Friday, December 13, 2013

Western Michigan at Duluth

Friday, December 6, 2013

Bulldogs Back Home Facing Huskies

UMD Hosts SCSU in First Full Weekend of NCHC Play

They are back!  UMD makes their return to AMSOIL Arena, the fifth game at home in 12 this season.  The season is just over one-third completed and this is the fifth and sixth games at home.  Good news is Bulldog fans can look forward to seeing more games in home whites going forward.

Tony Cameranesi celebrates a goal during a UMD 2-1 win
last season (Andrew Craig: College Hockey HighHorse) 
Looking Forward.  This is the first full weekend of conference games for the fledgling NCHC.  It is about time as the conference piece meals conference games together sating with UMD and three other teams starting mid – October.  Piece that together with UMD and WMU each with four NCHC games while UND and CC with eight.  The standings are skewed soon to be on the mend as more full conference weekends are on the horizon.

Looking Back.  Placing both Alaska team in the same conference, the new WCHA, was a possible problem from the start.  Michigan Tech may be the first team to feel the effects.
Tech traveled to Anchorage for a series the weekend before Thanksgiving then spent their week in the 49th state before playing at Fairbanks the weekend after.  It makes sense on the budget and with a three day school week (insert athlete/class joke here).  But think about what the students did all week.  I don’t think I would want to be there on a student budget for a week.  Hopefully the University helped out with some good experiences.

Facing the Cream.  This weekend marks the third series this season where UMD faces a top two team, as ranked in the polls.   SCSU is currently #2 in the polls.
As a result, the Bulldogs have the 5th ranked strength of schedule (SOS).  Comparatively, the Huskies have the 16th ranked SOS.

Stats.  Here is the StatPack for UMD and SCSU:
All images via Wikipedia: Bulldog, NCAA, NCHC, SCSU

Making a Statement.  After all the splits UMD has been having, this weekend would be a great one to come out and take a sweep.  Both in conference and ranking, two wins would be a great boost to the young team.
Picks by @afiskness.  After a week off the Bulldogs should be eager to be on the ice again at home in Duluth.  This weekends series against the Huskies is a great one that should have a lot of fan interest.  I would like to see the Bulldogs put together back-to-back solid efforts in these two games.  This weekend also see all eight NCHC teams in action.
This weeks NCHC gamesSt Cloud State @ Minnesota Duluth:  Great series between these to teams.  Playing at AMSOIL should help the Bulldogs, but the Huskies are good and this will be a split.
North Dakota @ Western Michigan:  I am still not sure what North Dakota is going to be each week.  The games being played at Lawson gives the Broncos the edge, but I think North Dakota will get a split. 
Denver @ Miami:  I like the Redhawks in this series playing at home, but I think the Pioneers will find a way to get a tie.  Redhawks win and tie. 
Nebraska Omaha @ Colorado College:  The Tigers are not playing very good hockey, but I don't think the Mavericks will get the sweep on the road.  I will say Mavericks win and tie.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Bulldogs on Break - Picks Only

Non-Conference Games Involve NCHC Teams

Picks and News from @afiskness. It was nice to see the Bulldogs bounce back last Sunday after a very lopsided loss on Friday night to the Gophers.  One thing that concerns me is the amount of penalties the Bulldogs continue to take.  In the Sunday game the Bulldogs gave the Gophers plenty of special team opportunities to get back into the game, but the Bulldogs were good enough on the penalty kill to get the win.  If the strong defense and goal tending remains constant and the Bulldogs can find a little for goal scoring this team will play into late March.

This Weeks games:
There are no NCHC games this week but there are some teams in action. 
Shillelagh Tournament:Western Michigan vs. Northeastern:  I like the Broncos in this first game, the Huskies win/loss record is padded with wins against Huntsville and Holy Cross.  As for the second game I will go with a loss to Notre Dame who as the host wins their own tournament.   
Miami @ Bemidji State:  This will be a good test for the Beavers who will be facing a Redhawks team that is as cold as the ice they skate on.  This will probably be a couple of grinder games, but I think the Redhawks offense will shine and sweep this series. 
St. Lawrence @ North Dakota:  The Saints travel to Grand Forks with 1 win in their last 4 games meanwhile North Dakota is going through their early season let down having just won 2 games in their last 8 played.  The Saints have beat some good teams this year and will likely find one win this weekend.  Split. 
New Hampshire @ Colorado College:  The Tigers are not very good and the Wildcats have been all over the board this season.  This series looks like it should be s Wildcat sweep, but I think the excuses will be made (elevation, two time zones, body clock, etc.) and the Tigers will get a split.

Monday, November 25, 2013

UDN: Series Split, AGAIN

After 6-1 Loss to Gophers, Bulldogs Bounce Back with 6-2 Win

Off the most recent split by the Bulldogs, this time at UMTC Gophers, we have our latest Up, Down, Neutral:
  • Power play, a long time staple of the Sandelin Bulldogs, is back after going four of seven opportunities in Sunday’s game.  The test will be if it keeps up because the game prior was a zero for seven effort.
  • Resiliency continues to be an up with this season’s UMD team.  On the road for six straight games and finding a way to come back after Friday losses at UND and UMTC for wins demonstrates the mental toughness of the young team.

  • Penalties!  The numbers are staggering after a slight down tick in the minutes, they spiked again all the way up to 19.0 minutes per game and a tie for third nationally for the most.
  • Still on the penalties, another major was logged this weekend when Andy Welinski was shown the gate Sunday for facemasking.  In the same vein, Caleb Herbert took three minors Friday and according to Bruce Ciskie, he should have had to pay rent for the space.  It just can’t happen if the team is going to reach even near their goals.
  • Split, split, split.  The splits get tiring, but at this point, they are good enough.  As the season progresses they have to step up to some sweeps to step up in the NCHC.
  • Goaltending at UMD is a “who’s hot” kind of deal.  As long as one of them, A Crandall or McNeely, is on, the team can always bounce back.

Bold prediction alert, UMD will end up 17-16-1 going into the playoffs.  The regular season is just over one-third completed and the Bulldogs have five splits in six series.  The remaining series was a Bulldog win and tie against MTU.

The opponents so far have been good teams for the most part.  In some cases, like this last series, a split is good.  But in others, CC and Ohio State, more than a split is expected. 

But winning some and losing some inexplicably is a symptom of a young team.  So is the way they win and lose.  The scoring is coming in streaks.  Plentiful scoring in one game followed by a drought and not necessarily in that order.  It is not a first game/second game of the series thing as UMD has a two game winning streak and a two game losing streak.

