It’s as good a time as any to take on the two-time defending national champions.
Colorado College swept St. Cloud State on the road for the first time since 2010 last weekend, looking better in all areas. Next up is Minnesota Duluth, 3-1-1 at home and sporting several of the key pieces from back-to-back titles.
The Bulldogs sit 5-4-1 on the year and certainly would like to improve. They were the first team to knock off then-No. 1 Denver at the beginning of November and split with Miami last weekend. Leading the way are two-time All-American and NCHC Offensive Defenseman Scott Perunovich (2 goals, 11 assists) and one of the top goaltenders in the country in senior Hunter Shepard (2.30 goal-against, .902 save percentage).
Meanwhile the incoming Tigers (4-3-1) are in a good state of mind right now.
“Kind of took the next step as a team and know where to go from here, so it’s exciting,” forward Ben Copeland said.
“I felt a real turning point in our season in a positive way,” forward Christiano Versich added.
The power play in particular benefited from the previous bye week, during which the coaching staff tinkered with the setup and “simplified.” Josiah Slavin and Versich moved down low and up top, respectively, and Versich was rewarded with two power-play goals on Friday.
“Getting their first goal or getting a couple points can really take their confidence to a new level and that’s what we’re hoping for,” coach Mike Haviland said.
Nick Halloran also connected with the man advantage, which went 3-for-3.
Versich was glad to be back in a role he served in last season. Against the Huskies, in his home state and in front of family and friends, he broke through for a three-goal weekend.
“It was probably one of the highlight weekends of my career, teamwise and individual,” the junior said.
It wasn’t all cause for special teams celebration as the power play failed to convert in two full chances Saturday, one of which was a five-minute major. Colorado College’s power play is 17th in the country — four spots behind Minnesota Duluth — clicking at 22.2%.
Duluth is a significant roadblock in letting the good times roll. But after an uneven start, as Haviland put it, the Tigers now know they can do it.
“Obviously they’re a pretty phenomenal team, we know that. But so are we,” Versich said. “We’re on the up and up here. I think we’re excited for another challenge this weekend. I don’t think we’re scared, we’re ready to go.”