Offensive struggles continued for Colorado College hockey as a third year of a rebuilding effort under coach Mike Haviland ended last week.
An inability to score consistently put too much pressure on an improved Tigers defense - especially in a league loaded with future pros - and led to another losing campaign and a quick exit in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference playoffs for CC (8-24-4).
The weight you give a mixed bag of statistics may affect your take on the season.
The goals per game (1.94 from 1.97) dropped for the third year in a row - in part because CC failed to score more than one goal 15 times out of 36 games this past season while being shut out four times. The power play also dropped (11 percent from 16.2). That was offset somewhat by an improved penalty kill (78.8 percent) and scoring defense (3.33).
In a business determined by wins, the Tigers had eight victories - the most in four years - despite missing top returning scorer sophomore Trey Bradley (six assists) for 27 games.
Haviland knows there are plenty whose patience has worn thin, especially with a 14-game losing streak against top-ranked Denver that included a playoff sweep last weekend. This campaign's improved record was still the 10th worst by win percentage (.278) in 20-plus game seasons.
"This is certainly not where this program needs to be," Haviland said. "We are not going to be satisfied with having the record that we have. It has got to continue to get better."
With top talent committing up to five years before entering college, stocking a program with enough high-end offensive players to contend in the NCHC takes years.
Senior Sam Rothstein attributed the stronger defense to a better attitude in the locker room and improved goaltending. Freshman goalie Alex Leclerc went from a .787 saves percentage in mid-November to .900 by season's end.
CC went 5-12-3 in the second half since the holiday break, including 1-7-2 over the final 10 games, while playing the second-toughest schedule in Division 1.
The work continues with the start of offseason workouts this week and the April signing period coming up.
"The guys have to raise the standards and expectations higher," Haviland said. "We have to continue to push for excellence, which is what we are doing."