|The Colorado College Tigers got off to a strong start fueled by sensational goaltending from freshman goaltender Richard Bachman.
The Colorado College Tigers are in the midst of a nine-game, 43-day road trip.
The Tigers, who headed into this trip with a 1-3 record away from Colorado Springs World Arena, are not road weary, though.
Instead, they got off to a strong start to the season fueled by a well-balanced roster of youth, veteran leadership and sensational goaltending from freshman goaltender Richard Bachman.
The Tigers – 11-5-0 overall, 11-3 in the WCHA – are 3-2 on the trip so far and head into the holiday break ranked No. 4 nationally and tied with rival Denver for first place in the WCHA.
“We’re definitely happy with where we are through 16 games right now,” head coach Scott Owens said. “But we believe we can still be better.
“We’re pleased with our league record and we feel like we’re in a good position right now to set ourselves up nicely for the stretch run, when we have more games at home. There are four more games on this trip and if we hold serve we’ll really be in good shape.”
Goaltending and defense were the biggest concerns for the Tigers coming into the season as the team featured three sophomores and two freshmen on the blue line. But Bachman has become the backbone of the team in goal and the young defense has thrived.
Through 13 games, Bachman is 10-3-0 with a 1.77 goals-against average and a .939 save-percentage.
“Coming into the season our biggest concerns were in net and on defense,” Owens said. “We didn’t expect Bachman to be this good so fast, but he’s really showed so much confidence and control in there and been great for us. The defense has fed off that and it’s really been a pleasant surprise to have those areas of our game better than we maybe expected.”
Bachman has played like a veteran since the start of the season, and Owens has been most impressed with the composure shown by the 20-year-old freshman.
“As I said, he’s very confident in there, but what’s really impressive is his composure,” Owens said. “He never gets too high or too low. He didn’t show any jitters in the beginning, so we haven’t said much to him, nor have we had to. We just let him go out and play.”
Team captain Scott Thauwald couldn’t agree more with his coach.
“He’s been unbelievable,” Thauwald said of Bachman. “It’s been great to have him come in and play the way he has. Our defense and the whole team has fed off it. We knew we had depth at forward so we expected to get balanced scoring, and we have. But this defense has stepped up and Bachman has been consistent in net.”
Owens also pointed to the leadership of Thauwald and his alternate captains, Jake Gannon, Jimmy Kilpatrick and Scott McCulloch, as a reason for the club’s success.
“There’s a solid core of leadership among those players and all our seniors and juniors,” Owens said. “Those guys have set the bar and done a great job of leading by example.”
Thauwald, a fifth-year senior, is making a major impression on the younger players and is teaching them what it takes to win at this level.
“He’s a great leader and I’m glad he came back for another year,” Bachman said. “Scotty and the other captains have really helped us a lot and shown us how to act and perform at this level.”
Thauwald couldn’t be happier with his decision to return to the team this year, and he has enjoyed mentoring his younger teammates.
“I knew coming back that we could have a great team and it’s been a good experience getting to know the freshmen players and being there for them,” Thauwald said.
The Tigers will return to action Dec. 29 when they travel to Tampa, Fla., for the Lightning College Hockey Tournament. They will play Rensselaer and either UMass or Notre Dame.
The following weekend, Colorado College will travel to Madison and complete their odyssey with a two-game set against WCHA rival Wisconsin. The Tigers return home Jan. 4, when they host the University of Alaska-Anchorage.
Campus Notes – University of Minnesota sophomore Kyle Okposo is forgoing the remainder of his career with the Golden Gophers to sign a contract with the New York Islanders, but first will play in the World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic. Okposo was the Islanders’ first-round choice and the seventh overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. He is the eighth Minnesota player to leave college early for the professional ranks since the 2005-06 season. … Michigan senior forward Kevin Porter leads the nation in scoring with 18 goals and 11 assists for 29 points. … Nebraska-Omaha senior forward Bryan Marshall leads the nation with 19 assists. … Denver senior goalie Peter Mannino and Michigan junior keeper Billy Sauer are tied for most wins with 14. Happy Holidays!
NHL.com Top 10
1. Michigan 16-2-0
2. Miami 16-2-0
3. Denver 14-4-0
4. Colorado College 11-5-0
5. Michigan State 12-3-2
6. Notre Dame 16-4-0
7. North Dakota 8-6-1
8. Clarkson 10-5-0
9. UMass 7-3-5
10. New Hampshire 9-4-1