Friday, October 30, 2015

UMD Hosts UMass Lowell

Weekend Marks Second Straight Weekend of Hockey East Opponent

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:

Of Note:

  • 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
Picks by @afiskness.  It is the Halloween weekend and NCHC season starts for some of the teams beginning the race for the Spencer and Julie Penrose Memorial Cup.  It will be a grind.  I like that UMD has another weekend of non-conference play to get the scoring figured out before taking on NCHC foes.  

North Dakota @ Colorado College:  The Tigers are bad and North Dakota is good,  This will be a sweep by North Dakota. 

Miami @ St. Cloud State:  Last weekend the Huskies were thumped out east by the Bobcats of Quinnpiac and the Redhawks split with the Saints of St. Lawrence.  I think these teams match up well will be a split, unless Charlie Lindgren can find the touch again.  Split.

Nebraska Omaha @ Western Michigan:  The Mavericks are the best team in the country right now, just a stick blade ahead of the Bobcats in my opinion, but playing their old CCHA rival at the Lawson Ice Arena is always tough.  The slow down game of the Broncos will earn them a split.  

Denver @ Boston College and @ Boston University:  The Pioneers take on two high ranked Hockey East teams in a pair of games that will likely have significant importance in the Pair Rankings come the end of the year.  I like the Eagles to win at home on Friday, but the Pioneers to beat the Terriers on Saturday.  

Massachusetts Lowell @ Minnesota Duluth:  Both teams are coming off a pair of ties last weekend and that is likely to happen again this weekend.  But I will pick a split instead. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Bulldogs Travel to Irish for Weekend

First of Two Straight Weekends of Hockey East Opponents

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.

Minnesota Duluth @ Notre Dame:  Last weekend the Bulldogs showed why they were #2 team in the preseason poll with a pair of dominating wins against the Gophers.  The Compton Family Ice Center is always a tough place to play, but I think the larger than standard North American rink size will play to the Bulldogs advantage.  I will pick a UMD sweep.  

Western Michigan @ Clarkson:  The Broncos are heading to Potsdam, New York to take on Clarkson from ECAC.  I know that the Broncos will look to slow the game down as that is what they do, but I don't know what to expect from the Golden Knights.  The Golden Knights last weekend were crushed by the Warriors of Merrimack but followed that up with a nice win against the Wildcats of New Hampshire.  Because it is a road series for the Broncos I will go with a split.  

Miami @ St. Lawrence:  This is a great match up of two ranked teams from the NCHC and ECAC. The Redhawks are coming off a sweep of the win less Ohio State and St. Lawrence a win and loss last weekend against Hockey East opponents.  This will be a tough trip to Canton, New York for the Redhawks.  I will go with a split.  

St. Cloud State @ Quinnipiac:  This should be another a very good series for NCHC versus ECAC teams.  Charlie Lindgren and the Huskies are on fire, but the Bobcats are not a slouch.  The home ice for the Bobcats at the High Point Solutions Arena should help them earn a tough played split.  

North Dakota @ Vermont:  Last weekend the Catamounts were swept by the Mavericks of Omaha and now they face North Dakota.  I don't think the home ice will be enough for the Catamounts as North Dakota will sweep.

Air Force @ Nebraska Omaha:  The Falcons have upset one NCHC foe already this year, but the Mavericks are red hot and they are my pick as the top team in the country.  Mavericks sweep.

Boston College @ Colorado College:  The Eagles will have little difficulty dispatching the Tigers this weekend in a sweep. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Two Winless Teams, Something Has To Give

Instate Rivals Both Bring 0-1 records to Home and Home Weekend

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!

Of note:
  • This will be the only meetings for UMD and UMTC unless they meet again in the NCAA Tournament like last season's UMD win.
StatPack.  Still too early for anywhere close to meaningful stats. Next week.

Picks by @afiskness. After watching the Bulldogs play the Beavers in Bemidji I came to the conclusion that I should not jump to conclusions.  By jumping to conclusions I would say it is going to be a long season for Bulldog fans, but I am not doing that.  There is a lot of improvement needed by the Bulldogs to live up to the high preseason rankings.  I know it is early, but we all know the conference schedule will be a monster, so these games will be the ones in all likelihood determine if they make the NCAA tournament or not.  If UMD continues to take penalties in the 20 minutes per game range, they will not be a top 10 team in the NCAAs.  

