by Tim Rosenthal/Staff Writer
Head Coach: Scott Owens
2006-07 record: 18-17-4 (13-12-3 WCHA)
Key Returnees: Scott Thauwald F SR., Jimmy Kilpatrick F SR., Scott McCulloch F SR., Jack Hillen D SR., Chad Rau F JR., Jake Gannon D JR., Cody Lampl D JR., Drew O'Connell G JR., Bill Sweatt F SO., Brian Connelly D SO.
Key Losses: Matt Zaba, Lee Sweatt, Brandon Polich, Brandon Straub
If anything, Colorado College was supposed to be in rebuilding mode last season. What happened instead was another top five finish in the WCHA, only to lose in the first round to Michigan Tech.
"I thought it was a pretty good year," said head coach Scott Owens about his Tigers last year. "It was supposed to be a transition year."
With two Hobey Baker finalists in two years — Brett Sterling and Marty Sertich (who won the award in 2005) — gone, it seemed like a formula for rebuilding. The scoring numbers did go down a little as the team scored 111 goals.
However, the defense stepped up its game. And Matt Zaba improved his goals against average and save percentage from 2005-06.
"He was a very reliable goaltender," said Owens about last year's starter.
Going into this season, the Tigers return six defensemen who saw at least half the games from last year, including sophomore Brian Connelly and Senior Jack Hillen.
With experience returning, the defense does not seem like it will have holes to fill. But the goaltending will be new, since Zaba has graduated. That puts things in the hands of Drew O'Connell.
"Drew O'Connell has played in the past and was a USHL all-star before coming to Colorado College," Owens said, "and we got a couple of freshmen coming in, in Richard Bachman and Tyler O'Brien."
Bachman and O'Brien are two of six incoming freshmen in this year's recruiting class. Bachman had a strong finish to his USHL season last year.
"I was very happy with the recruiting results," Owens said. "We filled needs, got two defensemen, two forwards, and two goaltenders on a team that didn't lose a lot."
The other four incoming freshmen include defensemen Ryan Lowery and Brett Wysopal and forwards Tyler Johnson and Stephen Schultz.
Another newcomer worth noting is Alaska-Anchorage transfer Eric Walsky. He played two seasons with the Seawolves.
"He (Walsky) fills some of our needs," said Owens. "He has the size and the grit of a good hockey player."
While the 2007-08 Tigers will be filled with many freshmen and sophomores, there isn't one question about the leadership abilities of seniors Scott Thauwald, who was unanimously chosen by the team to be their captain, and Jimmy Kilpatrick who will be the team's assistant captain.
Kilpatrick, however, is out indefinitely following hip surgery late in the summer.
Owens is excited for the season, and in particular, hosting the NCAA West Regional again, which could be a good advantage, assuming the Tigers make it.
But this season could be an actual rebuilding year for the Tigers. Their first six games are against Minnesota, New Hampshire and North Dakota.