Meet the CC freshmen: Michael King, Pete Maric

It won’t be hard to notice freshman defenseman Michael King, listed at 6-foot-4 without skates, when he takes the ice for the Tigers. His skating ability looked smooth and his reach gives him an advantage, covering a lot of the ice with his stick.

“Michael will take a little time to get used to the speed but he has a lot of upside,” coach Scott Owens said. “He is a very-skilled big man.”

“I am just trying to soak up as much as I can,” the 227-pounder from British Columbia said. “I have been working on playing more physical.”

Chances are if the Tigers need a particular role filled, freshman Pete Maric can handle it.

“Maric is a very versatile and well-rounded,” coach Scott Owens said. “He can fill many roles.  He also played on two different championship teams in two years.”

“You learn to give yourself a clean page the next day (after a loss),” he said. “That is part of the winning mentality. It gives you a lot of confidence.”

Maric said his success is from being willing to do whatever the team needed.

“You feed off that,” he said. “You work hard all the time. You defend, do a hell of a job forechecking to create opportunities and then capitalize. You do whatever you can.”

The previous installments of Meet The Freshmen: Cody Bradley and Hunter Fejes; Russell Finch and Jared Hanson are available by clicking the link in their names.

Meet the CC freshmen: Russell Finch, Jared Hanson

The much-traveled Russell Finch, the first Wyoming native to join the Tigers program, is happy to see his long road through junior hockey culminate with a roster spot at Colorado College.

Finch, 21, played with Casper Outlaws youth program until age 15 when he moved to play at a high level in Fort Collins and his family moved to Maryland.  He would have been the first from the Terrapin State to play for the Tigers but he has never lived there.

“Finch is a smart player,” said captain William Rapuzzi. “He is one of the older guys who really knows the game.”

“He’s a very experienced, dependable defenseman,” said CC assistant Eric Rud.

That showed in his final season when he record 15 points (12 assists) in 50 games and was a whopping plus-32 in plus/minus.

Finch spent the next three years in Chicago playing midget hockey before moving on to the St. Louis Bandits of the North American Hockey League for a season followed by 10 games before a trade to NAHL Fairbanks. Both teams won their divisions while Finch was there.

“I put in my time,” the 5-foot-11 defenseman said with a smile. ” I am really happy and excited to have the opportunity to play college hockey. I will work very hard. I will do whatever needs to be done for the team.”

Freshman Jared Hanson, like most rookies, is still adjusting to the college game.

But the former Lincoln Stars standout has shown that he can contribute in many ways thanks to a good work ethic, well-rounded game and a mature, winning attitude to the Tigers.

It showed in the larger role he had in Lincoln, working his way onto a top line and on the power-play unit. He went from 24 points in 53 games in 2010-11 to 55 points (27 goals) in as many games last season.

“He got better and better his final season there,” CC coach Scott Owens said.

That improvement was thanks to the same work ethic he promises to bring to the Tigers program.

“I will just try to work hard and seize every opportunity I can and make the most of it by burying the puck,” the Palmer, Alaska native said.

The previous Meet The Freshmen installment dealt with Cody Bradley and Hunter Fejes. The final one later this week will introduce Michael King and Pete Maric.

Tigers start off strong during first captain’s practice

CC captain William Rapuzzi, standing, sets up the next drill during the Tigers’ first captain’s practice on Monday at Honnen Ice Arena.

The Colorado College hockey team knocked off the offseason rust pretty quickly during the first of 11 scheduled captain’s practices on Monday night.

“It was pretty good,” said senior captain and wing William Rapuzzi. “We did a lot of passing to get the rust off and had a 5 to 7-minute scrimmage with a real fast pace.”

A lot of that had to do with the usual excitement of being back in school after a long offseason.

“Guys are excited to get on the ice,” said junior wing Alexander Krushelnyski. “The tempo was good. Everyone is going hard and setting high expectations for themselves.”

The Tigers looked good despite putting in a hard weight room session before the 75-minute practice away from the team’s coaching staff per NCAA rules. No one looked to be skating with heavy legs.

“Everyone came in in good shape,” junior defenseman Eamonn McDermott said. “(Fitness) testing (last week) went real well.”

A lot of roles need to be filled this season with a lot of contributors lost to graduation, Jaden Schwartz’s early departure for the NHL and Dakota Eveland’s neck injury. Eveland said he will find out more about his future after new X-rays in a couple weeks.

“Everything’s up in the air,” Rapuzzi said. “Guys are working real hard at taking up the slack and move into new roles.”

CC captain William Rapuzzi, center, leads the Tigers through their usual end-of-practice stretching.

The six freshmen (listed by roster number) – defensemen Russell Finch (No. 2) and Michael King (3), and forwards Cody Bradley (10), Hunter Fejes (11),  Peter Maric (22), and Jared Hanson (24) – did not stand out, which is a good thing as they learn the CC drills. Most looked good with smooth skating ability.

“They fit right in with us,” senior Rylan Schwartz said. ”They asked a few questions (about drills) and caught on real quick.”

“They have been working hard on and off the ice,” Kruselnyski said. “They are quick learners and work hard.”

That means listening to the upperclassmen, who are eager to teach them how things are done in the Tigers program.

