Friday, December 11, 2015
#6 St. Cloud State @ #11 Denver: The Pioneers are a better team at home, but the Huskies have played good both on the road and at home. This will series will come down to special teams and goal tending. I like this one ending in a split.
#4 North Dakota @ #17 Minnesota Duluth: If the Bulldogs can keep the scoring going and not get frustrated resulting in making mental errors they can beat anybody. However, the Fighting Hawks are to good to get swept, so it will be a split.
Colorado College @ Western Michigan: The Tigers are on a tear after losing the first 13 games of the season and now going to Kalamazoo to face the Broncos who have lost eight in a row. The momentum will carry the Tigers into getting a split this weekend.
Saturday, December 5, 2015
The Bulldogs return to action this weekend after a weekend of rest. In their most recent Bulldog series against the Colorado College Tigers the Bulldogs did exatly what they should playing a less talented team, two shutout wins. This weekend will be much tougher playing the Broncos from Western Michigan who play style of hockey that can be difficult for UMD to handle. Hopefully the rest will have the Bulldogs playing fast paced and sticking to their game plan dictating the tempo.
Western Michigan @ #17 Minnesota Duluth: The Broncos have not been good on the road and the Bulldogs haven't been very good at home. The Bulldogs should get a sweep, but until they show me they can win two in a row at home I will pick a split.
#9 Denver @ #4 North Dakota: Both teams a playing very good hockey right now and this will a great series. Home ice favors the Fighting Hawks, but the Pioneers will earn a split.
#6 Nebraska Omaha @ #7 St Cloud State: Another great NCHC series. Both teams are hot so this series will end in a split.
#RV Miami @ Colorado College: Last weekend The Tigers picked up their first win of the season. Maybe this will provide some momentum into this weekend. Until the Tigers win a conference game I will pick against them, Redhawks sweep.
Friday, December 4, 2015
Since the inception of the NCHC, it is Western that has been the most puzzling team for UMD to solve. Their size, their trap, their slow-it-down slug-it-out style frustrate the speedy Bulldogs.
Nebraska-Omaha, arguably one of best teams in the NCHC, is a team much like UMD, fast and talented. Their only loses of the season are against the Broncos of Western Michigan. And UNO is a beefy 11-2-1 overall.
UMD needs to stay patient and not press too hard this weekend, because that is when WMU scores, when the opponent leaves an odd-man rush opportunity.
Unfortunately, UMD can't afford many more losses and this weekend will be a challenge for them.
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Friday, October 30, 2015
Two ties. Never would have predicted it. But now UMD has to move on to their second Hockey East opponent in as many weeks, UMass Lowell. For the good, the games are at home which is unusual for this season's Bulldog team who have played four of their first five on the road.
The RiverHawks present an unusual challenge for the Bulldogs. UMass Lowell is an unknown opponent who is a defensive juggernaut so far this season. Their competition arguably has not been upper echelon except for last weekend against Merrimack in a tie-fest just like UMD and Notre Dame. Whereas both Bulldog-Irish games were 3-3, both Merrimack-Lowell games were 1-1. In fact the RiverHawks have surrendered five goals in five games.
Conversely, UMass Lowell is having struggles on offense, though they don't need much with their defensive play so far. Unbeaten at 3-0-2, the RiverHawks have only scored 10 goals in five games.
UMD can score, but can also be frustrating to watch on defense. It is no mystery that the Bulldogs will likely have to play two tight, full 60 minute games to pull off a sweep.
StatPack. Break down of stats for UMD and UMass Lowell:
- UMD may be struggling on the PP, but it would be nice to break the RiverHawks 100% PK
- The Bulldogs are 26th in the nation for scoring offense, 5th in the NCHC
- UMass Lowell is 2nd in the nation in scoring defense
Friday, October 23, 2015
Early in the season is a tough time to make heads or tails of the NCAA hockey teams. So little has been seen or so few stats accumulated it is hard to make patterns out.
That being said, UMD faces a tough opponent in Notre Dame and being on the road is not not new to this Bulldog team, but will give them an added challenge.
Look for early season indicators if UMD is ready for the high praise they are receiving from national polls and wonks.
Picks by @afiskness. UMD fans are happy to see that the Taconite Trophy will remain in Duluth! Last weeks performance for the Bulldogs was exactly what the team needed. The Bulldogs dominated the Gophers from the Twin Cities and hope to use this momentum on their trip this weekend to South Bend.
Friday, October 16, 2015
What promised to be the triumphant return to the rinks for the then #2 ranked UMD Bulldogs was a power outage. Not the type that we may talk about during the season regarding the power play, but a legitimate power outage. Soft ice, no pop, no popcorn, etc. leads to no game.
Someone must have forgotten to pay the bill for the team's energy also as a lackluster 2-3 loss to Bemidji at BSU ensued Saturday last weekend.
So let us loo to this weekend as the start of the season and hope that one loss doesn't hamper chances for the spring!
- This will be the only meetings for UMD and UMTC unless they meet again in the NCAA Tournament like last season's UMD win.
Friday, October 9, 2015
With 11 seniors, the Bulldogs are looking to be a force in the NCHC and nationally. It has been the trend in recent seasons that the teams that make it to play in April are those with seasoned leadership. Check.
