Friday, November 30, 2012

Bulldogs Travel to Snow Belt

Crucial Stretch Starts With Beginning of the End of WCHA Rivalry

The move to new conference is getting more and more a reality as we move through the season.  This weekend marks the first of two meetings of the WCHA defined rivals.  The truth is UMD has played Michigan Tech the most of any team in the history of Bulldogs hockey and this will be the last season were these teams will play four games.

That said, UMD may miss the games.  The Bulldogs have won eight of the last nine in this series going 7-1-1.  Overall, though, UMD has found MTU to be pesky in their 118-82-19 advantage over UMD.

StatPack.  Here is how the Bulldogs and Huskies match up by the numbers:

Images via Wikipedia: Bulldog, WCHA, Husky

Of note:
  • UMD compares well with MTU.  Will home ice be the deciding factor?
  • The 18.7 penalty minutes per game average is still tops in the the negative way.
  • The Bulldogs last started this slowly in 2005-06 when they had the same record 12 games into the season.

Shots and Goals.  The Bulldogs have outshot their opponent in 10 of their 12 games so far.  They average 32.7 shots per game, 12th in the nation.  The problem is that shot are not resulting in goals.  UMD scores on 7.4% of shots while opponents score on 11.2% of their shots.

From UMD Athletics
Scoring Update.  The freshman continue to be the spark to the offense.  Their numbers are the highest as shown at right, but they shouldn’t be that close to the top compared to seniors.

Bright side…the freshman are promising scorers for years to come.  Right now they just the upperclassmen to jump into the fray and use their experience.

It’s Urgent.  The possibility that the season can be turned around is waning.  UMD has the opportunity now to take a stand and determine their place. 

Of the next 10 games, four are against MTU and two each against Alaska – Anchorage and Bemidji State, all current bottom dwellers with UMD in the WCHA. 

Additionally, in that stretch UMD plays in the Florida College Classic against Maine for certain then either Ferris State or Cornell.  Maine is currently in shambles at 2-9-1 overall, 0-5-1 at home, and nation worst 5% power play conversion.  Cornell is currently 4-3-2 and Ferris is 6-4-2.

The saying is to make hay when the sun shines.  The sun is coming out and UMD will have to cut bait or go fishing.

Around the WCHA and Picks by Fiskness.  It is one of those rare weekends where are 12 WCHA teams are playing in-conference games.  It will be a score board watching weekend to see how the standings change.
Bemidji State at Minnesota State Mankato:  Both teams played well last weekend should have it should be a close series.  They are tied in the standing with nearly the same goals for and against.  I will go with a split. 
Minnesota Duluth at Michigan Tech:  The Bulldogs finally got their first win at home while following the game up with clunker.  Tech was off the weekend before but prior to that swept the Beavers in Bemidji.  UMD always has a tough time with the Huskies and I don't think it will be any different this weekend.  The Huskies are the least penalized team in the conference and the Bulldogs are the most.  If the Bulldogs stay out of the box they can get a split, but I am going with the Huskies to take 3 points in a win and a tie. 
Nebraska - Omaha at Minnesota Twin Cities:  This is a great match up to see what the Gophers are made of and to determine how real the Mavericks are as well.  Surprisingly the scoring edge probably goes to the Mavericks in this one as they are averaging 3.5 points a game to the Gophers 2.88 in conference play.  Both teams goals against are nearly identical.  I will go with a split. 
North Dakota at Colorado College:  The Tigers lost two non-conference overtime games at home last week and North Dakota earned (or some Irish fans would say given) a split against Notre Dame.  The Tigers penalty kill is terrible and their power play is tops in the conference, so the games will likely come down to special teams.  I do not see the tigers losing four in a row and will go with a split. 
Saint Cloud State at Alaska - Anchorage:  The Seawolves struggle on special teams and the Huskies special teams has been pretty good.  The Huskies will get a sweep. 
Wisconsin at Denver:  The Pioneers are not happy with the outcomes of last weekends games and much the same can be said about the Badgers.  However Denver has shown to be a very good team this season, meanwhile Wisconsin has had many struggles.  The Badgers power play doesn't exist and their penalty kill isn't great.  I don't think the Pioneers are ready to bounce back with the sweep, so I will go with Pioneers win and tie for 3 points this weekend.

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