The first third of the 2011-2012 UMD Bulldog’s season is in the books. In following with our past precedent, we are issuing our first trimester report card.
First, a disclaimer...overall the team would be receiving all A’s except for the really rough streak to start the season. The first four games, two against Notre Dame and two against Minnesota – Twin Cities, really put a damper on the season and made many fans wonder how big the drop off from National Champions this season would be. As we have seen in the last eight games, the kinks were worked out and the Bulldogs are now nicely on track.
Offense: A-. There was little concern over the offense entering this season. The players have lived up to, and in many cases, exceeded early expectations. One of the most positive stats is the number of players on the scoring sheet. Of the 44 goals for the Bulldogs, 15 different players have tallied at least one.
- Jack Connolly (6-11-17) and JT Brown (3-11-14) have been the strong points of the offense, as expected. Each are #4 in the nation for assists.
- Pleasant surprises include Travis Oleksuk (11-3-14, #2 in the nation for goals) and Mike Seidel (5-2-7) who is chipping in the third most goals for the Bulldogs.
- Strong freshman presence is noted from Caleb Herbert (3-7-10).
- We want to see more from one of the heroes of the national championship, Max Tardy. With only two assists to show for this year, we were definitely expecting more.
- We would have really liked to see Cody Danberg finish off his career at UMD in the playoffs, but the injury bug struck him again ending his season after the first game this season. He was coming off a medical redshirt from last season and now can just watch his team play. Little consolation, but Danberg did tally an assist in his only game this season, his 100th as a Bulldog.
- Wade Bergman has really stepped up to the leadership role on the blueline as a junior. His one goal and six assists doesn’t put him the lead for defenseman scoring on the team, but his solid play makes him top notch.
- The strong freshman presence from Chris Casto (2-3-5) after a couple of tough games to start the season is very encouraging.
- Oleksuk (4 PP goals) and Connolly (3) leading the way on the PP.
- Mike Seidel is making hay on the PP too, scoring three of his five total goals with the man advantage.
- We like the way that Brady Lamb is chipping in on PP (2 goals), but we are concerned about the seemingly large number of shots coming from the blueline on the PP.
- Reiter now has 3 shutouts, good for #2 in the nation.
- Reiter’s 2.05 GAA is 12th in the nation.
Overall Team: B+. Again, we can’t overlook the slow start, but we are loving the current team’s level of play. A long season may be on the menu again this year.
Looking Ahead. The schedule so far has been quite favorable for UMD. Of the 12 games, four have been away from Duluth. That will change with a vengeance as the opposite will occur for the next 12 games when UMD plays at home for only four games. It will be a challenging test for this team to see if they have the mettle to be a top tier team in the WCHA.
- Two of the next six series will be against future NCHC teams, Nebraska – Omaha and Western Michigan.
- During this last grading period UMD was 1-0-1 against future NCHC teams (Denver).