Thursday, January 10, 2013

End of a Rivalry as Tech Huskies Visit Duluth

Michigan Tech Comes in on a High After Winning GLI

UMD and Michigan Tech have been WCHA defined rivals for years now.  All that means is UMD and MTU were guaranteed to play two series against each other every year.

While some look at this scheduling system in recent years as four UMD wins against a perennial cellar-dweller Huskies team, the games have been anything but easy.

The teams have played many competitive and exciting games, and those that haven’t been competitive have been won by both sides. 

Tech has a storied hockey tradition and are on the way rebuilding their program.  I for one will miss the yearly games, the possibility of UMD at Winter Carnival, and roadtrips to Houghton.  Hopefully the teams can get some non-conference games with the Huskies.

Looking to the Second Half.  Puzzling is an understatement.  UMD is a streaky team and one that will not be figured out easily if at all.  The chances the team has to show fans and the WCHA that they are driven and they are not going to give up are getting short.  What UMD can still do is achieve home ice for the WCHA playoffs.

The Bulldogs have a disappointing 2-4-0 non-conference record is keeping the Bulldogs down.  But their conference record of 5-6-3 is keeping them in the hunt, currently in a tie for 7th place.

Starting the second half of the conference season, the Bulldogs have to win their games.  The more difficult part to home ice is overtaking one of the top six teams as the top half are a strong bunch.  Look to Denver who had a rough streak at the end of 2012 as a possible falling team or Minnesota State Mankato who may be overachieving thus far.  But this is a two step process to get to home ice and UMD has to pick up there game for any chance.

StatPack.  These teams met on November 30 and December 1 of 2012 where UMD won Friday and tied Saturday with the Huskies.  The StatPack changes from then to now were many.  Record and goals for and against were in favor of MTU then but have switched to UMD’s favor now.  The Bulldogs lost their goaltending advantage mainly due to the recent surge by goaltender Pheonix Copely.
The teams stack up as follows:
Images via Wikipedia: Bulldogs, WCHA, Huskies
Of note:

  • UMD who has been first in penalty minutes during the season, is currently third.
  • The PP of the Bulldogs is ninth nationally and third in the WCHA.  MTU's PP is tenth in WCHA play.
  • Goals per game took a hit for UMD after their three goals total from their holiday tournament while MTU's goals against dropped with their zero goals allowed during their holiday tournament
Around the WCHA and Picks by @afiskness.

WCHA Conference:
Alaska - Anchorage at Minnesota Twin Cities:  We all know the Seawolves always play the Gophers tough but the Gophers seem to be hitting their stride after beating the #2 Fighting Irish earlier this week.  The Seawolves may be able to slow one of the games down enough to keep it interesting, but they will get swept. 
Colorado College at North Dakota:  North Dakota is another team that appears to be hot and the Tiger do not.  A trip to Grand Forks usually isn't the place a team chooses as a slump buster.  I don't think the road trip will be kind to the Tigers who are swept by North Dakota. 
Michigan Tech at Minnesota Duluth:  The last WCHA games for these two team.  Tech should be feeling good about winning the GLI and the Bulldogs quite the opposite after the Florida Classic.  This appears to be two even teams except the special teams.  If the Bulldogs can stay out of the box, capitalize on power plays and not give up shorthanded goals they will sweep.  Unfortunately this year on Saturday nights bad things happen to the Bulldogs.  Split. 
Omaha at Denver:  The Mavericks are currently on top of the WCHA standings and the Pioneers are looking to get back to the top with a couple wins.  Maybe Denver figured some stuff out since the last conference games with three straight wins, but I think Omaha is too good to be swept, so I will say a split. 
Wisconsin at Minnesota State Mankato:  The Badgers are now hot with four straight wins taking and a taking on an equally hot team in the Mavericks.  It would seem with home ice that the Mavericks should sweep this series, but Wisconsin might be finding a groove, or at least enough to earn a split.

Future NCHC Teams:
Lake Superior State at Western Michigan
Miami at Northern Michigan

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