Pomp and circumstance done. DECC retired. Back to the season that has so many fans all over Minnesota talking about the Bulldogs. And that is the challenge for this weekend is to ensure that the team is focused and ready for a Jekyll /Hyde Gopher team. You just don’t know what to expect from UMTC.
Shoring Up Goal. Last weekend was truly an adventure in goaltending for the Bulldogs. An arguably terrible game Friday night in net and defense followed by a solid performance Saturday night. The roller coaster has to stop for the Bulldogs to keep climbing. It can go as far as goaltending being the key to the series this weekend. The Gophers are 7-1-1 this season when scoring three or more goals. Conversely, when UMTC scores less than three goals they are 1-6-0.
Counter that with Crandall who has been shaky at times with an overall saves percentage of 0.902, but has yet to surrender more than three goals in a game. Reiter has looked better at times, but he has a more unimpressive saves percentage of 0.896. Gopher scoring will be the top key for the weekend.
Just Score More. UMD is currently the second scoring offense in the nation with 3.94 goals per game and a power play efficiency of 24.7%, good for seventh in the nation. Pair the UMD scoring numbers with the Gopher’s 3.25 goals allowed per game we expect scoring to not be of concern this weekend.
When Does the Game Start? UMD’s overtime prowess has been talked about ad nauseam. The Bulldogs are currently sitting at 50% of their games go to overtime 16 games into the season. The other stat that leads to overtime is slow starts, and UMD seems to have a penchant for those too. The Bulldogs sport a staggering lead in goals of 49-25 after the first period. When does that game start again?
Saturdays Are Right. UMD sports a 7-0-1 on Saturday nights this season. For that matter, the Bulldogs are 7-0-0 when leading after two periods.
Outlook. Currently the Bulldogs are on a 7-2-1 streak against the Gophers in their last ten meetings. The Gophers are coming back from being swept for the first time by MSU. In the end, this is a series that the Bulldogs scoring will prevail. There may be high theatrics and nail biter endings, but we see the Bulldogs sweeping.
Around the WCHA. Another full conference slate of games this weekend.
Michigan Tech at University of Nebraska – Omaha: in a rare Thursday – Friday series, MTU makes their first trip to Omaha for WCHA play. The teams have played four times previously with the visiting team winning each game. Not so fast, that streak ends here as the Huskies get swept out of Nebraska.
North Dakota at Minnesota State – Mankato: MSUM is currently on a four game winning streak and North Dakota is on a four game unbeaten streak. So what will give? It will be the Mavericks giving four points to the Sioux. Don’t be surprised to see if a tie occurs, as the Mavs have hot goaltending right now.
Denver at Alaska – Anchorage: Denver keeps the hot hand and gives the Seawolves their first sweep at home in league play this season.
Colorado College at Saint Cloud State: Role reversal. This series pits two teams that are in opposite positions in the standings than they were predicted. CC, 6th in the WCHA, seemingly has the upper hand on the struggling SCSU Huskies, 11th in the WCHA. But SCSU has not been swept at home in over three years (December 7-8, 2007 – Denver). Is this the weekend that SCSU breaks their streak? We say yes, with a Tiger sweep.
Bemidji State at Wisconsin: Beavers are coming off of two solid wins against UNO and Wisconsin is looking to right the ship in the WCHA, they are currently 8th at 4-6-2. Badgers get some relief and pull to 0.500 in league play with a sweep this weekend.