Well, the Bulldogs managed to come together and pull off a win on Saturday against Wisconsin. Surprising? Yes and no. No because this UMD team has the scoring power and decent enough defense to beat most any team. Yes because of their performance against BSU and their awful performance Friday night against the Badgers.
The article that was scheduled for Saturday was going to talk about a must win type of game, and it was. The problem was that I didn’t want to go as negative as my thoughts were leading me. I decided to sit back and allow the weekend to unfold, and good thing.
The loss Friday night put UMD in the double digits for losses this season, and it seemed that the downward spiral might be nearly impossible to pull out of. But as they have all season, UMD gained the series split against a very good team that keeps them in WCHA championship contention and in the national spotlight. And it wasn’t a last second, tightly matched game. In a decisive 4-0 win, the Bulldogs broke free from their losing streak as they gear up for their last eight games of the regular season.
After being kept off the scoresheet on Friday, the Big Four in scoring for UMD came out and shook the shadows of the aggressively checking Badgers to score 2 goals (Fontaine and MConnolly) and 3 assists (MConnolly (2) and JConnolly). Freeing up the FCC line is the continuous task for the Bulldogs to do. In fact, the FCC line was so bound up Friday night that Coach Sandelin was changing lines mid game. Then on Saturday the FCC line was broken up and the goal production came through. The age old question of putting all your big talent on one line or not to, has reared its ugly head. It will be interesting to see where it goes from here towards the postseason.
Net Fun. Reiter got a poor performance in front of him Friday night. To his credit, he kept the team in a game where the level of play and shots on goal were extremely lopsided. It was a 3-2 Badger lead until late in the third period.
The next night, Reiter again did his job well and the skaters did the same. The net result, the first WCHA shutout for Kenny Reiter.
On Tap. Winter fun during Winter Carnival at Michigan Tech in Houghton. If you have not been, it is a great time with many traditions and fun things to see. Unfortunately, the HighHorse cannot make it to the UP. I will say what I did last time UMD was in for Carnival, I will go next time they are playing for Carnival.
Rankings. The Bulldogs relinquished first in the WCHA to Denver who is currently one point ahead of UMD.
Upward movement based on the strong showing Saturday night was seen in all the polls. The Bulldogs currently hold 6th in the USCHO Poll and the USA Today/USA Hockey Poll. Inside College Hockey has UMD at #8 in their power rankings. And finally, the most important ranking, is the PWR where UMD is tied for 6th.