourth win in five games. Courtesy CC Athletics

No. 7 Colorado College ended the first half of its season with an exclamation point.

The Tigers (11-5, 9-5 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) scored twice early in the third period to seal a convincing 6-2 win at last-place Minnesota State-Mankato (5-14-1, 2-11-1). The road sweep moved CC into sole possession of third place, past idle Nebraska-Omaha (9-8-3, 7-4-3).

CC junior center Rylan Schwartz scored twice, with his team-leading 16th of the year proving to be the game winner when he put the Tigers ahead 3-1 with 15:27 left in the second period.

Defensemen Eamonn McDermott and Joe Marciano scored in the first 4:19 of the third to open up a 5-1 command. Mike Boivin scored the opening goal to give CC three goals by its blue-liners.

Mankato’s Michael Dorr scored a shorthanded goal to make it 5-2 midway through the final period. It was the sixth shorty allowed by the Tigers this season. It was the only negative for a power play that clicked at a 3-for-6 pace.

William Rapuzzi scored an empty-netter for the final margin. Rylan Schwartz got the assist.

CC goalie Josh Thorimbert recorded 24 saves, 13 in the third, to win his second in a row. The Tigers out shot Mankato 44-26, leading in that stat by a 43-18 margin midway through the third.

No. 2 Minnesota (14-5-1, 11-3) and No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth (12-3-3, 10-2-2) are tied for first with 22 points, four ahead of the Tigers.

No. 13 Denver (8-7-3, 6-5-3) lost 5-1 at St. Cloud State in the only other league series this weekend to remain in fifth.

Bemidji State beat Alabama-Huntsville 5-0 for the home sweep while North Dakota downed the Russian Red Stars 5-1 in exhibition play.

The league is idle until after Christmas. CC hosts Air Force on Dec. 30 and No. 12 Union on New Year’s Eve.

Union downed No. 5 Merrimack 3-1 on Saturday night.

CURRENT WCHA STANDINGS

WCHA Games
Overall
GP
W
L
T
Pts
GF
GA
W
L
T
GF
GA
Minnesota
14
11
3
0
22
51
28
14
5
1
83
41
Minnesota Duluth
14
10
2
2
22
59
32
12
3
3
73
44
Colorado College
14
9
5
0
18
59
48
11
5
0
67
50
Nebraska Omaha
14
7
4
3
17
46
43
9
8
3
62
60
Denver
14
6
5
3
15
47
45
8
7
3
59
55
North Dakota
14
7
7
0
14
39
37
9
8
1
51
50
Michigan Tech
14
6
7
1
13
41
43
9
9
1
54
55
St. Cloud State
14
5
6
3
13
43
41
7
9
4
64
62
Bemidji State
14
5
7
2
12
36
46
9
9
2
55
56
Wisconsin
14
4
8
2
10
40
50
7
9
2
57
59
Alaska Anchorage
14
3
10
1
7
29
54
6
10
2
46
63
Minnesota State
14
2
11
1
5
37
60
5
14
1
55
75

Friday’s lines: CC at MSU-Mankato

Colorado College

LW-C-RW

Skalbeck/R. Schwartz/Rapuzzi

Krushenyski/Dineen/Hamburg

Eveland/Civitarese/Collett

Morin/Hall/Taft

LD-RD

Guentzel/McDermott

Harstad/Marciano

Stoykewych/Boivin

Goalies — Thorimbert/Howe

From Puckato, which is hosting a live game blog both nights.
MINNESOTA STATE
23-Dorr     14-Jokinen     22-McInnis
15-Burkemper     19-Lehrke     25-Hayes
12-LaFontaine     18-Leitner     8-Gaede
24-Mueller     29-Zuck     9-Louwerse3-Cooper     26-Schiller
7-Palmquist     16-Elbrecht
17-Mosey     2-Nelson

1-Lee
31-Karambelas
30-Cook

Scratches: Grant, Heath, Knoll, Leivermann, Stern, Thauwald

Friday reading

Some think CC sophomore Jaden Schwartz, pictured at left, may have a letter on his Canadian national team jersey soon, judging from this well-done feature. They’ll get no argument from me.

He is one of the five Canadians to watch according to NBC.

His absence makes it likely CC will split at Mankato this weekend according to this prediction. The Mavs are healthier headed into this series.

Here’s the Mankato Free Press’ preview capsule and The Gazette’s look at CC’s goalie situation. Fans should keep in mind that they needn’t freak out unless a true No. 1 hasn’t emerged by February. Remember CC turned its season around with a 2-1 loss at Bemidji State when the team suddenly started playing to its potential; capped by that memorable NCAA win over Boston College.

The Alabama-Huntsville at Bemidji State series is previewed by the Bemidji Pioneer. Beavers player Drew Fisher is interviewed in this video.

Denver sophomore Jason Zucker’s hectic days are profiled by the Post’s Adrian Dater. The Pioneers play at St. Cloud State.

The rivalry between the Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan’s coaches go back to their playing days and continued as assistants.

Here’s preview notes for North Dakota’s Saturday exhibition against the Russian Red Stars.

Former Tiger Bill Sweatt’s demotion to the AHL  is explained by the Canucks’ coach. It’s good news. Here’s a feature on his NHL experience by his hometown newspaper.

Richard Bachman continues to impress. It is unclear if he will play against the Devils tonight after winning 3-2 at the Islanders Thursday night.

There’s high hopes for UMass-Lowell, where former CC assistants Norm Bazin and Jason Lammers have engineered a strong start.

Goon’s World makes his predictions for this weekend.

The weekly news releases from the National Collegiate Hockey Conference is annoying to this columnist.