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Three things to watch in the Colorado College/Minnesota-Duluth matchup

February 5, 2014 Updated: February 5, 2014 at 9:51 pm
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Colorado College center Cody Bradley, left, and left wing Hunter Fejes look for a rebound against Minnesota Duluth goalie Aaron Crandall during the first period Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, at the World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colo. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Here are three things Colorado College hockey needs to focus on during its road National Collegiate Hockey Conference series at No. 17 Minnesota-Duluth; 6:07 p.m. Friday and Saturday, AMSOIL Arena:

1. Cool off red-hot goalie Aaron Crandall

Senior netminder Aaron Crandall elevated his game and by no coincidence, the Bulldogs (12-9-3, 7-6-1 NCHC) are 5-1-1-1 since the holiday break.

"Crandall is on a tear right now," CC assistant Joe Bonnett said. "He's the backbone there right now. We need to come in ready to play and avoid lapses."

Crandall, this week's league goalie honoree after UMD swept Western Michigan in Kalamazoo, is 7-3-1 with a 2.34 goals-against average with a .920 saves percentage in league play.

2. Try to slow down a potent, balanced offense

The Bulldogs have excellent balance throughout the lineup with a good mix of under- and upperclassmen contributing, led by freshman left wing Alex Iafallo (19 points, 10 goals) on one line and junior center Caleb Herbert (19, 13 assists) on another.

Junior Justin Crandall, the younger brother of goalie Aaron, is having his best season with 17 points (10 goals) on a line with sophomore center Tony Cameranesi (15, 11 assists) and freshman left wing Kyle Osterberg (16, nine goals).

"They have a lot of firepower," Tigers coach Scott Owens said. "They have three lines that can score."

3. Play a complete game both nights

Colorado College can prepare all it wants, but if the Tigers (3-17-4, 3-8-3-1) cannot summon up 60 sustained minutes, it may not matter, Tigers junior defenseman Ian Young said.

"At this point it doesn't matter who we play, " he said. "We have to keep working and playing together and eventually it will come together with two full games for 60 minutes."

That means avoiding the highs and lows.

"It may be mentally we get a little emotional," Young said. "When we play well, our confidence skyrockets and when we don't, we get too low. When that happens, we go through those lapses."

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