View From Colorado College

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The Gophers have not played this weekend's opponent Colorado College since November 2010. Minnesota swept the Tigers on the road then, but a lot has changed in the near 15 months since these two teams have played. We talked to Brian Gomez of the Colorado Springs Gazette to get some information on Colorado College and their high-powered offense. You can follow Brian and learn more about Colorado College on his Eye of the Tigers blog.

GopherSports: Brian, could you give us a scouting report on the Tigers?

Brian Gomez: Like Minnesota, CC is an up-tempo, fast-moving team with an explosive offense (3.68 goals per game) and a potent power play (25 percent) but the Tigers have struggled on defense (2.95 goals per game) and on the penalty kill (78.7 percent) and they're 2-3-1 since the holiday break. If Josh Thorimbert (8-3) starts in goal, CC is capable of holding onto a lead, especially if its defensemen are providing support. If Joe Howe (5-5-1) lines up between the pipes, no lead for CC is safe. And while the Tigers possess the horses to stage comebacks, when they're playing from behind, they're typically drained late in games, as was the case Saturday in a 5-4 overtime loss to St. Cloud State. Too many turnovers and loose fronts in the defensive zone have made CC's margin for error increasingly smaller, especially on the road, where the Tigers are 3-4 in the WCHA.

GS: Who is one player that Gopher fans should keep an eye on this weekend?

BG: CC left wing Jaden Schwartz, a 2010 first-round draft pick of the St. Louis Blues who has 24 points, including a team-high 17 assists. He's indisputably the most talented player on CC's roster, and if not for missing six games to captain Canada at the world junior championships, he no doubt would have the statistics to be a legitimate contender for the Hobey Baker Award. Schwartz didn't score last weekend in a split against St. Cloud State, although his mere presence on the ice makes everybody around him better, and he recorded three assists, setting up his older brother, Rylan, for his team-leading 18th goal. He's almost impossible to contain, and since he's so unselfish, if opponents focus too much on trying to slow him down, he'll simply position his teammates to do the damage.

GS: Brian, can you finish this sentence for us. Colorado College will win if...

BG: ...It plays considerably better than it has the past three weeks - and if it catches the Gophers on a weekend in which they're not the sharpest. If CC brings the kind of effort it did last weekend and if Minnesota is as dominant as it was Saturday in a 6-2 win at North Dakota, the Gophers will sweep with no problems. For the Tigers to stay competitive, they must get production outside of their top line, their defensemen must become more physical and they probably need their goaltender to stand on his head - perhaps only Thorimbert is capable of doing that right now, with Howe so inconsistent. Plus, CC has to keep the game low-scoring. When the Tigers have gotten into shootouts on the road in the WCHA, they've lost every time - against Nebraska-Omaha, Denver and North Dakota.

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