Friday, February 6, 2009

The Tigers took the grudging trip to Houghton this week to take on Michigan Tech. Scott Owens has repeatably said this is the longest and toughest road trip of the season and Frank Schwab's article below details just how rough it really is. Once of my friends has been there and said they all just drive snowmobiles during the winter because it snows so much there is no need to plow. In the mornings, 4 inches fresh snow is considered "morning dew or frost". A couple feet is a "normal afternoon snow". Crazyness. I wouldn't exactly call it a dream locale to break out of a slump!

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CC's trip to Houghton is no skate in the park

If taking two flights and a four-hour bus ride to a town that averages about 220 inches of snow each winter sounds like a good time, you should have spent this week with the Colorado College hockey team.

The Tigers traveled to Houghton, Mich., to play Michigan Tech in a series that begins today. Although Michigan Tech is last in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association at 1-14-5, the trip isn't one CC was eager to take.

"It's a really long trip, it takes a lot out of you, but once you get out there you've got to knuckle down and play the same way you would anywhere else," junior forward Mike Testwuide said.

CC left Wednesday - a day earlier than usual - because of the unique travel challenges. The flight was scheduled to leave for Minneapolis at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

After a layover in Minneapolis, they flew to Green Bay, Wis., to spend the night. There is an airport a few miles from Houghton, but only small planes - which can't accommodate CC's travel party or its equipment - fly there.

The Tigers then had a four-hour bus ride Thursday into Michigan's upper peninsula.

Because Houghton's hotels mostly are booked this weekend for the city's annual Winter Carnival celebration, CC has to stay about 30 miles away in Baraga.

CC didn't practice Wednesday because of travel, but was planning on making up that practice Thursday night.

After Saturday's game, the team will take a bus back to Green Bay with plans of arriving a little before midnight, and then take a Sunday morning flight home.

And all the travel times could be longer if it snows, which happens frequently near Houghton. Houghton has averaged 220 inches of snow per winter this decade.

"It usually flows pretty well, but the snow is a big issue," CC coach Scott Owens said. "Sometimes it's hard to get in and out of there."

Going to Michigan Tech during the weekend of Winter Carnival will ensure a couple of excited crowds this weekend.

CC hasn't played very well at Michigan Tech recently, picking up a tie and a loss each of the past two seasons.

"They force you to play their style of game, which is physical and defensive," senior forward Eric Walsky said.

The Tigers, who haven't swept a series since mid-October, know they can't use the long trip as an excuse.

"We can't expect a win," Walsky said. "Especially us, with our year."


CC can't help but see Michigan Tech's 1-14-5 league record. But the Tigers can't play down to the competition, which has happened a few times this season. There is still enoughtime for the Tigers to finish strong and make a NCAA Tournament case, but they can't afford any losses this weekend.

Michigan Tech is last in the WCHA with a stunning 1.5 goals per-game average, and that average was hovering around 1.3 goals per gamebefore the Huskies scored six in their last series. But CC ranks ninth in the league in scoring, so the games could be low scoring and close, which will help Michigan Tech's chances at an upset.


Some of CC's best players haven't been scoring like normal lately, and this match-up won't be ideal. Michigan Tech likes to play tight defense, which won't allow the Tigers' skaters much space. CC's top scorers have to be patient and take advantage of the opportunities when they get them.