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DENVER — College hockey teams are faced every year with the daunting task of rebuilding, due to losses from graduation and early departures to the pro ranks. Last season, No. 3 Denver and No. 5 Boston College made it to the Frozen Four.
Neither team looked like a Frozen Four team this weekend in the Icebreaker Tournament, and though the two squared off Saturday night at Magness Arena, it was surprising in that it was the consolation game, after the Eagles were upset by eventual tournament champion Air Force and the Pioneers lost to Ohio State.
For BC, one of the biggest losses was starting netminder Thatcher Demko. However, judging by freshman Joe Woll’s performance, goaltending won’t be an issue. On Saturday against Denver, Woll made 40 saves, including 23 in the third period, in leading BC to a 3-1 win over Denver.
“I thought our back-to-back game, he was certainly a catalyst for us,” said BC coach Jerry York. “Almost beating Air Force, he kept us in that game and made some terrific saves, and tonight he was the same. He moves so easily and has a great feel for the game. You can talk about gloves and angles, but he just has a sense of where the puck is moving to. In that respect, he’s a very smart goaltender.”
Denver lost two-thirds of its top line to the pros, and it showed. Saturday, they only got a goal from senior defenseman Will Butcher, and no goals on the weekend from its top two lines.
“When you look at our top six, we don’t have a senior, we don’t have a junior really,” said Denver coach Jim Montgomery. “It’s going to take a little while for these young men to get comfortable and be go-to guys, except for (Dylan) Gambrell and maybe (Troy) Terry, who expect to be those guys. The other guys are kind of feeling their way.”
Though Terry and Gambrell were held without points in their two games this weekend, Montgomery did see postives in their performance.
“I thought they were generating a lot of chances,” said Montgomery. “I thought Terry was very creative, and I thought Gambrell’s work ethic was great.”
While both Denver and BC have a long way to go to get back to the form that took them to last year’s Frozen Four, there were signs that the pieces are in motion.
“We had a really good compete level,” said York. “Last year’s teams, both of us were completely different teams. We have some players back from last year, both of us, but we’re completely different teams. Now we have to build kind of from scratch, and build it back up again. I think we made a terrific step forward.”
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Canisius 1, at North Dakota 4
The Fighting Hawks rallied from a one-goal deficit after one period with four unanawered goals. Brock Boeser assisted on two second-period power-play goals to help break the game open, including the game-winner with 48 seconds left in the second period. North Dakota fired 45 shots, and Cam Johnson made 10 saves.
Colorado College 7, at Massachusetts 4
The Tigers scored four goals in the first period, including one just one minute into the game by Branden Makara, to earn a 7-4 win over Massachusetts and split the weekend series. Makara also scored CC’s third goal. After Jonny Lazarus scored at 12:07 of the third to make it 5-4 CC, Alex Berardinelli scored 17:26 to give the Tigers a cushion, and Westin Michaud added an empty-net tally to seal the win.
Miami 2, at Providence 1
Kiefer Sherwood scored a game-winning five-on-three power-play goal at 11:35 of the third period to give Miami a 2-1 win over Providence and a split of the weekend series. RedHawks goalie Ryan Larkin made 20 saves.
Minnesota-Duluth 1, at Massachusetts-Lowell 1
Neal Pionl scored with 3:54 left in the third period to tie the game and give Duluth a second tie in a weekend series with Lowell. Nick Deery made 24 saves for the visiting Bulldogs, while River Hawks goalie Tyler Wall made 40 saves on the Bulldogs.