Looks can definitely be deceiving. And there is no better example than the Saturday night Bulldogs/Badgers game.
After a solid win for UMD Friday night 2-0, the Bulldogs came out flat and really looked bad for two periods. This was accentuated by Bulldog Justin Faulk, arguably their best defenseman, taking a bad 5-minute and game misconduct penalty and referees who wanted to control the tempo of the game.
But still, the Bulldogs came out strong in the last period, determined to regain their last second, cardiac kids mojo from earlier this season. The effort came with UMD logging the only seven shots of the period. Yes, Wisconsin did not get a shot on net in the third which is unheard of even for a team with a 3-0 lead going into the last period. But all UMD could muster was two goals in the last two minutes of the game for a 3-2 loss.
So which is more concerning, UMD coming out flat and trying to play catch-up again, or Wisconsin coming so close to losing it after building a three goal lead. Really, both are concerning for each team.
UMD needs to get consistent and a great place to start that is Michigan Tech at Houghton this weekend. But UMD has had problems there in the past, but that makes the challenge all the more important.
Rankings. To reiterate, in the second half of the season we will be using the PWR as the rankings. That is the goal, to make the tournament, right?
But that doesn’t mean that we don’t still look at the polls that come out. Looking at the USCHO poll from this week, we see that UMD is #5, but is the only team in the top six without at least one frist place vote. Does UMD deserve a first place vote? No, but neither does Michigan (#6) or Denver (#4). But that is the poll voting system.
In the PWR. It is that time of year when, based mainly on strength of schedule, there are numerous WCHA teams in the PWR. This year is no different with North Dakota and Denver tied at #2, UMD #4, Wisconsin #7, Omaha #14, UMTC and Bemidji tied at #21, CC #23, and MSU – Mankato #24. That is only nine out of the 12 teams in the WCHA! We will keep tabs on the number of WCHA teams in the PWR for the remainder of the season, and look for that number to decline as the season goes on.
Notes from the WCHA weekend:
- Split was the word of the weekend as Alaska – Anchorage was the only team to sweep and that was their first in Anchorage in four years.
- North Dakota overcame an early deficit against the Gophers to avoid being swept in Grand Forks.
- Denver had to come from behind both nights to take three points at Mankato.
- Omaha has been doing well this season in the WCHA, except against fellow newcomer Bemidji. Bemidji took three points at Omaha this past weekend to complete the regular season against the Mavs with a 3-0-1 record.
- Michigan Tech, the Bulldogs next opponent, managed a tie and loss at home against St. Lawrence. That extends MTU’s winless streak to 15 games.