Friday, November 19, 2010

Badgers on the Menu for Bulldogs

#1 UMD's Struggles in Madison Well Documented

The UMD Bulldogs travel to Madison this weekend with the best start after 12 games in school history, 9-1-2, and the #1 ranking in the nation. The only team with a better record is Boston University at 6-0-4.


Just as Harry Potter sets to do battle in the first part of his finale in movie theaters, UMD battles to fight the seeming curse of the #1 spot. UMD is the third team ranked #1 in as many weeks. The goal this weekend is to play well. If that means losing the #1 spot, that is agreeable as long as the team, coaching staff, and fans can agree that the games were well played and the Bulldogs gain at least a split.

Tough Row… UMD is again going into hostile territory, not only because it is not the DECC, but because they have struggled in Madison, no mater the building. The Bulldogs are 22-50-5 in their previous 77 games in Mad Town. Additionally, they have not swept the Badgers on their home ice in 23 series since doing so on February 8-9, 1985. That happens to be the last season Brett Hull played in Duluth while scoring 52 goals en route to an 84 point season.

To top it off, the Badgers under Coach Eaves have faced a #1 team 11 times. In those games UW is 7-2-2.

Something to Prove? UMD is not the only team this weekend with something to prove. The Badgers were the runner up in the National Championship game last season, so a lot is expected this year, right? In looking at the departures after last season, this season is an unknown. One thing for certain is the badgers take pride in their program and their home ice. After being swept last weekend the Badgers are certainly looking for redemption.

All of the Positives. Freshman Justin Faulk continues to lead all Bulldog players in +/- rating with a +9. Blueline partner Dylan Olsen is tied for second with Jack Connolly with a +8.

Heard AND Seen. This weekend offers plenty of choices to see the games on TV. Locally in Duluth, the Saturday game will be carried on My9.

The Wisconsin feed can be seen on Fox Sports Wisconsin on Friday and on the Wisconsin Channel on PBS for Saturday night. For those in the Twin Cities with an antenna, and that just might only be me, you can pick up Wisconsin PBS 28.2, but that is if you are close enough to Wisconsin, likely just in the east metro area. Again, that may just be me.

Outlook. We at the HighHorse have been picking UMD series correctly for three weekends now. I know that we don’t designate which night a tie or win is, but that is just plain difficult with college athletes. Looking at this weekend we both agree that the Bulldogs will come away with a split in Madison.

WCHA This Weekend.

North Dakota at Nebraska – Omaha: The #1 ranking for UMd garnered many headlines this week, but what was maybe lost in it all was the match up of UNO and the Fighting Sioux. UND takes the trip down to Omaha to face a Maverick team lead by Dean Blais who resurrected the Sioux into a national power. Oh, and North Dakota was the preseason pick to win the WCHA and UNO is the new upstart member vying for first at 8-1-1 overall. It is going to be electric in Omaha tonight. Unfortunately for the Mavs, UND is a team that will expose their young talent and take at least three points. And if UND wears their black alternate jerseys, then it is sweep and good night. The Sioux are 21-1-2 in the black jerseys since 2006-2007.

University of Minnesota – Twin Cities at Michigan Technological University: This is two teams where you just don’t know what you are going to get when they take the ice. Up and down and round and round are good words to describe their season with on and off ice issues. In the end, MTU and UMTC will split in the UP.

Bemidji State at Denver: Keep this one short and simple, Denver sweep.

Saint Cloud State at Alaska – Anchorage: See struggles with MTU and UMTC. SCSU had high expectations at the beginning of the season, and now they are just trying to keep the ship afloat. Am I being too dramatic? Yes and no, or is it maybe…if the Huskies don’t sweep this weekend, they will likely not achieve a 0.500 record until AT LEAST the middle of December, if ever this season. The trip to Alaska is always difficult from a logistics standpoint. Add in a physical Seaswolves team that wants to slow everything down and you have the recipe for a split this weekend.

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