Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bulldogs Down Union With Solid Play

UMD Uses Resurgent Defense in 2-0 Win

It has been a comment burning in the back of my mind all season. UMD is not built for defense. But yesterday the defense shined in their NCAA East Regional first round game beating the high scoring Union Dutchmen 2-0. It wasn’t your typical Bulldog game.

Maybe the slow start for UMD was normal when committing four penalties in the first period against the nationally top ranked power play of Union that was 31.1% before yesterday’s game. The Dutchmen were 0 for 9 on the PP for the game.

The number of power play chances for Union shouldn’t alarm anyone. The officials crew out of Hockey East did more breathing through their whistles yesterday than not. UMD had eight power plays of their own going 2 for 8 on the man advantage. Interested to see who will be working the East Regional Final tonight.

So it was the defense that ultimately kept UMD in the game. If Union would have converted on even one of the first period power plays, the outcome likely would have been different.

Kenny Reiter played brilliantly in stopping all 32 Union shots for the shutout. All Coach Sandelin wanted out of Reiter was him to play good, and he played great. But Reiter would likely be the first to say he didn’t do it alone. The whole team was blocking shots, taking their man and back checking well in front of him. Kenny just had to do his job with the shots that made it through.

Both Bulldog goals came on the power play using Union’s winning formula against them. Kyle Schmidt’s tip in the first was a great play that started with good puck movement and a low, tippable shot from Mike Montgomery.

The second Bulldog goal came from Justin Fontaine again on the power play. Fontaine buried a second rebound past Union goalie Keith Kinkaid. Kinkaid stopped the first shot, took the second off his facemask from Justin Faulk before Fontaine jumped up for the goal. Kinkaid for Union played just as well as Reiter, but the better offense that day put the pucks in the net.

Maybe most impressive was the play of all lines for the Bulldogs.  UMD has been heavily reliant on the FCC line as of late, but only one point was registered from that first line.  UMD needs the balanced attack from all forwards to keep the winning going.

With the win, the Bulldogs extend their season at least one more day to face Yale in the East Regional Final tonight at 5:30 CDT with the winner going to the Frozen Four in Saint Paul. Yale made it to tonight’s game with a 2-1 OT win over Air Force.

UMD should expect more if the same out of Yale who is the #3 power play in the nation and the #1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. And with the balanced, even keeled defense and attack of UMD we saw yesterday, Yale should expect the same fate as Union.

UMD - Union Box Score

Yale - Air Force Box Score

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