Colorado College goaltender Matt Zaba practiced Wednesday despite a bruised right knee but said he’s not sure he will play this weekend against Alaska Anchorage.
Zaba injured his knee Friday in the third period of a 6-3 win at St. Cloud State. He did not play Saturday when No. 9 CC lost to St. Cloud State 2-1, and he missed Monday’s practice. There was no practice Tuesday. “It’s kind of a day-by-day thing,” Zaba said. “If I feel fine, I’m going to do everything I can to play.” Coach Scott Owens said Zaba might be a “Friday morning decision.” Players typically don’t skate before Friday home games, but they will this week because the fifth academic block is over. “I’m hopeful he’ll be able to play at least one game,” Owens said. If Zaba (17-10-1) can’t play this weekend, junior Chris Kawano (0-1) or freshman Drew O’Connell (2-1) will start. Kawano, a walk-on from Aurora, would be the safe choice considering how well he played Saturday in place of Zaba. It marked Kawano’s first career start. He had appeared in four games the past three seasons. Owens said O’Connell isn’t “out of the mix,” although O’Connell hasn’t played since Dec. 16 against Alaska Anchorage. He has allowed 11 goals in four starts. “Drew is just very young,” Owens said. “Chris has been around, practicing for two years. And he’s a little older.” Line changes Losing left wing Aaron Slattengren, who was kicked off the team and dismissed from school Monday for a violation of institutional academic policy, forced Owens to shuffle line combinations. Center Marty Sertich and left wing Brett Sterling, who last skated together Jan. 14 against No. 3 Wisconsin, were reunited in practice Wednesday. They skated on the top line with right wing Derek Patrosso. The second line featured center Trevor Frischmon, right wing Joey Crabb and left wing J.P. Brunkhorst, who was cleared for contact Monday after recovering from mononucleosis. Center Brandon Polich, who spent the past three games on the top line, skated on the third line with left wing Scott McCulloch and right wing Braydon Cox. The fourth line consisted of freshman center Chad Rau, right wing James Brannigan and left wing Jesse Stokke, a converted defenseman. Chances are Jimmy Kilpatrick will take Stokke’s spot on the fourth line this weekend. Kilpatrick missed practice Wednesday because of a head cold. Rau is the leading candidate to take Slattengren’s spot on the top power-play unit, which features Sertich, Sterling, Crabb and defenseman Brian Salcido. At 5-foot-11, Rau is two inches shorter than Slattengren but he’s just as dynamic and his puck-handling might be better. Patrosso likely will replace Rau on the second power-play unit, which includes Kilpatrick, McCulloch and defensemen Jack Hillen and Lee Sweatt. CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0256 or email@example.com NEXT Colorado College (19-12-1, 11-10-1 WCHA) vs. Alaska Anchorage (6-21-3, 4-17-3 WCHA), 7:37 p.m. Friday, 1240 AM