Colorado College Says 'We Want The Cup'
Don't bother trying to convince Scott Owens
that it's bad luck to win the MacNaughton Cup. He wants
it, no questions asked.
Owens' Colorado College Tigers are technically
tied with North Dakota in the race for the Cup with three
weeks of the regular season remaining, but the Tigers have
played two fewer WCHA games than the Fighting Sioux. That
means four wins and a tie, and the Tigers will have the
Cup for the third time in the past six seasons.
Sophomore forward Andreas Vlassopoulos ranks second
on the Tigers with 17 assists this season.
Still, if Tigers fans were hoping for an NFL-style
end to the regular season, where they rest their key players
and coast into the playoffs, an unprecedented home loss
by CC, coupled with North Dakota's charge to a tie for first
place, has put any of those thoughts to rest.
"If we win the Cup or a part of the Cup,
we'll definitely have earned it," Owens said, comparing
his team's required effort to the strategy that produced
the most recent Super Bowl champions. "The Giants didn't
rest anybody in their first game with the Patriots, and
you saw what a difference that made when they met the second
But with a top-two WCHA finish looking very,
very likely, Owens has given himself some time to look a
bit beyond the regular season and set some March goals for
his team. Owens noted that his team has not made a trip
to the WCHA Final Five since falling to Denver in the 2005
tournament's title game, and they're gunning for a return
to St. Paul.
With the NCAA West Regional being played in
Colorado Springs, it would take a monumental collapse to
have the Tigers playing there as a low seed in the NCAAs.
But Owens would like to be ensured of wearing the home whites
while they're at it.
"We're still on that bubble for the top
four, and we'd definitely like to be a number one seed,
but we're going to have to earn that too," Owens said,
admitting one Hockey East foe has their number. "New
Hampshire beat us twice earlier in the season, so we don't
match up well there."
Questions remain about youth and health on
the Tigers' roster, with senior Scott Thauwald hurting and
freshman Stephen Schultz out for this weekend's trip to
Minnesota Duluth. As for the questions about how long and
how consistently rookie goalie Richard Bachman will be able
to produce, Owens praises the schedule gods for last weekend's
"Thank goodness for this off week, because
I feel like Richard has been recharged a little bit,"
said Owens, despite his team's first home loss of the season
(a 4-2 setback to st. Cloud State) coming right before the
break. "You hate to lose anything at home in February,
but hopefully that re-focused us and got us back to not
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE WCHA
Meeting With NHL Folks 'A Good Start':
Anyone hoping for a wide-ranging pledge from the NHL that
the mid-season signings would stop is likely disappointed
with the results of the recent meetings between pro hockey
officials and three college hockey commissioners. But WCHA
head man Bruce McLeod, who met with a key group of NHL general
mangers in Florida this week, and who admits the college
officials took a "pretty softball approach" to
the topics at hand, came away satisfied that they'd taken
a positive step.
"Our presentation was more to put a face
on college hockey and explain who we are," said McLeod,
who was accompanied by Hockey East's Joe Bertagna and the
CCHA's Tom Anastos at the meetings. He said a big part of
the college presentation was to stress the education aspect
of college hockey, which does not exist for pro prospects
in Europe or in major junior. A big concern about mid-season
signings of college players is how their departures negatively
affect the school's graduation rates.
"That's our issue," McLeod said.
"We did bring up mid-season signings, but more just
for information purposes. We're not yet to the point of
asking what we could do about it."
McLeod added that it was heartening to look
across the room and see so many ex-collegians in powerful
positions with NHL teams. For Minnesota Duluth's former
athletic director, seeing one of his former student-athletes
(Brett Hull) running a NHL team now was particularly satisfying.
There are sure to be future meetings between the NHL and
college hockey leaders, and more discussion of mid-season
signings and other issues like how a pro team should communicate
with its drafted collegians during the season.
While far from solving all of the world's
problems, McLeod said there was more than just good weather
to like in Florida.
"This sent a real strong signal to the
college hockey community that they are serious about these
issues and we are important to the NHL," McLeod said,
adding that the commissioners are working on a document
that they hope to present to NHL leaders in June, and have
language added to the current collective bargaining agreement.
