NCHC preview: Colorado College
Colorado College played with zero seniors last season but came within two points of home-ice advantage in the first round of the NCHC Tournament.
The Tigers took Denver to a third game in their best-of-3 series before finally falling to the Pioneers, but CC was better in practically every metric than in any other season since the formation of the league, finishing 23rd in the all-important PairWise rankings.
Each Wednesday through September, BoB will post a quick Miami-centric preview on one of the NCHC teams as the countdown the opening night begins.
This week we take a look at the Tigers in the first of seven team snapshot installments.
COLORADO COLLEGE TIGERS
NCAA titles: 2 (1950, 1957).
COACH: Mike Haviland (35-96-13 in four seasons).
2017-18 RECORD: 15-17-5.
POSTSEASON: Lost at Denver in NCHC quarterfinal.
RINK (capacity): Colorado Springs World Arena (7,343), Colorado Springs, Colo.
MIAMI VS. COLORADO COLLEGE LAST SEASON: 1-2-1.
ALL-TIME SERIES: 8-8-2.
SCHEDULE VS. MIAMI: Nov. 16-17 – at Colorado College; Jan. 25-26 – at Miami.
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: F Nick Halloran, F Mason Bergh, F Trey Bradley, F Westin Michaud, D Kristian Blumenschein, D Andrew Farny, D Ben Israel, G Alex Leclerc.
KEY NEW FACES: RW Chris Wilkie, F Ben Copeland, F Erik Middendorf, D Bryan Yoon.
KEY LOSSES: F Kade Kehoe, F Branden Makara.
NOTES: Mike Haviland signed a well-deserved five-year extension this off-season after leading the Tigers to their best finish in the NCHC era.
Colorado College had won seven, six, eight and eight games in the first four seasons since joining the league before posting 15 victories in 2017-18.
This is definitely a team on the rise, as it ended last season two games below .500 despite having zero seniors on its roster.
Five players are out from that 2017-18 squad, but those skaters combined for just six points last season. CC has added eight new faces, including junior right wing and Florida Panthers draftee Chris Wilkie.
Wilkie played two seasons with North Dakota, going 6-13-19 before transferring to the Tigers. He sat out last season.
Freshman forward Ben Copeland racked up 62 points with Waterloo of the USHL in 2017-18, and Bryan Yoon was one of the top points-producing defensemen in that league, going 3-32-35 for Tri-City.
Another newbie for the Tigers is forward Erik Middendorf, who has spent the past two seasons with the U.S. National Development Team.
All of Colorado College’s top 14 points leaders from 2017-18 return.
Junior Nick Halloran led the team with 45 points, and senior Mason Bergh finished with 40.
Seniors Ben Israel and Andrew Farny key a defense corps that combined for just nine goals last season. The Tigers will need to tighten up in their own zone, as they allowed an NCHC-worst 35 shots per game, an average that ranked 55th out of 60 in the NCAA.
Last season’s goaltending tandem of Alex Leclerc and Alec Calvaruso returns. Leclerc, a junior, saw the bulk of the playing time, going 15-15-4 in 36 games with a .907 save percentage and 3.21 goals-against average. Calvaruso logged 314 minutes and finished 0-2-1, .909 and 3.06.
And more good news for the Tigers: They recently had their plans for a $38 million on-campus rink green-lighted, as they look to open that facility in 2020.
Miami has struggled against Colorado College, posting just a .500 winning percentage vs. the Tigers all-time despite CC’s doormat status in the formative seasons of the NCHC.
The RedHawks have not won in Colorado Springs since 2015.
These teams meet in mid-November at CC as Miami wraps up a six-game, three-weekend set vs. NCHC opponents.
They hook up again at Cady Arena in late January in the back half of a RedHawks four-game homestand.