Friday, November 21, 2014

On the Road: Bulldogs at red Mavericks

UMD Continues Streak of Ranked Opponents in Bid to Continue Win Streak

One third of the regular season completed, 12 games, and it is not even Thanksgiving yet.  The Bulldogs embark on the second portion of their schedule continuing with NCHC play in Omaha who has only played eight games overall this season.

Take aways from the "first period" of the season:

  • Slowish start in net, but Kaskisuo is now the backstop that an elite team needs.  McNeely an afterthought as of now.
  • On the PK too often staying securely in the top five in the nation for penalty minutes.  But the SHGs are coming in with five so far.
  • Dom Toninato is on fire scoring with nine goals so far.  What follows that stat is good team scoring, three players with four goals and 16 players with at least one goal so far.
  • Andy Welinski becoming elite defenseman and leading a very impressive defense corps.  As a squad, the defense is giving Kaskisuo the support he needs to be his best.
StatPack.  Great test again for UMD as they go to the surprisingly upstart Omaha squad.  By the numbers:
Images via Wikipedia: Bulldog, NCAA, NCHC, Mav
Picks by @afiskness.  The Bulldogs have found their balance and have used that to put in a 5 game winning streak.  Last weekends effort was impressive versus the Gophers.  The three penalties in the Friday game played a huge part in the Bulldogs dominance.  Now of course Bulldog fans need to worry about a let down.  The team play is strong this season and if the Bulldogs stay out of the box they can continue this winning streak.

Minnesota Duluth @ Nebraska Omaha:  This is a great series as both goalies are on fire.  The Mavericks at home get an edge, but the Bulldogs play good on the road.  Split.

Western Michigan @ Miami:  The Redhawks managed a nice Split in Grand Forks last weekend and have shown so far that they should be a real contender.  The Broncos have had a slow start this season and it won't be easy to win in Oxford this weekend. Miami sweep.

North Dakota @ St Cloud State:  North Dakota goes on the road to the play a Huskies team that appears to have bounced back after being swept at home two weeks ago.  Special teams will likely be the difference in this series.  Split.

Air Force @ Denver, Wisconsin @ Denver: Denver is the favorite in both games and I think Air Force has the better chance for the upset then the Badgers.  Denver two wins.

Wisconsin @ Colorado College, Colorado College @ Air Force:  It has been a tough season so far for the Tigers with their only wins this season coming against the Chargers.  Thankfully for them this weekends matchups are in their favor.  The Tigers should get two wins, but I think the Badgers find their first win of the season on Friday.  Saturday night the Tigers bounce back and beat the Falcons.

Friday, November 14, 2014

#1 Gophers Next Opponent for Surging Bulldogs

Three Game Win Streak Sparking UMD

Last weekend was the first sweep of the season and the first at Saint Cloud since 1999.  Follow that up now with the UMTC Gophers and their #1 ranking in the country and you have a tall task.

The home-and-home series will mark the first meeting in Duluth since October of 2011 even though the teams have played the last two seasons.

First up UMD will be on the road unlike their previous home-and-home series this season against Minnesota State Mankato.

Images via Wikipedia: Bulldog, NCAA, Gopher

Picks by @afiskness:  The Bulldogs were impressive last weekend in the sweep at St. Cloud. The goal tending and defense are playing really strong while the team continues to put up goals.  Team discipline still concerns me though as the Bulldogs continue to take bad penalties and too many penalties.

This weeks picks
St Cloud State @ Western Michigan:  The Huskies are licking their wounds after being swept at home last weekend but they are now on the road against the Broncos who have played better in recent weeks.  Split.

Miami @ North Dakota:  This is a great matchup in Grand Forks.  Injuries have hit North Dakota so a home sweep is out of the question, but they are stocked with enough talent to split with the Redhawks.

Colorado College @ Denver: This is the first game for the Gold Pan.  The Tigers are out matched on the road, Pioneers win.

