Colorado College announced its incoming hockey class of 2023 on Wednesday, featuring two players with recognizable names and several who have won titles at previous levels and internationally.
Three forwards, four defensemen and one goaltender will make up the Tigers’ newest class. There are two each from Minnesota and California, and one from New York, Wisconsin, Illinois and Colorado.
Graduate transfers Ryan Ruck, a goaltender out of Northeastern, and Andrew Gaus, a forward out of Yale, will round out the new faces.
Matt Vernon, goaltender, No. 30
5-foot-11, 170 pounds
His father, goaltender Mike Vernon, played 19 NHL seasons and was the 1997 Conn Smythe Trophy winner as he took home his second Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings. But Matt has started building his own reputation, leading the North American Hockey League’s Aberdeen Wings to the Robertson Cup with a pair of MVP honors to boot.
Vernon was the NAHL’s top regular-season goalie and the playoff MVP. He appeared in 52 games last season with a 1.94 goals-against average and .934 save percentage. His numbers were nearly the same in the postseason.
He is expected to compete for time in net with holdover backup Jon Flakne and graduate transfer Ruck. Two-year starter Alex Leclerc departed a year early for the pros.
“The net’s open,” CC coach Mike Haviland said in April. “Whoever steps up is going to be the guy running the cage.”
Josiah Slavin, forward, No. 27
Soon, there will be a Slavin in yellow and black again.
The forward split the season between U.S. Hockey League teams, captaining the Lincoln Stars before being traded to the Chicago Steel. He had a combined 24 goals and 23 assists.
“Josiah has made a lasting impact in Lincoln, well beyond the scoresheet,” Lincoln general manager Jon Hull said in a release after the trade. “His character and work ethic have been our foundation since his arrival here.”
The Erie native came up through the Colorado Thunderbirds, playing for them from 2009-2016. His brother was CC star Jaccob Slavin, now making highlight-reel goal-line snags for the Carolina Hurricanes. Sister Jordan played her college hockey at North Dakota.
He gives the Tigers three Colorado natives (Bryan Yoon, Jackson Ross) on the current roster.
Josiah was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the seventh round (193 overall) of the 2018 draft.
Patrick Cozzi, forward, No. 10
Cozzi was fourth in British Columbia Hockey League regular-season assists (44) and seventh in playoff scoring (19) for the Prince George Spruce Kings last season. He put up 28 goals and 66 assists in 116 games with the team and finished third on the team in scoring last season (14 goals, 44 assists).
His empty-net goal secured a first Fred Page Cup for the Spruce Kings.
Sam Renlund, forward, No. 39
Renlund comes to CC from the Des Moines Buccaneers, where he had 29 points (11g, 18a) in 48 games last season and four points in the playoffs.
Connor Mayer, defenseman, No. 18
Mayer split the 2018-19 season between the Fargo Force, where he was an assistant captain, and the Central Illinois Flying Aces of the U.S. Hockey League. He was a 2017 Anderson Cup title winner with the Sioux City Musketeers and a 2018 Clark Cup title winner with Fargo. He helped Team USA win gold at the 2015 Five Nations Tournament in Switzerland.
Chad Sasaki, defenseman, No. 2
Sasaki holds the record for defenseman scoring for the Wenatchee Wild (BCHL). He was third on the team and sixth among BCHL defensemen with 14 goals, 28 assists in 58 regular-season games in 2018-19. He’ll reunite with Tiger Jack Gates, a former teammate on the Anaheim Jr. Ducks.
Brady Smith, defenseman, No. 26
Smith split time last season between Sioux City and the Madison Capitols of the USHL, finishing with a combined 13 points. He was on the Team USA group that won the gold medal at the 2016 Five Nations Tournament in the Czech Republic.
Casey Staum, defenseman, No. 37
Staum is another NHL draft pick, taken in the fifth round of the 2016 draft (124th overall) by the Montreal Canadiens. He had two goals, seven assists in 32 games with the Chicago Steel this past season.