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.
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.
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.