Minnesota Duluth vs. Minnesota Twin Cites:  The ranked opponents continues for the Bulldogs.  UMD will need much better goal tending than the first time these two teams met, which they have been getting recently. This series has split written all over it.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

UMD Set to Travel to Saint Cloud

Yet Another Ranked Opponent, A Long Time Foe in SCSU

Last weekend, another split with the Friday loss and second night win streak still alive.  On the bright side, the Bulldogs broke their streak of major penalties in a game with Saturday night's 4-3 win.

The splitting has been bemoaned here, but in reality, UMD is facing good opponents.  But if the Bulldogs want to take it up a notch there has to be a better than a split here soon.  And hopefully in NCHC play.

The confines of the cement sarcophagus, AKA the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center, has not been kind to the Bulldogs.  Ever.  This would be a good weekend to do better than a split, but likely they will be trying to maintain their split streak.

The stats for the weekend:

Images via Wikipedia: Bulldog, NCAA, NCHC, SCSU
Picks by @afiskness.  Another weekend passed and the Bulldogs ended up with the same results as the previous weeks.  This week's games against the Huskies won't be any easier than the previous weeks, so a split might be a good outcome.  I would really would like to see the Bulldogs win on Friday, that would be a great place to start.  The goaltending is starting to look solid, more balanced play and the Bulldogs will be a strong playoff team.

Minnesota Duluth @ St Cloud State:  The series against ranked opponents continues for both teams.  The Bulldogs need to find some discipline and take fewer penalties to keep the play even strength.  I don't like the match up for the Bulldogs and think they must get a win Friday night to prevent a sweep. I will go with a Huskies win and tie.

Colorado College @ Miami:  The Tigers are on the road in Oxford, Ohio and it will not be easy for them to pick up points this weekend.  Miami is a good team with a lot of scoring capability that doesn't give up when loosing. Redhawks sweep at home.

Western Michigan @ Denver:  The Pioneers have played well at home this which will make it difficult for the Broncos to pick up any league points.  The Pioneers strong defense will lead to a sweep over the lackluster offense of the Broncos.

Nebraska Omaha @ Ohio State:  This series rekindles the CCHA rivals.  The Mavericks are doing a good job scoring and have gotten good goaltending out of Ryan Massa.  The Buckeyes have been inconsistent but they hope to be a contender in the Bi6 Ten.   Results will be a split.

North Dakota @ Wisconsin:  North Dakota travels to Madison to resume this WCHA rivalry.  The Badgers have only played four games this season and haven't looked very good in those games.  Meanwhile North Dakota is putting up wins with a strong start to the season.  North Dakota win and tie.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Bulldogs Host Miami for First Meeting in Duluth

Redhawks Open NCHC Play Against UMD

Operation: Win on Friday.  I was ask by my father-in-law how the Bulldogs are going to do this year.  My reply, 0.500, split every weekend.  UMD has to show up tonight and break the streak then follow it up with another Saturday.  Done.

Images via Wikipedia: Bulldog, NCAA, NCHC, Redhawk
Pick by @afiskness.  The Bulldogs managed the split last weekend after a nice rebound on Saturday night, but the start of Friday night's game was not what fans wanted to see.  Hopefully as the season progresses the goaltending will continue to stabilize.  There are a lot of key non-conference games this weekend that will play into the pairwise at the end of the season.

Picks This Week
#10 Miami @ #19 Minnesota Duluth:  The Bulldog's tough schedule continues.  The Bulldogs will need good goal tending hosting the Redhawks in order to get any victories.  The Bulldogs should get enough saves one of the nights for a split.  

RV Nebraska Omaha @ # 18 Cornell:  This will be a good test for the Mavericks to see how they match up with an unknown but ranked Big Red team.  The Mavericks seem to be able to put up goals, but not knowing how the Big Red will be I will pick a split.