“They’re not talking, just doing,” McDermott said.

That is critical since only one official practice led by the coaches is allowed before Sunday, Oct. 7’s exhibition game against British Columbia followed by the season-opening series against Clarkson Oct. 12-13.

“These aren’t throw-away practices,” Rapuzzi said. “You get right into games so these are just as important as normal practices and you have to treat them like that. Just because coaches aren’t here doesn’t mean you can slack off. We only have a month before the games count.”

Sunday reading: Future Tigers, CC outreach, Schultz, NHL Draft

Incoming Tigers defenseman Russell Finch, pictured, submitted his bio information earlier this week and it ends up he is the first Wyoming native (Casper) recruited by CC as well as the first from Maryland (where family now lives). There were no Division I players from Wyoming last season and he will likely be the only one this coming season.

With Jaccob Slavin (2013-14 signee) and incoming wing Hunter Fejes‘ selection in the NHL Draft, the Tigers will have four drafted players on the 2012-13 roster (sophomores Aaron Harstad and Peter Stoykewych and senior Scott Winkler) and at least four on the 2013-14 roster (pending 2013 draft, early departures, of course). That is the most since the 2008-09 season — Richard Bachman, Kris Fredheim, Scott McCulloch, Chad Rau and Bill Sweatt. Of those five, only McCulloch, now retired, never made the NHL.

Here is a good feature on how last year’s Tigers took a long-term interest in a Woodland Park child battling cancer.

Tweet by TSN’s Bob McKenzie: “Justin Schultz becomes UFA at midnight Sun night. Will meet with agent(s) in Toronto on Tuesday. Will field offers Wed.”

On Friday, Jordan Schmaltz became the 10th UND player or signee in 10 years to be selected in the first round of the NHL Draft. The second day was not as busy for North Dakota. Here are some notes.

Future NCHC foes Minnesota-Duluth had a second-day selection as did St. Cloud State with Judd Peterson of Duluth Marshall going in the seventh round (204th overall). Three UNO Mavs also heard their names called. Here is a roundup of other college-connected draft picks and a complete list of collegians taken in rounds 2-7.

Robert Morris has benefited greatly from Sidney Crosby’s arrival in Pittsburgh. Penn State’s start-up cannot hurt either when it comes to college hockey getting more local media attention.

The Post’s Adrian Dater remembers the old Dartmouth arena. Give it a click. It’s a great read.

The top BC assistant and a successful USHL coach are likely leading candidates for the open UMass head coaching job.

Thursday reading: Cecere, USHL draft, college news

Here is a list of NAHL college commitments, including two headed to CC: Garrett Cecere (2013 or 14) and 2012 defenseman Russell Finch.

Cecere, pictured, led the Janesville Jets with four points (1g, 3a) in five playoff games, the furthest the franchise has gone in the postseason. Cecere was fourth on the team and led the defenseman corps with 30 points (6g, 24a) in 52 games with a plus-4 rating.

Miami and North Dakota recruits shared the USHL Goalie of the Year honors.

North Dakota announced its incoming class for 2012-13. Goalie Aaron Dell‘s plans remain unknown.

The USHL held its entry draft, and decided its championship, which included plenty of future WCHA/NCHC players. No CC commits were involved. Here is one blogger’s take on the draft.

Florida won the ECHL championship.

Maryland commit heads to CC this fall

Fairbanks Ice Dogs defenseman Russell Finch is headed to Colorado Springs this fall according to the Daily News Miner.

One of the most consistent defensemen in coach Trevor Stewart’s lineup, Finch committed to play college hockey at Colorado College of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) starting this fall.

He would be the first Maryland native to play for the Tigers. He joins 2012-13 newcomers center Cody Bradley of Tampa, Fla., left wing Hunter Fejes of Anchorage, Alaska, and right wing Jared Hanson of Palmer, Alaska, along with defenseman Michael King of Prince George, British Columbia.

“He’s just a solid defender,” Stewart told the Fairbanks newspaper from Seattle earlier this week, as the Ice Dogs traveled to Dallas for the Robertson Cup on Thursday at the Dr. Pepper Center in Frisco, Texas.  “He’s good at the one-on-one game, he keeps things simple and he always makes a good first pass.”

Finch, 21, of Middleton, Maryland, has played the past two seasons in the North American Hockey League (NAHL).  The 6 foot, 205-pounder started his NAHL career in 2010-11 with the St. Louis Bandits, which defeated Fairbanks 3-1 in the Cup opener on Thursday. Here are his career stats.

After beginning this season with the Bandits, he was traded 10 games into the season to Fairbanks, where he flourished, recording 12 points in 40 regular season games with the Ice Dogs, including being a +26.  In 99 career NAHL regular season games, he has recorded 27 points.

He was then selected to participate in the 2012 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament this past February in Troy, Michigan, where he represented team West.

Stewart said Finch is a perfect fit for the Tigers, who play on an Olympic-size ice sheet.

“He’s an efficient skater and he has good stick control, which is beneficial on the big ice,” Stewart said.

Stewart said Finch should fit in well at Colorado College.

“He’s great academically and he’s a good team player,” Stewart said. “We’re excited that he’s going to be able to step in at a big-time school like Colorado College.”