Colorado College picked the right time to find some consistency.
The Tigers (16-18-5) remain alive in the WCHA postseason after being the lone road team to advance to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Now, Colorado College will have a chance to take down North Dakota in the second Final Five quarterfinal Thursday night.
The biggest issue for CC has been their consistency, or lack of it. Colorado College are eighth in the nation in total offense and led by senior Rylan Schwartz (17 goals-31 assists) and junior Alexander Krushelynski (14 goals-26 assists) up front. At times, the two have been able to shoot their team out of trouble. They've been joined by a pair of freshman in Hunter Fejes and Cody Bradley; both of whom have stepped up in the postseason.
"It's taken some time for the youngsters to adapt to the level of play and playing against bigger, older players," Colorado College head coach Scott Owens told the Colorado Springs Gazette last Sunday. "They have done that and they certainly gave us energy and a spark."
Still the Tigers finished the regular season eighth in the WCHA, including a 12 game stretch where they only 2 games. The only way they can make the NCAA Tournament is by winning the automatic bid and 3 games in 3 days. That's a tall task for CC a week after upsetting rival Denver in the first round.
The good news is that those two wins came against North Dakota and Colorado College has defeated them in the opening game both times the teams played each other.
"At this point in the year, both teams know each other well," UND head coach Dave Hakstol said. "We've played each other four times. We split the season series, 2-2. They're fighting for their season and to move on. We're fighting to stay alive in this tournament and to keep improving."
If it's going to happen this time, however, the Tigers will have to shut down the three-time defending Broadmoor Trophy winners and their own high-powered offense. Colorado College has a pair of solid defensemen Mike Boivin, who led the WCHA in goals by a defenseman, and William Rapuzzi but allowed the sixth-most goals per game in the nation this season.
The key for the underdogs will be in goal with Joe Howe, who reclaimed the No. 1 job from Josh Thorimbert this year. Howe had a .925 save percentage in the series win over Denver and in a time where hot goalies can lead a team, the senior has the experience.
Colorado College can play with the best in the WCHA on both sides of the puck. It's something they showed against Denver, but the underdogs will have to continue that play consistently against North Dakota if the Tigers want to continue their season.
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