Bulldogs Head East For Second Straight Year
Rags to riches, riches to somewhere in the middle, that is where Bulldog fans are left now that the final PWR is out and the NCAA field has been announced. It is old news now, but something that stuck in my craw; the lost opportunities of Playing close to home.
So how did the team get here, to the #7 seed and in the tournament and in the Northeast Regional, the same as #1 Boston College? It wasn’t said outright, but it had to be a team goal to get to the West Regional in Saint Paul. And the West looked likely until the Bulldogs and Gophers both lost in the WCHA semi-finals. If it wasn’t on the radar of the team, it certainly was of the fan base. The Bulldogs had to travel out east last year and go it alone without a large fan base to work back to the Frozen Four at the X. This year the Bulldogs have to go out east again without the possibility of playing close to home again.
Yes, UMD was tops in the PWR and national polls for weeks during the year and went into the WCHA playoffs bouncing between #2 and #3 in the PWR. Yes, the Bulldogs lost to a good Denver team, but Denver was ranked lower so it was a game UMD had to win to get the high seed.
North Dakota as a counter example to UMD, came into the Final Five on the cusp of the bubble for the NCAA Tourney. UND made the most of their opportunities winning all three of their possible games to shoot up to the #4 overall seed in the NCAA and were thus rewarded with a return trip to Saint Paul for the West Regional. Easy trip for UND and their fans, and UMD will go east again with a likely small fan base.
So this year again, UMD is left to potentially take on #1 in a far off region because they couldn’t win when they needed to in the WCHA playoffs. The difference this year is the Bulldogs have the championship even if they may not be able to play in front many of their faithful fans again.