Updated: March 23, 2011 at 12:00 am
The Colorado College Tigers have tremendous respect for their NCAA first-round opponent, the defending national champion Boston College Eagles.
But that respect doesn’t mean they don’t approach the 7 p.m. Friday West region game with considerable confidence.
“Absolutely,” CC senior Tyler Johnson said. “We went toe-to-toe with North Dakota and that game could have gone either way. We’re playing good hockey right now so we know we can take BC. We can beat anyone.”
“We’ve become more confident than anyone else,” senior captain Ryan Lowery said. “Everyone’s talking about BC going all the way and that’s fine. We’ll let them take all the pressure.”
That pressure is only amped up by the single-elimination format of the 16-team tournament, which seems to have a big upset or two every year.
“North Dakota and Boston College are the favorites followed closely by Yale,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said. “But in a single-game situation you always have the possibility of an upset. And we’re very capable of doing it. We showed it Friday against North Dakota.”
That game got BC coach Jerry York’s attention.
“I had a chance to watch the North Dakota-Colorado College game in the WCHA semis and I’m very impressed with the speed and just the creativity the Tigers play with,” York said. “They’re very quick, very unselfish and very creative. Those are adjectives we like to use to describe how we play.”
Upsetting Boston College (30-7-1) will be more difficult with the return of forward Chris Kreider (23 points, 12 assists in 31 games) from a broken jaw. Kreider’s size, skill and knack for playing well in big games will be a great help to an already dangerous second line for the Eagles.
“He really adds a whole new dimension to our team,” York said. “That’s a welcome addition and a very quick recovery from a broken jaw.”
Mix in 17 returnees from the national title team including a starting goalie, John Muse, with an 8-0 mark in NCAA games and the Eagles look to be one of the best teams in the country as their No. 3 overall seed suggests.
“If you hope to be the best you have to beat the best,” Lowery said. “We just happened to get that test right away. The coaches are working hard getting us ready. We’ll be prepared.”
WEST REGION CAPSULES
No. 3 Nebraska-Omaha (21-15-2) vs. No. 2 Michigan (26-10-4), 3:30 p.m. Friday
Season series: tied 1-1 Prediction: UNO advances
UNO leaders: Sr. F Matt Ambroz (34 points, 17 goals); Sr. F Joey Martin (34, 23 assists); Sr. F Rich Purslow (32, 20 assists); Jr. F Alex Hudson (30, 18 assists); So. F Terry Broadhurst (30, 19 assists); Sr. D Eric Olimb (27, 24 assists); So. G John Faulkner (20-14-2, 2.55 goals against, .908 saves percentage).
Michigan leaders: Sr. F Carl Hagelin (48, 30 assists); Sr. F Louie Caporusso (28, 18 assists); Sr. F Matt Rust (25, 20 assists); So. F Chris Brown (23, 14 assists); Fr. D Jon Merrill (23, 16 assists); Jr. F David Wohlberg (21, 15 goals); Sr. F Scooter Vaughan (21, 12 goals); Sr. G Shawn Hunwick (19-8-4, 2.31 gaa, .921 saves).
No. 4 Colorado College (22-18-3) vs. No. 1 Boston College (30-7-1), 7 p.m. Friday
Season series: na Prediction: CC advances
CC leaders: Sr. W Stephen Schultz (43, 27 assists); Fr. W Jaden Schwartz (42, 27 assists); Sr. W Tyler Johnson (37, 20 goals); So. C Rylan Schwartz (33, 25 assists); Jr. D Gabe Guentzel (27, 21 assists); Jr. C Nick Dineen (23, 13 goals); So. W William Rapuzzi (20, 10 goals); Fr. C Archie Skalbeck (18, nine goals); So. G Joe Howe (17-14-2, 2.94 gaa, .901 saves).
BC leaders: Sr. F Cam Atkinson (51, 30 goals); Sr. F Brian Gibbons (50, 32 assists); So. D Brian Dumoulin (33, 30 assists); Jr. F Jimmy Hayes (32, 20 goals); Sr. F Joe Whitney (31, 26 assists); So. F Pat Mullain (28, 20 assists); Sr. G John Muse (27-5-1, 2.13 gaa, .926 saves).
Winners advance to regional final, 7 p.m. Saturday