Thursday, January 12, 2012

Road Trip Part IV, The Final Chapter: Omaha

UMD Takes On UNO as WCHA Second Half Starts

The last leg of UMD’s long eight game road trip is finally here. And who would have thought that we would be talking about it being an unbeaten road streak?

Every week can be seen as the biggest challenge and each for a different reason. This weekend the Bulldogs are in Omaha in time for “Sell Out” night. You may ask how big the UNO arena can be, I mean last weekend was also a WMU push to sellout their arena which looks to be a barn that holds 3,667 people on mostly benches. Is the Lawson really a challenge to sellout, and if so why are they in the NCHC? Anyway, this week’s sellout night is different. The Century Link Center holds over 16,000. It could be a similar crowd to the Xcel, but nothing new to UMD.

Don’t think for moment that it will all be read and black in the stands. After last year’s results and the successes of this year, the Bulldogs will have a good following to the flatlands.

Experience and Confidence. It is no mistake when you think that UMD only gets stronger as games go on. The Bulldogs have used a constant attack to not only keep leads in the third, but to build on them. For the season, the Bulldogs are even during the first period (goals for and against) and +18 for both the second and third periods each. The great difference in goals has to be a result of conditioning, but also experience from the upperclassmen.

As a contrast, Nebraska – Omaha has the tendency to start fast then fade only to come back at the end. The Red Mavs are a +4 in the first period, –7 in the second and +7 in the third. If you can only catch part of the games this weekend and you want to see/hear UMD goals, the second period may be your best bet.

Shooting and Shooting. UMD and UNO are both big shooters in the WCHA. The Bulldogs seem to have quite a margin in shots on goal amassing 695 so far this season, but the Red Mavs have a leg up here. UNO has logged 794 shots on goal for the season. Both teams lead their opponents thus far in the season, but the Bulldogs may have met their match in this department. Kenny, get your pads ready.

Stat Comparison. College Hockey HighHorse StatPack for UMD/UNO is below:

Images via Wikipedia: Bulldog, WCHA, Maverick
Notes from the StatPack:
  • Second weekend in a row that UMD faces an opponent who takes few penalties.  UMD showed last weekend their style of play forces opponents to take penalties.
  • On the same note, the Bulldogs take their fair share of penalties, and then some.  UNO has speed and opportunistic penalty killers demonstrated by their 4 shorthanded goals.
Prediction. UMD had a great defensive effort both nights last weekend at WMU which kept them in the games when the offense wasn't clicking early. Then the offense took over including a balanced scoring attack, especially Saturday night. The most impressive thing for UMD during this undefeated stretch is the ability to stay in games through great defense and goalie play and then score from so many different players and lines. This team really appears to have figured out winning, but can they keep focus?

This should be a couple very entertaining games in front of a lot of UNO fans and a Nationally Televised audience Friday night. UMD will lose a game at some point and this has been the weekend that has looked precarious for UMD since the schedule came out. It is hard to know how UNO will play after the break, but I expect a solid effort to get a split, giving UMD the first loss since October. Split picks as of late have been wrong, but we predict what we see.

Around the WCHA. A weekend that has all 12 WCHA teams in conference play. This weekend could really start to separate the teams and make a front runner for the MacNaughton Cup.

Saint Cloud State at Colorado College: The Huskies lose another forward, but might get back their starting goalie Mike Lee after recovering from hip surgery. Both teams have been inconsistent this season which makes one wonder which team will show up for the series that will end in a split.

Bemidji State at Denver: The Beavers are on a five game winning streak and their last loss was to the Pioneers in Bemidji. The Pioneers suffered a very disappointing loss last weekend to the Chargers of UAH and now are going to try to catch back up in the PWR. This should be a great couple games, but Denver still can’t turn the corner resulting in a split.

Wisconsin at Minnesota State – Mankato: The Badgers have not played well on the road this season so a trip to Mankato may be the thing they need to get some road wins. Unfortunately for the Badgers the Purple Mavericks are getting injured players back and will play well enough to get a split.

Alaska – Anchorage at Michigan Tech: The Seawolves travel to Houghton for their first games of the New Year without their leading scorer Mickey Spencer who has left the team. The Huskies started out great and have had some big road wins but have been inconsistent recently. The Huskies had a very disappointing couple games in the GLI and look to bounce back to break a four game losing streak.. Tech will come close to a sweep with a 3 point weekend against the Seawolves.

Minnesota – Twin Cities at North Dakota: The two teams have had a much different paths since the last time these two teams played early in the season. UND is now hot and the Gophers are an average team. This is a clichéd weekend where “You can throw out the records” and have great games. In the end, this series will end in a split.


  1. If you have the means, please think about making a donation to The Jack Jablonski Fund. Jack is the Benidle-St. Margaret's (Minnesota) high school player who was hit from behind and paralyzed wo weeeks ago.

    For a link to Jack's Fund and for more information about Jack and the reverberations his injury is causing, please see

    Both a former Benilde student and current Benilde student have each written songs in honor of Jack. They can be found here and also have links to The Jack jablonski Fund:

  2. Congratulations to your team. Indeed, every game is an experience and it is tiring and fulfilling at the same time. When the season's over, have a road party trip instead to finally enjoy the fruits of your hard work.