Denver Pioneers are the Last Opponent
The weekend that many have been waiting for is here. Now the feelings of nostalgia are starting to set in as Bulldog fans, players, and coaches say farewell to the DECC. Several players this week were quoted stating that they are going to miss the old place, but in the end, the new home will be a great place to be a Bulldog.
And its not that the old arena will be demolished and will be gone, but the home of the Bulldogs moves through the concourse to the new digs at AMSOIL Arena. But the end of an era for the Bulldogs and the whole community of UMD and Duluth ends this weekend.
Don’t Forget the Games! Lost in the DECC farewell is the fact that the hottest team in the nation, winning streak wise, is in Duluth looking to continue their streak and possibly take first place in the WCHA. That team is the Denver Pioneers who have won their last six games (UMD has won their last five games). It definitely is a chance not lost on the Pioneers who see this weekend as their chance to take on #1 and have a good chance of raining on the DECC closing celebration. UMD’s focus and grit will be tested this weekend.
Their Rookie is Good! Denver freshman Jason Zucker is tied for the WCHA lead with nine goals in WCHA play. He is also tied for first in freshman points at 9-3-12. No wonder their freshmen are good, Inside College Hockey ranked this freshman class at Denver #1 in the nation.
To counter, UMD’s leading freshman, JT Brown, is doing well also with his 5-10-15 overall and 3-6-9 in WCHA play. Brown’s numbers ranks him at sixth in the WCHA for rookies.
To Stop the Pioneer Movement. Denver has been scoring at an amazing clip lately. The Pioneers have scored at least one goal in their last 13 consecutive periods of play. The Dog’s defense will have to be at the top of their game to stop this offense.
Goalie’s Keep. To date, goalie Aaron Crandall has not allowed more than three goals in the games he has played in. Reiter has had some struggles, but is the UMD goalie who has not lost a game yet in this season. Both should be ready for this weekend.
Prediction. “You can through the records out the window”…not really, but there are extenuating circumstances this weekend. This is a series with two great teams. Denver is one the road and UMD has all the emotional burden surrounding the end of their DECC era.
We are quite sure that Denver will come out ready to play. The question is what will all the attention of the ceremonies, visiting Bulldog Hockey alumni, and personal emotions do to this team? What we have to remember is that UMD is a veteran team in terms of college hockey. Taking all the information into account, we predict a split. We differ on the night of the loss, though. I am going with redemption on Saturday night while staff writer Andy is going with the loss to close the DECC. A sweep would be fitting for the retirement of DECC, but it looks like too much against this Denver team.
Around the WCHA.
UMTC at MSUM: Mankato turned many heads with the way they swept UMass – Lowell last weekend out east. Will it be enough to overcome their nemesis who don’t even recognize the Mavs are D-I? (Admit it, Gophers…its true). UMTC fared well at Houghton and they should do the same in Mankato earning a Gopher sweep.
Wisconsin at UAA: Wisconsin will sweep, but will have difficulty Friday with the physical Seawolves team.
UNO at BSU: The newbies square off for the first time as WCHA participants. Unfortunately for Bemidji UNO has winning figured out and they will win two on the road.
SCSU at UND: Before the season started this matchup was likely circled as the one to watch this weekend. But the Huskies are failing to do all the things that propelled them to their first NCAA Tournament win last year. Goaltending, scoring, and drive are lacking in Saint Cloud. The Huskies are going into tough territory to face the Sioux. The same Sioux team who have not swept a foe at the Ralph this year in three series. This will be their first of the year as they down the Huskies in two.
CC at MTU: This is another downing of Huskies in two games this weekend. That makes a prediction for an 0-4 Huskies weekend (SCSU and MTU). The wheels have really come off the wagon for the stories program in Houghton. It all started off so promising this season too.