• CC Recruits Face-off In USHL Fall Classic

    Thu, September 27, 2007 by admin with 1 comment

    Want to get a look at some future Tigers? The USHL Fall Classic begins today in Sioux City, Iowa, and will be broadcast online via B2 networks, the same service that will be available on cctigers.com this season. Here’s the link to watch. All times listed are Central.

    Games involving recruits are:

    Thursday, Sept. 27
    10:00 a.m. Omaha Lancers (Dakota Eveland–2009 or 2010) vs. Green Bay
    1:00 p.m. Lincoln Stars vs. Ohio Jr. Blue Jackets (Tim Hall–2008)
    3:00 p.m. Sioux Falls Stampede (Nick Dineen–2008) vs. Waterloo Black Hawks (Andrew Hamburg–2008)

    Friday, Sept. 28
    10:00 a.m. Waterloo Black Hawks (Hamburg) vs. Des Moines Buccaneers
    1:00 p.m. Chicago Steel vs. Omaha Lancers (Eveland)
    4:00 p.m. Ohio Jr. Blue Jackets (Hall) vs. Sioux Falls Stampede (Dineen)

    Saturday, Sept. 29
    12:00 p.m. Omaha Lancers (Eveland) vs. Ohio Jr. Blue Jackets (Hall)
    4:00 p.m. Sioux Falls Stampede (Dineen) vs. Cedar Rapids RoughRiders
    7:00 p.m. Sioux City Musketeers vs. Waterloo Black Hawks (Hamburg)

    ***
    With the demise of the Wayne State (Mich.) hockey program announced yesterday, Grand Forks Herald hockey reporter Brad Elliott Schlossman poses an important question: Will Bemidji State join the WCHA in 2008?

    ***
    Tiger Tracks:
    Colin Stuart was reassigned to Chicago (AHL), but Brett Sterling made on the Atlanta Thrashers’ roster.

    Noah Clarke is still in the hunt for a spot on the New Jersey Devils’ roster.

    Curtis McElhinney will start the season as the Calgary Flames’ backup.

    ***
    For those who are curious, the Tigers have a practice scheduled for tonight at 9:15 at Honnen Ice Arena (NW corner of Cascade and Cache La Poudre Streets). I’ll get the rest of the schedule tonight.

  • Gutbuster

    Wed, September 26, 2007 by admin with 4 comments

    Apparently, the five “too many men on the ice” penalties that Colorado College took during the 2006-07 season was five too many.

    At Tuesday’s practice, which was sparsely attended because the Tigers are ending their first block of classes this week, strength and conditioning coach Mark Stephenson made a point to address those five penalties.

    The players, listed below, started practice with no sticks, which I took as an ominous sign. I was right. Just 15 minutes long, the workout had most of the team doubled over.

    White Sweatt
    Red McCulloch–Johnson–Testwuide
    Blue DeBoer–Rau–Schultz
    Maroon Lampl
    Gold McMillin–Patrosso
    Defensemen Hillen, Lowery, Gannon
    Goalies O’Connell, Bachman

    It began with a series of sprints from the goal line through the blue line. Then came the bench drills. For the first one, Stephenson divided the team in two and put each group in a box. The players had to clear the boards, skate from goal line to goal line and get back over the boards as fast as possible. The other team would go once the first team had finished and the Tigers did two sets of four or five “suicides.” Then, Stephenson had the players jump over the boards, touch the opposite wall, and get back in the box as quick as possible. Each set took about two minutes, but to the players it was probably an eternity.

    After Stephenson was done with the Tigers, they did a few shooting drills and played 3-on-3 in the north end of the rink. In one sequence, goaltender Richard Bachman got caught out of position on the right side of the net and managed to come across the entire face of the goal to rob Bill Sweatt on a wrist shot. Goaltender Drew O’Connell made a nice save of his own less than a minute later, when Jack Hillen skated around the back of the net, planning on stuffing it inside the left post. But O’Connell made a backhanded snag to thwart the score. With the defensemen-plus-red-line team up 2-1, Hillen yelled, “Next goal wins” and Derek Patrosso scored the game-winner, beating Bachman over his right shoulder.

