Friday, January 18, 2013

Bulldogs on a Roll, Travel to Colorado College

UMD to Face High Scoring, High Yielding Tigers of CC

Minnesota Duluth is making an important road trip to Colorado College this weekend.  The last time the Bulldogs left Duluth they were in a similar situation being on a roll winning and looking to string some good games together.  That road trip was to Florida and was a disaster.

UMD will need scoring this weekend from scoring leaders
including Cameranesi and Farley pictured above.
College Hockey HighHorse: Andrew Craig
This weekend is different in that the stakes are markedly higher.  The series is a conference match-up with an opponent below UMD in the standings.  Additionally, CC is a team that is not living up to expectations, but certainly has the talent to make a run.

The Tigers have three scorers who have more than ten goals, namely Rylan Schwartz, William Rapuzzi, and Scott Winkler.  Compared to recent years, the Tigers seem to be on a down year.  In reality, the Tigers are very apt at scoring.  So why are they so low in the win column?  It has been a let down on defense.

Right or wrong, the glaring deficiency on the Tigers is their goaltending.  Joe Howe was the guy during his first two years, 2009-10 and 2010-11.  He was below three goals against average and above 90% save percentage both years.  He was a main reason we at the College Hockey HighHorse picked CC as the preseason WCHA Champion.  Man, were we wrong.

Last year Howe crashed hard with a 3.48 GAA and 0.882 saves percent.  This year hasn’t been real kind either with 3.46 and 0.897.  So is it Howe or the defense in front of him?  Which ever it is, the Tigers allow the most goals in WCHA play and the Bulldogs need to take full advantage.

UMD’s Scoring.  UMD does score early.  But too many times they have had to hang on at the end to win.

In conference play, UMD has scored the most first period goals, 21 compared to 19 for Denver who is second.  The stats go from great to awful after one intermission.

UMD has the third fewest goals in the second period in conference play with nine goals, just beating out Bemidji State with eight and Alaska – Anchorage with seven.  The all important third period sees an uptick in UMD production with 16 goals.

Add in the goals allowed and UMD has a +9 goal differential in the first period, -6 in the second, and even in the third.  Don’t forget the -1 in overtime.

Having a 7-6-3 conference record paired with the goals by period show that UMD is in many close games.  In fact, four of UMD’s last five wins were by one goal or two goals with an empty netter at the end of the game.  There is very little margin for error.

As long as the Bulldogs come out on the positive side, they can keep on playing in those tight games.

Images via Wikipedia: BulldogWCHATiger
StatPack.  The weekend will definately be about goals scored by CC and goals allowed by CC.  UMD needs to take advantage of a vulnerable defense and get a lead in these road games.

Of Note:
  • This is the only time this year UMD and CC are scheduled to meet.
  • UMD's 16.5 penalty minutes per game is third in the nation for all games.  in the WCHA games, the Bulldogs are second to MSUM.
  • Short handed goals against was a problem for the Bulldogs in the Florida College Classic giving up one in each game.  UMD's power play is good, but the Bulldogs have to be wary of CC's short handed counter attack.
My Outlook.  It is difficult to say that the Bulldogs will sweep.  UMD is still a young team and road trips are trying times for inexperience.  THe Bulldogs will win at least one game and two would be a definite message to the rest of the WCHA.

Around the WCHA and Picks by @afiskness.  It is a good slate of games headlined by the last scheduled meeting of the Gophers and North Dakota for maybe five years or more.

WHCA Conference
Bemidji State at Michigan Tech: This should be a good series with the home ice the Huskies should be able to get 3 points with a win and a tie. 
Denver at Saint Cloud State: Home ice hasn’t been all that helpfully to the Huskies recently and the Pioneers now appear to be on track.  But they might stumble this weekend, split. 
Minnesota Duluth at Colorado College: Fool me once…This is a favorable road match up for the Bulldogs.  The Bulldogs special teams have the advantage and if they put together two good games should get a sweep.  I am not ready to do that yet, so I will go with 3 points for UMD in a win and a tie. 
Minnesota State Mankato at Alaska - Anchorage: We have heard it a million times that Anchorage is always a tough road trip.  Last weekend proved that the Mavericks are an ordinary team.  Split 
North Dakota at Minnesota Twin Cities: Series of the century.  These should be two good games and may even have a fight during the game or in the handshake line if all goes bad.  I will go with a split, but I think North Dakota will playing to proven something this weekend.
Non- Conference
Miami at Wisconsin: The Badgers are now surging and I don’t think it is logical to pick against them, badgers sweep.
Future NCHC Action
Western Michigan at Bowling Green (Friday only) 

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