Whoever uses the “Richard Bachman is a freshman” argument to deny him of post-season accolades would be a fool. Among his many accomplishments this season, Bachman became the first CC goaltender to shutout a series on the road Saturday, when he saved 29 shots in the Tigers’ 4-0 win over Duluth. Bachman ranks first in the nation in both goals against average (1.71) and save percentage (.935).
But as Bachman himself pointed out after the game, he had some help.
“I thought tonight the team played very well,” Bachman said. “I didn’t think they had too many grade-A shots. Even compared to last night, I thought our ‘d’ stepped up bigger, so that really helped a lot. …They did their job, which enabled me to do mine.”
Several of Tigers’ defensemen also played their best series of the season.
–Senior Jack Hillen, who had three assists Saturday, was mentioned several times among press-box members as the following: “best player on the ice,” “first-team All-America” and “best defenseman in the league.”
Duluth coach Scott Sandelin agreed after the game. “I like the way Jack Hillen plays,” Sandelin said. “He’s arguably one of the top defensemen in the league. Some people might not like the way he plays, but I do. He’s involved a lot in the play. I like his skating ability and he sees the ice.” Hillen, who leads WCHA defensemen in scoring and is tied for second nationally in that category, now has 28 points (3 goals, 25 assists), making him one of the top-scoring defensemen in recent CC history. (He needs 12 points to draw even with Brian Salcido, who had 40 points in the 2005-06 season.)
–Coach Scott Owens mentioned the series as Kris Fredheim’s best in 2008.
–I can’t begin to list the number of key blocked shots by the defensemen or the odd-man rushes they thwarted, but Nate Prosser, Brian Connelly, Ryan Lowery and Jake Gannon all did an excellent job of keeping the play to the perimeter and chipping the puck up, off the glass, and out of the zone.
–Team defense was also at a premium. The ability of the Tigers’ forwards to keep the puck in the offensive zone could only be topped by that of the Clarkson series, but CC had more depth to work with that weekend.
**I didn’t get a chance to speak with him in the hustle and bustle that occurs after a game, but I spotted left wing Addison DeBoer (shoulder) with his left arm in a sling. I’ll catch up with him this week.