College men's hockey preview: Minnesota Duluth at Colorado College
No. 15 Minnesota Duluth (9-9-3, 3-7) at Colorado College (9-8-3, 3-5-2)
What: NCHC series
When: 8:37 p.m. Friday/7:07 p.m. Saturday
Where: Broadmoor World Arena, Colorado Springs
Series: Bulldogs lead 97-81-10
Coaches: Scott Sandelin, in his 18th season at UMD, is 324-293-85; Mike Haviland, in his fourth season at Colorado College, is 29-87-11.
Radio: KDAL-AM 610/KDAL-FM 103.9
UMD update: The Bulldogs return to conference play with their work cut out for them over the next two months if they want to host a first-round NCHC playoff series for a third consecutive season. UMD picked up just nine points in its first 10 league games, though the team was missing significant pieces during that stretch from early November to early December due to injuries. The Bulldogs still aren't completely healthy. The team's third-leading scorer, freshman forward Nick Swaney (3 goals, 9 assists, 12 points), has been ruled out for this weekend's series, but everyone else is good to go, including the five — sophomore wings Joey Anderson and Riley Tufte and freshmen defensemen Scott Perunovich, Mikey Anderson and Dylan Samberg — who won a bronze medal with Team USA at the World Junior Championship in Buffalo, N.Y. Minus that quintet, the Bulldogs won the Ledyard Bank Classic two weeks ago in Hanover, N.H., beating Yale and tying host Dartmouth (UMD won the shootout). Junior center Peter Krieger had a goal and an assist in the tourney to extend his point streak to four games (1-5—6). UMD's offense struggled for the first two months of the season, averaging just 2.35 goals per game. Over the last four games of 2017, UMD averaged 4.5 goals per game. To keep up the offensive onslaught, Sandelin said his team will need to be better on power plays, which is only converting 19.8 percent of the time. UMD's power play finished 3-for-4 in Hanover, with all four chances coming against Yale.
Colorado College update: Like the Bulldogs, the Tigers were off last week. CC last played Dec. 29-30, losing at Air Force and winning at home against Merrimack. The Dec. 30 win was the Tigers' ninth of the season, surpassing their win total from each of the last four seasons. It's the earliest CC hit nine wins since the 2011-12 season. The Tigers sit sixth in the NCHC, three points ahead of UMD and Nebraska-Omaha, which are tied for seventh. CC has finished eighth in the NCHC each of the last three seasons and before that — the league's inaugural year — the Tigers were seventh. The Tigers are 2-1-3 in their last six games. During that span, their penalty kill is 22-for-24. It held Denver's power play — currently sixth nationally — 0-for-7 in a pair of ties Dec. 8-9. Sophomore forward Nick Halloran leads the team in scoring with 11 goals and 16 assists. He posted eight points in six games in December. Junior forward Mason Bergh (11-3—14) is one of nine juniors on a roster with no seniors. Cloquet native Westin Michaud, a junior forward, is fourth on the team in scoring with six goals and seven assists.
Quote: "We've got to get something going here. We've got a tough month, but I'm not looking ahead. We've got a very tough opponent this weekend. We've got to find ways to play good hockey and win games, get points. It's pretty simple. We can't wait for certain guys to get going. We need everybody on board and ready to go." — Sandelin