Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Small Numbers, Big Problem

Another weekend and another split. To be more specific, another split with a Friday loss and a Saturday loss. This one is more special, though, as it was the first chance for Anchorage to have a series sweep this year at home. Yes, it was the first Friday home win in a series this year. Actually, it was their fourth Friday win out of 17 Friday games. The stat is another example of UMD being on the negative end of a small number, an alarming trend for this year’s squad.

Small numbers and little company…or consolation. Some of the small numbers that UMD has been apart of this season:

The fourth Friday win for the Seawolves and the second at home. The first was the first game of the season, a part of the Kendall Hockey Classic.
  1. Michigan Tech won five games this season, four in the WCHA. Two of the Huskies’ wins are against UMD.
  2. To this point, UMD has won one game when scoring less than 3 goals.
Small numbers add up, or add down depending on how you look at it, to a 5th place WCHA finish, but has also allowed the Bulldogs to host a first round series. This weekend the Bulldogs will go for a larger number, a five, as in the number of wins this season against Colorado College.

PWR Conundrum. Currently UMD is sitting at 15th in the PWR. They started the weekend at 12, dropped to 18 after Friday’s loss, and buoyed to 16 after Saturday’s win. The move to the current place was due to the Gophers win against the Badgers Sunday afternoon.

At one point, the Bulldogs were ranked third in the PWR. That was before the current 4-8-0 streak. Quite a fall in ranking puts an NCAA berth in peril. The set-up is similar to last year and a postseason run will be necessary to make the playoffs. UMD will need to make it to the Final Five and most likely get to one of Friday’s games to have a chance of the NCAA’s.

Reasons for this Year’s Predicament. Besides the losing streak, the main reasons for the #15 ranking is lack of wins against TUC teams and the loss to Vermont on January 3. That’s correct, we can trace the current ranking back to one specific loss, another small number working aginst UMD.

In looking at the PWR Comparison Table, UMD is in a strange position. They win the comparison against three teams ranked above them (Michigan State, Ferris State, and Northern Michigan) and lose the comparison to four teams below the Bulldogs (UMass – Lowell, Massachusetts, Maine, and BU).

All four teams below UMD that win the comparison are all from Hockey East, the league that Vermont is in. The teams win the comparison because Vermont hasn’t done well this season losing to all those teams. In addition, the four teams have better, albeit slightly better, TUC records than UMD. But the real “killer” here is the common opponents criteria, games against Vermont in particular.

The only way to remedy the problem is UMD to put together some wins and watch for those four to lose. And they may just all lose this weekend. Three of the four teams play the first round on the road and likely any series loss by these teams will result in a TUC reduction. Those possible losses paired with UMD wins, the Bulldogs PWR can benfit greatly.

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