College College looked like it was going to make a much-anticipated move in the standings last season after starting 4-1-1 in non-conference play.
But that momentum was crushed by a four-game losing streak to open its league schedule, and the Tigers were obliterated in NCHC play, finishing dead last with just four conference wins and 16 points.
It was a major correction for Colorado College, which had been trending upward with an overall winning percentage in the upper .400s in 2017-18 and 2018-19.
We begin our seven-part, NCHC opponent snapshot series with Colorado College:
COLORADO COLLEGE TIGERS
NCAA TITLES: 2 (1950, 1957).
COACH: Mike Haviland (seventh season, 63-136-20, .333).
2019-20 RECORD: 11-20-3 (4-17-3 NCHC, eighth place).
RINK (capacity): Colorado Springs World Arena (7,343), Colorado Springs, Colo.
MIAMI VS. COLORADO COLLEGE LAST SEASON: 1-1.
ALL-TIME SERIES: Colorado College leads, 12-10-2.
SCHEDULE VS. MIAMI: Two bubble games in Omaha, TBA in December.
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: F Ben Copeland, F Grant Cruikshank, F Josiah Slavin, D Zach Berzolla, D Connor Mayer, D Bryan Yoon, G Matt Vernon.
KEY NEW FACES: F Hunter McCown, F Ray Christy, F Jackson Jutting, F Tyler Coffey, F Logan Will, D Nicklas Andrews, G Dominic Basse.
KEY LOSSES: F Chris Wilkie, F Nick Halloran, F Alex Berardinelli, D Kristian Blumenschein, D Andrew Gaus, G Ryan Ruck.
NOTES: The Tigers have 12 freshmen on their current roster – eight of which played in the USHL or U.S. National Development Team last season – as they look to return to conference relevancy.
Seven of those rookies will be forwards, since scoring was a major issue for Colorado College, which found the net just 2.53 times per game in 2019-20.
Only two skaters recorded more than 20 points for the Tigers last season, and both graduated.
In terms of finding the net, junior Grant Cruikshank is the most dangerous returning Colorado College skater. He has scored 11 times each of his first two collegiate seasons.
Classmate Ben Copeland is the other major points producer among Tigers veterans, with 39 points in his first two campaigns.
Chicago Blackhawks draftee Josiah Slavin looks to make a major surge after a 13-point freshman season. Senior Bailey Conger is the only other returning Colorado College forward with a double-digit points total in 2019-20 (4-7-11).
Hunter McKown is a USNDT product and arguably the team’s top incoming forward.
On defense, junior Bryan Yoon has racked up 39 assists in his first two seasons at CC, and he led the team with a plus-3 rating in 2019-20.
Connor Mayer also impressed during his freshman season, dressing for all 34 games and going 4-8-12.
Senior Zach Berzolla and sophomore Chad Sasaki also logged over 30 games on the Tigers’ blueline, and Casey Staum is a Montréal draftee.
Sophomore Matt Vernon, son of former NHL standout goalie Mike Vernon, was the primary starter in net for Colorado College in 2019-20, and he posted a save percentage of .901 and a 3.43 goals-against average.
Both of his backups are freshmen: Jake Begley and Dominic Basse. Basse is another Chicago draft pick, and Begley dominated with Brockville of the CCHL last season.