Up next is another weekend off and time for Thanksgiving.  The following weekend brings NCHC league play to Duluth for the first time as Saint Cloud State comes to town December 6 and 7.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Bulldogs and Gophers, Again

UMD and UMTC Meet as Non-Conference Foes

Renew the rivalry…well at least for the Bulldogs.  The Twin Cities campus will stand by Wisconsin and North Dakota as their rivals, but for the Duluth, these are the games the fans really want to win.

Take it to Minneapolis and the challenges increase exponentially.

So how is UMD going to win at Mariucci?  Boil it down to two factors: penalties against and defense.

Images via Wikipedia: Bulldog, NCAA, Gopher
Though UMD has a top ten penalty kill and the Gophers are in the bottom for power play, you don’t
want to give that much advantage to the home team.  Additionally the more time UMD spends in special teams, the more those few players are on the ice and the third and fourth chill on the bench.  In cliché speak, it kills the flow of the game.

The Bulldog defense and goaltending have continued to be bright spots for the team, but this weekend they are in a hostile arena against a high scoring attack.  Aaron Crandall will be the center of attention.  Crandall and the rest of the defense corps will have to take this opportunity to put it all together for 60 minutes of solid play to win.

Flying Freshmen.  The good and the bad.  The freshmen are on a tear scoring an average of 3.20 points per game.  The down side is finding the rest of the scoring to win games, or to pick up the team when the froshes hit a slump.  We stand by our belief that successful teams have balanced scoring across classes.

Picks by @afiskness.  The Bulldogs are beginning to find some consistency.  The defense and penalty kill looks strong, but unfortunately the power play has only seen marginal increases and the Bulldogs continue to take way to many penalties.  If the Bulldogs can find some discipline and stay out of the box, I would expect to see the scoring increase. 

This weeks games:
UMD @ UMTC:  The first matchup of these teams as non-conference foes.  I don't think there will be any change in the rivalry for the players and should be two good games.  The Gophers are the #1 team, but I think the Bulldogs will get a split. 
Denver versus Air Force (home-home series):  The Pioneers goaltending looks good this year and even though scoring may not come as easy the Pioneers will get two wins. 
Western Michigan versus Michigan State (home-home):  The Broncos are the better team in this series, but the home game for the Spartans should help them to earn at least a tie.  Broncos win and tie. 
North Dakota @ Boston University:  North Dakota is starting slow again this year and trip to Boston against the Terriers could be difficult.  But the Terriers just may be the most inconstant team this season in all of college hockey.  I will go with a split.
Miami @ Nebraska Omaha:  The Mavericks are playing pretty good hockey right now making this a tough series for Miami, but I think the Redhawks are a notch above.  This looks like a Miami win and tie. 
Colorado College @ St. Cloud State:  The Huskies looks for real and will be competing for the conference title.  On the other hand the Tigers look like they are in for a long season.  The Huskies sweep. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Up, Down, Neutral: The Split Strikes Again

Bulldogs Gain Split at UMD 2-4 and 6-3

Even though it has been a season of split after split, this one marks a big step.  UMD has struggled with UND, especially in Grand Forks.

The main take away from the weekend that can be seen in both games is more penalties leads to losses.  Each night were penalty filled affairs, but in each one team took more.  UMD took more penalties Friday while losing and UND found the same Saturday.

With that lesson once again learned, here is the Up, Down, Neutral for the weekend:
  • Resiliency shown Friday night to tie the game Friday by the Bulldogs was refreshing to see.  Even though it was a loss, UMD did not give up.
  • Freshman scoring continues to be a staple of the team.  On the weekend, freshman scored four of the eight goals.
  • Penalties continue for yet another season to be an issue for the Bulldogs.  UMD is eighth in the nation for penalty minutes per game, 17.7.  This weekend’s opponent, UMTC, is 54th with 9.5 minutes per game.

  • Splits are OK, but it is difficult to know where this team stands with their up and down performances.
  • The jury is still out about consistent offensive output.  The problem is if the defense can’t keep the score low, the team cannot count on the offense to pick up the slack.

Up next is the Gophers of UMTC at Minneapolis.  The Gophers are ranked #1 in the polls.  Will it be yet another split?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Bulldogs Back to Business at North Dakota

Can UMD Break the Streak of Splits in Grand Forks?

Back to conference play for the Bulldogs.  It has seemed like months since their last NCHC game, but it is only just short of one month…

UMD owns the last place in their new league mostly because they have only played two conference games.  The loss to CC for their only conference win in six games didn’t help either.

Getting back into the swing isn’t going to be easy for UMD as they travel to a tough place to win, Grand Forks.  The stats show that the Bulldogs should be the better team here, but the cliché of throwing out the records and such definitely applies here.

So for the sake of time on this game day, here is the stat comparison:
Images vis Wikipedia: Bulldog, NCAA, NCHC, ND
Of note:
  • Great to see the #1 ranking for the Bulldog PK.  But then seeing the UND PK number tempers the advantage.
  • UMD penalty minutes are on the decline, a positive for a team that has been taking too many penalties for years.
  • Team saves is a solid number for both teams.  The question still remains who will play in net this weekend and will it be the same for both nights.

Picks by @afiskness.  The Bulldogs need to find more scoring which needs to come from the sophomores who are off to a slow start.  The defense has been solid all season and I don't know why that would change unless some injuries pop up.  I think this currently last place in the NCHC Bulldog team has the makings to contender in the NCHC.

The picks for this week are:
Wisconsin @ Miami   This should be a good series of Bi6 Ten versus NCHC teams.  The Redhawks are the better team in my opinion but they have been inconsistent this season.  The Badgers are looking to keep the games low scoring.  I think this will be a split. 
St. Cloud State @ Alabama Huntsville  The Huskies will go into the Chargers home rink and skate out with two wins. 
Michigan @ Nebraska Omaha   This is another good series Bi6 Ten versus NCHC teams.  The Wolverines have looked like a much improved team this year compared to last year.  The Mavericks have been very inconsistent so far and now face a tough challenge.  This looks like a split, but I think I will go with a win and tie by the Wolverines. 
Minnesota Duluth @ North Dakota  North Dakota has had some struggles this year and the Bulldogs should be rested after a bye week.  This looks like a split. 
Western Michigan @ Denver  The Pioneers have had trouble scoring this year, but their goal tending has been pretty solid.  The Broncos have been very inconsistent this year making this a guess as to what team is going to show up.  I will go with the Broncos getting a win and a tie. 
Air Force @ Colorado College  This single game on Tuesday puts a good Air Force team against #53 in the RPI, CC Tigers.  Are the Tigers really that bad?  This game will give us more insight.  I say no with a Tigers win.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

UMD Splits Again: Up, Down, Neutral

Bulldogs and Buckeyes Split 3-1 and 2-4

Road splits can be good and this one should probably be categorized as such.  But Ohio State is struggling so much with defense this season should have been a feast for the Bulldog offense.  What is becoming more apparent is UMD can be their worst enemy this season.

