Friday, October 7, 2016

Bulldogs Take to the Road for Test in Massachusetts

Second Straight Weekend of Ranked Opponent for UMD

It is early in the college hockey season. This is the earliest start for UMD hockey and the first 2-0-0 start since 2001-02 (Maverick Stampede Tournament) and the first sweep of one opponent to start the season since 1995-96 (Ferris State).

There have only been five total NCAA games played, but already UMD is making a statement with their sweep over Michigan Tech. Now the stakes are higher with a fellow top ten ranked opponent in UML and playing them on the road.

Like UMD, UML ended their season last year in the NCAA Regional Finals and roster nine freshman this season. It will be a matchup that will give a broader view of the prospects of both teams even though we are not in double digits of October.

StatPack. Full StatPack next week, but of note now:

  • Bulldogs have a perfect 10 for 10 on penalty kill with one shorthanded goal.
  • UMD is currently clicking at 33% for power play.
Picks by @afiskness. One week is in the books for UMD who looked great against Michigan Tech in the 6-0 shutout Saturday night and the gutty come from behind win.  This week the Bulldogs go out east to take on the highly ranked River Hawks of U-Mass Lowell.  It will be two highly entertaining games with these two good teams.    

Ferris State vs. Western Michigan:  This is a home and home home series and I just don't see the Bulldogs starting the season 0-4.  I will pick the home teams winning resulting in a split.

Miami @ Providence:  This is a good test for the Redhawks going out eat to play a ranked foe. The Redhawks should be a good team this season, I will pick a split.

Colorado College @ UMass:  The Minutemen had eight wins last year to trump the Tigers six wins. Two evenly match teams playing two games often end in a split.

Minnesota Duluth @ Massachusetts Lowell:  The Bulldogs are red hot after one week of play.  This should be two great games that will result in a split.  

Canisius @ North Dakota:  The reigning nation champion Fighting Hawks will have little trouble earning a sweep on home ice this weekend. 

Icebreaker Tournament
Ohio State vs. Denver:  The Pioneers will advance to the championship game.  
Denver vs. Air Force or Boston College:  I am going to say BC will advance to play Denver and Denver will get the big win for the tournament title.  

Monday, October 3, 2016

Unlikely Ending Lends to Possible New Start

UMD Shrugs Off Slow Start to Earn Sweep

Fans of UMD have been there before. Who can blame them for having doubts?

After watching the Bulldogs open up the season with a Saturday night shellacking of the Michigan Technological University Huskies 6-0, they watched the Bulldogs come out flat Sunday giving up a 2-0 lead 8:21 into the game.

In what seemed to be the second night let down so many recent UMD teams have been prone to, exasperation, or maybe expectation of bad results, took over in many people's minds. Mine included. "Here it comes, another split..."

But in a departure of recent teams' struggles with putting two games together, this edition of Bulldog Hockey fought through whatever it is and prevailed taking their first lead with 0:15 left in the game for the win and sweep.

So getting back to the original thought about fans rightfully having panic and doubts about the tenacity and killer instinct of the Bulldogs... How did we get to this place?

The last few seasons have seen UMD reel off long win streaks, but in the midst of those seasons, there have been more then a few games that should have been wins either based on caliber of opponent or results from a previous game. But in many of those situations, UMD came out on the losing end leaving fans frustrated and confused.

So where does the problem, perceived or real, lie and is it gone?

The beauty of college sports is that teams are always changing from year to year and teams have the opportunity to reinvent themselves. As a result, this may be a trend towards a true upper echelon hockey team, not the recent UMD teams that hang on in the PairWise with a few key wins and multiple perplexing losses.

The one thing that does stay the same, nearly the same, from year to year is the coaching. As we have stated time and again, this coaching staff headed by Coach Sandelin is top notch, and they deserve a group that looks like they can persevere and win the games they should.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Post Season Awards

Kaskisuo, Farley Lauded, Need to be Replaced Next Season

Another college hockey season has been put to close and we take this time to hand out our awards to the deserving UMD Bulldog players.

