For Colorado College fans, this year has been somewhat of a roller coaster ride so far.
The season started out with the Tigers taking three points from Rensselaer. It progressed to include a “split” at the Alaska Goal Rush and the same at Minnesota State. It also included a weekend that involved getting swept by Minnesota (including a 9-1 loss) and, most recently, a split with Denver (that included a 9-2 win).
Roller coasters are all well and good in the summer, but not when it comes to hockey season. Luckily, there are some things that coach Scott Owens thinks the team can do to help the team’s season get on a smoother track.
“We need scoring from other sources instead of relying so much on the Schwartzes,” he said. “I think that’s one of the big things; I think the other part is turnovers. Against Minnesota, we turned the puck over like crazy and they were able to counter.
“I think it’s just early season, a bunch of new guys in different spots and just iron this thing out a little bit more. I think if we can improve in those areas, we’ll be a lot better.”
Part of Owens’ key to success has started to happen; namely, players stepping up that aren’t named Rylan or Jaden Schwartz.
“That’s been key for us … we got a couple goals from the defensemen and from Stephen Schultz and Tyler Johnson,” he said, naming a few of the contributors against Denver. “If we can do that, that’s going to help take the pressure off and get more people involved in scoring.”
That being said, Owens won’t mind if Jaden Schwartz continues his play, as the freshman is currently the league’s leading scorer (6 goals, 4 assists for 10 points).
“He’s got the ability to be a top scorer,” Owens said. “It doesn’t really surprise me that much, but as a true freshman that needs to adapt and adjust I thought it would take him a little more time.
“He’s got real good chemistry with his brother and he’s been able to convert both as a playmaker and a goal scorer so I’m not surprised, but maybe I am a little bit with so early in the season here.”
The team gets a break from the WCHA grind this weekend, but the term “break” is used loosely: CC plays No. 3 Yale and in-state (and practically in-city) rival Air Force.
“[Air Force] is a good team and it doesn’t really matter where we are in the standings; it’s always a close game,” Owens said. “And then we’ve got to come back from that emotional game and play [Yale], a team that’s a high-scoring team so it’ll be a good treat for our fans … and we’re excited for it.”
There has been a bit of news this week regarding Denver’s Jesse Martin, most notably that the senior forward had surgery to stabilize the broken C2 vertebra in his neck. In the form of surgery he had, the vertebra was not fused together; rather, a screw was inserted into the bone to stabilize the vertebra.
According to one of his doctors, surgeon Robert Morgan, the procedure done on Martin was chosen for its possible future results.
“This surgery has the most potential for him to be normal two years from now,” said Morgan. Indeed, the day after surgery, Martin was up walking for the first time since being hit.
As for whether Martin can make a Robbie Bina-like recovery and step on the ice again one day? The answer is maybe.
“There’s no way we’re going to know that for a year,” Morgan said. “A lot of things have to go right, but I’m not going to tell him he can’t. If he was fused, then no [he couldn't play again]. There would be a lot of things that he wouldn’t be able to do. But the possibility is there, the potential.”
Spotlight series: North Dakota-Wisconsin
Arguably, the marquee series this weekend is going to take place in Madison, Wis., when North Dakota rolls in town to take on the hometown Badgers. Here are the coaches’ thoughts on what’s in store.
Badgers coach Mike Eaves:
“It’s an intense rivalry. I think, most notably, most games that we play against North Dakota are like the type of game we played Saturday night against the Gophers. It’s going to be physical. They are all about taking time and space away as a lot of good teams, as we try to play. So I know that if I’m a hockey fan out there, this weekend, I want to get in and see these two games.”
“Being hard is part of what we always want to bring every weekend. And I would say that they understand that’s a key part of the formula to being successful. So you’re going to see two teams that know that they have to play hard, both going at it. And as a result, you’ll see a really physical, competitive game.”
Sioux coach Dave Hakstol:
“Wisconsin looks very similar to what they have in the past. They’re one of the best forechecking teams in the country, they can attack up ice with puck possession when they have time and space, but one of the things they always do is advance the puck and get pucks deep and they play to their strengths, which is I think being one of the best forechecking teams in the country.”
“They cycle well, they’re getting a lot of minutes out of a couple of their defensemen back there. I think for us if we let those guys free wheel and if we let them play outside of their zone for the majority of the 60 minutes, they’re very dangerous. We have to make sure we counteract that and grind some of their energy down by pushing them below their own goal line. They’re doing a good job on specialty teams; the numbers don’t lie with their power play. It’s a very typical, well-coached, hard-playing Wisconsin team.”
USCHO covers the WCHA all week long on the WCHA Blog, with weekend recaps on Monday, picks on Friday, and updates during the week.