So for the Up, Down, and Neutral for the OSU weekend:

Freshman scoring.  Four of the top six point scorers are freshmen with the top two being Alex Iafallo and Kyle Osterberg with six and five points respectively.  As a side note, those two top scorers have no penalty minutes.

Winning faceoffs.  Without puck control winning games will be difficult.  Over the Ohio State weekend UMD won only 53 faceoffs out of 163.  That is just shy of one third of the time UMD has to battle for puck possession off the draw.

Sophomore slump watch.  Cameranesi and Farley have not been held scoreless, but their production is
not what was expected thus far.  Both players have identical 1goal, 2 assists, 3 points.  After the sophomore slump Herbert endured last season, hopes are we are not going down the same road.

UMD is off this weekend before embarking on a trip west on Highway 2 to Grand Forks to take on North Dakota November 15-16.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Bulldogs Travel to Ohio to Take On Buckeyes

UMD and OSU Split Last Season at Duluth

For the second consecutive year, Minnesota Duluth will play Ohio State finishing off a home and home two year commitment.

Last season the Buckeyes came into Duluth to start each team’s season and a split ensued.  Frankly both teams came out in about the same place last year in regards to record and not qualifying for the NCAA Tournament.

This year should be different when these two teams meet.

Ohio State has been a wreck in this early season.  They can score goals, but the defense is so porous, they just can’t score enough.  Thus OSU’s 3-3-0 record with wins against the likes of Robert Morris (2) and Bowling Green.

UMD, conversely, has had stellar, almost record breaking, defensive success this season.  But at times the offense cannot take advantage (literally on power play) and score enough to win.  It has been a season of close losses and some big wins for the Bulldogs.

Take a look at the numbers with this week’s StatPack:
Images via Wikipedia: Bulldog, NCAA, OSU
Of Note:
  • UMD's 1.67 goals allowed per game is tied for third best in the nation and ties a school record for best after six games.
  • 59 teams compete in Division I.  That leaves the Buckeyes dead last in penalty kill.  Looking at their opponents so far, that is a bad omen for OSU.
  • Lucky for OSU, UMD is nearly as inept at power play as OSU is at penalty kill.  Only five teams fare worse than the Bulldogs on PP.
This is a good match up for the Bulldogs.  As UMD moves through their season goals, this is a good test to see if they are a "trend or mirage."

Picks by @afiskness.  Picks to come as Fiskness is taking care of his real job first.  We will update when picks come in.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Bulldogs Play Well, Earn Split with Notre Dame

Friday Loss 2-3 Spurs UMD to 4-1 Saturday

Notre Dame came to Duluth sporting the #2 ranking and played well.  UMD matched their play for most of the weekend and outplayed the Irish for much of Saturday night en route to a series split.

The Bulldogs are moving in the right directions getting wins on the road and against the top ranked teams in the last two series.  Next on the list is to move away from the splits in favor of sweeps.

Our thoughts for where the Bulldogs are: Up, Down, and Neutral:

  • Penalty kill is proving to be a real bright spot for the Bulldogs.  Sporting a 91.7% kill rate, they rank sixth in the nation.
  • Balanced scoring is a key to a successful college hockey team and UMD has it.  Which line is the #1?  We don’t know from scoring as scoring is coming from all lines.

  • Power play has always been a strong suit for UMD.  This version of Bulldogs is different in that respect going 3 for 33.  The 9.1% is not last in the NCHC, but is 53rd of 59 teams nationally.
  • The number of major penalties that UMD players have taken this year is not acceptable.  Penalties happen, but majors is another story.  The consequence is too big to take any chances.  Bulldogs have taken three in the last five games and one in each of the last two.

  • Austin Farley and Tony Cameranesi are trying to side step the sophomore slump.  They have been playing on the same line and both have one goal and two assists.  Both need to be productive to see sweeps instead of splits.
  • Who is the #1 goalie?  Who cares right now as long as Crandall or McNeely is playing well.  Go Crandall, go…until UMD needs to look to McNeely.

Looking ahead.  The Bulldogs will travel to Ohio State, the first Bi6 Ten foe UMD faces.  The Buckeyes are currently 2-3-0.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Bulldogs Host #2 Notre Dame

UMD Faces Notre Dame for Fourth Straight Year

After taking many years off, UMD and Notre Dame have become familiar foes on the ice.  The previous two years the teams have played non-conference series early in the season.  Three seasons ago, the teams met in the Frozen Four in Saint Paul.

Bulldogs huddle up in 2011 before facing the Irish in
the Frozen Four. College Hockey HighHorse: Andrew Fiskness
As always both teams have something to prove, but maybe more so this season.  Notre Dame has a roll
going with a 4-0-0 record and a #2 record.  UMD is a young team that may, or may not, be catching fire offensively paired with a head turningly strong defense.

Something has to give.  This weekend pits the top two defenses in goals against.  Notre Dame has the edge with the help of two shutouts, both against NCHC’s Western Michigan.

New Faces.  Minnesota Duluth is playing the inaugural season of the NCHC while the Irish move from the now defunct CCHA to Hockey East.

Catch them while they are here!  UMD has no home games in November while going on the road for six straight games after this weekend’s series with Notre Dame.  Next home series will have Saint Cloud traveling to Duluth for the first home conference series in the NCHC.

Score Four.  The Bulldogs are an impressive 30-0-4 in games they have scored four or more goals in since October 15, 2011.  The last loss was 5-4 to Minnesota Twin Cities at Duluth.

StatPack.  Our first of the year stat comparison of UMD and their opponent:
Images via Wikipedia: Bulldog, NCAA Ice Hockey, ND

Picks by @afiskness.  Last weekend there was two NCHC series and both ended in a split.  This week there are no conference games.  The six NCHC teams that play this weekend are all non-conference games.  Currently Colorado College, Miami, Minnesota Duluth and North Dakota are tied for first in the conference with three points.
Colorado College @ Clarkson:  The Tigers travel to Potsdam, NY to take on the Golden Knights who only have one loss on the season so far.  The Tigers should be able to find some scoring and earn a split.  
Saint Cloud State @ Colgate:  This could be two good games.  The Raiders have won low scoring games and gotten blown out in their losses.  The Huskies have only played two games, but looked decent in those against the Beavers of Bemidji.  The Huskies will get one win in Hamilton, NY and earn a split.  
Miami @ Providence:  The Friars are sporting a perfect record hosting the Redhawks who have shown they can score goals again this year.  I will go with a split.    
Notre Dame @ Minnesota Duluth:  The Fighting Irish have a perfect record coming into this series.  I liked the way the Bulldog defense has played this year and should be able to get a split at home.   
Cornell @ Nebraska Omaha:  The Big Red make their 2013 NCAA debut against the Mavericks so I do not know exactly what to expect.  But since they still have Andy Iles they should have good goal tending.  I will go with a split. 
Niagara @ Denver & Canisius @ Denver:  The Pioneers at home will be too much against both the Purple Eagles and the Golden Griffins.  Denver with two wins.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

UMD salvages Split at CC with Domination Saturday

UMD Splits with CC 1-3 and 5-1

Friday brought some worry.  Three games for UMD and not much to show, four goals, a 1-1-1 record, and concern.

