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Thursday reading: CC’s Three Things to Watch; NCHC preview notes; commits

Published: January 16, 2014, 4:01 am, by Joe Paisley

HansonHere are three things Colorado College hockey will need to keep in mind headed into this weekend’s nonconference series against No. 7 Providence at 7:37 p.m. Friday and 7:07 Saturday at World Arena:

1. Keep track of Ross Mauermann at all times

The junior center has led the Friars in points – 25 (15 assists) in 2011-12 and 24 (12 goals) last season — for three years and is having a big-time season so far with 14 goals and 15 assists to easily lead Providence (13-5-4, 6-4-1 Hockey East).

“He is a pure shooter with a big-time release,” CC assistant Joe Bonnett said. “He can shoot from anywhere and he usually does. He has worked hard to become a more complete player.”

2. Make life tough for goalie Jon Gillies

Gillies, whose return to the Friars from the world junior championships was delayed by weather, is a large butterfly goalie who takes up a lot of the net and has the quickness to snag second shots.

Those attributes are big reasons why the sophomore started for Team USA and has a 10-3-3 record with a .937 saves percentage along with a 2.01 goals against mark in NCAA play.

“Their defense does a good job clearing players and the puck from out front, which helps him quite a bit,” Bonnett said.

3. Don’t take Providence’s low-rated power play lightly

For only the second time this season (Western Michigan Nov. 1-2), Colorado College enters the weekend with a higher-rated power play (tied for 45th, 11 for 75, 14.7 percent) that its opponent, Providence (13 for 102, 12.7 percent), ranked No. 53 out of 59 Division I teams.

But making too much of that statistical edge would be a mistake for the Tigers. Both Providence power play units, which use a 1-3-1 formation, have strong finishers in Mauermann, who plays out along the blue line and sometimes in the middle, and sophomore forward Mark Jankowski (13, seven goals), Bonnett warned

“If things break down they have the players who can get you out of position and create problems,” Bonnett said. “I saw no reason why they have struggled on film. We have to make sure they don’t get on track against us this weekend.”

bigger-NCHC-logo-300x300Here are some preview notes:

No. 7 Providence at Colorado College

The teams face each other for the first time since Nov. 24, 2000, a 1-1 tie. Here are PC’s game preview notes. CC leads the  all-time series, dating back to the 1963-64 season, with a 5-4-2 mark.

Of dual concern for Tiger fans: PC is No. 2 in Division I with 31 third-period goals and seventh with a 2.14 goals against mark.

No. 16 Denver at Minnesota-Duluth

UMD got 2014 off to a rousing start by sweeping the University of Nebraska Omaha in a two-game NCHC road set. The Bulldogs, who never trailed the entire weekend, held off the Mavericks 3-2 on Friday before skating away with a 3-1 triumph the following evening. Senior goaltender Aaron Crandall registered a career-high 52 saves on Saturday night and the line of senior right winger Joe Basaraba (two goals), junior center Caleb Hebert (one goal and two assists) and sophomore left winger Austin Farley (two assists) provided the offensive support.

Denver traded wins with NCHC frontrunner St. Cloud State, rebounding from a 6-3 setback on Friday with a 5-2 triumph in the series rematch 24 hours later. The Pioneers got goals from five different players in the win, including Quentin Shore, who also had two assists. Here are the Pioneers’ preview notes.

Nebraska-Omaha at Miami

The Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks head to Miami to conclude the four-game season series between the NCHC schools after the Mavs swept the RedHawks 6-3, 3-1 Nov. 22-23. It was also the last time the Mavs, 0-4-1-1 since, won in regulation.

The 8-11-1 Mavericks are 5-4-1-1 in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, putting them in a tie with No. 16 Denver for third place after losing 3-2 and 3-1 at home to Minnesota-Duluth last weekend.  The Mavs are 3-4-1 on the road this year.  They trail the all-time series with the RedHawks, 9-17-3 and are 2-10-2 all-time in Oxford.

Miami is  9-9-2 overall this season and 3-7-0-0 in the NCHC, putting it in eighth place.  The RedHawks were swept by Western Michigan last weekend, losing 5-4 and 3-2 at Kalamazoo, Mich.  Miami is 6-3-0 at home this season. Here are MU’s preview notes.

Western Michigan at No. 3 St. Cloud State

The Broncos are riding a four-game win streak, including a home sweep of Miami, and look ready to take a step up in competition against the powerful Huskies on the road

St. Cloud State is one of just two teams to rank in the top 10 nationally in both offense and defense, along with No. 1 Minnesota. The Huskies rank fifth in the NCAA offensively, scoring 3.56 goals per game, and ninth on defense, allowing 2.22 goals per game. Friday’s game will be on CBS Sports Network.

No. 20 North Dakota versus Bemidji State (home and home series)

UND enters the weekend on a season-long seven-game winning streak, the longest active win streak in the NCAA and second-longest active unbeaten streak. Here are the North Dakota preview notes and a Bemidji State preview video.

In other NCHC news, Blake Hillman (Dubuque Fighting Saints) and Sean Mostrom (Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees) have committed to Denver for 2014-2015. Mathieu Tibbet (Chiiliwack Chiefs) has committed to Air Force for the same season.