Bulldogs Look to Bounce Back in Mankato
Time to get down to business, both for the Bulldogs and for me to get this article completed.
The Bulldogs are getting down the final stretch of the regular season. After a season when things went so well at the beginning, the past two series haven’t gone well. UMD is 1-1-2 in those series, but it is against lower tier teams SCSU and UMTC. And those series were at home for the Bulldogs.
On the Road Again, Great! The Bulldogs since the start of 2011, UMD is 4-0-0 on the road as compared to 2-2-2 at home during the same time. For the season, UMD is 9-2-3 on the road and 9-4-2 at home, go figure.
Goaltending is Key. We hear it all the time when the season winds down that goaltending needs to be great to go far in the postseason. Just look at the first headline at USCHO, “In Stretch Run, Focus is on the Net: As the regular season winds down, the importance of getting good goaltending ramps up.” That idea may have UMD fans a little fidgety.
Goaltending and total team defense was suspect for the last three games in which UMD went 1-1-1. In their only win, 6-4 against UMTC, the Bulldogs led 3-0 and had the game in control until Gopher goals started coming. At the end, the Gophers pulled within one at 5-4 with less than two minutes to go before a Bulldog empty-netter.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the defense gave it up last Saturday in the 8-2 loss to SCSU. But that was an aberration, or so says the Bulldog quotes after the game. It continued to a 3-0 deficit the next night before the game ended in a 3-3 tie.
Team defense, now without blueliner Brady Lamb, will have to get better starting now.
Mavs on a Streak. Mankato has been on a losing streak against the Bulldogs. UMD is currently on a 7-1-0 streak against MSUM since a 2-1 loss in Mankato December 1, 2007. Prior to the current streak, UMD has had trouble in Mankato. From 2000 to 2007, UMD is 3-5-6 at Mankato.
Score First. UMD lost their first game this season when scoring the first goal last Saturday night. On the season UMD is now 12-1-1 when tallying the first goal.
Outlook. This will be a very challenging weekend for the Bulldogs. It is time to turn it on if the team has “it.” Injuries, struggles on defense and goaltending will lead to more struggles as UMD splits with MSUM.
Around the WCHA. Another full weekend of conference play.
#3North Dakota at Saint Cloud State: Which Huskies team will we see this weekend? They are more erratic than UMTC. That being said, the teams in the WCHA are very even this year and SCSU is difficult to sweep at home. We see a split at Saint Cloud.
Michigan Tech at #4 Denver: Denver rolls on sweeping Tech in the Mile High City.
#7 Nebraska – Omaha at Alaska – Anchorage: Omaha has become hot after a cool streak, but this is a trip to the Last Frontier. Split for these teams.
UMTC at #15 Wisconsin: UMTC should be able to hold it together for a full 60 minutes for at least one of the games right? Yeah, but just one, so this is a split.
#17 Colorado College at Bemidji State: CC is waiting for Jaden Schwartz to come back, likely just in time for UMD to come into town. That along with a trip to Northern Minnesota equals a split.