It is going to sound like a broken record from here on to the end. This series is crucial for the Bulldog’s WCHA standing. Naturally we had thought they would be jockeying for a better seed in the upper half, but right now, and likely for the rest of the season, they will be fighting for home ice.
Denver is a good team, or at least they were at the beginning of the season. As UMD struggled at the start, DU soared. In their last 10 WCHA games the Bulldogs are 7-2-1 and the Pioneers are 1-5-4. Denver did have a more challenging run, but it wasn’t all top teams.
One common opponent over the last 10 was Bemidji State. UMD went 1-1-0 against the Beavers and Denver went 0-1-1. The records don’t lie, but these teams need to meet head to head to determine who moves up and who stays in the bottom half.
This is a series that UMD needs to win. Fans want to see UMD make it in the top six, Denver is the one team directly in their way and lead the Bulldogs by one point.
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- UMD is still too high in penalty minutes per game. They are currently #2. The good news for this weekend is Denver is #4.
- Speaking of Denver taking penalties, UMD could really cash in on their power plays. It is the only stat category where UMD has a decisive advantage over Denver.
- Goals against are similar, it is the number of total games that differs.
Home is Good. Goalie Matt McNeely has been good for his first season in college. On top of that he is really good at home in AMSOIL Arena. McNeely is a stellar 3-1-1 record with a 1.98 GAA and 0.923 save percentage.
How the Bulldogs Win. Naturally a team needs to score to win. For UMD the number of goals is three. If UMD scores three or more they are 7-2-2. Now scoring three or more on the second night where UMD is 2-7-2, that would be a marked improvement.
Weekend Helpers. Wisconsin plays at North Dakota and both are tied for fourth with Minnesota State Mankato, all two points ahead of UMD. The Bulldogs need to take care of their own business, but could get some help from this series.
Around the WCHA and Picks by @afiskness. This weekend is an important one for UMD to stay in the hunt for home ice. The Bulldogs are taking on a Pioneer team that does take penalties, so if the Bulldog's special teams play well UMD can see positive results. In other games this weekend the whole WCHA is hoping the Beavers can find some magic against the Huskies to make this ultra tight WCHA title race tighter. The most intriguing games are the Wisconsin at North Dakota series as North Dakota seems to be playing OK but just cannot get a win and now the Badgers seem to win every week.
Colorado College at Alaska - Anchorage: The Tigers had last weekend off and are looking to get closer to .500 for the season and the Seawolves continue to struggle. I think the always tough road trip will help the Seawolves and the series will be a split.
Denver at Minnesota Duluth: Battle of two inconsistent teams. Both teams should be rested coming into this weekend. I think a split is in order especially since the one place UMD is consistent is the results of Saturday games. Split.
Michigan Tech at Omaha: The Mavericks swept the Beavers who also happen to be the last team that the Huskies have played. The Mavericks are playing well, but I think the Huskies can find something to get a tie in one of the games and get 1 point this weekend. Omaha win and tie.
Saint Cloud State at Bemidji State: The Beavers are win-less in their last eight games and the Huskies are playing great hockey; it looks like a pretty easy pick. The Beavers goal tending just has not been what they need to win recently and the Huskies are a good scoring team. Saint Cloud sweep.
Wisconsin at North Dakota: This is a great match up although it sounds like injuries could be an issue for the Badgers. North Dakota has had a couple of tough weekends and have not gotten the points they had hoped to get. In they have only scored more than 2 goals one time and that game ended in a tie. The Badgers are a good defensive team and should be able to hold North Dakota down enough to get a split.
Other NCHC Teams
Alaska at Miami
Western Michigan at Ferris State