    I chatted with Stephenson after practice and he said, of the four CC teams he has coached, this season’s squad is the fittest and also the most focused. Stephenson coached for seven years at Providence College before joining the staff at the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s headquarters next to World Arena.

    ***
    The Grand Forks Herald released its annual preseason coaches’ poll and the Tigers were picked no. 3. A closer look at the votes shows that Denver and Wisconsin were just two and three votes behind, respectively, meaning that the Western Collegiate Hockey Association coaches think it will be a dogfight for spots 3-5. A little research by Herald reporter Brad Elliott Schlossman shows that, in the five times CC has won the MacNaughton Cup since the 1990-91 season, the Tigers were not tabbed to finish first place. Look for more in tomorrow’s Gazette.

    37th Annual Grand Forks Herald WCHA preseason coaches poll

    Rank School Points
    1 UND (7) 79
    2 Minnesota (3) 74
    3 Colorado College 55
    4 Denver 53
    5 Wisconsin 52
    6 St. Cloud St. 43
    7 Michigan Tech 41
    8 Minn.-Duluth 23
    9 MSU-Mankato 19
    10 Anchorage 11

    Preseason rookie of the year Kyle Turris, UW, 9; Evan Trupp, UND 1
    Preseason player of the year Ryan Duncan, UND, 5; T.J. Oshie, UND, 3; Taylor Chorney, UND, 1; Kyle Okposo, Minn., 1

    ***
    Tiger Tracks:
    Former CC defenseman Brandon Straub began training camp Tuesday with the Lake Erie Monsters (AHL) this week and encountered a familiar face among the defensive corps: Colorado Springs native Preston Briggs, older brother of former Minnesota goaltender Kellen Briggs (who has landed with the Idaho Steelheads (ECHL), by the way).

    What are the odds? The Briggs’, Straub and former CC player Scott Polaski are the only Colorado Springs natives I’m aware of who are playing professionally. If you know of more, please drop me a comment or an email at kate.crandall@gazette.com.

    UPDATE: Colorado Springs native Luke Fulghum, a former Denver player, agreed to terms with the Stockton Thunder (ECHL). Another Springs product, former Mitchell High student David Hale is a near-lock to make the Calgary Flames’ roster. That brings the grand total of Colorado Springs natives in professional hockey to six players, but please contact me if there are others I am missing.

  • Speed, Defensive Systems Are Focuses Monday

    Mon, September 24, 2007 by admin with 6 comments

    With less than two weeks until Colorado College’s first hockey game, coaches Joe Bonnett and Norm Bazin began implementing defensive systems on Monday night. As in seasons past, the Tigers will play a man-to-man defense and minimize switches–when one player trades his defensive assignment to another player–which Bonnett said promotes an aggressive mentality.

    During one-on-one defensive drills in the corners, defenseman Brett Wysopal was a standout. Even though he is the shortest player at 5-foot-7, Wysopal uses his lower center of gravity to his advantage. Against left wing Scott McCulloch, Wysopal was a downright pest with his stick and not afraid to check McCulloch whenever possible.

    Bazin also had the forwards practice backchecking by having them sprint down the ice, take a shot, and sprint back.

    Fitness in the form of cross-ice sprints and serpentine skating patterns was integrated throughout the practice to Bazin’s and Bonnett’s chorus of “speed, speed, speed!” and “go, go, go!”

    All together the practice laid out the ingredients of success for the Tigers this season. They’ll be going all-out up the ice, generating shots with their speed. With the forwards backchecking aggressively, they’ll try to create turnovers in the neutral zone and keep the puck from even reaching the young defensive corps and untested goaltender. When the puck gets into the defensive zone, each player will play in-your-face defense with the hopes of never giving their opponents an open look or an easy lane to drive the net.

