Opportunity knocks only so often in a college hockey season, but this week represents one of those golden chances for Colorado College.
If the Tigers (10-14-2, 7-10-1 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) are to have any chance of grabbing one of the six home-ice spots for the conference playoffs, they’ll need to take advantage of this week’s opponent, last-place Alaska-Anchorage. The Seawolves (3-16-5, 1-15-4) have lost 11 of 12, but have been a pesky opponent for CC in recent meetings, including a two-game sweep of the Tigers in Alaska in 2011.
“They’re below us in the standings, but if you go back through their games, they’re still hard to play and they’re good at home,” CC coach Scott Owens said. “It’s not like they’re a bad team, but they’re challenged a little bit scoring-wise. But, we’ve got to go and play.”
The Tigers have won two of their past four games, and stand six points behind a trio of teams tied for fourth place in the league. With just 10 games remaining in the regular season, now is the time for the ninth-place Tigers to make a move.
“It’s a huge opportunity for us, especially with our record,” senior assistant captain Joe Marciano said. “Coming down to the end of our season and trying to get home ice, it’s very important and crucial. It’s coming down to the wire here, so every point counts big time.”
CC is coming off the second off week of its season, a welcome break that helped rejuvenate the players.
“Last week, we had a lot of good practices and scrimmages and got some stuff done, even though it was captains’ practices,” sophomore forward Charlie Taft said. “I think we’re really going to buckle down this week and continue to make strides to get to where we need to be. We definitely need to pick up hopefully four points.
“It would be huge for us.”
The Tigers will look to control the Seawolves’ low-scoring attack that has produced just 34 goals this season while imposing their will on the offensive end. Coaches and players know that anything less than three points (a win and a tie) will be a disappointment and likely cost CC a shot at a home-ice playoff series.
“We’ve got four games, then a break, then our last six,” Owens said. “We’ve won two of our last four games, and we’d like to consistently pick up points and hopefully get three or four points up there. I think that there’s still just enough games left that we could possibly do some things.
COLORADO COLLEGE’S HOCKEY WEEKEND
Colorado College (10-14-2, 7-10-1 WCHA) at Alaska-Anchorage (3-16-5, 1-15-4)
9:07 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Anchorage, Alaska
Television: KXTU The CW 57 (Comcast Channel 7 in Colorado Springs and Pueblo, Channel 4 in Trinidad); DirecTV, DISH and over-the-air on channels 57 and 21.2; Bresnan Cable channel 12 for Canon City, La Junta and Walsenburg; Baja Broadband channel 15 on Fort Carson; and Peterson Broadband channel 7 on Peterson AFB). Note: Less than 200 tickets remain for the Feb. 9 DU at CC game.
Coaches: Colorado College — Scott Owens (309-199-45, 14th season). Alaska-Anchorage — Dave Shyiak (79-168-31, eighth season).
All-time series: CC leads 52-18-3.
Top players: Colorado College — Rylan Schwartz, sr., F (11g, 22a); William Rapuzzi, sr., F (13g, 17a); Alexander Krushelnyski, jr., F (9g, 18a); Scott Winkler, sr., F (12g, 11a); Mike Boivin, sr., D (11g, 10a). Alaska-Anchorage — Blake Tatchell, fr., F (5g, 10a); Scott Allen, soph., F (9g, 4a); Matt Bailey, jr., (4g, 9a); Jordan Kwas, sr., F (7g, 6a).
Outlook: After this weekend’s series in Alaska, the Tigers have six straight against teams ranked in the top 15 in this week’s poll, so a sweep against the Seawolves is crucial to CC’s hopes of a home-ice WCHA playoff series. Alaska-Anchorage has scored the least (34) and allowed the most (69) goals in conference play this season, and the Tigers need to continue that trend behind a potent offense. If the Seawolves get behind early, CC could come home with a pair of lopsided wins, but if Alaska-Anchorage hangs around or scores first, it could be a gritty two-game battle.
NEAL REID, THE GAZETTE