Thursday, January 26, 2012

Second Intermission: Bulldogs Two-Thirds Through Season

A Report Card on UMD's Second Trimester of the 2011-12 Season

Here we are again, grading time.

UMD is two-thirds of the way through the regular season and have compiled an impressive 17-4-3 record for the season. They are currently #1 in the polls for the seventh week and are currently #2 in the PWR.

With the current success, it really makes for an easy report card. It is like those parent-teacher conferences where the student is doing really well and the teacher may wonder why the parent even came in. And when the parent asks what the student can improve on, the teacher may struggle to find a facet to work on, but they usually can and we have too.

Offense: A. The offense is the least of any worries UMD fans may have. Over the period, the Bulldogs averaged 4.25 goals per game. Scoring is still spread out among players with three players in double digit goals and 10 with double digit point totals.

Of note:
  • Jack Connolly (15-25-40) is the team, and the nation, points leader and should be considered a favorite for at least the Hobey Hat Trick (final three).
  • Travis Oleksuk (16-14-30) is the goals leader.
  • Blue line offensive output is a key to the Bulldogs success led by Lamb, Kishel and Bergman, 6-8th on the team for points respectively.
  • For the season, the Bulldogs average 3.96 goals per game, the most in the nation.
Team Defense: A. Kenny Reiter and the defensemen are playing great. Over the period the team allowed 2.33 goals per game which any team in college hockey would take especially in a league like the WCHA. Bottom line is the team is never really out of a game because the defense keeps them close. Reiter started 11 games in this period before Aaron Crandall took over for one game giving Kenny some rest and building confidence with a win.

Of note:
  • Reiter’s GAA is 2.11 (13th in the nation) with a saves percentage of 0.921.
  • No skater on the team has a negative plus/minus rating.
Special Teams: C. Here is that spot that can be worked on. Overall the team doesn’t look that bad, but we are looking at the last 12 games. In that 10-1-1 stretch, the power play unit is scoring 15.9% of the time, not what fans are used to from Bulldog teams of late. The penalty kill unit is also struggling a little with a success rate of 79.7% for the period. Both numbers are what you would expect from an average team, not the #1 team in the nation. Good news out of it is that the Bulldogs play really well even strength if the specials teams are this average.

Of note:
  • Of the 28 goals allowed, 12 were during UMD penalties.
  • Of the 51 goals scored, 10 were on the power play.
  • Travis Oleksuk leads goal scorers with 6 PP goals. Brady Lamb leads defensemen with 3 goals on the PP.
Goaltending: A. Kenny Reiter has played as good as any team could ask for. Fatigue is always a back-of-the-mind worry for a goalie that starts so many games. Kenny will become an elite goalie for program history if he can keep his numbers up at this pace for the rest of the season.

Of note:
  • Reiter now has 3 shutouts for the season, none in the period.
  • Reiter’s GAA went up in the period from 2.05 to 2.11.
Coaching: A. Coaching is great and they deserve much credit in keeping this team’s focus on hockey.

Overall Team: A. #1 in the polls for 7 weeks and # 1 or 2 in PWR. Yes they can still improve in the stat departments but they can't go any higher in the standings and rankings.

Looking Ahead. The Bulldogs look to finish off the season and take the MacNaughton Cup for the first time since the 1992-93 season.  The remaining schedule is likely in UMD's favor for a surge tot he top.  A really beneficial goal is to finish in the top two to be in line for a bye in the Final Five, but that is a long way off at this point.

Of note:
  • Challenging series will mainly be at home with North Dakota and Colorado College visiting.
  • Road series of interest are Alaska – Anchorage and Saint Cloud State.
  • This season UMD is 4-1-1 against future co-members of the NCHC.
The final grading period starts this weekend at home against Michigan Tech and will finish after the regular season.  We will look at the post-season as a final exam.

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