Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tigers On Bubble Entering Home Stretch

With just six regular season games left to play, Colorado College sits at No. 11 in the latest Pairwise Rankings - still sitting on the bubble, but not looking so bad considering that all six of the Tigers remaining games are against TUC's (although that may not be the case for long as Minnesota State sits at 26th with barely better than a .400 winning percentage). A lot of people consider the weekend games against St. Cloud State a disappointment since CC had such a great chance to win game two, but I see it differently. The Huskies have proved that they're one of the top teams this year as evidenced by their Pairwise rank, and I found it very encouraging that CC was able to hang with them in their own barn. It would have been nice to get a few more WCHA points and possibly pass Denver in the standings, sure - but that can wait for later. Right now, what's really important is securing a spot in the NCAA tournament. The Tigers remain in a precarious Pairwise position mainly because three teams that they have wins against (Wisconsin, Michigan Tech, Mankato) are dangerously close to the TUC cutoff.

This makes the games this weekend very important for the Tigers. Wins against Minnesota would really solidify CC in the Pairwise standings and in terms of RPI. So what will have to click this weekend for the Tigers to take some points from the Gophers? Just about everything. Minnesota remains one of the top teams in the country and has incredible talent from top to bottom. CC scored only three goals on the weekend against St. Cloud State, and will almost surely need more than that just to get one win against the Gophers. Minnesota remains the top scoring team in the WCHA, and yes, they still have three first round draft picks in their freshman class. Because of this, winning will also require a mammoth effort from the defense this weekend. Matt Zaba will have to keep up his great play in net as well. I'd like to say that goaltending is one area where CC will have the advantage this weekend - but even Minnesota's goalies are among the tops in the country - yes, both of them. Kellen Briggs has a dandy .922 save percentage and a 2.08 GAA, while Jeff Frazee has a .910 save percentage and similarly impressive 2.09 GAA - Frazee also has just one loss in 14 games this season.

CC does have one advantage this weekend though and that is the fact that the pressure really seems to be on Minnesota. The Gophers exploded out of the gate this year and have been 1st in the WCHA all season, yet as of today they sit just four points ahead of a hot St. Cloud State team, meaning that a Tiger sweep this weekend could lead to a real battle for the top spot with the Huskies (coincidentally, SCSU and Minnesota play a home-and-home after this weekend). The Tigers, on the other hand, have defied most everyone's expectations for this season and with some wins down the stretch could even challenge Denver for the third spot in the WCHA standings. CC still has two games in hand on the Pioneers, as well as the annual home-and-home series to end the season. Denver is off this weekend and then has a tough series against a red hot North Dakota team before ending the regular season against CC. Just one win this weekend would move the Tigers at least one point ahead of DU in the standings.


At 3:59 PM, Anonymous gmf1a said...

Hope that two games in hand thing still matters after Minnie

We need a win badly - as you noted. Hope CC can make some noise !

At 7:36 AM, Blogger satnu said...

Noise? That was a whimper. First time in a llloooonngggggg time the Goof's get a season sweep of the Tiger's.

CC needs to make a splash at the X to have a chance at the big show.


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