Friday, February 5, 2016

UMD Hosts CC, Looks to Sweep Tigers Again

Bulldogs Sweep Drought is at Two Months, Relief this Weekend?

Over and over Bulldog fans have been hearing how important the games are. Every weekend seems to be "the last stand" for UMD and their chances for home ice in the NCHC playoffs, NCAA playoffs, and to live up to expectations of this talented team.

And over and over, the struggles for UMD trump the efforts. Some say UMD can't score "enough", but when they do, the defense sags. When the defense is tops, offense sags. Early leads vaporize, late leads don't feel safe. Baffling season.

But here it is again, the chance to right the ship with a 110% effort when backs are against the wall in this must-have weekend. Check.

Picks by @afiskness. This weekends series against the Tigers is likely to be one that Bulldog fans will point back to no matter the outcome.  A sweep will really help UMD stay in the race for home ice in the playoffs.  A split or a couple ties won't change the standings much and being swept will likely keep UMD in the bottom half of the standings at the end of the year.  My concern is the lack of scoring will continue and UMD will fall to seven or eight in the NCHC standings.  Not a good place to be this or any year.  

What seems crazy with the remaining schedule I think if UMD won six of the next nine games they will be a top 15 team in the pairwise when the playoffs start even though they currently have only won nine games.    

Picks
PWR #2 St. Cloud State @ #22 Miami:  The Huskies are currently finding it pretty easy to put the puck in the back of the net, but the improved play by the Redhawks will help them get a split at home.  

PWR #48 Colorado College @ #19 Minnesota Duluth:  The Bulldogs are having significant difficulties scoring this season, playing the Tigers may be a good short term cure.  I think UMD will play strong enough defense and score enough goals in one of the two games to get a split.  

Tuesday 2/9/2016
PWR #34 Bemidji State @ #19 Minnesota Duluth:  This is the make up game for the power outage at the beginning of the season.  I don't like the match up for the Bulldogs who have not played well at AMSOil Arena. I will pick a Beavers win.

StatPack.



Friday, January 15, 2016

Pivotal Weekend as UMD Faces Saint Cloud

State of Hockey: #1 vs #2 This Weekend in Duluth?

With the Bulldogs the fifth wheel in this year's North Star College Hockey Cup tournament, the games against instate teams brings more meaning as to the state of college hockey in the State of Hockey.

Without a doubt, I think that is safe to say, the Huskies of SCSU are the best currently in Minnesota. Number two leaves some room for discussion, but it is quite safe to say that Minnesota State Mankato and Minnesota Duluth are the two vying for that spot.

For arguments sake, MSUM swept the Beavers of BSU while UMD has lost their only game played with a rematch coming in early February. The Bulldogs swept UMTC Gophers convincingly while MSUM was shutout and pulled out an improbable win in the closing minutes and OT against the Gophers. MSUM is at the top of the New WCHA and UMD is struggling in the middle of the NCHC.

All said and done, the C3H State of Hockey Rankings:

  1. Saint Cloud State
  2. Minnesota Duluth
  3. Minnesota State Mankato
  4. Minnesota Twin Cities
  5. Bemidji State
Luckily for fans, UMTC and BSU face off in the opening round of the NSCHC coming up at the end of January.

What to Expect in Duluth: my take.
To say you know what UMD is about, what their blocks have stemmed from, this season is a game only fools and charlatans should take on. The Bulldogs have been as much of an enigma and roller coaster as ever, all wrapped into one. Defense seems to be the closest to a constant that one can make out for UMD. Other than that you sit back and take it in.

Like the Vikings, UMD has not fared well against the upper echelon ("tournament bound") teams this year. 

After getting on a roll, they get swept by UND. And I wanted to say they got destroyed by UND, but in reality, they played well, but that pesky yeti-like-thing called "puck luck" did not go their way. And that is about it for the UMD season so far...could have, should have, played well enough, but...

Yet another week to see if this thing can be turned around in time.  

My prognostication? Who the heck knows! It could be a sweep, in either team's favor. That would be interesting if UMD could sweep or backbreaking if swept. Split would be good for UMD, but not a likely scenario. I pick a SCSU win Friday followed by a tie.

Stats.

