Collegiate hockey on a national level doesn’t compare with basketball, but in hotbeds such as New England, the upper Midwest and Rocky Mountain states, the sport thrives.
There’s no greater example than in Colorado, where a few weeks ago the state could claim two of the top five ranked Division I hockey schools. Denver has slipped a bit due to a current 0-3-1 skid on a trip to the Boston area, but Colorado College is sitting nicely as the current 4-1 favorite to win the NCAA championship, according to the latest odds at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
The Tigers (11-3-2) are on the same junket as Denver, exchanging matchups against Boston University and Massachusetts. Denver lost 1-0 to Boston U last Friday despite a stellar job in the nets by junior goalie Glenn Fisher, who turned aside 23-of-24 shots.
Colorado College also suffered a tough one-goal loss, falling 4-3 to UMass — just the second setback for the Tigers in their last 12 starts.
Joey Crabb and Brett Sterling each had a goal and an assist for the Tigers, which fired a season-high 45 shots at the Minutemen in the defeat. Sterling leads the team in scoring (24 points) and goals (13). Brian Salcido was the top assist man with 16 prior to the trip east. Salcido and Marty Sertich were second to Sterling with 19 points.
Paul Stastny, son of NHL Hall of Famer Peter Stastny, led the Pioneers (5-6-2) in scoring through Friday night’s action with 18 points. The sophomore forward also topped Denver with 14 assists. Fisher has allowed just 18 goals in seven outings.
The trip east for both Colorado schools represents a break from the normal schedule of games within the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. UMass and BU each represent Hockey East.
Denver began the season as a 7-1 choice to win the national title. The Pioneers have fallen back slightly to 8-1.
This week Denver and Colorado College hook up for a big home-and-home series beginning Friday night at Colorado Springs. The teams then head to Denver for the rematch Saturday. Both rivals meet again for the final two games of the regular season, March 2 at Colorado College and March 3 in Denver.
COLLEGE HOCKEY c/o Caesars Palace
Team Oct 19 Nov. 21
Cornell 4-1 5-1
Colorado Col 5-1 4-1
Michigan 5-1 7-2
Minnesota 6-1 7-1
Denver 7-1 8-1
Wisconsin 12-1 5-1
Maine 15-1 8-1
Michigan St 10-1 9-1
North Dakota 8-1 12-1
Vermont 30-1 15-1
N.Hampshire 18-1 18-1
Boston U. 20-1 18-1
Ohio State 7-1 25-1
Colgate 40-1 25-1
Bemidji St 25-1 25-1
Alk-Fairbanks 25-1 25-1
Air Force 250-1 300-1