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Several questions as Colorado College hockey closes regular season against Western Michigan

March 1, 2018 Updated: March 2, 2018 at 11:28 am
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Colorado College goalie Alec Calvaruso skates back to the Tigers’ net after a timeout Friday, Dec. 29, 2017, during the first period at the Cadet Ice Arena at Air Force Academy, Colo. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

As any coach would tell you, on the doorstep of the postseason, the goal is to be polishing and fine-tuning.

But backup Alec Calvaruso has made the Colorado College goaltending conversation more interesting. He relieved Alex Leclerc in net against Omaha last Friday and made 34 saves the next night in his first full collegiate game, a 2-2 tie with an additional point in extra time.

Coach Mike Haviland said the freshman is “for sure” being considered to start in the Tigers’ final regular-season series against Western Michigan for several reasons.

“I think (Leclerc’s) been outstanding all year, but you need two goalies,” Haviland said.

“Now you look at it and say, maybe you can rest somebody, or you play (him) because of what he did last weekend.”

Someone will be facing a Western Michigan team that’s gunning for the same National Collegiate Hockey Conference Tournament seeds as Colorado College, and that needs a lift before the postseason. The Broncos lost top scorer Wade Allison for the year and upperclassmen Colt Conrad, Paul Stoykewych and Aidan Muir for long stretches. They were No. 11 in the country the last time CC played them, but have since fallen out of the rankings.

They’re coming off a sweep in which they were outscored 14-1 by Minnesota Duluth and their last win came Feb. 3.

“You don’t look at their past record. If anything, that’s going to give them more incentive to work harder,” Tigers co-captain Tanner Ockey said.

“It’s the biggest weekend of the year for sure.”

The Tigers are in a three-way tie for fifth place with the Broncos and Omaha. With help, currently fourth-seeded North Dakota - hosting St. Cloud State, which already clinched the Penrose Cup and the top seed - could be overtaken.

If not, in all likelihood, the Tigers will be playing at Denver, Minnesota Duluth or North Dakota. In case of a deadlock after this weekend, the first tiebreaker is the best winning percentage among the games played against the tied teams. Omaha has the edge on CC there, and Western and the Tigers are even heading into this series.

If Western and CC split this weekend’s series, it would come down to win totals, and the Broncos have more.

So Colorado College's current goaltender and future playoff opponent are still up in the air. But one thing’s for sure - the Tigers won’t be dead last for the first time since the 2013-14 season, as Miami can't catch them.

“I love that it’s the last weekend of the year and we have things to play for,” Haviland said.

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