In what is arguably the toughest division in college hockey, it may not come as a surprise to some that the Colorado College Tigers were voted to the bottom of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Preseason Poll by media members.
North Dakota is the overwhelming favorite to win the NCHC, as many hockey fans remember their captivating run as underdogs into the Frozen Four last season. The Fighting Sioux have found a way to keep their roster intact with the exception of the departure of five players.
Miami is another team the Tigers will have to battle with, as their high-powered offense, combined with a spark of motivation resulting from an underwhelming season in 2013-2014, has propelled the Redhawks to the number two spot in the Poll.
Despite the departure of superstar goalie Ryan Faragher to the NHL, St. Cloud State’s well-rounded roster provides an array of returning offensive weapons that will likely cement themselves as one of the powerhouses of the NCHC yet again.
Despite this poll, the energy in the CC locker room is extremely high, and as many athletes know, preseason rankings and the perceived talent of other teams are often utterly meaningless.
“We’re excited for the season to start,” said junior forward Peter Maric. “There’s lots of energy around the rink with the new regime, and the preseason rankings only serve as motivation for us, as a team, to prove everyone wrong every night we Tigers touch the ice.”
The Tigers certainly have their work cut out for them, but despite their apparent uphill battle, the team features tremendous promise. First-year head coach and former NHL assistant coach Mike Haviland looks to turn the team around. Haviland has experienced tremendous success in both the NHL and AHL, where he has been known for getting the most out of his teams.
With the potential talent among this year’s roster, Haviland could provide the spark that the Tigers have been looking for. The news of a new head coach has overshadowed the lineup that the Tigers are putting forward this year. Despite the departure of Gustav Olofsson, the Tigers are anchored by a diverse and talented defense.
Sophomore Jacob Slavin was the only sophomore named to the NCHC All-Conference Team, and he may be playing alongside fellow blue liner Peter Stoykewych, senior, who was recently named the team’s captain. CC’s powerful defense, which extends far beyond these two, should serve to protect potential starting goalie Tyler Marble, who missed all of last season with a shoulder injury.
The Tiger offense looks to rebound from a lackluster scoring season last year as they regain a number of weapons that missed part of last season due to injury. Despite media predictions, the talent, heart, and development of these Tigers has the potential to propel this team to exceed all expectations.
The Tigers, led by captain Peter Stoykewych and assistant captains senior Aaron Harstad, junior Jared Hanson, and sophomore defenseman Jacob Slavin, kick off exhibition action this Sunday, Oct. 5 at 6:07 p.m. against McGill University.