Millar pod

Colorado College defenseman Jack Millar looks for options Dec. 18 against St. Cloud State in Omaha, Neb.

CC hockey pivots to face No. 3 North Dakota after schedule change

{child_byline}Kate Shefte

kate.shefte@gazette.com{/child_byline}

Living in the moment takes on a whole new meaning in the 2020-21 season.

“The big thing we keep telling our guys is, let’s just play the one game or two games ahead of us because who knows when it could shut down on us or the teams in our division,” Colorado College coach Mike Haviland said.

Looking one or two games ahead wasn’t even safe this week as the Tigers had to pivot away from preparing for a rematch against Denver and start sizing up No. 3 North Dakota on Wednesday.

North Dakota (7-2-1) hasn’t played since the pod, where it ran off wins in its final four games. Omaha’s COVID-19 concerns left the Fighting Hawks looking for another opponent, so the two healthy teams in the West Division will square off early. This series replaces the originally scheduled Feb. 12-13 series in the Springs.

The weekend’s original opponent was trying to find itself. The new one is meeting tall expectations.

North Dakota senior Jordan Kawaguchi, who finished second in the country in points last year, hasn’t slowed down. He was the only player with a point in all 10 of his team’s games of the pod. Sophomore Shane Pinto is tied for the team lead with 13 points and junior Adam Scheel is still handling most of the minutes in net with a 2.13 goals-against average and .913 save percentage with one shutout.

Keeping the conference’s best power play (27.9%, fifth in Division I) off the ice will improve the Tigers’ chances.

“This is a very potent offense in North Dakota. We’re going to have to play a very smart hockey game against them,” Haviland said.

Colorado College has played twice since the pod. CC (3-5-2) split the series but unraveled in the second game against Denver.

“We were looking for a chance at redemption and to get back at them, and prove that Saturday wasn’t truly who we are,” freshman defenseman Jack Millar (two goals, four assists, tied for third on the team in points) said. Whenever they meet again, it won’t be hard to summon that intensity again.

The Tigers have a win against the Pioneers and a pod upset of now-No. 5 Minnesota Duluth on the books and are encouraged by their trajectory.

“I think we know we’re a good team,” Millar said. “In every game except one or two, we’ve been right there. We’re definitely on the right track for sure, we have to keep putting the pieces together.”

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