Concern was alleviated for now with the superior play Saturday night, both offensively and defensively, in the Bulldog's first win in the NCHC.

Newsworthy was the output of scoring from the second and third lines and the shutdown play by the defense limiting the Tigers to 14 shots on goal...for the game.  Yeah, a big deal!

So now for the Up, Down, and Neutral (UDN) for the weekend:

The Offense emergence is definitely up front especially Alex Iafallo, Justin Crandall, and Caleb Herbert who all scored multiple points and are on the second and third lines.  Defense also stepped up big with Aaron Crandall getting his first start in net.

 The Power play continues to be a struggle going 2 for 22 on the season.  Chances came especially on the Friday game, and the team just could not convert when the foals were needed.

            Neutral is the word on effort.  The team is young and their potential is evident.  The turn around from Friday to Saturday is likely a symptom of being young, hopefully they have turned a corner and we will  see more of that soon.
The next step is a big one as the upward rising Notre Dame Irish come to AMSOIL for a pair of games this next weekend.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

NCHC Begins as UMD Travels to Colorado College

Bulldogs look to Build on Recent Successes in Colorado Springs

Bottom line, short and simple, it is a new year and CC has yet to play a game that counts.  In their exhibition outings this year, the Tigers have had success scoring, but have also given up a fair number of goals.

UMD came into their non-confernece weekend last after scoring big in exhibition, but then hitting a wall against MTU scoring just three goals in two games.  UMD needs to find that scoring touch and keep up their defensive play to have success this weekend at Colorado College.

Picks by @afiskness.  Last weekends' outcomes with NCHC teams did not have many big surprises.  Based on the conferences results against the other conferences it looks like the NCHC may be the top conference.  These non-conference wins will go a long way when March arrives and the NCAA tournament is being decided.
Minnesota Duluth @ Colorado College:  Last weekends games against Michigan Tech were two low scoring games.  It is hard to say if this was good defense or poor offense.  This weekend games are likely to be higher scoring.  I will go with a split.  You can watch Friday's game on CBS Sport network. 
North Dakota @ Miami:  Miami had no problems scoring last weekend.  It is likely that North Dakota will be a strong foe than the Buckeyes were.  It is hard to pick anything other than a split. 
Nebraska Omaha @ Northern Michigan:  The Wildcats had a couple low scoring losses last weekend and are looking to bounce back.  The Mavericks split against the Falcons from Maltham, Mass. in a disapointing home opener.  Safe pick is a split.  
Alaska Gold RushWestern Michigan vs. Alaska Anchorage & Alaska:  The Seawolves have two wins and would like to keep there hot streak going.  These would be some slow paced low scoring games.  I will go with a Western Michigan tie and win. 
Denver vs. Alaska &  Alaska Anchorage:  Denver looks to keep their winning streak alive.  I will go with a Pioneers sweep and the tournament win. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

UMD and MTU: Up, Down, Neutral

Little Scoring = Good Defense?

Good question, is low scoring due to good defense?  This weekend may be proof positive that it may be just a lack of strong offense.  To that point it was Bulldog play-by-play announcer Bruce Ciskie who said the Saturday game looked like a Bemidji State - Alaska Anchorage game.  Not high praise, but an indictment of the boring, lock-down style of play.

  • One of the struggles of the 2012-13 Bulldogs was the five on five goals.  Friday night saw two UMD goals both with teams at full strength.
  • Penalty kill was up to the task going a strong 11 for 11 for kills on the weekend.

  • A college football coach once asked "Are you hungry, or are you starving?"  The Bulldogs could be asked the same taking a 1-0 lead into the third period both nights only to allow MTU to tie the score.  Friday UMD did answer with a winning goal.
  • Whereas the penalty kill is rolling, the power play is struggling going 1 for 9, BUT giving up a shorthanded goal in the process.

  • Defense and goaltending is still in the neutral category.  If the difference between win, tie, and loss will be as razor thin as it was this past weekend, wins will be rare unless the defense can really lock it down.  The new motto and mantra may have to be "If they don't score, we don't lose."

Next Up.  The Bulldogs find themselves in Colorado Springs next weekend for their first series of the NCHC.  CC has played just one game, an exhibition 8-4 win over the US U-18 Developmental team.  The score is impressive and reminds me of the 1980's college hockey.  UMD is young again this year and will be tested on the road to open up the new conference schedule.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Bulldogs and Huskies Meet Again

UMD and MTU Continue Rivalry

It is just like old times for the Bulldogs.  Starting in a new conference may be daunting and unfamiliar, but UMD will start with a known opponent, Michigan Tech.

UMD has played Tech more times than any other team in program history. A total of 223 time with Tech holding the decisive edge 119-84-20.

The Huskies and Bulldogs have faced each other at least four games per season since the WCHA instituted the rival and pod system of scheduling.

The teams are no longer in the WCHA together, but the partnership lives on.  This time it is a warm up for each team as they prepare to enter their respective conferences.

The facts are that UMD historically doesn’t do well on opening weekends/series.  Their last sweep of one opponent on opening weekend was back in 1995 with a series win at the Maverick Stampede Tournament in 2002.

Without much to say about teams that have a new season in front of them we will go onto the picks.

Picks by @afiskness.  I would like to say that this past summer I spent hours watch film from last years games to make this first week's "real" college hockey picks, but I didn't.  I don't have too much knowledge of some of the teams and will be learning a lot more about them as the season progresses.  So here are this weeks NCHC picks:

Western Michigan vs. Notre Dame (home/home series):  I will go with the safe pick and say a split series.

Michigan Tech @ UMD:  I like Duluth more in this series but UMD historically struggles opening weekend.  Split.

Bently @ Nebraska Omaha:  The Mavericks should be too much Falcon's, UNO sweeps.
Vermont @ North Dakota:  Vermont wasn't very good last year and being on the road to start this season will be tough.  North Dakota sweeps.

Bemidji @ Saint Cloud State:  The new fight anthemfor the Huskies should really get the players pumped for the game, Huskies sweep. 

Merrimack @ Denver:  I think Jim Montgomery will be able celebrate his first win as the new coach for the Pioneers against the Warriors this weekend, but only one win.  Split.

Miami vs. Ohio State (home/home series):  Miami should be the better team, but I will go split with the home/home series.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

UMD and Lakehead UDN

UMD Get Offensive in 7-1 Win

This season we will be looking at the games as a simple Up, Down, and Neutral summary.

