Hockey

Colorado College defenseman Nicklas Andrews takes the puck from behind the Tigers' net, occupied by teammate Dominic Basse, during the second period Oct. 29 against the Falcons at Cadet Ice Arena at the Air Force Academy.

Wipe “trophy week” off the board. It’s league week No. 1 for Colorado College hockey.

Save for a series against Arizona State just before Christmas, it’s all conference play from here on out for the Tigers, and they’re starting at the top. This weekend’s visitor St. Cloud State (6-2) is No. 1 in the country in both polls.

“Everyone knows what we’re in for this weekend,” senior co-captain Brian Hawkinson said.

“It almost feels like the real season’s starting. This is who we’re going to be playing for the rest of the year.”

It can’t be any weirder than the last time the teams met. Hawkinson was one of 17 available players March 12 when the Tigers took on the Huskies in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Tournament quarterfinals.

Multiple CC players were in quarantine for the 2-1 loss. The entire top line didn’t make the trip, and the only goaltender available – Matt Vernon – held the Tigers in a game lacking any flow as they were outshot 44-7.

“It was crazy. Holding them to a one-goal game was pretty impressive in our eyes,” Hawkinson said. “Going at them again with a full roster again at home, we’re looking forward to it.”

After finding the back of the net infrequently the first few weekends, CC (2-4-2) most recently dropped eight goals on Air Force on Saturday and retained the Pikes Peak Trophy. Six were power-play goals – double the season output with the man advantage up to that point – and all eight came from different players.

“I think a lot of guys are finding their confidence,” Hawkinson, playing on a power-play unit with fellow co-captain Bryan Yoon, said. “A lot of guys are taking big steps from last year and stepping up in the offensive game.

“Everyone's got the ability to score. Especially since we roll four lines pretty evenly this year, everyone’s kind of got that opportunity in front of them.”

There’s little chance Saturday's output will be replicated against St. Cloud State, which scored an average of 3.9 goals and allowed 1.4 during a challenging nonconference slate.

“You watch them on tape and you couldn’t tell which line’s their top line and which line’s their fourth line. Which pair of D is their top or their bottom,” CC coach Kris Mayotte said in his weekly press conference.

The Tigers’ building confidence will be put on the line.

“They're No. 1 for a reason. They're a complete team,” Hawkinson said. “They're fast, they’re physical. But I think it’s going to be a good challenge for us.”

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