With last weekend’s game-free schedule before facing #1 St. Cloud State this weekend, we all have high hopes that Coach Scott Owens used the extra time to stress team defense. In order to avoid Coach Owens’ first losing season of his tenure with Colorado College, the coaching staff must create a game plan to stop opposing offenses from essentially scoring at will.
Last Saturday night, in a packed house at the World Arena, we watched what couldn’t have been a more exciting game from a fan’s perspective. From a hockey perspective, however, it was slightly embarrassing. With just over six minutes remaining, Alex Krushelnyski scored, expanding the Tigers lead to 5-2, which should have ended the game. Six minutes to score three goals. A miracle? No. Improbable? Yes, to say the least.
Off the following face-off, while the announcer was attempting to announce Krushelnyski’s goal, Denver scored off a broken play. Stunning the crowd and igniting the Denver offense, the Colorado College Tigers showed exactly what not to do with a lead. They continued to give up two more goals in a span of two minutes and eleven seconds.
Do you ever wonder why less-skilled teams like the New Jersey Devils make it to the Stanley Cup Finals? The Devils never blow leads; when they are ahead, they know they will win the game. The Devils play the trap, they don’t give up odd-man rushes, they don’t pinch, and they block shots. The Tigers need to take a page out of their book.
That being said, Colorado College once again showed fight and heart. Hunter Fejes showed the fans some heroics and made memories as he scored three on the night, including the winning goal. The majority of the offense against Denver came from the blue line as Colorado College defensemen scored four of the six goals in the game. Everyone loves scoring goals, but this weekend the Tigers’ defensemen must focus more on defending than on scoring.
The Tigers not only sit in second-to-last place in goals allowed per game at 3.5, but they also rank 56 out of 59 teams in Division 1 hockey. Only Michigan, three-win Alabama-Huntsville, and winless Sacred Heart have allowed more goals on the season.
Everyone on the team will need to chip in and help. The offensive-minded defensemen will need to think defense-first, and the forwards may need to think about playing a trap. All I know is that the Tigers will not be able to get into a shootout with St. Cloud State. They’re strong offensively, and too solid defensively for that to happen. Colorado College will need to shut them down, and they will because they can.