March 4, 2022 | SPORTS | By Michael Braithwaite | Photo by Anil Jergens
With the Colorado College Hockey Program playing their last home game of the year this Friday night against the No. 3 University of Denver Pioneers, it is fitting that we look back at the inaugural season in Ed Robson Arena.
Coming into their last regular season series of the season, the Tigers sit with an overall record of 9-20-3 and a conference record of 6-15-1. CC currently sits in seventh place in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. They have also scored the fewest number of goals (46) while having been scored on the second-highest number of times (77) among the eight conference teams.
While the numbers on the stats sheet don’t look promising, they don’t wholly encapsulate the competitiveness and determination that the Tigers have shown all season long. In the 32 games that the Tigers have played this year, 14 were decided by a single goal or less.
While nine of these 14 decisions ended in a CC loss (five in a tie), the very fact that these final scores were so close speaks to CC’s never-give-up mentality. In fact, some of these close losses came against top-ranked opponents, such as a 3-2 overtime loss to No. 1 St. Cloud State and a 4-3 loss to No. 10 Omaha.
Beyond their numbers on the stats sheet, the team has also produced a multitude of great moments throughout the course of the season.
In their preseason exhibition game against Air Force, forward Logan Will ‘24 scored the first goal in the history of Ed Robson Arena just 1:17 into the matchup. The goal marked a celebration nearly 84 years in the making, as it was the first time in program history that the Tigers had scored a goal on CC’s campus.
CC’s first victory of the season came as a surprising 5-3 defeat of No. 10 Boston College in Chestnut Hill. Their first home victory of the season came just over a week later when the Tigers throttled the Air Force Falcons 8-1 for their first ever win at the brand-new Ed Robson Arena.
Although they were nationally ranked on both occasions that they played CC, Omaha never seemed to play well against the sturdy Tiger lineup. Both times the two teams played against each other, CC would win one of the games in decisive fashion and then just barely lose the other, highlighting the great way they matched up with Omaha on the ice.
Just a few weeks ago, the Tigers provided another great weekend of hockey at Ed Robson Arena, sweeping the Miami University Redhawks in a stellar weekend series. Although both games came down to the wire, the series showed CC’s growing confidence on the ice, as they overcame a second period deficit in both nights to win in overtime.
While the team has showcased its flashes of potential throughout the year, there have been many individual players who have shined as well.
With 13 goals and 20 points (goals and assists) on the season, forward Hunter McKown ‘24 has demonstrated an innate ability to beat larger and more experienced players with his slick puck handling and ankle-breaking cuts on the ice. McKown is the face of CC Hockey’s newfound youth movement on the ice, one that has culminated in the team’s top eight scorers being either first-years or sophomores.
Although he started the season on the bench, goalie Matt Vernon ‘23 has proved to be a great asset for the Tigers in net. Vernon has posted a .908 save percentage while playing in goal this season. He uses his quick feet and acute instincts to regularly make highlight-reel saves.
While Vernon has proved himself worthy of being the starting goaltender, he isn’t the only option that the Tigers have at their disposal. Goalie Dominic Basse ‘24, who started the season as the first option in net, has significant potential for growth as an underclassman. He posted a solid 0.892 save percentage of his own.
Throughout the season, Head Coach Kris Mayotte has resisted naming a true number one goaltender, choosing instead to play the hot hand from game to game or series to series. Given both Basse’s potential and massive 6’6 frame, it will certainly be intriguing to watch how he further develops his skill set for the next season and competes with Vernon for the job.
Last, but certainly not least, the Tigers have four seniors on the team this season: defensemen Bryan Yoon, Jackson Ross, and Hugo Blixt, and forward Brian Hawkinson. All four players will be competing in their last home game on Friday, a game which, for Yoon specifically, will bookend stellar careers as Tigers.
Unlike Hawkinson and Blixt, who transferred to CC from Miami University and Boston University, respectively, Yoon and Ross both came to the program as first-years. Yoon, a native of Parker, Colo., catapulted a selection to the NCHC all-rookie team in his first season to a fantastic career at CC, finishing with a total of six goals scored and 57 total points and earning Co-Captain honors with Hawkinson for his senior season.
Although the record on paper may not show it, this has been a great season for the Tigers. With a focused first-year head coach and talented young roster, success seems on the horizon for the program.
As we say goodbye to the veteran leaders of the team, let’s appreciate their endless contributions to the hockey program. Although the graduating seniors certainly found success in their own play, they also helped develop the future faces of the team and set the Tigers on track for upcoming greatness.
Senior night for the Tigers will take place on Friday, March 4 against the No. 3 University of Denver Pioneers. Puck drop will take place at 7:30 pm at Ed Robson Arena.