Center Nick Dineen (above) missed practice Tuesday due to soreness, and so did left wing Jaden Schwartz because he’s feeling sick, while center Rylan Schwartz was limited, also due to soreness, however, all three should play this weekend for Colorado College, which hosts Michigan Tech in the first round of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs.
Dineen blocked several shots off an ankle last weekend in a sweep of Michigan Tech, and Jaden Schwartz is “feeling a little bit under the weather,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said, adding that Rylan Schwartz has been dinged up most of the second half of the season. It’s simply safer to be cautious with Dineen and the Schwartz brothers, as Owens wants “to make sure we’re as fresh as we can be and as complete as we can be by Friday,” he said.
Michigan Tech (14-18-4, 11-13-4 WCHA) anticipates that goaltender Josh Robinson (13-13-4) will start Friday’s opener of the best-of-three series, despite an injured rotator cuff that prevented him from playing Saturday in a 2-0 loss. Robinson was hurt in the third period Friday in a 5-2 loss when CC right wing Jeff Collett hammered him in a collision, yet he remained in the game. If Robinson can’t play, Michigan Tech will turn to backup Kevin Genoe (1-5) as the Huskies did Saturday – their only other candidate is Cheyenne Mountain High School graduate Corson Cramer, who has played nine minutes all season.
Owens said Robinson “has had a great season, and he’s a big part of the reason for their success. But Genoe came in and did a really nice job Saturday. This time of the year, we kind of focus on ourselves, making sure we’re where we need to be. It doesn’t matter too much what we go against, although Genoe did play the puck pretty well.”
Because Michigan Tech is on spring break, first-year coach Mel Pearson kept his team in Colorado Springs instead of returning to Houghton, then coming back to the Springs – an estimated $1,200 per person. Michigan Tech switched hotels, from the DoubleTree to the Embassy Suites, and the Huskies might change hotels again simply to maintain freshness – all of their costs for hotels and buses are covered by the WCHA since it’s the playoffs.
Pearson took his players Monday to Garden of the Gods, and they were at Pepsi Center on Tuesday for a game between the Colorado Avalanche and the Minnesota Wild. Other planned activities for later in the week include bowling and movies. “There’s less wear and tear” on Michigan Tech by staying in the Springs, Owens said. “They get acclimated to the altitude. And they’re practicing on an Olympic sheet. It helps them a little bit. … It would be more advantageous for us if they had to travel back to Houghton, practice on a small sheet and get back on the plane and come out. That just isn’t the way it works out.”
CC has allowed Michigan Tech to set up shop in the World Arena visitors’ locker room, and CC equipment manager Spud Hamilton is handling their laundry all week. Michigan Tech won’t be permitted to practice on the main sheet at World Arena until Thursday, the protocol for a visiting team – no different than when Alaska-Anchorage has arrived in the Springs a few days early. Michigan Tech has daily access to the Olympic sheet in the Ice Hall at World Arena, so “they have to walk 20 feet farther to practice,” Owens cracked.
“They’ve asked for ice, and they’re getting ice,” Owens said. Owens wasn’t in favor of Michigan Tech practicing on the main sheet at World Arena, like No. 18 CC (18-14-2, 15-12-1) does, he said, because “it kind of defeats the purpose of earning home-ice advantage. … Why would you play 28 league games to get home ice and then make it a shared venue?”
CC goaltender Josh Thorimbert (13-6-1) was picked as the WCHA Defensive Player of the Week after stopping 60 of 62 shots last weekend. … Click HERE to enter a drawing to win a pair of tickets for Friday or Saturday, courtesy of www.coloradosprings.com.
WCHA PLAYOFFS, FIRST ROUND
No. 8 Michigan Tech at No. 5 Colorado College
Game 2: Saturday, 7:07 p.m.
Game 3: Sunday, 7:07 p.m. (if necessary)
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