#1 Minnesota Twin Cities vs. #7 St. Cloud State:  This home and home should bring out the best in both teams.  I am leaning to a Gopher sweep based on the Huskies play against the Dutchman, but I will take a split.

#5 Boston College @ #11 Denver:  Great series in Denver for these teams.  The road travels and altitude will give Denver the home advantage, but I don't think they are a complete enough team for a sweep of the Eagles.  All things point to split.

Air Force @ # 3 North Dakota: North Dakota has the edge on talent and home cooking giving North Dakota the wins over the Falcons. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Bulldogs Open NCHC Play Against Denver

UMD and DU Look for Strong Starts

UMD With Penalty Problems… What's New?  It was a point of emphasis in Coach Sandelin's weekly presser that the team is taking too many penalties.  And although that may be a symptom of the early season tight officiating, second highest average in the nation at 23 minutes per game is ridiculous.  

It has been recurring theme over the past few seasons that UMD is in the top ten in the nation for penalties, but how does it stop?  How is hockey discipline taught when the seeming culture of the upperclassmen is not conducive to more five on five time and less special teams?  

Final note on the penalties, if the team puts together wins, the issue will become less glaring.  Lose half or more of the games and it will be in the forefront.

No Sophomore Slumps.  Dom Toninato is not seeing a sophomore slump.  In fact he is leading the team in goals and points with five and seven respectively.  He is back looking stronger and hungrier than ever and his work off the ice is obvious.  Toninato's five goals puts him on pace to crush his seven goals in his freshman year.

With two short handed goals in four games, he has equalled his total form all of last year.  The shorties paired with a power play goal demonstrates that he is a main player who is being utilized on the special teams.

Close behind Toninato is Alex Iafallo with one goal and five assists and Carson Soucy with two goals and three assists.  Those three sophomores along with Tony Cameranesi round out the top four scorers for the Bulldogs.

StatPack.  It is early in the year, but the NCHC games are starting and so does the StatPack:

Images via Wikipedia: Bulldog, NCAA, NCHC, Denver

Picks by @afiskness.  Last weekend the Bulldogs struggle to play a good game of hockey for a full game continued.  The play in the first half of the Friday game was not where it should be if the team is going to be a contender.  Saturday’s game however was much better.  Hopefully the goaltending will improve and become more consistent.  It is early in the season but this team looks like they could be good if they get solid play between the pipes.

NCHC Picks
Denver @ Minnesota Duluth - The Pioneers come into the series ranked 11th playing at Amsoil Arena against the #19 Bulldogs.  Last year the Bulldogs struggled at home this season they are hoping to find some success.  This will likely be two high scoring games which will end in a split.  

Non-Conference NCHC Picks
St. Cloud State @ Union - The #9 Huskies travel to Schenectady to play last years NCAA champions the #2 ranked Dutchman.  This will be a good test for both teams.  I give the edge to the Dutchman who seem to be continuing where they left off last season.  I will pick a Split as Huskies find a way to win one of the games.

Colorado College @ Boston College, CC @ New Hampshire -  The unranked Tigers travel out east to play the #6 Eagles in Chestnut Hill followed by game at the Whittemore Center in Durham against the receiving votes Wildcats.  The road and playing better teams will take its toll on the tigers who will lose both games.

Saint Lawrence @ Miami - The Saints are unranked looking to find some consistency.  Last weekend they split a series with Ferris State.  The #10 Redhawks are now red hot as they are on a 3 game winning streak.  I think Miami is finding its grove and will sweep.

Providence @ North Dakota - The #5 Friars travel to Grand Forks to take on the #3 North Dakota men's hockey team in a great non-conference series.  North Dakota looked like the team should last week against the Tigers after spliting the weekend earlier against the Beavers.  The Friars have only played two NCAA games this season splitting at Ohio State.  This series should be a split.

Alaska @ Western Michigan - These two unranked former CCHA Conference rivals renew the series this weekend in Kalamazoo.  The Nanooks are red-hot having not lost a game yet this season mean while the Broncos are hoping to get the bus back on the pavement after being swept last weekend.  The home ice should be enough for the Broncos to get a split.

