Monday, March 28, 2011

UMD to the Frozen Four!

Special Teams Rule in 5-3 UMD Win

I guess that blondes do have more fun, or at least that was the way it went in Bridgeport, CT over the weekend.

UMD prevailed in the battle of the Bulldogs with a 5-3 win over Yale for the East Regional Championship. The win puts UMD into the Frozen Four in Saint Paul April 7th against Notre Dame, winner of the Northeast Regional. This will be UMD’s fourth Frozen Four.

The Bulldogs of UMD were led by the goaltending of Kenny Reiter and superb special teams play. UMD played a solid game scoring when they needed, playing good defense and not taking too many penalties.

Ahh yes, the penalties. It was again a whistle happy officiating crew who Yale fans and Coach Allain believe took over the game. “Look at the tape and tell me what you think,” exclaimed Allain when asked about the major penalty and game disqualification for Brian O’Neill. “They gave us a five minute penalty and took our best player out of the game,” Allian continued. Really? Yale is going to hang their season on officiating?

As Minnesotans, we know what arguably poor officiating is in sports. Vikings fans especially, but also Twins and Wild fans have loved to blame officials. In the end, it just leaves you jaded and feeling terrible. One person once told me that anger is almost always driven by fear. You get mad at the guy who cut you off in traffic and you get angry because your safety was put at risk, thus fear.

The fear here could likely be that Yale couldn’t overcome themselves to make it to the Frozen Four that they seemed to have assumed they deserved being #1 and all. The game was not the best called game by the officials, but from start to finish, they were consistent. Agree or disagree with the calls, they were the same for both teams.

Penalties are not reviewable by the officials and replays often look different than live action. The armchair quarterbacks always get the calls right. Officials calls that teams don’t like or agree with happen in every game, it is part of the game. All teams have to play with the cards that are dealt. Maybe something should have been done by Coach Allain to settle his team down after the call didn’t go Yale’s way, but that is the armchair coach in us talking.

It’s also not that Yale has been a clean team all season and was all of a sudden forced to play shorthanded. Yale has struggled with taking too many penalties and plenty of majors all year. See USCHO’s ECAC correspondent Brian Sullivan’s article on Yale’s penalty problem. Somehow they overcame those to get the #1 ranking. Play with fire and you are bound to get burned, then I guess you cry about it.

In a night of special teams, UMD won the even-strength game scoring two to Yale’s zero. No matter the calls, non-calls or injuries, you still have to play the game and take what comes. And what comes next is the Frozen Four for the Bulldogs of UMD.

The College Hockey HighHorse will be reporting from this year’s Frozen Four. Check back right here for in depth coverage leading up to and through the Frozen Four.

UMD - Yale Box Score

UMD Press Conference

Yale Press Conference

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