Wednesday, November 28, 2012

First Intermission: Bulldogs One Third Through Season

A Report Card on UMD's First Period of the 2012-13 Season

The first third of the 2012-2013 UMD Bulldog’s season is in the books. In following with our past precedent, we are issuing our first period report card, the first third of the season

Bulldog fans look for more Cameranesi and Farley connections
in the future. (CollegeHockey HighHorse: Andrew Craig)
Offense: D+. There was concern over the offense entering this season with so many high scoring players leaving and freshmen filling the gaps. So far the freshmen corps have looked good and have been the driving force of the offense.  That is good, but also bad because the upper classmen, for the most part, are not pulling their weight.  The lack of offense has put unnecessary strain on the defense creating a developing train wreck as the season progresses.

Of note:
  • Top three scorers for the Bulldogs have been linemates for most of the season.  They are Mike Seidel (8-6-14), Tony Cameranesi (5-7-12), and Austin Farley (4-6-10).  Their points are 47% of the team total and their goals are an alarming 59% of the team total.
  • Pleasant surprises are few.  Closest is Joe Basaraba who has three goals on the season, close to half of his output of seven last season.
  • Strong freshman presence is noted from Cameranesi and Farley, as noted above, along with defenseman Andy Welinski (1-5-6) who is fifth in team scoring.
  • We want to see more from last year's freshman scoring leader Caleb Herbert.  Herbert is currently goalless with four assists.
Team Defense: C-. This was supposed to be UMD’s strong suite for the season to get past the freshman learning curve of the forwards.  In reality, it is one of the most frustrating aspects of the team.  The defense has struggled at times with basic positioning, keeping leads late in games, and keeping possession of the puck.  As a result, UMD has given up an average of 3.08 goals per game.  Not horrendous, but close to horrendous and not what was expected.

Of note:
  • None of the defenseman corps is in the positive range for plus/minus rating.  Of all players, only Farley, Dan DeLisle, and seldom used Max Tardy are positive with +1 each.
  • Strong freshman presence from Andy Welinski who is providing a great offensive presence from the blue line.
  • We want to see more from last year's defensive stronghold Wade Bergman.  Bergman was held goalless until last weekend and has logged a team low -8 in the plus/minus rating.
Special Teams: B-. This is the brightest spot of the team.  UMD has the nation’s 8th best power play that is connecting at 23.7%.  The penalty kill is also decent at 81.4%, but they are on the ice too much.  UMD has the highest penalty average in the nation at 18.7 minutes per game.

Of note:
  • Seidel, Cameranesi, and Farley lead the team in power play goals with 10, 71% of the team's total.
Goaltending: C+. Goaltending has not been stellar, but it has been good enough that UMD should have more wins.  Newcomer Matt McNeely is playing well for a freshman behind this team defense.  McNeely is currently at a 0.888 saves percentage with a 2.95 goals against average.  Aaron Crandall again this season is there, but not excelling with 0.889 and 3.15.  The stats the UMD netminders have put up place them above only three tenders in the WCHA.  

It is still unknown as to who is the number one, but McNeely looks to be a solid goaltender for the future and a good one for the current season.

Of note:
  • UMD is without a shutout this season.
Coaching: BThe struggles are there, but they are likely growing pains that must be endured as the team matures.  Coaching will expedite the process and Sandelin is a great coach to have.  What is at issue is the number of penalties and penalty minutes.  The team plays undisciplined hockey and that can be helped from the top.  What is most alarming is the number of 10-minute misconducts the team has taken that are not associated with another penalty.  That is the sign of frustration, which is understandable, but it more a symptom of undisciplined play.

Overall Team: D+. We didn’t and don’t expect a top three WCHA team, but we do see more than 11th place from this team.  The pieces are there, but they are not working together for a common goal.  Small gains in one facet are usually coupled with a step back in another facet.  The team has time to come together, but will it be for the better of this season or seasons in the future?

Looking Ahead. The next “period”, or third of the schedule, brings some favorable games for UMD.  They play Michigan Tech twice, Bemidji State, and Alaska – Anchorage, all teams just above or below UMD in the WCHA standings.  These games will show just where UMD willfinish at the end of the season.  Splitting these series will probably not be enough for UMD to make any significant moves in the standings.  

The other games include the Florida College Classic and a pair of games at Colorado College.

Of note:
  • UMD is 1-4-1 against fellow furture teams of the NCHC so far this season.  The Bulldogs have six more games against future NCHC left.

The next grading period will end after playing at Colorado College on January 19, 2013.

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