Friday, March 23, 2012

UMD and Maine, First Round NCAA

#2 UMD and #3 Maine Square Off in the Northeast

UMD takes their game on the road, or air as Massachusetts is a flight destination, to start their NCAA Tournament quest on the East Coast.

The Tournament starts today, but the Bulldogs have to wait for the last first round game of the weekend stating at 6:30pm CDT. The game will be on ESPN3 (online only) and picked up locally by FSN Plus.

[BE AWARE: FSN Plus is also televising the Gopher game that is scheduled at 4:30pm CDT, so the UMD game will not be shown in its entirety. It will only be picked up after the Gopher conclusion. With any delay in the start or end of the Minnesota – Twin Cities game, like OT in the Gopher game or the earlier North Dakota – Western Michigan game, and the UMD game will be preempted even more than scheduled. Check if you can get ESPN3 for Internet viewing because not all providers have it.]
The trend starts in the conference tournaments of one game elimination and continues into the NCAA Tournament. A hot team, a hot goaltender, or just a bad game eliminates a team, and maybe the better team. But it is the rules of the tourney and all 16 teams play knowing the consequences.

UMD Will Need a Team Effort to Make NE Successes
In talking about keys to the game, and we will go one game at a time, team is it.

Team defense comes to mind first. The Bulldogs will be facing a high scoring top line of Maine that may or may not contain Spencer Abbott, the nation’s top point producer. All reports as of this time say he is a game time decision due to an upper body injury. Either way, the team defense in UMD’s last game was atrocious allowing multiple odd man rushes and breakaways for the Pioneers. It was the goals on those defensive lapses that allowed the Pioneers to build a lead that UMD could not overcome in the end.

Team offense is not a facet of the game we talk about much as UMD is the top scoring team in the nation. But just as UMD will match-up their best defenders against Maine’s top line, Maine will do the same to the Bulldogs. Scoring has to come from the second and third lines. And that was one ingredient to last season’s NCAA successes.

Special teams is the last of the teams we will mention, but don’t think it the least by any stretch of the imagination. We put it last because it is what it is, decent to abysmal. Power play is decent to good now that they are connecting over 20% of the time, but Maine’s power play is better. The penalty kill was terrible, but did show signs of life in the most recent game going 5 for 5 kills. Unfortunately that still leaves UMD at #53 in the nation out of 58 teams.

Bottom line, the more 5 on 5 hockey that UMD can play, the better the Bulldog chances are.

By the Numbers. StatPack for the UMD – Maine game Saturday:

Images Via Wikipedia: Bulldog, Black Bear
Of note:

  • Although UMD holds advantages in goals for and against, those categories are quite similar.
  • Special teams is lopsided in favor of Maine, but the Black Bears are more penalized on average.
  • UMD’s save percentage, fueled by Kenny Reiter, is a key for this game and any more games in the NCAA this season.
The winner of the UMD – Maine game takes on the Boston College – Air Force winner Sunday at 7:00pm CDT.

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