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Freshmen fill in the gaps for Colorado College hockey ahead of Nebraska-Omaha series

November 9, 2017 Updated: November 10, 2017 at 10:28 am
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photo - Colorado College Tigers goalie Alex Leclerc (1) makes a save as defenseman Zach Berzolla (8) defends against North Dakota Fighting Hawks forward Shane Gersich (19) in the third period. The Tigers hosted the Fighting Hawks in college hockey on Friday, October 27, 2017 at The Broadmoor World Arena. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing
Colorado College Tigers goalie Alex Leclerc (1) makes a save as defenseman Zach Berzolla (8) defends against North Dakota Fighting Hawks forward Shane Gersich (19) in the third period. The Tigers hosted the Fighting Hawks in college hockey on Friday, October 27, 2017 at The Broadmoor World Arena. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing 

The injury bug struck both local college hockey teams last week, and Colorado College (6-4, 2-2 National Collegiate Hockey Conference) nearly had a straight flush scratched during its series in Ohio.

The players wearing Nos. 5, 6, 7 and 8 - Cole McCaskill, Nate Kwiecinski, Alex Berardinelli and Zach Berzolla - were missing in the series against Miami. The first three were injured, while Berzolla made the trip but battled the flu.

That created the chance for freshman defenseman McKay Flanagan to make his collegiate debut, and Nick Olczyk to see his first game action since Oct. 14 in a swing role.

“It shows the depth we have and the character we have here,” coach Mike Haviland said. “We didn’t complain about it - we didn’t even really talk about it.

“I think they all just pulled together. They pulled together and went about their business, which is a good sign.”

Freshman Olczyk - son of Eddie Olczyk, the former NHL player and coach and current NBC commentator - is listed as a forward.

“Olczyk went out as a forward and back to D and played some shifts both nights, and gave us some minutes to rest some guys,” Haviland said. “He filled in great.”

Flanagan did what Haviland called “spot duty” Friday night, but logged more minutes Saturday and finished plus-one.

“I felt good out there,” Flanagan said. “It was definitely a faster pace, but I was comfortable and happy with how I played.

“Friday night was a tough loss, but our team did a good job bouncing back on Saturday.”

Miami tied the game 2-2 with the extra attacker and 51 seconds left Friday, then won in overtime. The Tigers won their first game ever in Oxford, 2-1, the next night.

Colorado College hosts Nebraska-Omaha (3-2-1) this weekend at The Broadmoor World Arena. The Mavericks are coming off a split with Notre Dame, ranked No. 6 in the USCHO poll this week. The Tigers, meanwhile, are off to the program’s best record after 10 games since a 7-3 start in 2012-13.

Haviland said the injured defensemen, McCaskill and Kwiecinski, are day-to-day, but the Colorado College freshmen have shown there’s no rush to get back.

“Top to bottom, we have a really good lineup, and any guy in that locker room can play,” Flanagan said. “We’re definitely gunning for the sweep.”

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