Up first was Canada's Lakehead University.  The exhibition game was our first look at the 2013-14 Bulldogs and the show they put on was very good.  Still there is some discussion as UMD looks forward to opening the season with a non-conference weekend at home with Michigan Tech.

So here is our first edition of Up, Down, and Neutral (UDN):

 The Offense is definitely on the Up side with their seven goals.  Output from freshmen Carson Soucy, Kyle Osterberg, and Dom Toninato tallying goals is promising for the new season.

Power play is the area of concern form the exhibition game.  Bulldogs went 0 for 6 on the man advantage, a marked departure from their recent years' successes.  Give them time to get it together?  Yes, but power play is an important source of scoring.

Defense and goaltending are still areas of question.  With Lakehead mustering only 23 shots on goal and two in the third period, there was not a large enough body of work.  Matt McNeely opens as the heir apparent as opening night starter, but he saw the least work, playing only the third period.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Season Starts Tonight - Three Questions

Minnesota Duluth starts their hockey schedule tonight with a non-conference game at home against Canada's Lakehead University.  As the season starts we have three questions that need answers:

1.  Who will be the goalie who steps up to be a reliable number one?
Aaron Crandall and Matt McNeely are the candidates and neither looked like they could be the backstop a contending college hockey team needs.  One of them needs to step forward and take the job.
2.  Will the offensive potential output outgun the defensive potential struggles?
The Bulldogs can and will score.  The struggles will likely be if the young defensive corps can keep the scores against in the 3-3.5 range instead of the 4-4.5 range.  Tim Smith and Andy Welinski will be key mainstays of the defense.
3.  Is the NCHC the best conference and will the high caliber teams keep each other out of the NCAA Tournament?
The NCHC is a great conference, arguably the best top to bottom.  But in the end, will the "better" teams beat each other up and ultimately keep some high end teams out of the NCAA is a concern.  Stack a league, decrease chances for their NCAA chances?  Quite possibly.
For now, we have to wait to see what the expectations look like on the ice starting tonight at AMSOIL Arena.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

NCHC Blog/Web Media Preseason Poll

Miami Tabbed for Tops

The first annual NCHC Blog/Web Media Preseason Poll is now up.  With little surprise Miami occupies the top spot with UMD coming in at 5th in the new eight team league.

Our ballot looks like this:

Order of finish:

  1. Miami
  2. North Dakota
  3. Denver
  4. Saint Cloud State
  5. Minnesota Duluth
  6. Western Michigan
  7. Colorado College
  8. Nebraska - Omaha
All Conference Team:

F:  Riley Barber - Miami
F:  Austin Czarnik - Miami
F:  Tony Cameranesi - UMD
D:  Joey LaLeggia - Denver
D:  Andrew Prochno - SCSU
G:  Ryan Faragher - SCSU

Player of the Year: Barber
Defensive Player of the Year: LaLeggia
Rookie of the Year: Toninato - UMD
Breakout Player of the Year: Caleb Herbert - UMD

Our pick of Herbert as a "breakout" maybe a mislabel, but after the season that he had, a turnaround would be a breakout. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Arrivals and Departures

Gwozdecky Dismissal Heads List of Departures

Much of the smoke has settled and now before the start of the Frozen Four it is a good time to take a look at the state of college hockey.

Conferences Build.  Arrivals are plenty in the world of college hockey.  As teams see their seasons end, the ranks of the New World of college hockey grows.

The Bi6 Ten has seen the most growth with all six teams now official members.  The WCHA and NCHC are close behind.  The transition will not be complete until Saint Cloud State loses and thus leave the WCHA for the NCHC.  The Huskies play today in the Frozen Four.

Gone For Now.  Departures have been more surprising in some cases.
Most surprising here is the release of George Gwozdecky as head coach from Denver.

Gwozdecky coach the Pioneers for 19 seasons including two national championships and at least 20 wins in each of the last 12 seasons.  He remains the only college hockey coach to win a national championship as a player (Wisconsin 1977), an assistant coach (Michigan State 1986), and head coach (Denver 2004 and 2005).

Denver cited this is a good time to make a move leading into the transition into the NCHC.  I think it would be an important time to keep a well respected and successful coach and recruiter.  But here we are, with George Gwozdecky out of hockey for the time being.

Gwoz is one of the Miami University “Cradle of Coaches,” but he is most noted in the west as a coaching product from Wisconsin – River Falls, a Division III team 45 minutes east of the Twin Cities.
At one time three UWRF former coaches where head coaches in the WCHA, George Gwozdecky at Denver, Craig Dahl at Saint Cloud State, and Dean Talafous at Alaska – Anchorage.

I have called him the Mad Hatter of college hockey with his unorthodox methods at times with pulling goalies and sitting players.  He always gave great interviews with real information when I talked to him.  I certainly hope he can stay in the college hockey ranks.

Go, Go Gophers.  Minnesota Twin Cities finished their season in the first round of the NCAA Tournament playing much like a group NHL free agents brought in to a team, a collection of talent who cannot click together.  Now many of the big names have moved on to what they hope will be NHL careers.

Next season’s Gopher senior class will be small as current juniors Mark Alt, Nick Bujugstad, Zach Budish, Eric Haula, and Nate Schmidt have all left the program for pro contracts.

It may be a rough start to the Bi6 Ten for Lucia and company, but they usually have players to reload with when departures occur, but is this too much?  It very well may be too big of a loss.

Dog Departs.  Chris Casto, a two year starter on the blueline for UMD, has opted to forgo his remaining two years to go pro.

We wish the best to Chris who was likely signed for his size and potential as he did not light it up while at UMD.  His first season was on a NCAA qualifying team where it was expected he learned the college game and could step up this past season.  That wasn’t so much the case when his offensive numbers went down and his overall play in the UMD zone was hit and miss much of the time.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

WCHA Downs Carry Into NCAA

Six Teams Start, One WCHA Remains with Chance of Frozen Four

Six teams must mean a good conference right?  Doesn’t seem like that barely into the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The six WCHA teams, five of which will be with other conferences next season, were put into three regionals.  The NCAA will not take the chance of an all WCHA Frozen Four this season, but it wouldn’t have even come close this season.

Three teams were out Friday: Minnesota Twin Cities, Wisconsin, and Denver.  The only WCHA winner Friday was North Dakota, but they too lost Saturday along with Minnesota State Mankato.

The only WCHA left standing is Saint Cloud State who will be playing today against Miami  for a trip to the Frozen Four.  The two teams will be playing together in the NCHC next season.

The way this column was headed when I sat down the first time was the believed lack of effort and care at the WCHA Final Five.  Top seeds went down playing lackluster games without a sense of urgency.  I was questioning if there was a reason to have conference tournaments if the teams didn’t come to play and play well.  It seemed to be rampant around the country.

