Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tigers Fall Not a Huge Suprise

I was planning a writeup about how the Tigers playoff fall could have been seen from miles away but it looks like Schwab beat me to the punch. Pretty good article and it sums up the problems the Tigers have had all season. Pics from the weekend will be up tomorrow night.
Minnesota-Duluth eliminates Tigers

Colorado College's quick and quiet exit from the 2008-09 season should have been stunning, but the signs were there for months.

The Tigers were offensively challenged throughout the season, which ended Saturday with a 3-1 loss to Minnesota-Duluth at World Arena. The Bulldogs swept the best-of-three Western Collegiate Hockey Association first-round playoff series and advanced to this week's Final Five with an 18-12-8 record.

CC, which finishes 16-12-10, managed only two goals in the series.

"It's fitting we go out this way, kind of struggling on the power play and not scoring enough goals," senior forward Cody Lampl said.

The Tigers were picked to repeat as league champions before the season and briefly were ranked No. 1 nationally. CC was the only WCHA team to finish as a top-five seed and not advance to the Final Five. The other four top seeds went 8-0 in the first round.

The Tigers finished with their fewest victories since the 1992-93 season, when they went 8-28. CC has lost five straight postseason games and has lost in the first round of the WCHA playoffs three of the past four years.

"It's amazing how fast it ends," senior forward Scott McCulloch said.

The Bulldogs lead the WCHA in power-play percentage, and the Tigers were burned by some early power-play goals Friday night. On Saturday, CC couldn't stay out of the penalty box early.

A hooking penalty on center Andreas Vlassopoulos led to Duluth's first goal, by Jack Connolly. The Tigers' second penalty - cross checking by Eric Walsky - was turned into another goal, this one by Nick Kemp, giving Duluth a 2-0 lead a little more than 11 minutes into the game.

"That was the scouting report, was we have to keep them off the (power play)," McCulloch said. "It was a lot better than I thought it would be. They did a number on our (penalty kill) this weekend."

CC showed some signs of life late in the first period. On a power play, McCulloch scored on a rebound off Brian Connelly's shot. Duluth answered in the second when Michael Gergen scored.

The Tigers battled in the third period, putting 12 shots on goal, but couldn't get another score.

Coach Scott Owens said the season was "absolutely frustrating."

"To get swept at home in this fashion - despite the fact there wasn't a lot of difference between the teams in the middle (of the WCHA) - it shouldn't happen," Owens said.


High shots

In Friday's playoff opener, Minnesota-Duluth had success shooting high on CC goaltender Richard Bachman, beating him a couple of times over the shoulder on his glove side. The Bulldogs obviously figured that was their best strategy to beat Bachman in the series.

"It looked like they were going high on him a lot," CC coach Scott Owens said. "Bachman is known for having good legs, so I'm sure that's probably what it was."

Overtime prep

One obvious difference between the regular season and playoffs is there are no ties in the playoffs. The longest game in CC history was in 1997, when the Tigers beat Wisconsin 1-0 in four overtimes in a WCHA first-round playoff game. The coaches and players said there was no way to prepare for a multiple-overtime game, although they understand it was a possibility.

"Everyone wants that one goal to win and get the game over because you're so tired," CC senior defenseman Jake Gannon said. "I think all of that drives playing in those long games."

Hall in

The Tigers didn't make many changes to the lineup after losing their playoff opener against Duluth in the best-of-three series. CC did make one switch. Freshman Tim Hall replaced Addison DeBoer as the left wing on the fourth line.

CC did not make many changes to its lineup over a five-week stretch in which the team only lost once.