Colorado College was in an underdog role last season, and it stuck. The Tigers finished in the bottom half of the league for the first time in six years.
It didn’t appear as if they would end up that way, however, getting off to a good start thanks to some surprising play from freshman goaltender Joe Howe. One could argue, though, that the good start was mostly against lesser competition and by the time they reached the meat of the schedule, the Tigers fell apart.
One would be mostly right.
Given that the Tigers lost a lot of offense before last year and lost another good chunk this year, it could be assumed that the Tigers are in for another down year. However, if you noticed their rankings, the team is thought to finish anywhere from fifth through 10th. It just depends on if the team lives up to its young potential.
“We’ve got 16 freshmen and sophomores, and there’s a lot of uncertainty as to who’s going to fill what role and who’s going to do what, but we’re excited about our team,” coach Scott Owens said.
The losses of leading scorers Bill Sweatt and Mike Testwuide are ones that won’t be felt just on the score sheet, but in the locker room as well.
Still, the good thing about losing all that offense as mentioned above is that it leaves one with a young team bursting with potential, which is evident here. As long as there are “elder statesmen” around, such as seniors Tyler Johnson and Stephen Schultz, the team should find a balance.
“I think we’re going to have a lot of depth up front,” Owens said. “We’ve got a whole collection of youngsters and talented people that we think are going to be able to contribute, and I think we’re going to have scoring by committee to a certain extent.”
The return of third-leading scorer Rylan Schwartz doesn’t hurt either, nor does the addition of his brother, first-round NHL draft pick Jaden.
On the blue line
The graduation of Nate Prosser and Kris Fredheim will hurt the Tigers’ back line in terms of minutes and solid play (and offense, in Prosser’s case), but the team has a few more guys waiting in the wings to fill their places.
Look for Gabe Guentzel and Ryan Lowery to take the lion’s (Tiger’s?) share of minutes this season with supporting help from players such as Mike Boivin, Doug Leaverton and Joe Marciano. Owens also hopes that freshman Eamonn McDermott will also be able to step in right away.
In the crease
Sophomore goaltenders don’t always thrive in the WCHA, but Owens has no worries about how Joe Howe will do in his second year of play.
“It’s nice to have that backstop back for us because of the fact that we’re going to be relatively young in a lot of positions,” Owens said, “but he certainly plays like an older player as far as what we’ve seen in how he handles himself.”