Colorado College finally won its first NCHC first-round playoff series last season, but the Tigers lost a ton of key talent from a 2018-19 team that has been on the rise the past two years.
CC’s top three points-producing forwards, three starting defensemen and a goalie that logged 40 games all departed after the team qualified for its first-ever Frozen Faceoff following a best-of-3 conference tournament series win at Western Michigan.
View From the Glass takes a look at Colorado College in Part I of its seven-part 2019-20 snapshot series.
COLORADO COLLEGE TIGERS
NCAA TITLES: 2 (1950, 1957).
COACH: Mike Haviland (52-116-17 in five seasons).
2018-19 RECORD: 17-20-4.
2019 POSTSEASON: Advanced to the NCHC Frozen faceoff, lost to St. Cloud in the semifinal.
RINK (capacity): Colorado Springs World Arena (7,343), Colorado Springs, Colo.
MIAMI VS. COLORADO COLLEGE LAST SEASON: 1-3.
ALL-TIME SERIES: Colorado College, 11-9-2.
SCHEDULE VS. MIAMI: Jan. 10-11 – at Colorado College.
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: D Bryan Yoon, F Ben Copeland, F Chris Wilkie, F Grant Cruikshank, D Kristian Blumenschein.
KEY NEW FACES: F Josiah Slavin, F Sam Renlund, D Casey Staum, G Matt Vernon.
KEY LOSSES: F Trey Bradley, F Westin Michaud, F Mason Bergh, F Trevor Gooch, D Ben Israel, D Andrew Farny, D Cole McCaskill, G Alex Leclerc.
NOTES: The Tigers’ losses were significant, and they were arguably hit hardest in net, as their three goalies heading into this season boast a combined 23 minutes of NCAA ice time.
Freshman Matt Vernon’s father, Mike, was an NHL stud who led the Detroit Red Wings to a Stanley Cup in 1997, and the younger Vernon has the opportunity to take over the reins in net immediately following a 40-win season and .934 save percentage with NAHL Aberdeen.
But Ryan Ruck has transferred in as a graduate senior from Northeastern after winning 44 games there and posting a 1.01 goals-against average in six games last season, so he may challenge for ice time.
Ben Copeland is the lone returning forward to reach 20 points last season, going 9-12-21 as a freshman.
Colorado College’s only incumbent NHL draft pick, Chris Wilkie, is back for his senior season after scoring six goals and assisting in 13 more in 20 games.
Grant Cruikshank scored 11 times, Alex Berardinelli netted nine goals and Troy Conzo and Erik Middendorf potted seven each for this corps in 2018-19.
On defense, Bryan Yoon recorded more than three times as many points as any other CC blueliner, finishing with three goals and 23 assists for 26. Kristian Blumenschein ended the season with eight, and three others tallied seven.
Blumenschein enters his senior season, and Zach Berzolla (0-7-7) also returns on a corps that notched just 17 non-Yoon points in 2018-19.
The Tigers’ talented eight-man freshman class includes four defensemen, three of which are USHL products.
Blueliner Casey Staum was selected by Montréal three seasons ago, and fellow first-year D-man Connor Mayer boasts four years of USHL experience.
Up front, Josiah Slavin, a seventh-round Chicago Blackhawks draft pick and younger brother of Carolina Hurricanes standout Jaccob Slavin, is expected to make an immediate impact.
A sentimental rookie favorite for Miami fans is Patrick Cozzi, son of former RedHawk (actually Redskin) Andy Cozzi, who recorded 114 points for MU in 1981-85. The younger Cozzi tallied 58 points in the BCHL last season.
It could be argued that Colorado College deserved a better fate than three games under .500 last season, as the Tigers outscored their opponents by three goals, 117-114 and were dead even in conference play goal differential, finding the net 65 times – same as their opponents.
Miami visits Colorado College in mid-January, and the Tigers are the only NCHC team that does not travel to Oxford this season.
Colorado College has a lot of key losses to overcome, so the Tigers may struggle to win games this season, but they have quality young players and could be set up for success beyond 2019-20.