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.