December 27, 2007
Lightning College Hockey Classic

St. Pete Times Forum • Tampa, Fla.

Holiday Tournament Preview


Saturday, Dec. 29
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.

(All times Eastern)


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.


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