Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bulldogs Win to Play for Championship

UMD Uses Special teams to down Notre Dame 4-3

The Bulldogs didn’t take the trip from Duluth to play in one game, that wouldn’t be fun. And as the players have said time and time again, blonds have more fun. The fun resulted in a 4-3 win for the Bulldogs and a trip to Saturday’s National Championship.

The game included some sloppy play, UMD domination and lots of fun for UMD. It was all smiles after the game in preparation for Saturday.

The real decider of the game was special teams, a key we identified in the preview. Each team had power play chances, but it was UMD who cashed in on theirs going 3 for 6 compared to Notre Dame’s 0 for 5.

“It’s exactly what we saw in film. They have an exceptional power play, and we couldn't generate any offense on the power play,” said Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson. “We played a good game five on five. Other than that (the) game was completely determined by special teams.”

Not only was it the UMD power play, the penalty kill was a shining star. On Notre Dame’s five power play chances they generated only two shots.

“To be honest with you, our special teams this year have been a bit of a disappointment. They've been one of the staples of our program for the last five years,” concluded Jackson.

From the UMD side, Jack Connolly said, “Our power play has been huge for us. Like you said, we got down there early in the game tonight, battled back.”

UMD did battle back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits in the first period before taking the lead for good on a power play goal from Mike Connolly. That goal gives Mike 28 for the season. His line mate Jack Connolly picked up his 18th goal of the season for the game winner.

The game was not a complete performance for the Bulldogs as it was tenuous at times in the third period when the ice seemed to tilt in favor of the Irish. Notre Dame did out shoot UMD 15-2 in the period, but only scored once. Those third period number also includes Notre Dames last power play of the night where they tallied no shots.

In reflection of the game, UMD players and coaches kept referring to the team effort. “This group of kids (have) been very resilient all year. I can't say (it) enough,” said Coach Sandelin. “We …haven't lost back to back games, because I said it a hundred times, but they find a way. They find a way. And I think it all goes back to they all believe in each other and they kind of had a goal.”

“Us kids with parents a long ways away, they flew down for the Final Five and we lost the first night. That messed up their plans,” said Mike Connolly of Calgary. “For the fans that have supported us all year long, it gives them more game to come cheer for us and we definitely appreciate it. This is what we play for all year.

Best locker room I have been a part of.”

The season will end Saturday, one more chance for the 2010-2011 Bulldogs to make UMD proud.

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