    Of course, all of this is easier said than done.

    Only 11 days left until the season-opening exhibition against Calgary and 24 until the first game against Minnesota.

    ***
    Here were Monday night’s lines:
    White Sweatt–Vlassopoulos–Walsky
    Red McCulloch–Johnson–Testwuide
    Blue DeBoer–Rau–Schultz
    Gold Overman–McMillin–Patrosso
    Maroon Thauwald–Lampl

    What are your thoughts about these combinations? Post a comment.

    ***
    An interesting article on the utility of face shields, which features the contrasting stances of Boston Bruin and former CC defenseman Mark Stuart, and his father, Michael Stuart, who is USA Hockey’s Chief Medical Officer. It mentions Stuart’s older siblings and former Tigers, Colin and Mike Stuart.

    Tiger Tracks:
    Mark Cullen assigned to Grand Rapids (AHL).
    Marty Sertich reports to Iowa Stars (AHL) training camp.

  • Non-stop

    Wed, September 19, 2007 by admin with 2 comments

    When practice wrapped at 10:30 Tuesday night, Colorado College junior Cody Lampl had some words for the players stretching around him.

    “That was awesome,” he said, exhaling and prompting nods from the rest of the team.

    Coach Scott Owens had 16 skaters and three goaltenders dripping with sweat after the high-intensity workout.

    For the first time, the Tigers were organized into lines, which I’ll put below. But I wouldn’t place too much significance on them, considering that forwards Andreas Vlassopoulos, Chad Rau, and Tyler Johnson were not at practice. Defensemen Jake Gannon and Ryan Lowery also did not show.

    Until October 6, the date of CC’s season-opening exhibition against Calgary and the first official day of practice, players are not required to attend the thrice-weekly workouts. Usually, the only reasons the players will miss practice is for an academic purpose or for medically mandated rest.

    Those who did attend participated in offensively minded drills, including the “three-goal” drill, in which one goal is placed at center ice and two are placed in the corners. The team is divided into two and the drill promotes offensive creativity and vision. If one net is clogged, players who go to the open space are often rewarded with breakaway and 2-on-1 situations. Some of the highlights of the three-goal drill were freshman goaltender Richard Bachman, who continues to impress with his saves, and sophomore wing Mike Testwuide, who said his left knee (partial tear of the medial collateral ligament) is healed, looked quicker to the puck than last year.

    Testwuide said he focused on increasing his leg strength and speed in the off-season. When I asked Testwuide if he was planning on being involved more in cycling the puck than just sitting in front of the net, he assured me, “No, no, I’ll be there.”

    [in no particular order]
    Red McCulloch–Thauwald–Testwuide
    White Sweatt–Walsky (not enough players to complete line)
    Gold Overman–McMillin–Lampl
    Blue DeBoer–Schultz–Patrosso

    Defensemen: Wysopal, Fredheim, Hillen, Connelly, Prosser
    Goalies: O’Connell, O’Brien, Bachman
    ***
    Assigned to Manchester (AHL) Tuesday night, former Tiger Richard Petiot will not return to the Centennial State when the the Kings play the Avalanche in a 7 p.m. preseason tilt.

  • Coaches Emphasize Precision

    Tue, September 18, 2007 by admin with 3 comments

    With assistant coaches Norm Bazin and Joe Bonnett running practice Monday, the speed was cranked up a notch. Colorado College players spent most of the 90-minute practice split into separate groups: the forwards worked with Bazin and the seven-man defensive unit worked with Bonnett. No special teams work as of yet.

    Among the forwards’ focal points were precision passing and toughness. One drill was devoted to taking hits along the glass while protecting the puck.

    On the defensive end of things, senior Jack Hillen and junior Jake Gannon took charge, setting a hard-working pace in footwork drills.

