Thursday, March 17, 2011

UMD Falls Flat in Saint Paul

Bemidji State Uses Survival Hockey to Earn OT Win 3-2

Only one Minnesota team could move on in the Final Five. Unfortunately for Bulldog fans it will not be UMD, and that’s the way they played.

The Bulldogs got out to a quick start scoring two Connolly goals, Jack then Mike, with a Beaver goal sandwiched in between. Result was a 2-1 UMD lead after the first. Good omen…usually, as UMD was undefeated when winning after one period. Was.

The second period had a brutal pace to it. Both teams were missing with many turnovers and copious amounts of neutral zone play. “UMD really took it to us, but we were only down by a goal (at the end of the period),” said BSU coach Tom Serratore who referred to the Beavers as playing “survival hockey” multiple times.

The third period started out with a flurry of action for the Beavers when they scored early and kept UMD bottled up for t most of the period.

Kenny Reiter kept the Bulldogs in the game with his penalty shot stop at 15:31 of the third. But that lift was not enough to jump start the listless Bulldogs. That is until the last minute of the period when the top line for UMD swarmed and had arguably their best chances of the period. Still, they came up empty and headed to overtime, a place both teams have been many times (12 for BSU and 13 for UMD prior to tonight’s game).

Overtime didn’t bring any urgency on the part of the Bulldogs minus a first shift outburst. It looked as though both teams didn’t want to make the mistake to end the game. But it was a UMD penalty that brought on the power play that lead to the Beavers goal at 6:12 of OT.

It was pretty obvious to us watching that UMD just wasn’t hitting on all cylinders, like many times throughout the season. “we came in and did what we had to do, take the lead, got the second (goal),” said alternate UMD captain Mike Connolly who scored a short handed goal in the game. “We came out pretty flat (in the third) and we were never able to recover.” Pretty damning for a team that has aspirations of a national championship, but the most truthful comments by a player we have heard in quite a while.

So where does this leave the Bulldogs? They know that they will play next weekend in the NCAA Tournament when it is win or you are done. “The one thing about theis team all year is that when they’ve had their backs against the wall, they’ve responded the right way every time and I expect our team to do the same,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. “For us it gives us some time to rest a little bit.”

Rest and focus is what this Bulldog team needs at this juncture of the season. The team has to win four in a row to reach their ultimate goal, the NCAA Championship. Four wins hasn’t happened since November when the Bulldogs reeled off five straight wins against North Dakota, Michigan Tech and Wisconsin.

So let’s put out faith in a resilient team, some rest and another four game win streak.

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