Tigers announce tough 2012-13 hockey schedule

Colorado College announced its 2012-13 hockey schedule this morning and it features the usual challenging nonconference and Western Collegiate Hockey Association opponents that have made the 12 straight winning seasons under 14-year head coach Scott Owens (299-185-43, .608) so impressive.

The schedule includes 16 games against seven different teams – including four Western Collegiate Hockey Association rivals – that reached the NCAA playoffs with nine of the games at the Colorado Springs World Arena, where Owens is 196-85-12 (.688).

CC travels to Air Force on Oct. 19 and does home-and-away dates against rival Denver Nov. 16-17 and Feb. 8-9. Under Owens, CC is 30-20-7 against DU including 15-8-3 at Magness Arena to claim the Gold Pan Trophy eight times in 13 seasons.

The 14 home league games also include two against NCAA Tournament entrants Minnesota, Minnesota Duluth and North Dakota. CC also travels to Grand Forks to conclude a challenging road stretch lasting from Dec. 8 through Jan. 18, not including winter break.

Notable nonconference home dates include a single game against Hockey East’s UMass-Lowell, which is coached by former CC assistant Norm Bazin, on Oct. 20 along with contests against Hockey East’s New Hampshire and ECAC member Yale on Thanksgiving weekend. The Tigers open play against ECAC’s Clarkson Oct. 12-13.

The Tigers look ready to play now, judging from this tweet from goalie Joe Howe:

@CCTigers: 2012-13 hockey schedule announced http://fb.me/1SnqOikO7” how many days until October? #itchingtogetbackatitalready

Season-ticket prices start at $149 and include all 20 regular-season home games plus any home playoff dates. Fans ordering prior to May 14 can receive a special discount of up to $20 on each season ticket. Season-ticket holders receive many special benefits, including a choice of the best seat locations. Interest-free payment options – including a five-month plan – are available. Renewal notices will be mailed in April.

Tiger hockey’s average home attendance of 6,754 in 2011-12 was its highest in five years.

Friday reading: Gold Pan rivalry news, other WCHA previews and notes

No doubt, this scene will be played out a few times tonight at Magness Arena.

Big news out of Denver: Red-hot freshman Ty Loney has been suspended indefinitely for violating team rules. The Post also reports coach George Gwozdecky is leaning toward starting goalie Sam Brittain at home Friday.

The Gazette looks at the Gold Pan rivalry from No. 11 CC’s perspective. The Gazette also reports that sophomore Josh Thorimbert has all but sealed up the No. 1 goalie spot ahead of Joe Howe. Here’s the Post’s preview notes. The No. 13 Pioneers are on a roll headed into the series.

No. 1/2 Minnesota-Duluth travels to desperate Alaska-Anchorage this weekend. The desperate Seawolves are mired in a seven-game losing streak. Did I mention they’re desperate for a win?

Come to think of it,  the Bulldogs are plenty motivated too after falling behind No. 1/2 Minnesota, which is idle. The Gophers are losing their longtime, well regarded AD to retirement.

No. 17 North Dakota is resting up too. Here are some excellent observations about the league from the UND beat writer and more news from Grand Forks.

A confident Michigan Tech team hosts 11th-place MSU Mankato. And yes, the Huskies are aware of the dangers of a letdown.

Like CC, Bemidji State is tweaking its power play as it heads to the sixth-place Nebraska-Omaha, which needs home points to keep in the home playoff ice hunt. UNO goalie Ryan Massa is likely to be back in net this weekend. BSU’s Jordan George has emerged from Matt Read‘s shadow.

St. Cloud State has a decision to make in net as they head to Wisconsin, which needs to get on a run if it hopes for home playoff ice.

Here’s USCHO’s WCHA roundup including Jordy Christian’s season being over.

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.