North Dakota vs. Bemidji States (home/home):  Last week North Dakota played good hockey and the Beavers played well enough to get a win.  I think this might be evenly matched series I will pick a split with the home teams winning.  

Michigan State @ Denver:  The home ice should help the Pioneers, but the Spartans are one team I like in the Big Ten this year.  I will pick a split. 

Minnesota State University Mankato @ Saint Cloud State:  The Mavericks were completely out matched last weekend and I don't think they will be able to bounce back against the Huskies.  I will go with a Huskies sweep.  

Colorado College @ Massachusetts Lowell:  The Tigers do not appear to be good meanwhile the Riverhawks are really good, Riverhawks sweep.

Minnesota Duluth vs Minnesota Twin Cities (home/home):  The chant at both rinks for this series should be "Overrated".  The Bulldogs in recent years have played well against the Gophers, but based on what I saw last week the Bulldogs have a lot of room for improvement.  I won't pick two ties so, I will go with a split with the road teams winning.  

Nebraska Omaha @ Vermont:  The Mavericks played like the #1 team in the country last weekend and the Catamounts faced a Gopher team that needs sometime to figure out who they are.  I will pick a Nebraska Omaha win and tie. 

#18 Miami vs Ohio State (home/home):  These Ohio rivals should be a good series.  I think the teams match up well this early in the season.  I like a split with the home teams winning this weekend.    

Friday, October 9, 2015

Start It Up!

UMD Comes Into First Weekend With High Expectations

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.

Of Note:

  • 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.

Massachusetts @ Colorado College:  I keep hearing about how good all of the NCHC teams are and that even the teams at the wrong end of the standings are so good.  It a new season maybe the Tigers will be that good.  Based on the Minute Men being very young and picked to finish last in Hockey East I am going with a Tigers sweep.  If this happens watch for the body clock excuse.

Nebraska Omaha @ Minnesota State University Mankato:  The battle of the Mavericks!  This is the best series for the weekend.  Both teams are highly ranked with the purple cows the preseason favorites to win the WCHA.  I like the red cows scoring ability, but will they find any goaltending?  I will go with a split. 

Providence @ Miami:  The reigning NCAA champs go to Oxford, Ohio and play a highly ranked NCHC team and it is not the premier matchup of the weekend?  They don't share a nickname, so this is the 2nd best series.  Both teams lost a lot but should have depth.  I will go with a split. 

Bemidji vs. Minnesota Duluth (home/home):  The Bulldogs are picked to win the NCHC and are very highly ranked nationally, so now will the team live up to the hype?  The Beavers always paly UMD tough even when the Bulldogs have proven to be the much better team.  Since it is a new season and I don't have to remember past failures, I will officially go with a UMD sweep.  Likely it will be a split with road teams winning.

Ferris State vs. Western Michigan (home/home):  The Bulldogs start a the season with a new goalie replacing CJ Motte, this is a tall order to fill.  The Broncos have been a rough and tumble lower scoring team one that can probably be expected again this year.  I like the Broncos in both games in against a Bulldog team that will likely struggle to score and looking for a new goalie to take over the job.  Broncos sweep.

Lake Superior State vs. North Dakota, North Dakota vs. Maine:  North Dakota has a new coach and did lose a bunch of talent, but they always seem to be able to bring in new players to fill the holes.  The Lakers have a lot of holes to fill and were at the bottom of the WCHA last year.  I pick a North Dakota win.  The second game of the tournament North Dakota takes on the Black Bear from Orono, Maine.  Maine is picked for 10th in Hockey East.  I will go with another North Dakota win.  

Kendall Hockey Classic
St. Cloud State vs. Alaska Fairbanks, St. Cloud State vs. Alaska Anchorage:  The Huskies are highly ranked again after losing a bunch of fire power last year and will be facing off against both Alaska teams in the Kendall Classic.  I don't think the Huskies have enough scoring to get two wins this weekend.  So I will go with a Huskies loss to the Nanooks and a win against the Seawolves.  

Tuesday 10/13/15
Bowling Green @ Western Michigan:  The Falcons go to Kalamazoo to take on the Bronco who will already have two games under their belt.  The Falcons are highly ranked and should be looking to improve on last years success.  I will go with a Falcons win.