    Alternate captain Jimmy Kilpatrick (hip) and reserve sophomore Dan Quilico (ankle) watched practice from the bench.

    Coach Scott Owens and athletic director Ken Ralph observed practice.

    ***
    Both members of the St. Louis Blues’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Peoria Rivermen, last season, Peter Sejna and Mike Stuart remain on the free agent list. Although I never saw Sejna play for CC, I can’t imagine that many predicted he would be on the outside looking in at 27 years old. See Sejna’s career numbers here. Sejna won the 2003 Hobey Baker Award.

    In reference to his bad-luck injury, former CC goaltender Curtis McElhinney says he is still adjusting to the NHL.

    Recent CC grad Matt Zaba was released from New York Rangers training camp and will report to Hartford (AHL). Defenseman Brian Salcido will report to Portland (AHL).

    Also, Thrashers win 4-3 in OT with two goals from Joey Crabb, one from Brett Sterling and an assist from Colin Stuart. Crabb, one of 13 players reassigned from training camp, will return to Chicago (AHL).

  • Tiger Tracks

    Mon, September 17, 2007 by admin with no comments

    Tracey Myers of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram asked Marty Sertich about his penchant for pingpong.

    Former CC goaltender Curtis McElhinney experienced an unfortunate setback in his bid to become backup to Calgary Flames starter Miikka Kiprusoff.

    ***
    Colorado Avalanche Official Release
    AVALANCHE REDUCES ROSTER TO 38
    Nine Players Reassigned

    DENVER – The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced today that the team has reassigned nine players, reducing its roster to 38.

    The Avalanche has reassigned the following players to its American Hockey League affiliate training camp (Lake Erie Monsters):

    J.D. Corbin, LW
    Dan DaSilva, RW
    Brent Kelly, C
    Mitch Love, D
    Victor Oreskovich, RW
    Andrew Penner, G
    Brandon Straub, D
    Michael Vernace, D

    The Avalanche also has reassigned defenseman Nigel Williams to his junior team, the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League.

  • Straub To Report To Lake Erie Monsters (AHL)

    Mon, September 17, 2007 by admin with 1 comment

    Former Colorado College defenseman Brandon Straub learned Sunday afternoon that he will be sent to the American Hockey League affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche, the Lake Erie Monsters (Cleveland, Ohio).

    Once the Avalanche returned from the Burgundy and White scrimmage, held at Cadet Ice Arena in Colorado Springs, a cut list was posted. Straub estimated he was among “four or five” defensemen, one goaltender and “a bunch” of forwards who did not make the Avalanche roster for Monday’s exhibition game at Phoenix, he said.

    In his meeting with the Avalanche coaching staff, Straub received positive feedback about his performance during four days of rookie camp, two days of training camp and the scrimmage, in which he had two assists.

    “They said they were happy with me, especially because I came out of nowhere as an undrafted free agent,” Straub said. “They thought I was a pleasant surprise.”

    Straub’s report was consistent with coach Joel Quenneville’s comments after the game.

    “He got our attention in rookie camp,” Quenneville said. “I thought that he’s done a nice job here. Not everybody had that opportunity to come to training camp . . . I didn’t know that much about him but he showed his versatility and he was being active in the game.”

    Although he was disappointed that he didn’t make the roster, Straub made a point to stress the positive.

    “About a month ago, I didn’t have a camp to go to,” Straub said. “Now, I have a week off and I can go in there with an edge, having gained experience here.”

    During Sunday’s scrimmage, Straub was mostly paired with John-Michael Liles, who was also his partner throughout the two-day training camp.

    “I thought he did great,” Liles said. “There’s a reason why he’s here.”

    Liles said he had to remind Straub not to apologize for mistakes.

    “He’s very humble,” Liles said. “I told him, ‘Don’t worry about it.’”

    Straub said being paired with Liles helped ease his nerves.