Picks by @afiskness. 
During last Friday's night game against the Redhawks many Bulldog fan were probably wondering if the Bulldogs would ever score a goal again.  Thankfully Tony Cameranesi was able to get a late 3rd period goal and extend the game with a overtime tie.  Now it would have been great to get the extra 3 on 3 overtime point, but the one point was greatly needed for the standings and the pairwise rankings. The tie and the win pushed the Bulldogs up to #16 in the Pair Wise rankings.  Hopefully the can ride this momentum and continue the push for Bulldog hockey games in March and April.

Picks
PWR#3 St. Cloud State @ #16 Minnesota Duluth:  Last weekends biggest NCHC surprise was the Huskies loss to the Tigers.  This came after the loss to the Under 18 Team the weekend before that at the National Sport Center.  What does that mean for the Huskies this weekend?  I am not convinced that the Bulldogs can score, especially at home.  I am going to pick a Huskies rebound and a sweep.    
PWR#7 Nebraska Omaha @ #2 North Dakota:  The Mavericks lost for the first and second time at the Baxter Arena last weekend and the Fighting Hawks beat the Under 18 Team.  I think Dean Blais will have the Mavericks ready and motivated earning a split in Grand Forks.  

PWR#27 Western Michigan @ #14 Denver:  The Pioneers earned a huge sweep in Omaha and now are at home hosting the Broncos.  The Broncos are brutal on the road but have historically played the Pioneers well.  Something has got to give.  I will go with a home sweep by the Pioneers.

PWR#20 Bowling Green @ #32 Miami:  The Falcons are traveling to Oxford to play one game against the Redhawks.  The Falcons have played well on the road and the Redhawks are having a down season.  This should be a Falcons win. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

UMD Gets Back to Work

Bulldogs Travel to Miami (OH) Balanced at .500

Games in October - December aren't that important said one college hockey analyst. The UMD Bulldogs are looking to see if it can possibly be true.

A run is in order for UMD to make it from #25 in the PWR now to the area of being in the mix for the 16 in the tourney. No better place to start (again) than at Miami...this weekend...now.

Why the interjection of "again" in that last sentence? UMD has been here already...this season...going to Colorado College. At that time UMD reeled off four wins in row before hitting the buzz saw that is North Dakota.

It is time, again.

Picks by @afiskness. After the holiday break the Bulldogs are back to action traveling to Oxford, Ohio to take on the Redhawks.  The first half of the season was very average with the Bulldogs having a 7-7-3 record and definitely not playing up to the preseason expectations.  The bulldogs will need a strong second half to play their way into the NCAA playoffs.

Picks

PWR #25 Minnesota Duluth @ #27T Miami:  Neither team is playing great or up to expectations.  The Bulldogs generally play better on the road then at home.  I give the edge to the Bulldogs but until they prove that they can consistently score I will pick a split. 

#57 Colorado College @ #3 St Cloud State:  One this the Huskies have done well this year is to score goals.  I don't see the Tigers hanging with the Huskies this weekend, Huskies sweep.

#18T Denver @ #2 Nebraska Omaha:  The new Baxter Arena has been kind to the Mavericks and I think that will continue.  I am going with the Mavericks home sweep.

#27T Western Michigan vs. #13 Notre Dame (home/home):  The Broncos are bad on the road and play much better at home.  But this weekend I think the Fighting Irish will be able to pull off a sweep.  

Friday, December 11, 2015

Bulldogs Host the Fighting Hawks

This weekend will mark the first series for the Bulldogs against the Fighting Hawks.  The Bulldogs are finally playing how the Bulldog faithful had expected this season.  The Fighting Hawks are playing very good this season as well and this will be a tough series for the Bulldogs.

Picks
#6 St. Cloud State @ #11 Denver:  The Pioneers are a better team at home, but the Huskies have played good both on the road and at home.  This will series will come down to special teams and goal tending.  I like this one ending in a split. 

#4 North Dakota @ #17 Minnesota Duluth:  If the Bulldogs can keep the scoring going and not get frustrated resulting in making mental errors they can beat anybody.  However, the Fighting Hawks are to good to get swept, so it will be a split.

Colorado College @ Western Michigan:  The Tigers are on a tear after losing the first 13 games of the season and now going to Kalamazoo to face the Broncos who have lost eight in a row.  The momentum will carry the Tigers into getting a split this weekend. 


