All Scott Owens needs is a time machine. That way, he could transport Colorado College back to the final months of 2005, back to those days when his Tigers roared as a powerful college hockey team. His Tigers became baffling in 2006, winning only seven of 17 games. They wander into the NCAA Tournament as a No. 3 seed in the Midwest Region and if the Tigers beat Cornell on Saturday, they almost certainly will tangle with No. 1 seed Wisconsin and a hostile, Badger-loving crowd Sunday. It’s not an inviting picture. But here’s this team’s one consistent trait. It’s a trait that could carry the Tigers to a shocking destination. They believe. Their confidence barely wavered through the season’s strife. They still see themselves as the powerhouse that played last season in the Frozen Four. Goaltender Matt Zaba serves as an ideal spokesman. He’s gifted, and he’s struggled through a season of peaks and valleys. He sees peaks ahead and senses “a breath of fresh air, a new beginning.” Despite everything, he’s kept the faith. “Either we’re incredibly naïve or we’re really stupid,” Zaba said, “but we have a lot of confident players. We know what we’re capable of.” You’re being a bit harsh, Matt. You don’t have to be really stupid to see this team’s potential. There’s no good reason why these Tigers can’t travel back to the Frozen Four. Consider these points: c The Tigers have everything required to score five goals a game. Seniors Brett Sterling, Marty Sertich and Joey Crabb form an explosive scoring trio, one that could carry the Tigers straight to Milwaukee and the Frozen Four. c The Tigers boast the NCAA experience needed to fuel an upset in Sunday’s regional final. CC has traveled to the NCAA regionals five of the past six seasons and will not arrive in Green Bay with overwhelmed, nervous minds. c The Tigers confused their fans in recent weeks, but their days of underachieving have done little to shake their own confidence. They decline to offer apologies for the slow finish that followed their fast start. Sertich, CC’s captain, knows his teammates failed to win four of their final five games. He knows CC never beat the University of Denver, its archrival. (DU, by the way, failed to earn an NCAA bid.) Sertich knows all this, but he also knows he and his teammates still have a chance to trump the recent past. “We could care less about anything now that we’re in,” Sertich said of the NCAA Tournament. “It’s really the only thing that matters. It could definitely save our season.” A few feet away, Sterling smiled while thinking of the NCAA’s cleansing possibilities. “Everything,” he said, “gets thrown out the window.” This week, Owens will push his team. He will push them back to the recent past, back to late 2005 when CC beat Maine, Michigan and Michigan State. The powerful version of the Tigers didn’t vanish. That version has been slumbering during the weird early months of 2006. It’s time to awaken. Columnist David Ramsey can be reached at 476-4895 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Colorado Springs Gazette has disabled the comments for this article.