    “I could ask him for pointers,” Straub said. “He was really helpful and told me about their systems and where to be on face-offs and stuff like that. . . . With some guys, you’re on edge and afraid to make mistakes. With him, it’s the opposite. He encouraged me to take chances. As long as I was working hard out there, he was happy.”

    A contract still hasn’t materialized and the organization can continue to evaluate Straub until the end of the month, per the terms of Straub’s amateur tryout contract.

    Straub said he will spend the week in Colorado Springs, training, skating and lifting. Tigers strength coach Mark Stephenson, who was in attendance Sunday, is directing Straub’s lifting program.

    When he reflected on the experience of taking the ice at Cadet Ice Arena in an Avalanche uniform, Straub called it “one of the most fun times I’ve ever had playing hockey.”

    “I could do it in my hometown and next to NHL players and I was right there playing well and contributing,” he said. “It was very exciting.”

    ***

    Former CC defensemen Richard Petiot and Tom Preissing are among 39 players and 13 defensemen left in the Los Angeles Kings’ training camp. Preissing scored a goal for the Kings in Saturday’s preseason game against the Ducks. The Kings play the Avalanche at Pepsi Center at 7 p.m. Sept. 19.

    This writer called former CC defenseman Mark Stuart a “virtual lock” to make the Boston Bruins’ final roster.

    Former CC forward Aaron Slattengren signed on for another season with the Augusta Lynx (ECHL). Lynx training camp begins October 5 and former CC right wing James Brannigan will be bidding for a roster spot.

    CC recruit David Civitarese (Calgary, AB), who is slated to join the Tigers in 2008, scored his first goal of the season Saturday.

  • Tiger Tracks and Practice Notes

    Fri, September 14, 2007 by admin with 3 comments

    After watching classmate Brandon Straub compete Sunday at Avalanche rookie camp in Centennial, former Colorado College goaltender Matt Zaba boarded a plane bound for New York on Wednesday. According to Newsday’s New York Rangers beat writer, Zaba is displaying his Tiger pride at Rangers training camp.

    Former Tiger Mark Cullen (1998-02) signed a one-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings in July. He’s one of 68 players on the Red Wings’ training camp roster.

    This is a little old, but better late than never: Tyler Liebel, a right wing who played for CC from 2000 to 2004, will return to the Wichita Thunder of the Central Hockey League this season.

    ***

    Some notes from captain’s practice (Tuesday, Sept. 11)

    The Tigers didn’t scrimmage, aside from a chippy game of continuous 3-on-3 hockey at the north end of the rink. Freshman Tyler Johnson, who is listed as 5-foot-8, 155 pounds, caught some glass-bending checks from junior defenseman Jake Gannon. Johnson’s hands are as quick as advertised. A few of Johnson’s shifty moves to goal prompted ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ from the onlooking players, so maybe Gannon was hoping to toughen Johnson up for significant minutes this season. I will look into this at the next practice.

    Aside from the 3-on-3, CC did tons of skating, shooting and conditioning drills. I happened to be sitting at the south end of the rink during one round of 4-on-goal. Freshman goaltender Richard Bachman stopped eight or nine shots and rebounds during one impressive succession, which left some of the forwards shaking their heads in disbelief. The drill was not intended to be a “goalie success” drill.

    Injured alternate captain Jimmy Kilpatrick (hip labrum) appeared in sweats and watched practice from behind the glass with trainer Jason Bushie and strength coach Mark Stephenson. The practice was scheduled from 9:15-10:15, but Stephenson put the Tigers through a few extra conditioning drills at the end.

    Lastly, it took me about 10 minutes to figure out that sophomore forward Addison DeBoer was on the ice because I simply did not recognize him. In a few months time, DeBoer is taller, his neck is thicker and his shoulders are broader — all indications that some hard work occurred over the summer. After the skate, I spoke with him about his summer training regimen.

