Colorado College is headed back to the NCAA Tournament and might get another shot at Wisconsin. First, the hot-and-cold Tigers must knock off Cornell, a pesky team that features balanced scoring and an unflappable goaltender in David McKee.
Rewarded for a blistering start that nearly was negated by a 7-9-1 finish, No. 10-seeded CC will play eighth-seeded Cornell at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in a first-round game in Green Bay, Wis. The game will be carried live on 1240 AM and broadcast tape delay on ESPNU at 11:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. today. The Tigers (24-15-2) were assigned Sunday to the Midwest Re- gional, which includes Wisconsin, the No. 1 overall seed. Wisconsin, which plays 16th seed Bemidji State at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, went 3-0-1 against CC during the season. If CC beats Cornell, it will play the Wisconsin-Bemidji State winner at 3 p.m. Sunday for the right to advance to the Frozen Four. The Tigers got there last season by beating Colgate and Michigan in the Midwest Regional, then lost to Denver in a national semifinal. As expected, the other No. 1 seeds went to Minnesota (West Regional, Grand Forks, N.D.), Boston University (Northeast Regional, Worcester, Mass.) and Michigan State (East Regional, Albany, N.Y.). Seventh-seeded North Dakota stayed in Grand Forks as the host school, giving the Western Collegiate Hockey Association four teams in the 16-team NCAA Tournament. Two-time defending national champion Denver, Dartmouth and Northern Michigan were the first teams left out. CC coach Scott Owens said “there’s not an easy road” to the Frozen Four. That’s especially true for the Tigers, who couldn’t match an early season tear — CC started 17-6-1 with wins against NCAA Tournament qualifiers Maine, Boston, Michigan and Michigan State — after five straight losses to open the second half of the WCHA season. “We’re fine with what we have, and we’ll try to work it out,” Owens said of his team’s placement in the Midwest Regional. “Whether you play (Boston) at Worcester or Wisconsin at Green Bay or a good Michigan State team, you’ve still got to get through the first game.” Cornell (21-8-4) finished third in the Eastern College Athletic Conference Hockey League and lost to Harvard 6-2 on Saturday in the league championship game. Left wing Matt Moulson leads Cornell in scoring with 17 goals and 19 assists, and nine other players have double-digit points. McKee’s 2.16 goals-against average is tied for ninth nationally. “We’ve done some big battles recently,” Cornell coach Mike Schafer said. “I think that helps prepare you for the tournament.” Air Force coach Frank Serratore, who serves on a sixmember NCAA Tournament selection committee that’s chaired by former CC and current New Hampshire athletic director Marty Scarano, said every scenario drafted during a 70-minute conference call Saturday night had CC playing in Green Bay. One person on the selection committee proposed pitting Cornell against No. 11 seed Boston College in Worcester. That would have sent sixth-seeded Miami (Ohio) to Green Bay to play CC. “People started to get a little subjective,” Serratore said. “One of the guys suggested that CC wasn’t playing very well, maybe not as well as (Boston College). I said, ‘No way.’ If it all lines up, why tinker with it?” CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0256 or firstname.lastname@example.org