February 19, 2014 Updated: February 19, 2014 at 8:09 am
Colorado College has seen its fortunes slowly improve with a 2-2-2 record over its past six games including garnering four out of a possible six points this past weekend against Western Michigan.
The Tigers will try to continue their improved play against fourth-place Denver (14-10-6, 8-7-3-2 National Collegiate Hockey Conference) this weekend in a home-and-home series that will determine the annual Gold Pan rivalry series.
There is no one specific aspect that has improved beyond a more consistent effort over the past four weeks.
"I think the guys are continuing to buy in, work hard and do the little things they need to do," Tigers coach Scott Owens said. "Our compete level is more consistent and we are getting small contributions from a number of people. Some of the younger guys are coming around and some of the older guys have been better."
Saturday's win was sparked by a superior team defensive effort with the forecheck forcing the Broncos out along the boards where the Tigers' better overall speed proved to be an advantage.
The six CC defensemen performed well, using their angles to minimize quality shots. The seventh-place Tigers (4-18-6, 4-9-5-1 NCHC) continue to block shots at a strong pace with 423, second in the league, led by junior Aaron Harstad's 63, second in the NCHC.
"We have been moving better and getting to the puck more quickly," Owens said. "That has helped our defense be a little better."
That has helped offset a still-struggling offense, which has managed 15 goals in six games, an improvement over the 1.73 (58th out of 59 D1 teams) entering the Miami series. The average has crept up to 1.93, 57th, ahead of Merrimack and Alabama-Huntsville.
"The goal scoring is still coming slowly," Owens said. "The (Luc) Gerdes, (Cody) Bradley and (Charlie) Taft line stepped up. Charlie had a good game Saturday and Archie (Skalbeck) has been one of the older guys who have been playing well."
"It was nice to get a home win a Saturday night," Taft said.
"People have been telling us we're close. Now we are starting to get some reward. It can only help everyone stay focused on getting better."