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Gazette Premium Content CC Tigers inconsistent in tough first half of season

NEAL REID Updated: December 26, 2012 at 12:00 am

The first half of the 2012-13 hockey season for the Colorado College Tigers was one of ups and downs, highs and lows and streaks of various kinds.

After a 7-3 start that included a four-game conference winning streak, the Tigers stumbled down the stretch, finishing 1-7-2 in their past 10 games to hit the midseason break with an 8-10-2 mark. That included a 1-9-2 record in games against ranked opponents. CC’s schedule was front-loaded with national powers on a weekly basis.

Here is a capsule look at the good, the bad and the ugly from the first 20 games, as well as what Tigers fans can expect in the second half, which begins Jan. 4-5 at Nebraska-Omaha.

Offensive MVP

Take your pick: Assistant captain Rylan Schwartz, who leads the team with 24 points (10 goals, 14 assists), could get the nod, but it’s not a clear-cut or easy decision to make. Captain William Rapuzzi (10g, 13a), junior forward Alexander Krushelnyski (8g, 13a) and senior forward Scott Winkler (10g, 10a) are all having top-notch seasons as well, so any one of them could get the vote.

Owens says: “I don’t even know if I could pick one guy, because there are three guys with 10 goals and five guys who have increased their output. One of the plusses for our team is that we have had some pretty consistent scoring, and it’s been spread out. So, it would be unfair to pick just one.”

Defensive MVP

Pair of aces: This one is between senior Mike Boivin (6g, 9a) and junior Eamonn McDermott (2g, 11a), and both have been assets. When one is down, the other has stepped up, and despite being a bit streaky, their offensive production has been a nice surprise.

Owens says: “I think it’d be Boivin for the first two-thirds and McDermott for the last two-thirds. Those two guys, with the minutes they’ve played and what they’ve contributed, would be the top of our (defensive) guys.”

Biggest surprise

Spreading the wealth: The Tigers’ biggest concern coming into the season was where their offensive production would come from a year after losing 40 percent of their offense. That has been answered in a big way, with 20 CC players scoring and seven with at least 13 points thus far. Owens was also happy to see that, after leading the country in short-handed goals allowed with 11 each of the past two seasons, the Tigers have not allowed any so far this season.

Owens says: “I think it’s been our balance of scoring and overall output, given the schedule. That would be my biggest surprise.”

Biggest disappointment

A D for defense: CC has scored 69 goals in 20 games for a 3.5 average, but it’s given up 71. Defensive breakdowns of all sorts have been the Tigers’ Achilles heel this season, and CC has allowed four or more goals in half of their games. That’s simply not good enough.

Owens says: “For me, it’s probably been the penalty-kill percentage and goaltending-save percentage. Our goaltending save percentage is about 89 percent, which is a little low, and our power play saves percentage (.767) hasn’t been great. Our overall team defense – which covers a handful of issues – needs to improve.”

What to look for

Hope springs eternal: The Tigers may have been fatigued in their final series of 2012 at St. Cloud State, losing 5-3 and 3-1, but Owens and his staff are hopeful about what 2013 could bring for CC. The schedule doesn’t get any easier, but there are some pockets of opportunity for the talented Tigers.

Owens says: “Our goal scoring makes me optimistic, and hopefully we can see some progress from all the hard work we’ve put in during the first half. We’ve played some of the best teams in the country pretty tough, but we just haven’t been able to get over the hump to win some of those games. I think there’s better hockey ahead for us.”

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