Saturday, March 26, 2016

Haven't We Met Before? Part II

Northeast Region Final Sees UMD Meet BC Again

UMD seems to be at home in the Northeast Region, at least in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. After the first round, the Bulldogs have lost to Boston University and Boston College in their previous two Regional finals.

It was one year after their NCAA Championship that the Bulldogs faced the Eagles for the NE finals where BC buzzed right through UMD on their way to their most recent National Championship.

So is this year any different? Yes.

BC is not the highest power in the land of college hockey this year like in 2012. I by no means am saying they are not good or dangerous, but that Johnny Gaudreau led team was a high powered scoring machine.

Additionally, the surging UMD Bulldogs have seen a rebirth through their defense. Not only stellar goaltending by Kazimir Kaskisuo, but the emergence of Neal Pionk into a standout freshman force and the steady Andy Welinski have really stabilized the ship. Not to be overlooked is the force that Willie Raskob has become on the blueline since the postseason started.

With a defense that is solid and scoring when needed, this UMD team can certainly find themselves in the Florida sun at the Frozen Four.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Haven't We Met Before?

UMD Faces Lehman-led Providence

Nate Lehman may seem liek a familiar name although UMD has not faced Providence for years. Lehman was the coach of Union, UMD's first round vicim back in 2011 NCAAs, the year the Bulldogs won their championship.

A sign for good fortunes? It sure could be the way the UMD defense is shutting down offenses. With a good defense, anything is possible in the NCAA Tournament.

Picks by @afiskness. For much of the season I did not think that the Bulldogs would be playing in the NCAAs this season as their scoring was too inconsistent.  However now they are and they have proven they can beat they play.  The same can be said of them as well.

This NCAA tournament appears to be wide open.  I can see any of the 16 teams getting into the final four.  What actually happens will be fun to watch.  

NCHC Picks
Northeast Region
#14 Minnesota Duluth vs. #4 Providence: This is an interesting matchup.  The reigning national champs who prior to the Hockey East tournament had won 10 games in a row against the Bulldogs who just won 7 in a row.  If UMD dictates tempo they will get the win.   I see this as a coin toss, Bulldogs win.

West Region
#15 Ferris State vs. #2 St Cloud State:  The Bulldogs won the WCHA tournament to earn the right to play in the NCAAs.  The Bulldogs focus on defense and will need to be strong against the Huskies.  I like the Huskies high power offense to get the win.

#12 Boston University vs. #6 Denver:  This is a rematch for these two teams this season.  On October 31St the Terriers came out with the win, this time the tables will be turned.  Pioneers win.  

Midwest Region
#13 Northeastern vs. #3 North Dakota:  The Huskies are the hottest team in the county and will not be afraid of taking on the Fighting Hawks.  I think the Huskies will stay hot and get the win.  

My Frozen Four (otherwise known as the kiss of death) is Quinnipiac, Minnesota Duluth, Denver and Northeastern.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

UMD Moves Towards Goals; PWR Important

As Bulldogs Look to NCAAs, Frozen Faceoff Looms First

Speculation and numbers are swirling around college hockey world right now. Some teams are definitely in the NCAA Tourney based on PWR numbers and probabilities and some are definitely out. Others still are in limbo with games to be played, and UMD fits that category.

With a guaranteed two games this weekend in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff, the Bulldogs are right on the bubble according to the PWR hanging in at #13. With 16 teams getting in the Tourney, there are the auto-bids that keep moving the cut line up the rankings. #13 is pretty safe place to be, but two losses this weekend will definitely make a slide in that ranking for UMD.

The good news? With the sweep of Miami last weekend, UMD is guaranteed an over 0.500 record, the first criteria for making the NCAAs.

But what will it take to make the NCAAs?

Look no further than here and our PWR friends for scenarios:

  1. From @afiskness here at C3H: I did a little pairwise predictor and I do think it is about 50% the UMD gets in to the NCAAs.  I think they will have to win one game (no tie in 3rd place game) that way they can stay a #13 in the pairwise.  I think this would be different if UMD had one win against BSU this season.  Here are a few other things that UMD fans will want to happen:
    • Michigan win the Bi6 Tournament,
    • Havard or Quinnipiac win ECAC Tournament,
    • UML, BC or Providence win HE Tournament,
      • UML Wins should help UMD the most, and
    • Northeastern Lose at least 1 game.
  1. Work out your own plan at the PWR Predictor and You Be The Committee
  2. Jim Dahl's College Hockey Ranked is a great place to go to see the breakdown of the probabilities and possibilities.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Keep Rolling; March On

UMD Worked to Get Home Ice, Can They Finish?