Huffer Christiansen Award (MVP): Kazimir Kaskisuo.  Without the high level play by the now departed Kazimir the UMD Bulldogs would not be have advanced to the NCHC Playoff championship game or out of the first round of the NCAA playoffs.  The Finn provided a lot of highlight film saves and will be missed.

Runner Up:  Tony Cameranesi.  Tony finished off his senior season with a strong showing with 11 goals, 28 assists and 39 points leading the team to the NCAA playoffs.  His 39 points lead the team in scoring.

Rookie of the Year: Neal Pionk. This past season had good play by several Bulldog freshmen, but the best was Neal Pionk. Neal finished with 4 goals, 13 assists for 17 points in 40 games and a plus 11, pretty good for a freshman defenseman.  He also showed his strength in keeping the puck and getting puck to the net. His development should continue also assuming he will be able to take on a bigger leadership role with the team. Look for Neal to take over as the defensive leader in the coming years.

Runner-up: Adam Johnson who had a strong freshmen year as a forward for the Bulldogs and looks like he should have a great college career.  Johnson played in all 39 of the 40 games this past season and had 6 goals and 12 assists.

Most Improved Player: Willie Corrin. When a guy has 1 goal and 9 assists for 10 points and a plus 5 might not look overly impressive, but Corrin had a strong senior season the helped solidify the blueline.

Runner Up: Karson Kuhlman

7th Defensemen: Willie Raskob. Given to the defenseman who steps up, becomes a regular player for the team and makes an impact.  Willie Raskob as stated above provided offense when we honestly thought we would not see much from him this past season.  Raskob is the type of defenseman we had in mind when we instituted the 7th Defensemen Award.

Runner-up: Brendan Kotyk had a much improved season and provided extra stability needed on defense.

#29 Award: Austin Farley. This past season leading goal scorers Austin Farley and Dominic Toninato tied with 15 goals each. We give the #29 Award to Austin Farely who also had 16 assists for 31 points. He also had a team high 17.9 percent shooting pertcentage and team high plus 26.

Runner-up: Dominic Toninato with 15 goals.

There they are, the 2015-2016 College Hockey HighHorse Award winners.  As we move towards the normal down time for college hockey, we will have articles dealing with expected announcements of more details of the NCHC.  Otherwise, we look forward to the fall when Bulldog Hockey commences a new season.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Frozen Four 2016

The Frozen Four in Tampa, Florida is all set with Boston College taking on Quinnipiac in the early game and Denver facing off with North Dakota the other semi-final game today.  Unfortunately, the Bulldogs were unable to get by Boston College to get to the Frozen Four.  The Bulldogs came close but ran out of time.  Fans of the NCHC are happy though knowing that at least one team from the conference will be in the championship game.

This years final four teams seems to be so well matched that any of the four could win the tournament in my opinion.  Quinnipiac looked like they cruised in their two wins.  I thought Northeastern would remain hot, but the Fighting Hawks quickly extinguished that fire.  The Fighting Hawks looked great in Cincinnati.  Denver played 200 foot hockey in both games and looked strong.  Denver did look beatable against Ferris State for much of the game but finally ran away with the win.  Boston College played good against UMD but of the four teams appeared to have the hardest time getting into the Frozen Four.

My pick for the Championship will continue to be Quinnipiac.  I am going with my gut which is telling me that Denver will beat North Dakota this time on neutral ice as this game has a lot more mean than the 3rd place NCHC game did in Minneapolis.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Haven't We Met Before? Part II

Northeast Region Final Sees UMD Meet BC Again

UMD seems to be at home in the Northeast Region, at least in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. After the first round, the Bulldogs have lost to Boston University and Boston College in their previous two Regional finals.

It was one year after their NCAA Championship that the Bulldogs faced the Eagles for the NE finals where BC buzzed right through UMD on their way to their most recent National Championship.

So is this year any different? Yes.

BC is not the highest power in the land of college hockey this year like in 2012. I by no means am saying they are not good or dangerous, but that Johnny Gaudreau led team was a high powered scoring machine.

