Colorado College knew it would be looking to a pair of seniors, quick-skating Nick Halloran and hard-shooting Chris Wilkie, for offense. That has proven true.
Both have earned NHL looks, but after 2018-19 seasons cut short by injury, they sought rebound years. So far, so good.
Wilkie (13 goals, 7 assists) took conference player of the month and Hockey Commissioners’ Association (HCA) National Division I Men’s Player of the Month honors this week after registering eight goals and one assist through six games.
He had his first career hat trick Dec. 29 against St. Lawrence. Two of the three goals were set up by Halloran, who is on his heels in points (7 goals, 9 assists).
“He and I have been jelling pretty well this year and want to keep that going,” Wilkie said.
“We live together and are great friends and just both kind of know when he gets the puck, it’s coming to me, and I just kind of get open.”
They’ve deposited 41.6% of CC’s goal total so far. They’ve played on separate lines lately but still find ways to connect, with Halloran contributing to half of Wilkie’s December goals. One or both has scored in each of CC’s wins except one against Michigan State, in which Halloran didn’t play.
Wilkie is averaging 0.81 goals per game, which leads the country, and three of CC’s December games featured multi-goal efforts from him. Basically, half the time, Wilkie scores, and half of those times, he scores several.
“Nick Halloran does such a good job of getting me the puck,” Wilkie said.
Starting with a weekend tilt against Miami (5-10-3, 2-5-1-1 National Collegiate Hockey Conference) the Tigers have their sights set on escaping the conference standings logjam, where six teams are separated by five points beneath Minnesota Duluth and No. 1 North Dakota.
They’re still needed, but getting consistent scoring from someone not named Wilkie or Halloran would go a long way in making that happen. Coach Mike Haviland believes a second half not chopped up by bye weeks can only help the rest of the Tigers (7-8-1, 2-5-1 NCHC).
“I think in a good way, there’s less thinking,” he said. “A lot of guys maybe didn’t get off to the start they wanted and all of the sudden they go two weeks, 14 days, 20 days of thinking about it . It can build on you. ... Less thinking and just playing is going to help this hockey team. I really do believe that.
“We got (secondary scoring) against St. Lawrence. We need it moving forward. We need to get that secondary scoring throughout the whole second half for us to be successful.”