But it is no guarantee. Look back to 2004-05 season that was full of promise after a Frozen Four appearance and a Hobey Baker to Junior Lessard. That UMD squad was highly touted in the preseason and the praise stopped there. With discord in the locker room and loads of individual play, not team play, the Bulldogs finished a disappointing sixth out of ten teams. The season ended with two lopsided losses at North Dakota in the first round of the WCHA playoffs.
The season is still to be shaped and I am convinced the leaders of the 2015-16 squad won't let history repeat, even it may be ancient history to these seniors.
- UMD has not started a season 2-0-0 since 2001-02.
- The Bulldogs are on a four games winless streak (0-3-1) against the Beavers. Last season's lone meeting was a BSU 4-0 win in the North Star College Cup.
StatPack. Returns next week after some new stats are generated for the new season.
Picks by @afiskness.
Denver vs Air Force (home/home): Denver is the better team in this rivalry, but the Falcons will not be a push over. I will go with a Pioneers sweep.
Friday, March 27, 2015
The saying goes: keep your friends close and your enemies closer. So why shouldn't the Bulldogs and Gophers be paired for their fifth game in a fifth arena and for the second time in the Eastern Time Zone?
It seems like years ago now, but the 50 or so people who were in attendance for the first game of the Ice Breaker Tournament in South Bend back in October saw the first step in a long season culminating in the newest, most important game for these rivals.
Both teams have seen successes and struggles this season. Along the journey, UMD has posted a 3-1
|Images via Wikipedia: Bulldog, NCAA, Gopher|
Maybe most luckily for the Gophers is their hot streak coincides with the start of the NCAAs. While UMD has seen many struggles since the calendar turned to 2015. 8-9-3 since the start of the calendar year and one win in their last seven games, UMD needs a spark.
And that needed spark may be the return of Alex Iafallo, back from mono starting today against the Gophers.
Iafallo is tied for second in overall points (8G-17A-25pts) and tied for first in points per game (0.78) with line mate Dom Toninato who also missed games with an injury. Toninato leads the team in goals with 16.
Bringing the pieces back into place, the promise of regaining the early season success is promising for Bulldog fans.
One piece that was great early and has been just good as of late is goaltending.
Freshman Kasimir Kaskisuo is the guy the team relies on. And he will need to be on his game and get help from his defensemen to find the shutdown play he had consistently in November and December.
Ready for success that has been on the horizon most of the year, Bulldog fans are patiently waiting to find the right mix from early in the season. If the season has to end, please be it not at the hands of the Gophers!
Thursday, March 26, 2015
After years of modest and not so modest boasting, the prognosticators of the NCAA field have been bested, or at least incorrect. The Committee used creativity to create an NCAA bracket that had many with puzzled looks on their faces.
Nonetheless, the field has been set and now we get to sit back and enjoy the games.
As the annual tradition goes, Andy Fiskness and Andrew Craig make their picks and anyone filling out brackets should be aware that our track record is not very good. A grain of salt should be taken.
Picks by @afiskness. The final 16 teams have been announced and set for action. The Bulldogs join in the fun after taking last weekend off. Hopefully the time off will help them focus. Five other NCHC teams are set to play as well, including eight former WCHA teams. This is showing that the tide might be turning back to the western teams for college hockey dominance.
Friday, March 20, 2015
Saturday, March 14, 2015
College hockey in the west became very wild two years ago when the WCHA broke up and CCHA disappeared.
The just completed regular seasons have proven that teams in the west can survive and thrive. Currently in the PWR, the NCHC and WCHA have eight teams ranked in the top 16 including spots 1-5.
It may not have been the way that some school would want change to occur, but Minnesota State Mankato and Michigan Tech cannot be unhappy with their first and second place finishes respectively in the WCHA. MSUM is currently #2 in the PWR and MTU #5.
The top rankings of WCHA teams is not from easy opponents either. MSUM has played the 13th ranked strength of schedule (SOS) and owns the best overall winning percentage in the nation at 0.7714 (26-7-3).
Likewise, MTU has taken the schedule given and run with it achieving a 27-8-2 record, third best in the nation at 0.7473 winning percentage. Now with the first home playoff series since 1993, MTU is on the verge of taking the next step to the WCHA Final Five and likely onto the NCAA Tournament. A trip to the NCAA's would be the school's first since 1981.
On the other side of the West's story is the NCHC, arguably the most powerful conference in the nation. Currently the NCHC is working on their sixth team in the top 16 of the PWR. Most likely all six will not make it, but there is the distinct possibility that five will make the NCAA's.
The depth of the league is most demonstrated by Minnesota Duluth who is currently on the road at Denver for the first round of the NCHC Playoffs despite currently holding the #4 PWR position. Fans around the western region have questioned the PWR math, but the SOS of the NCHC teams make it a reality.
The eight teams of the NCHC hold the top eight SOS positions in the nation. The strength of the conference lies in the success of the members in non-conference games and the even play in conference.
Going into the last weekend of NCHC conference play, UMD had the chance to be anywhere from second to fifth. Even with a win on the weekend, coupled with a loss, the Bulldogs still found themselves in fifth again a testament to the strength of the NCHC.
There continues to be banter and "inside knowledge" of big changes forthcoming in college hockey west, right now the WCHA and NCHC are basking in the limelight of conferences that came out of the fray in good shape and getting stronger.
Additionally, it would have been the second disallowed goal for the home team in the game. If that had any bearing on the decision, it is ridiculous. In fact I feel ridiculous writing it, but that thought crept in my mind last night and I haven't been able to shake it.