Friday, February 4, 2011

Gophers Make Debut at AMSOIL

Intrastate Rivalry Fires Up Again

Its Gopher week as many of the other writers have trumpeted. Time to renew a rivalry while we are still guaranteed games with UMTC before the Bi6 Ten starts.

Not much time left to break down the weekend as I started a little late on the weekly. But what is really left to break down? The Gophers are erratic and score in spurts. The Bulldogs are having a great year, but had a letdown in Minneapolis earlier this season against the Gophers.

Goals. Bulldogs are #11 in the nation for team defense allowing 2.28 goals per game. The gophers are 10-1-1 when scoring three or more goals and 1-9-2 when scoring fewer. Defense will be put to the test.

At the same time, the Bulldogs need to find their scoring rhythm this weekend. They are very capable, scoring 3.48 goals per game so far this year, good for #12 in the nation.

Possible PWR Problems. UMTC is one of three teams that UMD plays four times this regular season. Currently the PWR comparison between these teams is owned by the Bulldogs. If the bulldogs get swept this weekend the Gophers would win the comparison between the teams during the regular season no matter what. If that were to happen, the only way UMD could turn that huge negative into a positive is to have the fortune of playing UMTC in the playoffs at some point, or have them fall out of the TUC. Many “ifs” here that could be taken care of by UMD playing good hockey this weekend and not getting swept.

Outlook. It is the Gophers first trip to AMSOIL, but it is also an arena that is relatively new to the home team Bulldogs. Home ice advantage in this intrastate rivalry will be interesting this weekend.

After many years of being snake bitten by the Gophers, the Bulldogs had a good run against UMTC. Then the road bump in December at Mariucci. Trend or outlier? We don’t know because we see a split for this weekend.

Around the WCHA. We enter another weekend of teams getting their last rest before the playoffs. This weekend North Dakota and Wisconsin get the bye.

#2 Denver and #18 Colorado College (home and home): The Gold pan is up for grabs still after a split in early November. Denver is riding high and CC is struggling to move up in the PWR. But this is one of the most intense rivalries in the WCHA and it will be the same as before, a split.

Saint Cloud State at #16 Nebraska – Omaha: The Huskies just can’t seem to shake the downward spiral they fell into at the beginning of the season. UNO can’t seem to find the magic that they had in the beginning of the season in going 3-6-1 in their last 10 games. The Mavs need to start winning again to become relevant in NCAA talk, but we see a split in Omaha.

Bemidji State at Minnesota State – Mankato: These teams have almost identical conference records (MSUM 5-11-4 and BSU 5-11-2), but it is the overall record that gives the momentum and hope of better things to come to Mankato. The Mavs are 11-11-6 overall and are getting rewarded for their good play as of late by their young team. We want to say MSUM sweep, but it is most likely this is a 3-pointer for Mankato.

Michigan Technological University at Alaska – Anchorage: This series is flirting with history. With a Seawolves sweep, MTU will tie CC for the most consecutive losses in league play at 18 that dates back to the 1961-62 season. Reason for optimism is that Tech is playing Anchorage. Heart or mind, I don’t know, but we see a tie this weekend for the Huskies.

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