In fact it was Don Lucia who flat out said Colorado College who took his Gophers out of the Final Five came out like they had something to play for, that they had no tomorrow if they lost.  But what about his team?  Didn’t the Holy Cross incident prove as a reminder?  I guess not.

But it wasn’t that the WCHA teams didn’t come out to play in the Final Five, it was that the teams just are not that good, at least at this point.  Hockey is a game that ebbs and flows, but that many teams playing poorly at the same time?  It would be highly unlikely which leaves one to think that it is a season of parody in the NCAA.

The only team left, Saint Cloud, is a team that was the most consistent in the league on their way to a share of the title and MacNaughton Cup.  What got The Huskies to a #4 seed is the very subpar 3-5-0 non-conference record. 

As of now, the Huskies are bettering their non-conference record and look to make their first trip to the Frozen Four with a win against Miami at 3:00pm CST.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Final Five is Here and Here is a Preview

Last Time for the Current WCHA Format

Today marks the start of the final WCHA Final Five in the current configuration before the big shake up.

Of the six teams in the tournament, it is most likely that two of them need to win it all to make the NCAA tournament, Wisconsin and Colorado College.

Preview in order of their first game:

#6 Minnesota State Mankato (24-12-3 Overall, 16-11-1 WCHA)
How they got here:  MSUM held home court advantage although it took three games against visiting Omaha.

Why they win it all:  The Mavericks have the top goaltender in the league, freshman Stephon Williams.  Couple that with an offense that can put up numbers, the Mavericks have a good formula to move on.

Why they fall short:  First MSUM has to get past the trap defense of Wisconsin, then they have to win two more games in two nights on a short week after playing three games last weekend.  One of those two factors will down the Mavericks short of the championship.

#4 Wisconsin (19-12-7, 13-8-7)
How they got here:  Wisconsin swept UMD in the first round at home.  The Badgers are 20-5-5 since November 30 to get the #4 seed.

Why they win it all:  They have the defense to shut down most any team in the nation when it is 
clicking.  Defense is a key component to the post season and Wisconsin has it down.

Why they fall short:  if the defense fails, the offense is not there to back them up.  With only two skaters with ten or more goals, being in a high scoring game is not one Wisconsin is likely to win.

#3 North Dakota (21-11-7, 14-7-7)
How they got here:  North Dakota hosted Michigan Tech and needed three games to down the Huskies.  UND got to the third seed by winning many games, but like Wisconsin, they tied seven times.

Why they win it all:  It is March and UND seems to win in March at the Xcel.  They have plenty of scoring to win it all again even though it has been hit and miss at times during the season.

Why they fall short:  Goaltending has been an issue this season.  Gothberg and Saunders have been splitting time an neither has been the far and away number one.  Additionally, UND is also looking at three wins on a short week after three games last weekend if they win the championship.

#8 Colorado College (16-18-5, 11-13-4)
How they got here:  CC was one of three game three winners from the first round of the WCHA playoffs beating arch rival Denver two straight Saturday and Sunday.   The Tigers are the only road team to escape the first round.

Why they win it all:  The chances aren’t good for CC, but they are playing good hockey at the right time.  A good combo of goaltending and offense doing just enough to win two one goal games in Denver.

Why they fall short:  The Tigers have struggled mightily at time throughout the year losing to top teams and bottom teams.  Most recently loses against Michigan Tech and UMD highlight their struggles.

#2 Minnesota Twin Cities (26-7-5, 16-7-5)
How they got here:  The Gophers dispatched Bemidji State in two games at home in the first round.  Both games were one goals wins with Friday coming in OT and Saturday coming from behind.

Why they win it all:  The Gophers have many great players who are tops in the college game.  With a roster like that, it is not wonder they went 8-0-0 in non-conference.  UMTC scored the most goals and gave up the least in overall games of all WCHA teams.

Why they fall short:  This is a conference tournament and the Gophers have struggled throughout the season with WCHA teams.  UMTC has been making a habit of letting teams have hope by not extending leads.  The Gophers have been in 10 games with a goal differential of two or less in their last 12 games.

#1 Saint Cloud State (23-14-1, 18-9-1)
How they got here:  SCSU easily took care of Alaska – Anchorage at home in two games last weekend.  The Huskies just kept winning and stayed above all the ties in the conference to end up on top in the end.

Why they win it all:  They have shown that they are gritty and can play with any team in the WCHA.  In league games, SCSU tied with the most goals for and the third least goals against.

Why they fall short:  The Huskies can struggle at times for no apparent reason as shown in their 3-5-0 non-conference schedule and losses to Michigan Tech and Colorado College at the close of the WCHA schedule.

Picks by @afiskness.   This is the last Final Five under the current configuration and it sounds like it is going to be well attended.  Picking these games can sometimes be a complete guessing game.  One interesting note from last week is that 5 of the 6 teams that won last weekends series play on the olympic size ice, with North Dakota being the one that doesn't.  Will the ice size play into an advantage for one team over another? 

Wisconsin vs. Minnesota State:  There has been a lot of talk about the Badgers defense for this series, but I think the story is going to be the Mavericks offense.  I think the Mavericks can run enough lines that can score and will beat the Badgers who will always be looking to slow the game down. 

Colorado College vs North Dakota:  Both teams split their games earlier this year which means this should be a great game.  The tigers can score goals, their problem is letting in too many.  This game can go either way, but I will take North Dakota with the home crowd and playing on the ice size they like best to win.

If my above predictions hold here are the remaining games.  MSUM vs SCSU, I will pick SCSU to win and play UMTC who knocks off the UND.  SCSU wins the Final five.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Bulldogs on the Road in Best of Three

UMD to Wisconsin in Rematch of Early Season Series

UMD is on a five game unbeaten streak and maybe just in time.  The Bulldogs embark on their last chance to keep their last WCHA season alive when they travel to Wisconsin for a best of three playoff series.

Although the Bulldogs are on an unbeaten streak, they are also 1-5-2 in their last eight away from Duluth.

The Badgers and Bulldogs last met October 26-27 in Duluth.  Wisconsin won 2-0 followed by a Badger come from behind 2-2 tie.

How Wisconsin Wins.  It is no secret that the Badgers look to slow things down and keep the game a low scoring affair.  Wisconsin has the second lowest scoring defense in the WCHA.

Goalie Joel Rumpel is the key in net.  He has been the workhorse for the Badgers and has shined in the spotlight.  His 1.94 GAA and 0.928 saves percent earned him a spot on the third team all-WCHA.

What Holds Bucky Back?  If the Badger defense stumbles, there isn’t much in the way of offense.  Wisconsin has two players who have scored double-digit goals, Michael Mersch with 22 and Tyler Barnes with 10.  When it comes down to it, stopping Mersch seems to be the key to stifling the Badgers offense.

