Its rivalry weekend for the Bulldogs of UMD and the Huskies of Michigan tech, or that is how the WCHA terms the coupling of teams that play four times every year. If it is not a true rivalry, and some can make the claim that it is, then it has at least been pivotal games for UMD the past few years.
MTU has had struggles the past few years, that is well documented. But when they play UMD, it is always a hard fought, close game. In fact, looking back at the end of the season at the Bulldog’s finishing position in the WCHA, we think where UMD could be if they had won some “winnable” games. Those games are usually against the aforementioned Huskies and the Seawolves of Anchorage. They should be games to gain points, but either the Huskies come to play more than other weekends, or the Bulldogs have had some sort of letdown.
Last year the Bulldogs went 2-0-2 against MTU. Not bad, but it must be stated that MTU only had 6 wins all year in route to a 10th place finish in the WCHA. In the 2007-2008 season, UMD went 2-1-1 against the Huskies with MTU winning 14 games that year finishing 9th in the WCHA. Points left on the table for a team that could beat the upper echelon, but couldn’t collect more from Tech. This year we hope for a different trend to start.
New Beginnings. It is well documented that UMD ahs a penalty problem. Almost to he point where the number of misconducts and majors could label them a dirty and cheap team. Coaches have spoken and stresses the point that winning teams do not take 24+ PIM/game. Maybe it has worked at least in the players focus for the games.
“None of us is satisfied. We just have to say we’re starting over; we have to take care of this right now,” said Akins, who has five penalties this season. “We need a full bench and we can’t afford to have players out of the game in the penalty box. We can’t have retaliation penalties and after-the-whistle penalties, and let another team get under our skin. You need to keep your feet moving – no hooking, or tripping, or lazy penalties.”
“What I told them was the obvious, you can’t be the most-penalized team in college hockey and expect to win,” said Sandelin. “But I don’t want to take away from a team being aggressive, intense and tenacious. You have to play hard, and smart.”
The good news is that MTU takes many minutes in penalties also, so UMD’s above average power play should get some work in.
Other Weekend Action in the WCHA:
Saint Cloud State at North Dakota: Without Garrett Roe tonight (he is sitting out due to a team rule violation), SCSU will not win. For that matter, with Roe tomorrow night they won’t win in Grand Forks, either.
Alaska-Anchorage at Wisconsin: I keep thinking that the Badgers will be able to complete a WCHA sweep and they have yet to do so. So is this their weekend? I will again say yes, and Anchorage will likely get at least one point.
Colorado College at Minnesota State Mankato: It would be easy to say CC sweep, but the Mavericks have been resilient at home. That being said MSU, is not that good, so a three to four point weekend for CC is likely.
Bemidji State at Minnesota: The future of the WCHA at the perennial contender, maybe not this year. With the number of injuries and departures the Gophers will have to work hard to make the upper half. This week the Gophers actually made a statement to quash a rumor that Schroeder is leaving the program. not a common practice to make official staements about rumors. At the same time, this is the recipe for damge control right before the aforementioned player actually leaves. We'll see about Schroeder and the outcome of this test for the Beavers.