UMD has been made famous on broadcasts for two things this season: the number of times the Bulldogs have played the #1 team in the nation and that UMD has the hardest strength of schedule (SOS).
The SOS has been on full display this month playing games in Canada (these don't count, but it is a travel series that counts ), at North Dakota, against a physical and surging Western Michigan, UMTC Gophers, and now at Denver.
It will be a five weekend sprint to the finish of the NCHC regular season that includes one non-confernce opponent series.
But don't think that the schedule will let up either. On the schedule is still Omaha, at Miami, and at Western Michigan who was a tough opponent for UMD.
SOS will help with PairWise, but in the end UMD will have to win to make the Tournament and play through March and into April.
Road, Sweet Road. For the second season in a row, the Bulldogs are a better road team than at home. This season the numbers are 8-3-0 on the road and 5-4-1 at home.
What is it that is better on the road? Jokingly some have said that the concrete is still settling at AMSOIL Arena (like some have said about the first couple years at Target Field and the Twins).
If it is that the team is easily distractible, that is OK, right? The games that matter at the end are on the road. But no, they are neutral sites, where UMD is 1-2-0 this season. This road thing is a real head scratcher.
Playing with the Lead. UMD is a strong team when taking a lead into an intermission. 8-1-0 is the record when the Bulldogs lead after the first and an impressive 11-0-0 after the second.
That perfect record after two periods was in dire straights last Saturday after allowing a tying goal early in the third against the Gophers. What mad it more perilous was UMD only logged two shots on goal that third period. One was the goal and the other was a weak dump-in that found its way on goal.
Counter that with this weekend's opponent, Denver, is equally good with the lead going into intermission. They are 6-1-0 when leading after the first and and identical 11-0-0 after two.
StatPack. UMD and DU by the stats:
|Images via Wikipedia: Bulldog, NCAA, NCHC, Denver|
#7 Minnesota Duluth @ #11 Denver: I am conflicted between the sky is falling for UMD and if they turned things around by beating the Gophers. I guess that means a split.
#2 North Dakota @ #3 Nebraska Omaha: This is the probably best series in all of hockey this weekend. I can't see one team dominating it, so it will be a split.
St. Cloud State @ Colorado College: This might be the weekend that both teams turn the corner, or then again it could be more of the same. I will go with the latter. Split.
#8 Miami @ Western Michigan (1 game): Miami need this win more and they will get it. The Redhawks get the win.