Additionally, the surging UMD Bulldogs have seen a rebirth through their defense. Not only stellar goaltending by Kazimir Kaskisuo, but the emergence of Neal Pionk into a standout freshman force and the steady Andy Welinski have really stabilized the ship. Not to be overlooked is the force that Willie Raskob has become on the blueline since the postseason started.

With a defense that is solid and scoring when needed, this UMD team can certainly find themselves in the Florida sun at the Frozen Four.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Haven't We Met Before?

UMD Faces Lehman-led Providence

Nate Lehman may seem liek a familiar name although UMD has not faced Providence for years. Lehman was the coach of Union, UMD's first round vicim back in 2011 NCAAs, the year the Bulldogs won their championship.

A sign for good fortunes? It sure could be the way the UMD defense is shutting down offenses. With a good defense, anything is possible in the NCAA Tournament.

Picks by @afiskness. For much of the season I did not think that the Bulldogs would be playing in the NCAAs this season as their scoring was too inconsistent.  However now they are and they have proven they can beat they play.  The same can be said of them as well.

This NCAA tournament appears to be wide open.  I can see any of the 16 teams getting into the final four.  What actually happens will be fun to watch.  

NCHC Picks
Northeast Region
#14 Minnesota Duluth vs. #4 Providence: This is an interesting matchup.  The reigning national champs who prior to the Hockey East tournament had won 10 games in a row against the Bulldogs who just won 7 in a row.  If UMD dictates tempo they will get the win.   I see this as a coin toss, Bulldogs win.

West Region
#15 Ferris State vs. #2 St Cloud State:  The Bulldogs won the WCHA tournament to earn the right to play in the NCAAs.  The Bulldogs focus on defense and will need to be strong against the Huskies.  I like the Huskies high power offense to get the win.

#12 Boston University vs. #6 Denver:  This is a rematch for these two teams this season.  On October 31St the Terriers came out with the win, this time the tables will be turned.  Pioneers win.  

Midwest Region
#13 Northeastern vs. #3 North Dakota:  The Huskies are the hottest team in the county and will not be afraid of taking on the Fighting Hawks.  I think the Huskies will stay hot and get the win.  

My Frozen Four (otherwise known as the kiss of death) is Quinnipiac, Minnesota Duluth, Denver and Northeastern.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

UMD Moves Towards Goals; PWR Important

As Bulldogs Look to NCAAs, Frozen Faceoff Looms First

Speculation and numbers are swirling around college hockey world right now. Some teams are definitely in the NCAA Tourney based on PWR numbers and probabilities and some are definitely out. Others still are in limbo with games to be played, and UMD fits that category.

With a guaranteed two games this weekend in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff, the Bulldogs are right on the bubble according to the PWR hanging in at #13. With 16 teams getting in the Tourney, there are the auto-bids that keep moving the cut line up the rankings. #13 is pretty safe place to be, but two losses this weekend will definitely make a slide in that ranking for UMD.

The good news? With the sweep of Miami last weekend, UMD is guaranteed an over 0.500 record, the first criteria for making the NCAAs.

But what will it take to make the NCAAs?

Look no further than here and our PWR friends for scenarios:

  1. From @afiskness here at C3H: I did a little pairwise predictor and I do think it is about 50% the UMD gets in to the NCAAs.  I think they will have to win one game (no tie in 3rd place game) that way they can stay a #13 in the pairwise.  I think this would be different if UMD had one win against BSU this season.  Here are a few other things that UMD fans will want to happen:
    • Michigan win the Bi6 Tournament,
    • Havard or Quinnipiac win ECAC Tournament,
    • UML, BC or Providence win HE Tournament,
      • UML Wins should help UMD the most, and
    • Northeastern Lose at least 1 game.
  1. Work out your own plan at the PWR Predictor and You Be The Committee
  2. Jim Dahl's College Hockey Ranked is a great place to go to see the breakdown of the probabilities and possibilities.