"We're not just a cheap deliver system for good players."
Great Weekend Getaway
(Fri.-Sat.) The "Border Battle" between Minnesota
and Wisconsin in Minneapolis this weekend takes on
added meaning for the Badgers, who are on the border
between the upper and lower echelons of the WCHA.
A pair of wins versus the slumping Golden Gophers
(Minnesota is 1-4-5 in its last 10 games) and Bucky
could feel safe canceling those hotel reservations
for the opening round of the playoffs.
While You're There: The intensity
of Minnesota’s high school hockey playoffs can’t
be beat. We suggest a trip to Braemar Arena in Edina
for the noon Saturday game that will feature a powerful
and exciting Minnetonka team. The Skippers’
star is senior defenseman Jake Gardiner, a future
tip of the cap to Mentor Duluth Appreciation Night
at the DECC. At Saturday night's Bulldog game versus
Colorado College nearly 300 participants in the Mentor
Duluth program will be the UMD athletic department's
guests of honor. Tickets are provided free of charge
to the mentors and children enrolled in the program.
In addition, the entire Bulldog team and mascot Champ
will be on hand after the game to sign autographs.
below zero in Minnesota for what feels like three
months. In Madison they've already set a record for
snowfall, and we've still got more than a month of
winter to go. And in Grand Forks it was something
like -60 wind chill one morning this week. The next
person we hear fretting about the prospect of Global
Warming in the Midwest gets a snow shovel to the face
and a set of jumper cables hooked up to their…
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• Last Friday's 3-0 shutout at Wisconsin
was the fourth recorded by Minnesota State's Mike Zacharias
this season, and ties him with Eric Pateman atop the Mavericks
record books for most blankings in one campaign. More importantly,
the victory gave the Mavs two wins and a tie versus the
Badgers this season, meaning the tiebreaker goes to Mankato
if the teams are deadlocked at the end of the regular season.
• College hockey is apparently filling
the Sunday afternoon sports void left in North Dakota when
the NFL season came to a close, at least for the next few
weeks. The final two Fighting Sioux series of the year will
be Saturday-Sunday afternoon affairs. This weekend the Sioux
host Bemidji State and have moved the games to the afternoon
to accommodate the North Dakota State High School Hockey
Tournament. In two weeks they'll play a pair of afternoon
games versus Minnesota Duluth, so scheduled because the
WCHA women's tournament is being played on the same ice
sheet that weekend.
• There should be a name (something
akin to "hit for the cycle" or "triple-double")
for what Michigan Tech senior Peter Rouleau did in last
Friday's 5-2 win over Minnesota Duluth. Rouleau had a hand
in all five goals for Tech as he finished with a career-high
five points, and he recorded his second career hat trick
thanks to a shorthanded goal, a power-play goal and an empty
• You can learn a good deal from a team
that can tough out gritty road wins. With that in mind,
we saw some impressive stuff last weekend when St. Cloud
State won 3-1 and 2-1 at Alaska Anchorage. The Huskies were
out-shot 54-33 over the two games but got the sweep to extend
their current conference win streak to three games.
• A sweep by the Tigers this weekend
in Duluth would make winners out of everyone who has ever
donned a Colorado College hockey sweater. Now in the 70th
season of varsity hockey at CC, the Tigers enter the series
with an all-time record of 1,040 wins, 1,041 losses, and
• With Brock Trotter gone to the pro
ranks and Tyler Ruegsegger still out with an injury, rookie
forward Tyler Bozak has taken over the Pioneers' scoring
lead (among active players) with 14 goals and 27 points
in 30 games. He needs five more points to overtake Trotter,
who finished with 31 points in 24 games.
• Heading on the road to face a desperate
team never sounds like a good idea, but for Alaska Anchorage,
history says that a visit to Denver this weekend might be
a good thing. The Seawolves have lost six straight to the
Pioneers, but all six losses were in Anchorage. The Seawolves
were the first visiting team ever to win a game at Magness
Arena, and three of their last four wins in their all-time
series with the Pioneers have been in Denver.
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report. Jess Myers can be reached