Quick Look: Northern Colorado Eagles

by Manny Brizuela

The Northern Colorado Eagles are a team fueled by hunger and players itching to have a breakout season. At least that’s the way Head Coach Steve Haddon describes the feeling of his squad going into their first game.

“Just to give you my perspective, we have about twelve 20-year-olds that are really looking to secure NCAA scholarships and trying to win a championship,” Haddon said. “Instead of singling someone out, I can say that we have a lot of guys who are ready to have a breakout season. They are in their second or third year of junior hockey and this is kind of like a coming into their own. This is a big year for them to jump on the radar.”

The Eagles were in the thick of the hunt for a majority of last season. They placed third in the rugged Mountain Division with 71 points going 32-12-7. They are team that understands what it takes to go the distance having at least one playoff victory in each of their five seasons in the WSHL, and look to return to the finals this year.

Looking at the Eagles’ 2017-2018 roster you will notice that not one player sticks out as far as carrying the team, but more so, contribution by committee.  Three players ended the regular season with 49 points tied for first among the team.

Two of the three, Carter Dahl (25-24-49) and Cory Richardson (18-31-49), secured NCAA spots with Saint Mary’s University and Finlandia University respectively. David Mitchell, penciled in at third in points, moved onward to CU-Boulder’s D-I ACHA hockey team. 10 other players had at least 20-points in the season and that can ease finding goals at the expense of their top three scorers departing.

(Mark Mauno Photo of David Mitchell)

“We are about a month in and from our standpoint, we have about nine returning players,” Haddon said. “We aren’t a young team but not an old team I think we have a perfect balance of 19 and 20-year-olds. Every year you try to build your team as best as you can but you don’t really know until the first few games.”

Haddon is entering his sixth season with the Eagles and is seeing a wider array of talent upfront than in previous years. He believes this will be the strongest group upfront he has seen based on their work this summer. 

“We are pretty deep upfront,” Haddon said. “Forward wise, I feel like we have a lot of good supporting players and guys that can play multiple roles. There’s never too much depth. You have to deal with injuries or suspensions and someone can step up. We never try to rely on one guy or one line.”

Over recent years, The Eagles have squared off against the Ogden Mustangs in post-season play four years in a row. That matchup is certainly a potential again this year but It may have to wait until the later rounds as the Eagles join the Midwest Division this season.