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Bulldogs host the Broncos

The Bulldogs return to action this weekend after a weekend of rest.  In their most recent Bulldog series against the Colorado College Tigers the Bulldogs did exatly what they should playing a less talented team, two shutout wins. This weekend will be much tougher playing the Broncos from Western Michigan who play style of hockey that can be difficult for UMD to handle.  Hopefully the rest will have the Bulldogs playing fast paced and sticking to their game plan dictating the tempo.

Picks
Western Michigan @ #17 Minnesota Duluth:  The Broncos have not been good on the road and the Bulldogs haven't been very good at home.  The Bulldogs should get a sweep, but until they show me they can win two in a row at home I will pick a split.

#9 Denver @ #4 North Dakota: Both teams a playing very good hockey right now and this will a great series.  Home ice favors the Fighting Hawks, but the Pioneers will earn a split.

#6 Nebraska Omaha @ #7 St Cloud State:  Another great NCHC series.  Both teams are hot so this series will end in a split.

#RV Miami @ Colorado College:  Last weekend The Tigers picked up their first win of the season.  Maybe this will provide some momentum into this weekend.  Until the Tigers win a conference game I will pick against them, Redhawks sweep.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Western Michigan Nemesis for Bulldogs

WMU Style Tough Matchup for Bulldogs

Since the inception of the NCHC, it is Western that has been the most puzzling team for UMD to solve.  Their size, their trap, their slow-it-down slug-it-out style frustrate the speedy Bulldogs.

Nebraska-Omaha, arguably one of best teams in the NCHC, is a team much like UMD, fast and talented.  Their only loses of the season are against the Broncos of Western Michigan.  And UNO is a beefy 11-2-1 overall.

UMD needs to stay patient and not press too hard this weekend, because that is when WMU scores, when the opponent leaves an odd-man rush opportunity.

Unfortunately, UMD can't afford many more losses and this weekend will be a challenge for them.

Picks by @afiskness:
The Bulldogs return to action this weekend after a weekend of rest.  In their most recent Bulldog series against the Colorado College Tigers the Bulldogs did exactly what they should playing a less talented team, two shutout wins. This weekend will be much tougher playing the Broncos from Western Michigan who play style of hockey that can be difficult for UMD to handle.  Hopefully the rest will have the Bulldogs playing fast paced and sticking to their game plan dictating the tempo.

Picks
Western Michigan @ Minnesota Duluth:  The Broncos have not been good on the road and the Bulldogs haven't been very good at home.  The Bulldogs should get a sweep, but until they show me they can win two in a row at home I will pick a split.

Denver @ North Dakota: Both teams a playing very good hockey right now and this will a great series.  Home ice favors the Fighting Hawks, but the Pioneers will earn a split.

Nebraska Omaha @ St Cloud State:  Another great NCHC series.  Both teams are hot so this series will end in a split.


Miami @ Colorado College:  Last weekend The Tigers picked up their first win of the season.  Maybe this will provide some momentum into this weekend.  Until the Tigers win a conference game I will pick against them, Redhawks sweep.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Time to buckle down

It is probably too early for Bulldog fans too panic after last weekends sweep at the hands of the Mavericks, but the results do suggest it could be a long season.  There is plenty of time on the season for the Bulldogs to go on a winning streak, which will be needed if the team has any thoughts remaining about winning the Spencer and Julie Penrose Memorial Cup.  Each of the last two season the winner of the regular season and the Cup has only had six conference losses.  Now with two losses a long winning streak is in order.  As for NCAAs from my observations of the Bulldogs and the NCHC play This season I am guessing there will be four NCHC teams in the NCAAs.  Additionally, I think it will take 21 wins or more for NCHCs teams to make it in.  Moral of the story is the Bulldogs better just start winning.

Picks
#8 Denver @ #13 Minnesota Duluth:  On paper this is a great match up, I hope it is the same on the ice.  The Bulldogs average defensive play and poor special  teams play has been hampering this team.  I think they can get fired up for one game and earn a split against a very good Pioneers team.  Split.

#9 St. Cloud State @ #RV Western Michigan: The slow down game of the Broncos at home will get them a split against the Huskies.

#17 Miami @ #3 North Dakota:  The big question after North Dakota's games last weekend is this team over rated or did the Badgers somehow figure things out?  North Dakota will face a much tougher Redhawks team this weekend.  I will play it safe and pick a split.