    In addition to skating “a lot” and training six days a week, DeBoer also worked 40 hours a week for the City of Spring Lake Park (Minn.), his hometown, picking up trash, landscaping and working on other public works projects.

    DeBoer added at least 10 pounds and “an inch or so,” which puts him at 6-foot, 190 pounds, he said.

    “It was bound to happen sooner or later,” DeBoer said of his growth spurt.

    He said he can tell the difference on the ice. So can I.

    ***

    Other notes:
    –Some might have missed the audio slideshow that Gazette photographer Todd Spoth and I produced about Straub’s experience at Avalanche rookie camp. Check it out here.

    –For those of you that will be out of the area over the Thanksgiving weekend, it might behoove you to know that Denver’s new Webcast service will carry the Nov. 24 CC-DU matchup at Magness Arena. It’ll cost you $8.95, but you know how the Visa commercials go.

  • Straub Makes Avs Training Camp Roster

    Tue, September 11, 2007 by admin with no comments

    CENTENNIAL — Former Colorado College defenseman Brandon Straub inched closer toward his goal of signing a professional contract Tuesday.

    On the last day of the four-day Colorado Avalanche rookie camp, after a 90-minute practice session, a list was posted of players who would not be invited to the regular training camp, which starts at 9 a.m. Friday at South Suburban Family Sports Center.

    Straub’s name was not on the list, meaning he has at least one more day to make his case for a contract.

    “I was pretty nervous, but I was curious to see if I had made it,” said the 6-foot-4, 230-pound native of Colorado Springs. “I’m pretty excited. I’m excited to get back at it again.”

  • First Captain’s Practice

    Sun, September 9, 2007 by admin with 1 comment

    The crisp breeze Sunday harkened fall and was perfectly on cue for the first captain’s practice of the 2007-08 season, held at Honnen Ice Arena on Colorado College’s campus.

    Alternate captain Jimmy Kilpatrick was not present because he underwent hip surgery a month ago.

    Coach Scott Owens described the injury as a torn labrum.

    “He’s out until probably November,” Owens said, adding that Kilpatrick’s absence will hurt in the early going. “From what I’ve been led to believe, he’s rehabbing it extensively. Hopefully he will be able to play by Thanksgiving.”

    Kilpatrick said he is rehabilitating twice a day, seven days a week and, as of right now, does not plan to redshirt. He first noticed the injury in “the last third of the season,” but he nor trainer Richard Quincy could not pinpoint the exact cause.

    “It was a nagging thing throughout the season and it wasn’t an easy diagnosis,” Kilpatrick said. “But the MRI showed it wasn’t good…. We tried to treat everything else possible because I didn’t want to miss a game.”

    Kilpatrick said he tries to be around the team as much as possible and does many of his workouts alongside the Tigers during weightlifting sessions.

    “I’m trying to stay positive,” he said. “I’ll try to be there as much as possible without getting choked up about it.”

    Kilpatrick and his mother, Diann, spent the first week after his surgery at sophomore forward Mike Testwuide‘s house in Vail.

    Junior Cody Lampl said he expects to play forward this season. Recruited as a defenseman, Lampl switched to checking-line forward last season and provided a physical presence in the corners.

    “We all have the same goal in mind, to make it to the Frozen Four and win a conference title,” captain Scott Thauwald said. “We’re a close group and both the underclassmen and seniors are doing a good job of making the freshmen feel comfortable.”

    The freshmen certainly seemed comfortable as they delivered checks and passed the puck confidently.

    “We need guys to step up and play physical this season,” Thauwald said. “It was good to see bodies being thrown around a little bit.”

    Sporting a slightly-raised red scar on his right wrist, sophomore left wing Bill Sweatt, said his wrist is all healed and was pleased with the first-day effort.

    “That was like we were playing a real hockey game,” he said. “It was intense.”

    Although Sweatt was still the fastest player on the ice, it looked like a few more Tigers could push him this season.