Three things: Jan. 5

Teams from the NCHC returned to action over the last five days, all playing out-of-conference games. None of the squads started with a bang, as Miami, Omaha and St. Cloud State split out of the gate, and Denver tied and won.

Tigers struggles continue

You kind of have to feel sorry for the Colorado College Tigers. They are probably better than their 3-13-1 record indicates. While the season has probably started to wear on the players, the results of the last month in particular have added to the heartache.

CC is winless on the road. The Tigers entered this weekend’s series against Providence 0-9-1. In three of their last four road games, they’ve lost twice in overtime and tied and lost a shootout.

Against No. 16 Providence on Saturday, CC suffered another heartbreaker, losing the first game 5-4 in overtime. A common theme again repeated, as the Tigers could not hold the 2-1 lead they had entering the third period, or the 3-2 lead they had after Michael King scored at 7:53. Providence got goals from Noel Acciari and Brandon Tanev just 15 seconds apart in the 14th minute to take a lead, but CC tied it late on a goal by Ian Young at 17:18.

However, Mark Jankowski scored the game-winner for Providence at 4:28 of the overtime. In CC’s previous two OT losses, the Tigers held a 2-0 lead over Minnesota-Duluth early in the second and a 2-1 lead entering the third, and tied Western Michigan at 19:57 of the third, only to lose at 1:58 of OT.

In the Sunday game against the Friars, CC again struck first, and Peter Stoykewych tied it at two at 9:44 of the second. Again, however, Providence scored early in the third, but Sam Rothstein tied it for CC at 8:04. Providence’s John Gilmour scored the game-winner at 13:10, and Tanev added an empty-netter to seal the win.

CC plays Connecticut on Tuesday in Bridgeport, Conn., to conclude a stretch of eight consecutive road games, and then has a weekend off before hosting Omaha on Jan. 16-17.

RedHawks remain hot

After starting their second half with a 3-2 overtime loss to Notre Dame, a game in which Miami held a 2-0 lead, the RedHawks won three straight games against ECAC Hockey competition, defeating Cornell 3-0 last Monday and sweeping Rensselaer by 3-2 and 3-0 scores this weekend.

On Saturday in Miami’s 3-0 win, leading scorer Austin Czarnik scored his first goal of the year, which goes with 21 assists. As I wrote in my second-half preview, it was only a matter of time before Czarnik started scoring goals of his own, and if he continues to do that, it will help the RedHawks tremendously in the second half.

Miami also moved up to fourth in the PairWise from sixth, switching positions with Omaha, which split with New Hampshire in a midweek series.

Miami returns to conference play this weekend when it travels to St. Cloud State.

St. Cloud back in the win column

After a first half in which it struggled and ended with three consecutive losses, St. Cloud State returned to the win column by rallying to defeat No. 14 Quinnipiac on Friday 3-2.

Quinnipiac led 2-0 after Justin Agosta scored at 8:19 of the second, but David Morley answered for St. Cloud at 10:48, and Daniel Tedesco tied it at 14:06. Judd Peterson scored the game-winner for the Huskies at 1:41 of the third. Charlie Lindgren made 26 saves in the win.

St. Cloud does own some impressive wins against ranked competition. So far this year, the Huskies have beaten Colgate, Union, Minnesota, North Dakota and now Quinnipiac, which is one reason the Huskies are 26th in the PairWise despite a 7-10-1 record.

However, as has been the case all year, consistency is an issue for St. Cloud, which lost 4-1 in the rematch Saturday night. Quinnipiac got a short-handed strike at 8:49 of the first, and Tim Clifton scored in the second and then scored a power-play goal in the third to put the Bobcats up 3-0. Jonny Brodzinski got St. Cloud’s lone goal of the night, and Travis St. Denis scored an empty-netter to end any hopes at a St. Cloud comeback.

St. Cloud gets another crack at ranked competition when it takes on Miami this weekend at home.