Monday, October 20, 2014

What We Learned: Weekend Oct. 17-19

Some Items We Learned form the Weekend's Games

Most Mondays we will post what we learned from the Bulldogs exploits, NCHC action, and all other NCAA hockey games.  Sometimes we will mix in other items learned to help prove points.
  • The whole game does count.  
Friday night saw the Bulldogs start slow with some sketchy goaltending just like the Friday before against the Gophers.  Digging a 2-0 deficit at the end of one period and trailing at one point 4-1, UMD decided to come out and play.  This time, unlike the previous Friday, the Bulldogs completed the comeback.  But the result was the same, a loss, as MSUM scored in the extra time to take the win.   
As a side note, we also learned that every second counts at the end too as the Vikings demonstrated in their last second loss in Buffalo.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Bulldogs to Complete First of Two Home-and-Home Series

Now Non-Conference Opponents, MSUM and UMD Square Off

The season is early and the Bulldogs are still trying to answer questions.  Good to look for answers now than after the NCHC schedule starts.

Questions to be answered:

  • How are the goalies going to spilt time and who is first?
McNeely has lots to prove still even after a stellar game last Sunday during his 3-0 shutout.  Kaskisuo did have a shaky start, but did settle in, along with the rest of the Bulldogs, to give the Gophers a good challenge the second half of the game last Friday in UMD's 4-3 loss.
  • Will UMD protect home ice this year?
A 5-10-3 record at home last season was terrible.  A contender for anything other than basement of the conference has to do better than that.  On the flip side, an 11-6-1 record away from AMSOIL kept UMD in the top half of the NCHC which gave them home ice.  Bad news was home ice equalled being swept out of the playoffs at home.
The home-and-home series should be interesting also.  It is the first of two this season with UMTC being the second.  Let the debate start, home first or second night.  They get both situations, but for now it will be home first.

StatPack will start next week when conference play starts up and we have some decent data to share.

Picks by @afiskness.  The results of last weeks games brought a few surprises to NCHC teams.  First who would have thought that the Beavers would not only beat North Dakota but make it a rout.  Second, high ranked teams did not fare well in all of college hockey.  The opening period of the Bulldogs and Gophers game was troubling, but I was happy to see the team begin to settle in a little and play good by the end of the game.

This Week Picks
Nebraska Omaha @ Western Michigan:  Both teams are unranked in this matchup at the Lawson Ice Arena and both are coming off splits.  This will be the first NCHC league games for both teams.  I don't see why I would chose anything other than a split at this point in the season, so it will be a split.

North Dakota @ Colorado College:  The unranked Tigers host the #3 North Dakota Men's Hockey team for the teams first NCHC games this season.  The Tigers played well enough to hold onto wins after blowing a 2 goal and a 3 goal lead against the Chargers.  North Dakota should be a better team then Alabama Huntsville, but they didn't look that way on Friday night.  I will go with a North Dakota win and tie. 

Minnesota State Mankato vs. Minnesota Duluth:  Last week both teams split their games playing on the road, although the Bulldogs faced better competition.  The Mavericks are ranks #12th and Bulldogs are now ranked #20 in this home and home series.  These games will likely come down to goaltending for both teams.  I expect to see the Bulldogs continue with a goalie rotation and I am guessing McNeely gets the Friday nod.  I am going to pick a split.

Miami vs. Ohio State:  This series will be a home and home between the #11 Redhawks and the #17 Buckeyes.  The previous weekend both teams split their games.  The Buckeye split with the highly ranked Friars while the Redhawks split with the unranked Falcons.  This series will be another split. 

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute @ Denver:  The #16 Pioneers host the unranked Engineers.  This should be a great couple of games.  The Pioneers have had difficulty the last couple seasons with ECAC teams and the Engineers look to be a contender this season.  I will pick a split.