In an up and down season, the Bulldogs are looking to break the ceiling and crash into the NCAA Tourney. A surge at the end of the season goth them home ice and currently has them on the bubble of the PWR at #13.

But all that work to get to today is for naught and their season will definitely end if they cannot find a way to win their first NCHC playoff game and get by the Redhawks for the second straight weekend.

Look for tighter games, but a very confident UMD squad to come out and turn some heads and March On.

Picks by @afiskness. All season the Bulldogs defense and goaltending has been very strong, but the inability to score goals hurt this team over the year.  The scoring appears to have come around while the defense and goaltending has remained strong.  Fans of NCAA hockey are wondering if the UMD Bulldogs have finally "figured it out" since they appear to be playing like the preseason media favorite to win the NCHC.  If the defense and goaltending remains what it has this teams does have the ability to knock off any opponent.

The Bulldogs need to keep winning to stay in the NCAA hunt.  At large teams can't have a losing record, so the Bulldogs must win more games than they lose.  A sweep this weekend would be huge going into the NCHC tournament as they would would likely still be able to finish 4th in the NCHC Tournament and get an at large bid to the NCAAs.  

NCHC #5 Miami @ #4 Minnesota Duluth:  As George Bush said “There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again.” this applies to the Bulldogs this weekend.  They appear to have everything rolling, but I can't pick a sweep.  UMD in three games as they will lay one egg this weekend. 

NCHC #7Western Michigan @ #2 St. Cloud State:  The Huskies absolutely own this series.  In the previous four games played between these teams this year the Huskies scored 31 goals to the Broncos 8.  There will be no change this weekend, Huskies sweep.  

NCHC #8 Colorado College @ #1 North Dakota:  The Tigers long season is nearly over and they do not have enough left in the tank to pull an upset.  Fighting Hawks sweep.

NCHC #6 Nebraska Omaha @ #3 Denver:  The Pioneers are lava hot right now, have one loss in the last 18 games including nine straight wins.  The Mavericks are glacier ice cold with four wins in their last 16 games including six straight losses.  Why would that change?  Pioneers sweep.

Friday, March 4, 2016

The Wait is Over?

UMD Hosts Miami to Likely Decide Last Home Ice Spot

Can't lie, last weekend was a total surprise. Even with the strong defensive effort displayed the previous weekend at North Dakota, a split, let alone a sweep, at Saint Cloud was wishful thinking.

Could this be it? The team's fans have been waiting most of the season to see the potential that preseason pollsters saw to pick UMD to win the NCHC.  The type of season when a successful team brings back eight seniors. But it has been elusive until last weekend.

UMD has the opportunity for their second home ice in the first round of the NCHC Playoffs as they look for their first trip to Minneapolis for the Frozen Faceoff. At this point, needless to say that it is Minneapolis or bust for UMD to continue their season.

Picks by @afiskness. The Bulldogs wacky season continues.  Last weekend the Bulldogs swept the Huskies in St. Cloud making them the favorite to get the final home ice spot in the NCHC playoffs.  The two wins by the Bulldogs also moved them back up into the top 15 in the pair wise rankings.  As long as the Bulldogs continue to win more then they lose in their remaining games they may be able to move high enough in the Pair Wise and have a .500 record needed to get them large bid for the NCAAs.

PWR #18 Miami @ #15 Minnesota Duluth:  This series has split written all over it.  

PWR #39 Western Michigan @ #2 North Dakota:  The Fighting Hawks will secure the Julie and Spencer Penrose Memorial Cup with a home sweep this of the Broncos.

PWR #13 Nebraska Omaha @ #7 Denver:  The Pioneers will sweep the struggling Mavericks in Denver.

PWR #3 St. Cloud State @ #53 Colorado College:  The Huskies let down will continue as they will split with the Tigers in Colorado Springs.