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Three things to focus on for CC hockey this weekend

February 12, 2014 Updated: February 13, 2014 at 6:00 am
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Here are three things that Colorado College will focus on headed into this weekend's home National Collegiate Hockey Conference series against Western Michigan; 7:37 p.m. Friday, 7:07 Saturday, World Arena:

1. Win the special teams battle

This will not be easy with the fifth-place Broncos (14-10-4, 8-7-1-1 NCHC) coming into the series with the No. 14 penalty kill (84.3 percent) against a No. 58 CC power play (11.4 percent) that continues to struggle.

The Tigers generate shots - including two off the post or crossbar Saturday - but have gone through cold spells scoring including 0 for 28 before Saturday's score. CC spent plenty of practice time this week trying out different combinations.

2. End the five-minute major penalty trend

Winning the special teams battle also means helping the CC penalty kill (48th, 78.2 percent). To do that, the Tigers (3-18-5, 3-9-4-1) must end a five-game streak with a five-minute major penalty and a streak of seven in the past nine.

That trend prompted CC coach Scott Owens to meet with NCHC head of officials Don Adam prior to Saturday's game to go over the penalties, which put unnecessary pressure on the penalty kill.

"Our penalty kill has been pretty good considering all the five-minute majors," Owens said.

The players must remain disciplined since referees are quick to call penalties in order to protect the athletes. The Tigers may need to wrap up an opponent along the boards instead of finishing the hit to avoid a checking from behind, charging or boarding call.

"It's tough," junior wing Charlie Taft said. "We want to be a physical team. But it (the five-minute majors) is taking their toll."

"We have to do better," Owens said.

3. Produce another strong, consistent effort in both games

One of the subtle positives out of last weekend's road series was that the Tigers put together two strong games in a row and played better Saturday, which has not been the norm this season.

"If we can put those same two efforts in again as we did against Duluth we can get some wins," senior goalie Josh Thorimbert said. "We will start getting those bounces and get some goals."

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