Friday, January 14, 2011

Badgers Again

Badgers Will Mark First Conference Games at AMSOIL

Here it comes back around again. The first time UMD will see a team for a second series when they host Wisconsin this weekend.

The reduction of repeating opponents is a new development because of the 12 team WCHA. Now a team plays three teams for two series each. It definitely makes it more difficult to gage team improvement.

Not only is it a repeat opponent, but Wisconsin is an opponent with something to prove. The last time these teams met UMD swept in Madison in two overtime games, games the Badgers feel they could have won as easily as they lost. The drive and want (the revenge factor) will likely be greater on the red and white side in this series.

No Place Like a Badger Den. Wisconsin has played 24 games so far this season. Of the games played, only six of them have been away games and two were neutral site games. Out of whack? To say the least especially when you look at Wisconsin’s remaining seven series, four are on the road and three at home. That will give the Badgers 22 home games in a 38 game season. Going to Duluth, UW’s road record is 3-3-2.

Power Match-up. The badgers boast the second power play unit in the nation at 27.2%. that facet of play must be contained by the Bulldogs that struggle at times on the penalty kill ranking 26th in the nation at 83%. On the flip side, UW kills at 81.7% (36th in the nation) and the Bulldogs convert 21.9% (12th).

Needless to say that the winning team will likely have the most even strength goals or have committed the least penalties. UMD on average is penalized 15.2 minutes per game while Wisconsin receives 14.7.

Badger Goaltender on a Roll. Gudmandson is currently on a 7-1-0 streak. Does that have anything to do with the opponents? Anchorage, Bemidji, Massachusetts and Canisius aren’t exactly high flying teams.

Splitting Lines. It was only an exhibition game, but it was interesting to see the line experimentation that Coach Sandelin conducted. We applaud the effort and encourage to find the scoring combinations that will propel UMD into the month of April.

The top two lines used in the U18 game were MConnolly – JConnolly – Grun and Fontaine – Oleksuk – Brown.

Outlook. UMD hadn’t swept in Madison since 1985 until this season. That same season happens to be the last time UMD took all four games against the badgers for a season. Unfortunately, we at the HighHorse don’t see that 1985 magic happening again. UMD is still trying to regain their early season form and will be juggling defensemen looking to replace the role that Dylan Olsen vacated. We predict UMD will have their first win that counts at AMSOIL in a split with the Badgers.

Around the WCHA:

#24 UMTC at #2 North Dakota: This weekend marks the only meeting of these two programs for the regular season this year. The Gophers are trying to deal with the absence of Kangas for the rest of the season, but he has been second to Patterson in play. But the lack of a seasoned backup will likely play into the fate of UMTC. UND is really finding their stride and will sweep the Gophers in Grand Forks.

#4 Denver at Minnesota State – Mankato: Denver has been a sneaky good team this year. They really haven’t wowed too many, but they pile up the wins. Mankato is on an upsurge, at least in non-conference play. Will that reflect to conference play? At least for this weekend the answer is yes, but only for a split.

Bemidji State at #8 Omaha: the newbies meet again. BSU handed the Mavs a sweep in Bemidji last time they met, but the results will be different this time. The staff is split on this one, AC says UNO sweep and AF says split.

#16 CC at UAA: Colorado College rolls into Alaska after a surprisingly good first half. But like many teams, the trip to Alaska will result in a split.

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