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Avs NCAA and CHL Prospects Weekly Update

News and notes on Colorado Avalanche prospects playing in the NCAA and CHL.

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Heading into the break, the Denver Pioneers find themselves with a 10-5-0 record and ranked 11th in the nation. Denver is coming off a weekend split against previously ranked number one (now number two) North Dakota. On Friday, Denver earned a 4-1 win over North Dakota. Josiah Didier notched his first goal of the season in the opening period.

Quentin Shore (6), Joey LaLeggia (6), and Will Butcher (2) also scored for the PIoneers. Bryn Chyzyk had the only goal for North Dakota. Evan Cowley improved to 7-4 for Denver with 29 saves.

On Saturday, momentum shifted in North Dakota's favor. Denver head coach Jim Montgomery turned to Tanner Jaillet between the pipes for the Pioneers. Yet, it was Zane McIntyre who stole the show for North Dakota. He kept Denver off the board with 30 saves while his team mates built up a 3-0 lead.

Nick Mattson (1), Nick Schmaltz (3), and Drake Caggiula (8) had the goals for North Dakota in their 3-1 victory. Nolan Zajac (4) broke up the shutout near the midway point of the third period. Jaillet finished with 23 saves. Will Butcher, who was on the ice for two of North Dakota's goals, finished with two shots in the game.

The Pioneers are off this weekend, but the same cannot be said for Butcher, who heads to the US National Junior Team camp in Boston. Butcher, a returning hopeful, is one of 30 players who will participate in the three day camp (which starts today). He hopes to earn a spot on the US team that will compete in the upcoming World Junior Championship, which gets underway on December 26th. The US roster will be announced on December 24th.

St. Cloud State lost a pair of games over the weekend to Nebraska-Omaha. The Mavericks won 3-2 and 5-3 on Friday and Saturday respectively. Ben Storm remains in the SCSU lineup as part of the team's third defensive pairing. He has one goal on the season. The Huskies enter the break at 6-9-1.

Other Colorado Division I Men's Hockey results:

Colorado College could garner only one point this past weekend as they paid a visit to the Western Michigan Broncos. The Tigers fell 3-2 in overtime on Friday and earned 1-1 tie the following evening. It has been a struggle for Colorado College this season as the club enters the break with a 3-11-1 record.

Air Force was off this past weekend and will return to the ice on December 28th when they head east to play Vermont and Massachusetts. The Falcons are currently 5-10-2.

Avs CHL Prospects Stats

(for games played through December 15, 2014)

Team League Position GP G A TP P/M PIM
Chris Bigras Owen Sound OHL D 28 10 18 28 -2 32
Conner Bleackley Red Deer WHL C/RW 32 12 14 26 4 41
Mason Geertsen Vancouver WHL D 31 4 16 20 6 62
Nick Magyar Kitchener OHL RW 27 8 3 11 -4 8
Julien Nantel Rouyn-Noranda QMJHL C 30 13 18 31 2 14
Alexis Pepin Gatineau QMJHL LW 18 8 4 12 -4 12
Kyle Wood North Bay OHL D 30 9 10 19 -1 8
Spencer Martin Mississauga OHL G 28 80 3.05 0.919 14 12
1 0 0

There are no guarantees, even for junior players who have previously suited up for Team Canada. Chris Bigras had a strong chance of playing his second straight year for the Canadian U20 team in the upcoming World Junior Championship. Yet, his performance during Hockey Canada's selection camp apparently missed the mark.

Bigras received the news on Sunday that he had been cut from the camp and would be returning to Owen Sound. It has to be devastating for a player who earned an entry-level contract from the Avalanche over a year ago after a strong training camp that left us wondering. Bigras is a player who is one of the better defensemen in the Ontario Hockey League and has already surpassed his offensive output from the previous season in about half as many games played. Yet, in the end, Hockey Canada felt other defensemen better fit the mold.

Regardless of politics or whether the remaining defenders made the task a difficult one, the cut is still surprising. The obvious is true that this will be a motivating factor for Bigras as he returns his focus to Owen Sound. Disappointing to be sure, the Attack are likely to see the benefit.

Barring another surprise, Will Butcher will be the only Colorado Avalanche representative in the upcoming World Junior Championship.