Nic Kerdiles has come on strong after sitting out the beginning of the season, he has scored six goals.  Six doesn’t seem like many, but on this team, it is noteworthy.

Bulldogs with Power.  UMD’s current winning streak is being propelled by the resurgent power play.  Over their last six games, the Bulldogs have gone 14 of 32 with the man advantage, 43.7%.

Goal scoring leaders on the power play are the usual suspects with Mike Seidel leading with nine goals, and freshmen Tony Cameranesi and Austin Farley each with seven.

Wild Card.  Scoring chances are not plentiful against Wisconsin and UMD must make their chances count.  Additionally, if UMD’s backstop, likely Matt McNeely, doesn’t make the easy saves and some not so easy saves, it could very well be the last series for the 2012-13 Bulldogs.

To take the next step in the season, UMD will need solid play in the net.  The recent winning streak shows that the talent is there and this weekend would be a good time to keep it rolling.

Images via Wikipedia: Bulldog, WCHA, Badger
StatPack.  The Bulldogs and Badgers stack up statistically fairly even for a #9/#4 match-up.  The Badgers did start the season slow, but have played well enough to secure home ice.

Of Note:

  • A team like the Badgers who get 2.50 goals per game need the strong defense that allows 2.11 goals per game.
  • UMD jumped from #13 in the nation for power play to #4 over last weekend where UMD went 7 for 12 on the man advantage.
  • The Bulldogs are apt to get many shots per game and they will need it going against a save percentage of 0.924.
Outlook.  It is an interesting season to look at playoff upsets.  usually there is at least one, but this year the top six look strong.  Given a list of the top six, Wisconsin is the most vulnerable because they are so one dimensional with their defense.

Around the WCHA and Picks by @afiskness.  This is the final WCHA playoffs for many of these teams and it would be a great bragging rights for the victor.  There was a lot of parity in the league this past season making this playoffs wide open.  Every year there are upsets in the playoffs and I am sure there will at least one upset this year.  Will it be a team that is hot staying hot or the sudden change for a team that is ice cold?  The key is to guess the correct game.  I think the three middle seated series are the most likely for upsets.

WCHA First Round Best of Three Series

#12 Alaska - Anchorage at #1 Saint Cloud State: The Seawolves have pulled out some stunners on the road in the playoff, but this year that does not seam likely.  This series is so one sided in favor of the Huskies I will go with a Saint Cloud sweep. 
#11 Bemidji State at #2 Minnesota Twin Cities: The Beavers have played well in years past once the post-season began and this year will probably be no different.  These are two teams that play two totally different styles.  If the Gophers get sucked into the slow down game, the Beavers could find an upset.  I don't think the playoffs will end this week for the Gophers as they sweep. 
#10 Michigan Tech at #3 North Dakota:  Both of these teams have great power plays and special teams can often decide games.  The Huskies played very good in Saint Cloud and they always play hard when they are the underdog.  I am going with North Dakota in three games. 
#9 Minnesota Duluth at #4 Wisconsin:  The Bulldogs put up impressive numbers versus less then impressive opponents, but that is what a team is supposed to do.  The Bulldogs may finally be playing the way the fan base thought they would this year.  The Badgers will look to keep it low scoring and capitalize on turnovers.  Goaltending will be the key.  This series will go three games and either team could prevail.  I like the way the freshmen have been playing for UMD recently, I think they will continue to put out and UMD will get the upset. 
#8 Colorado College at #5 Denver:  The tigers got three points of the eight in the 4 games played between these two teams this year, so it may be a very close match up.  Both teams have had very inconsistent periods this season, so it will likely depend on which version shows up.  I think I will go with the upset and the Tigers in three games. 
#7 Omaha at #6 Minnesota State Mankato:  The red Mavericks are a cold as ice right now and going on the road for the playoffs was not in the game plan a few weeks ago.  The purple Mavericks have struggled before in the playoffs, but this a much different team.  Omaha's season ends as Mankato sweeps.
Playoff Series of Future NCHC Teams (CCHA Playoffs)
#11 Michigan State at #1 Miami
#7 Michigan at #3 Western Michigan

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Blogger All-WCHA Awards

Awards Pile Up as Playoffs Start

The bloggers of the WCHA have weighed in on All-WCHA awards as compiled by A Tradition of Excellence, see the results there or below our ballot.  You can also look at the WCHA press release announcing their All-WCHA awards.

Our Ballot for the Poll
All-WCHA First Team
F – Ryan Walters UNO
F – Eric Haula UMTC
F – Drew LeBlanc SCSU
D – Nate Schmidt UMTC
D – Nick Jensen SCSU
G – Stephon Williams MSUM

All-WCHA Second Team
F – Danny Kristo UND
F – Corbon Knight UND
F – Rylan Schwartz CC
D – Joey LaLeggia DU
D – Mike Boivin CC
G – Adam Wilcox UMTC

All-WCHA Third Team
F – Nic Dowd SCSU
F – Matt Leitner MSUM
F – Krushelnyski CC
D – David Makowski DU
D – Andrew Prochno SCSU
G – Joel Rumpel UW

All-WCHA Rookie Team
F – Alex Petan MTU
F – Tony Cameranesi UMD
F – Austin Farley UMD
D – Andy Welinski UMD
D – Nolan Zajac DU
G – Stephon Williams MSUM

WCHA Player of the Year – Walters

WCHA Defensive Player of the Year – Schmidt

WCHA Rookie of the Year – Williams

WCHA Coach of the Year – Mike Hastings MSUM

Blogger All-WCHA Results from  A Tradition of Excellence
* Asterisk denotes a unanimous selection

All-WCHA First Team:
F - Ryan Walters, Nebraska-Omaha
F - Erik Haula, Minnesota
F - Danny Kristo, North Dakota
D - Nate Schmidt, Minnesota
D - Nick Jensen, St. Cloud State
G - Stephon Williams, Minnesota State

All-WCHA Second Team:
F - Drew LeBlanc, St. Cloud State
F - Corban Knight, North Dakota
F - Rylan Schwartz, Colorado College
D - Mike Boivin, Colorado College
D - Joey LaLeggia, Denver
G - Adam Wilcox, Minnesota

All-WCHA Third Team:
F - Matt Leitner, Minnesota State
F - Josh Archibald, Nebraska-Omaha
F - Eriah Hayes, Minnesota State
D - Andrew Prochno, St. Cloud State
D - Andrej Sustr, Nebraska-Omaha
G - Juho Olkinuora, Denver

WCHA All-Rookie Team:
F - Alex Petan, Michigan Tech
F - Tony Cameranesi, Minnesota-Duluth
F - Jonny Brodzinski, St. Cloud State
D - Nolan Zajac, Denver *
D - Andy Welinski, Minnesota-Duluth
G - Stephon Williams, Minnesota State

WCHA Player of the Year: Ryan Walters, Nebraska-Omaha

WCHA Defenseman of the Year: Nate Schmidt, Minnesota

WCHA Rookie of the Year: Stephon Williams, Minnesota State

WCHA Coach of the Year: Mike Hastings, Minnesota State

Friday, March 8, 2013

Final Regular Season Weekend Brings Omaha to Duluth

WCHA League Play Ends with Future NCHC Foe

The final season on the WCHA started back in October leading to this point, the end of the regular season.

