Colorado College coach Scott Owens has conceded the MacNaughton Cup to Wisconsin. “They’re going to win the league,” Owens said. “I’ll be very surprised, with Minnesota losing (Saturday to North Dakota), if they don’t.” Most CC fans likely wouldn’t contest Owens’ assessment after No.
1 Wisconsin continued its rampage through the Western Collegiate Hockey Association last weekend by sweeping the Tigers at World Arena. The only obstacles left on Wisconsin’s schedule are backto-back home series against Denver and No. 3 Minnesota. The Badgers (18-2-2, 13-1-2 WCHA) haven’t won the Mac-Naughton Cup, which is awarded to the WCHA regular-season champion, since the 1999-2000 season. No. 7 CC (17-8-1, 9-6-1) travels to Minnesota this weekend hoping to gain ground in what has become a battle for second place. The Tigers are fourth, nine points behind Wisconsin and one point behind Denver and Minnesota, who are tied for second. Minnesota (14-6-4, 9-5-2) is coming off a split against No. 10 North Dakota. Denver split last weekend with St. Cloud State. “We know where we stand,” defenseman Brian Salcido said. “Every game from here on out is going to be very important.” Said Tigers captain Marty Sertich: “We’ve got a lot of guys that have played a lot of games and have been in sticky situations like this. Hopefully our experience will help us.” CC’s 9-1 setback Saturday against Wisconsin marked the team’s worst loss since Jan. 30, 1993, when the Tigers fell to Northern Michigan 12-3 under former coach Brad Buetow. An Owens-coached team had allowed nine goals only once — in a 9-6 loss to Minnesota State-Mankato in the 2002-03 season. Owens called Wisconsin goaltender Brian Elliott “un- flappable” and contends the Badgers have improved since they took three of four points from CC earlier this season in Madison, Wis. “That’s the best team in the country by far,” Owens said. “It’s awful early to be playing that well. But what’s scary is how much more they could be doing.” In the box The Tigers were penalized 18 times last weekend. Two penalties on Salcido turned the tide in Wisconsin’s favor. Salcido received a slashing penalty Friday at the 12:10 mark of the third period. Less than 70 seconds later, Wisconsin center Joe Pavelski scored the gamewinner on the power play. On Saturday, Salcido was ejected for checking from behind seven minutes into the game. The Badgers scored four power-play goals by the time the five minutes on Salcido’s major penalty had expired. “Sometimes it’s just stupidity and not thinking,” Salcido said about his tendency to take untimely penalties. “You can’t take those penalties.” CC tumbles in polls The Tigers fell two spots to seventh in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine and USCHO.com/CSTV polls, which were released Monday. In both polls, Wisconsin retained the top spot, again receiving all 74 first-place votes, and Boston College jumped from fourth to second. Minnesota is third in the USA Today poll and fourth in the USCHO.com poll. Miami (Ohio) is third in the USCHO.com poll and fourth in the USA Today poll. Both polls have Vermont fifth and Michigan sixth. In the Inside College Hockey power rankings, CC is sixth behind Wisconsin, Boston College, Miami, Minnesota and Vermont. CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0256 or firstname.lastname@example.org NEXT CC (17-8-1) at Minnesota (14-6-4), 6:07 p.m. Friday, Adelphia 170, 1240 AM