Oh, the Friday night woes! As stated above, UMD needs to win to keep their chances strong for an NCAA berth and that needs to start tonight, which is a Friday on the road. UMD has not won a regular season WCHA road game since December 2, 2005 in Mankato. What about non-WCHA regular season games? Only twice since Mankato has UMD won on the road on Friday, at St. Cloud State in the WCHA playoffs 2007 and at UMass - Lowell early in 2008.
Weekend off turns out to be important. UMD's Pairwise Ranking (PWR) will rise with Bulldog wins, as stated, and other teams wins and losses. Minnesota State Mankato is off in regards to WCHA competition this weekend, but have a game Tuesday against Nebraska-Omaha. The Bulldog's Teams Under Consideration (TUC) would benefit greatly from Mankato winning and reentering the PWR teams being considered. Likewise, a run from Northern Michigan would have the same positive swing, but that looks unlikely this weekend as they play Miami (Ohio).
WCHA match ups this weekend. Again, and for the rest of the season, every game is like a playoff game for the Bulldogs. Here is how I see them panning out:
- North Dakota at Alaska-Anchorage. It is difficult to see anything but a NoDak sweep in this series. Another strong second half push from the Sioux!
- Denver at Wisconsin. Is Bucky for real? This series should shed some light which of these two will have a shot at the McNaughton Cup, if either at the rate the Sioux are fighting. A sweep earlier this season by Denver at home was at a much different time for Badger hockey as they were 0-4 after the weekend. At Madison, Wisconsin will win one game, but not both. Don't rule out a tie for Bucky in the second for a three point weekend.
- University of Minnesota - Twin Cities at Colorado College. A tough one to call as both teams are equally weaker than at the beginning of the season. I believe UMD's best scenario in this series is a split (although our poll currently has a CC sweep being most beneficial to UMD) to keep them both in the sights, or rear view mirror, of the Bulldogs. I say split.
- University of Minnesota - Duluth at Michigan Technological University. A rivalry series, or so declared by the WCHA brass. I wish I could be there as I have been absent from UMD's trips to Houghton for multiple years now. UMD needs to break their Friday night road slump and they need to make hay when the sun shines (cliché noted). The Huskies have been down, but always pesky for the Dogs in recent years. I see another three point weekend for UMD with the win not coming on Friday. This total will just muddle up the middle of the WCHA standings just in time for a Bulldog trip to the Twin Cities, a real rivalry series.
Here's to another week of the game we all love. And, as always..... GO DOGS!