Still alive in the hunt for the NCAA tournament, but that is about the best thing to come out of the weekend series with the UMTC Gophers. In two games that really could have gone either way, the Bulldogs did not show the fire, or firepower, that they will need to advance on into late March and early April.
The difference between the nights was Bulldog goaltending. Brady Hjelle played about equally well both nights making 21 saves Friday and 22 saves Saturday. Not that much difference as far as stats go. It shows that the defense was doing their job in limiting shots. Unfortunately it shows that either better scoring chances were given up on Friday or the goaltending was better on Saturday. It is the latter of the two. Inconsistent UMD goaltending need to be shored up soon. If UMD wants to repeat the successes of last season, the lesson of having good, no, great goaltending is necessary.
What is also concerning is the type of goals that are being scored. Of the five UMD goals, one was 5 on 5 and two were power play. It is good to see the power play coming back, but a balanced attack from all 3 or 4 lines is what is needed this time of year. Is this sounding repetitive?
Last concern is the fact that going to North Dakota the stat was touted where UMD was 6-0-0 when holding their opponent to no power play goals. Since that stat surfaced, the Bulldogs have twice allowed no opponent power play goals and lost both games, one against the Sioux and the other against the Gophers.
I did get the go ahead from my co-writer Saturday morning to push the panic button, but now I am on the other side and will wait to see what comes of the tough conference season-ending series in Anchorage. It will be a challenge to sweep. It will be a challenge to take three points. But three points is likely needed to stay in position number four in the WCHA. But is fourth in the WCHA a good match-up in the first round? More on that later this week.
Rankings. Polls are now out the window and the PWR is all that matters. Sixteen get into the NCAA Tournament and with auto-bids, usually the top fourteen in the PWR get in. After Saturday, the Bulldogs were perilously holding onto #16. After a win Saturday, they are now perilously holding onto #14.
Inspecting the PWR Comparisons, it is puzzling, just like the tale of two sections of the UMD season, of why the Bulldogs are at #14. They own the comparisons over three teams above them in the ranking. But they also lose comparisons to the #17, 21, and 23 teams. It all comes down to TUC (Teams Under (PWR) Consideration). UMD has done very poorly beating the good teams and it is starting to hurt in the ranking. The good news is that when the playoffs come, they should all be good teams that UMD plays, so there is the chance for redemption.
Who is in Control of the Name?
In what seems to be a wacky turn of events, the Fighting Sioux are heading back to court over their name in a report from the Grand Forks Herald.
The reason for the move isn’t what most would assume. In this case, it is the North Dakota Sate Higher Education Board asking the courts to help them drop the Sioux nickname. The plaintiff in the case is the Spirit Lake Dakotah Nation who are in favor of the nickname and want it to stay. The Higher Ed Board wants it to sunset so they can host NCAA tournament games and allow UND and North Dakota State University to join the Summit League athletic conference who have a ban on nicknames like the NCAA. The twists and turns of this issue are getting more interesting all the time.