Trial for Tigers
After another weekend in which it couldn’t score and couldn’t win, Colorado College is off to one of its worst starts in recent years. Nothing seems to be going right for CC. In two games against New Hampshire, CC lost 6-2 and 3-0. The offense is still at 58 of 59 teams, averaging only 1.31 goals per game. The power play continues to struggle, ranked only 57.
There are few bright spots in Colorado Springs. The penalty kill is one, ranked 18, with a kill rate of 84.3, successfully killing 43-of-51 penalties. Josh Thorimbert, despite giving up six goals in Friday’s contest, has played well more often than not. In Saturday’s game, after giving a power-play goal near the midway point of the second period, Thorimbert gave the Tigers a chance to rally, holding the Wildcats to that single goal until New Hampshire struck for two in the last 2:36, one of which was an empty-netter.
Clearly, the Tigers need a shot of confidence. Perhaps they can garner some from looking at last year. After a decent start to its season, the Tigers went through a mid-season slump where they went 2-12-2 before they rallied and lost in the final of the WCHA Final Five.
The Tigers do have some offensive potential, players who are mired in slumps such as Alexander Krushelnyski, Archie Skalbeck, and Hunter Fejes, the latter of whom is in a serious sophomore slump, held without a point in the first 13 games. In fact, two freshmen, Sam Rothstein and Alex Roos, lead CC in points. It also doesn’t help that sophomore Cody Bradley got hurt last week and missed both games against New Hampshire.
It doesn’t get any easier for CC though, as this weekend, the Tigers host league-leading Nebraska-Omaha.
Heading into Saturday’s game against St. Lawrence, North Dakota might have had reason to be concerned. The team hadn’t won on Saturday yet this season, and after losing convincingly to the Saints on Friday (which was their fourth game in a row without a win), they faced the prospect of their season spiraling out of control.
However, after St. Lawrence rallied to tie it early in the second period, North Dakota responded with two goals, then held off the Saints in the third to earn a 3-2 win.
North Dakota still faces issues. They are below .500 on the year at 5-7-2, and also below .500 in conference at 3-5. They travel to Western Michigan this coming weekend, then close the first half at home with two against Northern Michigan.
North Dakota has been know for second half surges in the Dave Hakstol era though, so all is not lost. However, Hakstol is not counting on anything at this point. After Saturday’s win, he said, “I don’t feel relief. We were real disappointed last night as a group. It’s been a challenging 24 hours, so it’s nice to have a positive outcome at the end of those 24 hours, but we’re looking forward. We’ve got a lot of work to do; we know that.”
Searching for defense
Miami has struggled defensively at times this season, and is only 22 nationally in team defense. A tendency to let up goals in bunches has hurt the RedHawks, such as against Nebraska-Omaha and Providence, and it hurt them again on Friday in the first of a pair against Bemidji. The RedHawks entered the third period leading 4-1, only to give up three goals, including an extra-attacker goal with less than a minute left, to allow the Beavers to earn a tie.
Miami turned the tables on Saturday, scoring three third-period goals of its own to break open a tie game and win, 6-3. Riley Barber and Austin Czarnik, who are currently ranked third in scoring, broke the game open, teaming up on one goal and assisting on another. The duo are a big reason the RedHawks are ranked 13 in team offense, but Miami needs to shore up its defense in the second half to build on its strengths.