For the second straight year, Minnesota Duluth hosts Omaha for the last series.  This season is unlike last year where second place in the WCHA was potentially on the line.

This season UNO is trying to hang onto home ice after a promising start and UMD is attempting to keep on a roll as they enter the playoffs almost certainly stuck at ninth place.  While playing both teams will be playing, they will also be scoreboard watching to see how the league shakes out.

As it looks now from PlayoffStatus, Omaha is odds on to fall from sixth to seventh place being passed by Denver.  That sounds good for UMD since Denver is currently one point behind Omaha.  In essence, they are saying the odds are better that Denver will win more points versus UAA this weekend than Omaha will win from UMD.  Denver has the tiebreak over Omaha.

Looking at the possible fourth place finishers, and UMD’s first round opponent, the odds are that North Dakota will be the team.  I came up with the same conclusion using the What-if Calculator last week.  The possible teams for fourth place, with greater than 10% chance, in order behind UND are Omaha, Denver, and Minnesota State Mankato.

We Have Met Before.  Omaha is one of three teams UMD plays for two series this season, Michigan Tech and Bemidji State are the other two.  The teams played in early November with Omaha coming away with a sweep 3-2 and 6-3.

Back then Omaha was on a winning streak and looked to be in the running for the league championship. 

Since that first meeting, the Mavs have gone on a few losing streaks and find themselves on the edge of home ice in the first round of the playoffs.  Currently Omaha has lost four of their last six games.

Goalies Get Work.  The emphasis is on the plural here.  News surrounding UMD has focused on the use of three goalies this season and how seldom that has happened.  Well here come UNO who has used four goalies this season.

When the preseason ballot for WCHA honors came out, the staff discussed the possibilities.  One main point of discussion was first team goalie.  I wanted to go with Mav veteran John Faulkner while the staff wanted to go elsewhere.  My thoughts were he has been around, was good two years ago, and just had an off year last season.

In the end we didn’t go with Faulkner and he came out playing like he should have received the preseason honor.

As the season has wore on, he has become less effective, thus the need to fit in three other people into the net.

Compare Faulkner to UMD workhorse McNeely, and the stats are quite close, but McNeely edges Faulkner in GAA and saves percent.  In team comparison, both squads have allowed the same number of goals.

Flying Freshmen.  In looking towards the WCHA season awards, the freshmen at UMD look to be in the running for some accolades.  The freshmen, and the future, are sixth in the nation in scoring at 33-51-84 points.

Tony Cameranesi and Austin Farley have now moved into a tie with senior Mike Seidel for goal scoring leader on UMD with 14.  Total points goes to Cameranesi with 14-16-30.

In conference games, defenseman Andy Welinski is the highest scoring defenseman with 2-11-13.

Images via Wikipedia: Bulldog, WCHA, Maverick
StatPack.  At right are the statistical comparisons of the Bulldogs and red Mavericks.  Unlike the last two weekends, the stats are a mixture of strengths.

Of Note:

  • Despite a 6th versus 9th place series, the number of goals allowed is the same.  Goals for tells the story of why the standings disparity.
  • The Bulldogs improved both PP and PK standings in their series against UAH last weekend.
  • UMD still is a nation leader in penalty minutes, but UNO is not far behind.  The difference is the prowess Omaha has on the PK to score logging the six SHGs this season.
Outlook.  The odds state that UMD is expected to take at least one point this weekend.  It doesn't seem likely the way the teams played earlier in the season against each other, but this is now.  UMD should get at least a point, but that may very be it, one point.  UNO has a lot to play for while UMD is locked at ninth.  The hope, the expectation, is UMD will come out with fire and show that they are a threat in the first round of the playoffs.

Around the WCHA and picks by @afiskness.  All 12 teams play in this final weekend of WCHA regular season and the WCHA regular season champion will be decided.  There will be a lot of scoreboard watching in all the WCHA rinks.  It is likely home ice won’t be completely decided until Sunday when Denver and Anchorage finish their second game of the series.   A few weeks back I thought 30 points would be enough for home ice now I am predicting 33 points.  It will be interesting to see how close my picks are to the final standings.

WCHA Conference
Alaska - Anchorage at Denver:  This Friday/Sunday series will likely decide the last home ice spot.  The Seawolves have one road win this season and will not get one in Denver.  Pioneers sweep. 
Colorado College at Michigan Tech:  Both of these teams split last weekend against higher ranked opponents.  The Huskies dominated St. Cloud in the Saturday win and will be hoping the momentum will continue for them at home in Houghton.  The Tigers have lacked consistency and that will probably continue this weekend.  Split. 
Minnesota Twin Cities at Bemidji State:  The Gophers split at home against the Pioneers and now go to the smaller rink in Bemidji.  The Beavers slow down game has been trouble for some teams this year and I think the Gophers could be affected.  This looks like a Gopher win and tie for 3 points and a share of the MacNaughton Cup.  
North Dakota at Minnesota State Mankato:  This is a big series for both teams and will be a real playoff test.  North Dakota got three points at home and the Mavericks split on the road.  Both would like to move up in the standings and I think they will each get 2 points in a split. 
Omaha at Minnesota Duluth:  Last weekends' results for these two teams were opposite each other as the Bulldogs swept the Chargers at home meanwhile the Mavericks were swept by the Badgers.  Omaha has more to play for this weekend as they are currently in sixth but could see that go to seventh without some wins.  I think the Bulldogs have been playing well enough recently to get a split. 
Saint Cloud State at Wisconsin:  This series will be played at the Dane, which is perfect setting for the Badgers to make their exodus from the WCHA.  The Huskies win and the get sole possession of the MacNaughton Cup.  Wisconsin bounced back last weekend and swept Omaha, I think their good fortunes will continue and the Huskies share the MacNaughton Cup.  Badgers win and tie for 3 points.
Final Standings Prediction

Saint Cloud         36
UMTC                36
North Dakota        35
Wisconsin           34
Minnesota State     33
Denver              33
UNO                 32
CC                  26
UMD                 23
MTU                 20
BSU                 18
UAA                 10

Future NCHC Teams
Miami and Western Michigan are off this weekend with byes in the first round of the CCHA playoffs.