Monday, February 11, 2013

UMD Loses Pair Again; WCHA Race Clearer?

Five Game UMD Losing Streak, First in Five Years

The broken record continues.  What if UMD had more scoring?  What is the defense played better?  What if the team gave a solid 60 minutes?  None of those questions were answered in a weekend home sweep at the hands of Minnesota State Mankato.

Crowd numbers have been good, but seats empty out late in
games recently. (College Hockey HighHorse: Andrew Fiskness)
Friday night started right with UMD spotting MSUM a 1-0 lead before scoring two of their own.  UMD lead 2-1 entering the third period, but for the second game in a row they lost the lead in the third giving up three goals and scoring none.  It is officially time to retire the “when leading after two periods” stat that formerly was a big advantage for UMD with their three blown leads this season.

Saturday night was same old, same old.  MSUM jumped out to a 3-0 lead en route to a 5-1 win.  Eriah Hayes scored a hat trick Saturday with an assist to lead the Mavericks.  Couple that performance with his one goal and two assists Friday and he will undoubtedly be the Red Baron WCHA Offensive Player of the Week.

It is no good beating the thing into the ground, but this team looks lost right now.  It may help to have two seemingly patsy teams up next with Bemidji State and Alabama – Huntsville, but a loss or two in those games could send this team further into the fetal position.

Bulldog Nation just has to take it one step at a time and keep hoping to break out of the slump.

The End of the WCHA as We Know It Race.  Saint Cloud has pieced together a nice season and the big payoff may be coming.

Pieced together is a good describer because the Huskies overall record isn’t stellar.  With 11 loses, it seems unnatural to even be talking about SCSU as WCHA Champions.  The 3-5-0 non-conference record does not exude champion caliber, but the Huskies have definitely made large steps in conference games.

Saint Cloud is unbeaten in seven of their last eight while playing mostly the teams chasing them at the top including Denver, North Dakota, and Minnesota Twin Cities.

With the win Saturday night to gain a split with the Gophers, the Huskies now have control of the conference.  As long as they win, they cannot be caught, but that is challenging.  The schedule isn’t bad moving towards the end with SCSU playing at CC, hosting MTU, and playing at Wisconsin.

Home Ice Race.  Three teams are currently vying for the last two home spots as we get closer to the end of the regular season.  Denver, Minnesota State Mankato, and Wisconsin are all tied for fifth.  Right now, Wisconsin looks to have the most work for themselves to stay home.  The Badgers are on the bottom side of tiebreaks at this point.

Above fifth place, Omaha is close one point ahead of the trio at fifth.  If a current slide continues, they very well could enter the chase to stay home.

In Colorado, the Gold Pan goes to Denver after a tie Friday night against Colorado College.  The traveling trophy is good for the Pioneers, but they ended up only gaining the minimum of one point for the weekend to reclaim the Gold Pan.  As a result, CC moved up to eighth place.

Host Michigan Tech used a page out of UMD recent history to fall apart at the end of Friday’s game in a 5-4 loss to Alaska - Anchorage.  MTU was leading 4-1 early in the second period before UAA scored 4 straight with the winner coming at 19:15 of the third.  The weekend was Tech’s annual Winter Carnival which usually brings the best out of the team and that was the case in the rematch for a 6-1 Huskies win Saturday.

North Dakota took advantage of Omaha sweeping them in Nebraska.  The losses continue the Mavs streak to three straight and have helped them drop to just hanging onto a tie at third, one point ahead of three teams at fifth.  The wins propel North Dakota to second.  Of interest was Saturday’s game which was another outdoor game.  The game had to be delayed due to warm weather and poor ice.  In the end, the ice was good enough for UND to win 5-2.

Wisconsin attempted to bounce back from a bad weekend in Grand Forks with a home series against Bemidji State.  In a pair of tight games, the Badgers came away with a tie and win on the weekend.  The outcome kept BSU in 11th place and three points behind UMD, their next opponent.  The series is next weekend and will be played in Bemidji.

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