Lightning College Hockey Classic
Pete Times Forum • Tampa, Fla.
Notre Dame vs. Massachusetts, 5:05 p.m.
Colorado College vs. Rensselaer, 8:05 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 30
Third-place Game, 5:05 p.m.
Championship Game, 8:05 p.m.
The tournament was held in late October
and heavily favored Notre Dame won the title with
back-to-back shutouts. The Fighting Irish allowed
just seven shots against in a 3-0 win over Army and
then Hobey Baker candidate David Brown made 28 saves
in a 2-0 win over Air Force in the finals. Christian
Hanson had two goals for the Irish on the weekend,
and Air Force's Eric Ehn had two goals and four assists
for six points in the Falcons' 7-5 win over Alabama-Huntsville
in the semis.
This is the third in-season tournament
of the season for Notre Dame and fourth for Rensselaer.
Both teams participated in RPI's Holiday Tournament
in late November. Notre Dame opened its season at
the Lefty McFadden Invitational in Dayton, Ohio and
Rensselaer competed in the IceBreaker in St. Paul,
Minn. to start the year and also participated in the
Citizen's Bank Governor's Cup in Albany in October.
It is the only holiday tournament taking
place in which all four participating teams are nationally-ranked.
Colorado College heads to Tampa this
week having won four of the last five regular-season
tournaments in which they've participated, dating
back to the Nye Frontier Classic in Anchorage, Alaska
during the 2002-03 season. They also won the first
Ohio Hockey Classic in 2004, won the IceBreaker early
in 2005, and the Great Lakes Invitational in December
2005. The streak of four straight titles ended last
year in Anchorage.
Keep an eye on a pair of key freshman
forwards for Rensselaer and Massachusetts. The Engineers'
Tyler Helfrich has 14 points on the year and a team-leading
11 assists. For UMass, fans are excited about James
Marcou, whose 3-10–13 scoring line is best on
the team, and he leads the team with 10 assists. That's
not to say that he can't score. His knack for the
net is evident and developing and he can give the
Minutemen a legitimate dangerous scoring threat every
time he is on the ice, something that Massachusetts
has lacked in recent seasons.
HOW WE SEE IT
The strongest and deepest field of any
of the holiday tournaments congregates in Tampa this
weekend with four nationally-ranked programs set to
face off at the future site of the 2012 Frozen Four.
This one should feature Frozen Four caliber hockey.
Notre Dame and Colorado College are
the favorites, but RPI and UMass are earning deserved
labels as teams that others don't want to face with
solid goaltending, steady work ethic and enough dangerous
scoring to make people pay for mistakes.
That being said, we still look for the
Fighting Irish and Tigers to advance to the finals
of this event and meet up in Sunday night's championship.
Many INCH readers have wondered whether the top teams
in the CCHA can compete with the best in the WCHA.
This potential match up should give us some answers.
— Joe Gladziszewski