Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

WCHA playoffs preview: No. 8 Michigan Tech at No. 5 CC

BRIAN GOMEZ Updated: March 7, 2012 at 12:00 am

When: 7:37 p.m. Friday, 7:07 p.m. Saturday, 7:07 p.m. Sunday (if necessary)

Where: World Arena (7,380 capacity)

Radio: The Alternative 103.9 FM RXP, play-by-play by Ken Landau

Live updates: Visit www.gazette.com/tigersblog for a chat with CC beat writer Brian Gomez

If you go: A sellout isn’t expected for any game, as more than 1,000 seats, ranging from $9 to $35, remain for Friday and Saturday. Tickets are available at the World Arena box office starting at 10 a.m., through TicketsWest or by calling 719-576-2626. If a third game is necessary, tickets will go on sale immediately after the conclusion of the second game.

What’s at stake: The winner advances to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five next week in St. Paul, Minn. With fifth-seeded CC (18-14-2, 15-12-1 WCHA) at 19th in the PairWise rankings, it probably needs one or two victories in St. Paul to make the NCAA Tournament. With eighth-seeded Michigan Tech (14-18-4, 11-13-4) not in the 31-team PairWise, it must win the Final Five to reach the NCAA Tournament.

The series: CC holds a 93-71-12 edge in the series that dates to 1947. The Tigers are 9-0-1 in the past 10 games, sweeping Michigan Tech last weekend, with a 5-2 win followed by a 2-0 victory. Michigan Tech is 2-23 at World Arena, its only wins in a 2007 WCHA first-round playoff series – that was the last time the Huskies beat CC. In the WCHA playoffs, Michigan Tech is 6-2, also upsetting the Tigers in 1994 in the final games at the old Broadmoor World Arena and winning single-elimination games in 1968 and 1996.

You can’t stop them: LW Jaden Schwartz and C Rylan Schwartz have combined for 79 points for CC, with 40, including a team-high 25 assists, from the younger Jaden, and 39, including a team-high 22 goals, from Rylan. Jaden has recorded 12 multiple-point performances, and he has a point in 25 of 28 games, while Rylan has marked a point in 10 of the past 11 games, and he’s tied for third nationally with 10 power-play goals. Neither has had a full week of practice, Jaden sidelined because of the flu and Rylan hampered by lingering soreness, yet they should be recovered in time for the weekend.

No need for motivation: Michigan Tech’s leading scorers, C Brett Olson and RW Jordan Baker, were each held without a point last weekend, only the second time that has happened this season. Olson leads the Huskies with 29 points, including a team-high 20 assists, and Baker has 26 points, with 10 goals, second to the 11 by LW Ryan Furne.

Talking numbers: CC averages 3.24 goals, and it allows 2.85 goals. The Tigers possess the seventh-best power play in the country at 23.5 percent, having scored with the man advantage the past six games, but they’ve relinquished a nation-leading 11 short-handed goals for the second season in a row. They’re at 78.4 percent on the penalty kill, holding their opponent without a power-play goal in 17 of 34 games. Michigan Tech is averaging 2.83 goals, and it’s giving up 3.03 goals. Its power play dropped to 19.2 percent coming off an 0-for-6 weekend, and the Huskies convert at 81.2 percent on the penalty kill.

Just note it: Michigan Tech lists G Josh Robinson as probable after he suffered a rotator cuff injury last weekend. … Of the nine goals LW David Johnstone has tallied for Michigan Tech, a team-high seven have come on the power play. … RW William Rapuzzi has gone 17 games without scoring, although he has five assists in CC’s past six games. … Four of the five goals C Tim Hall has scored for CC have come in the past 12 games. … D Gabe Guentzel has skated in 130 straight games, the longest active streak of any CC player. … The Schwartz brothers are expected to be named All-WCHA selections Thursday, and Guentzel, D Mike Boivin and G Josh Thorimbert are among other Tigers with a strong chance of being recognized. … The next victory will be No. 300 for CC coach Scott Owens, who owns a 27-4-4 record against Michigan Tech.

Contact Brian Gomez: 719-636-0256 or brian.gomez@gazette.com. Facebook: Brian Gomez. Twitter: @gazettehockey. Google+: Brian Gomez. YouTube: Colorado College Hockey, Covered by The Gazette. For the CC homepage, visit www.gazette.com/sections/sports/cchockey. For the CC blog, visit http://cchockey.freedomblogging.com.

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