Friday, December 7, 2018

Bulldogs Roadtrip to Western Michigan

Bulldogs Face Broncos to End 2018 NCHC Play

What a year for UMD! As 2018 NCHC play comes to a close, it is a good time to look back at all the good things that the Bulldogs made happen.

One of those almost unbelievable carry-overs from last season is the season series between UMD and this weekend's opponent Western Michigan.

UMD and WMU played six times, four in the regular season and two in the first round of the playoffs. Of the six games, UMD won five. Additionally five of the six games were shutouts. The lone UMD loss was one of the shutouts, 5-0 at Duluth in November.

The five UMD wins were 3-0, 8-0, 6-1, 5-0, 2-0. WMU games helped propel goaltender Hunter Shepard to tie the UMD record for most shutouts in a career last season, a record that he broke last weekend.

What will this weekend bring? Likely not shutouts either way, but it should be a favorable weekend for UMD.


Friday, November 30, 2018

North Dakota Visits Duluth

Fighting Hawks Looking to Get On Track Against Bulldogs

It has not been a happy season in Grand Forks. Many have wondered what is happening after missing the NCAA Tournament last year. And they were expecting a good year this year. So far, no good.

UND is scrambling for wins with five of their seven wins being 1-2 goal differential. Three of the five were one goal wins. This is a symptom of not top scoring, but also fair to below average goaltending and defense. Team save percentage is 0.880 which is far from the benchmark of 90% that we look for in our stat comparisons at CollegeHockeyHH.

But this team is never one to take lightly. UND always has talent and replaces talent with talent. It could be a light switch type situation, let's just not flip that switch this weekend.

Prediction. Look for a UMD sweep. they are destined to keep pushing for the Penrose Cup and this is one of may key weekends for that goal.


Thursday, November 1, 2018

Looking Ahead, NCHC Pre-Conference Predictions

Unconventional, But Here is How We Predict the NCHC

Most conference predictions come before the season starts, but we thought we would try something new and see how the non-conference stacks up and then make some predictions. Here is how the staff at College Hockey HH sees the NCHC regular season going:

  1. Saint Cloud State. Strong team looking to continues its winning ways and making a stake to the Penrose for the second straight year. Returning players are plentiful including goaltenders. What is up next for goals is moving through the NCAAs.
  2. Minnesota Duluth. Last year was a pleasant surprise for UMD ending where all the Division I teams want to be, the National Champions. For as good as they became as a team, they come back pretty much still intact and looking for the same success. But it just seems that UMD teams can't sustain success historically to win a regular season championship. Two national championships (2011 and 2018) and the last conference regular season championship was 1992-93.
  3. Denver. New coach, lots of new players but look for more of the same as past years. Denver is reloading and likely not rebuilding.
  4. Colorado College. Our first "out on a limb" prediction. The Tigers made strides last year with young players and this year return a strong goaltender in Leclerc.
  5. North Dakota. A team can only lose talent for so long before reloading cannot continue and rebuilding must occur. This is that year.
  6. Miami. The Redhawks at 6 and Broncos at 7 could really go either way. both have limited senior experience on their rosters so this is really just a gut feeling. Also we predict that the future looks brighter for Miami than WMU, but not by much.
  7. Western Michigan. See Miami capsule above. The 5-7 picks could really be a toss up.
  8. Omaha. The Mavericks have looked outmatched all non-conference. They have some talent, but it looks to be a year of struggles in Omaha.
Well, there it is. The predicted finish tot he 2018-19 NCHC regular season. If it holds, it would be the first time North Dakota did not secure home ice and CC hosted in the first round. But for now, it is all just speculation.

See you at the Penrose Cup, NCHC!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Another Trip to Michigan Tech

UMD and MTU Renew Rivalry

Not that this is as big of games as UMD and other Minnesota teams or MTU vs North Michigan, but these games this weekend are the 231st and 232nd of the series between these teams.

Some of the games have been heated, some laughers, while others head scratchers as both the Bulldogs and Huskies have had their ups, downs, and National Championships over the years.

Last meeting went to the Huskies in Duluth last season 4-3, but the Bulldogs are currently 7-1-1 in the last nine games at McInnes Ice Arena.

It will be a good weekend to see if UMD can rebound from a 0-1-1 weekend with the Gophers and this is a good time to go on the road to build the team bonds for the Bulldogs.


Coming soon as the stats stack up!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Could It Be More Sweet?

Same Formula Brings Championship to Duluth

Now who would have thunk that? Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs getting into the NCAA Tournament by the narrowest of margins, sweeps their way from #3 seed in the West to the champion of NCAA Division I National Champions.

leveraging three straight 2-1 wins, preceded by a 3-2 OT win, makes UMD the first team to win all their NCAA Tournament games by one goal. That is is the key to the championship run for the Bulldogs, defense and just enough scoring to get the win.

In UMD's three straight 2-1 wins the equation seemed to stay the same: jump out to a fast start scoring two goals in the first period, play strong defense all game, and keep the offensive pressure on. This equals wins and a championship.

This UMD Bulldogs team, thankful just to get into the NCAA Tournament, now can look back and relax with the new label, Champion.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

All the Way to the Frozen Four

Unlikely Return for UMD Makes This Frozen Four Sweet

Last year's Frozen Four was almost expected, though it didn't come easy. This year's Frozen Four is an unexpected surprise.

The story line is well known: seven seniors graduated and three underclassmen left for pro deals after the National Championship loss to Denver. 10 major players out of the lineup including five starting defensemen and the goaltender that played just shy of 90% of the games by minutes played.

Rebuild was on the minds of many fans. Maybe even those close tot he program, but this Bulldog coaching staff has proven that they are up to the task in a big way. They have taken an inexperienced team and built them up all year.

Evidence is plentiful, but just he improvement in the NCHC conference play says it all. At the Holiday Break, UMD was in seventh place just ahead of Omaha whom they had just split a series with. After the break in the NCHC UMD peeled off a 10-4-0 record to bolt into third place, host a first round series, and make it to the Frozen Faceoff for the third straight year.

Only nine current Bulldogs played in the 2017 Frozen Four.

All this leads us to say: not rebuild, but RELOAD.

UMD is in rarefied air making their program record fourth straight NCAA appearance and they look to make the most of it by crashing the B1G Ten party in St. Paul.

There is only one thing left for this group of upstarts to do but to win it all.


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Sunday, March 18, 2018


Back to the West Regional

After a disappointing Frozen Faceoff weekend, UMD squeaked in to the NCAA Tournament by 0.0001 points on the PWR. Yes, that number is correct, 0.0001. And for the last at-large bid.

This season UMD has come from so far behind last year's team in experience, that it is a victory for the program and the coaching staff, and most of all the players for this chance to return to the NCAA Tournament.

The West Regional:

4 Air Force
1 St. Cloud State


Friday, March 16, 2018

NCHC Frozen Faceoff

The NCHC Frozen Faceoff is here and at the Xcel Energy Center for the first time.  I am excited to attend the games at a true hockey rink.  This change of venues should also be better for fans as the slight lines at Xcel are better then the Target Center's.  As we have discussed at CH3, we will miss being able to take photos and watch the games from the corners of the rink like you could at Target Center.

It should be at least three really good hockey games.  The third place game could anywhere from a snoozer to a play-in game to the NCAAs all depending on the matchups.  I personally hope UMD wins the first game and seals a trip to the NCAAs with that win. 

North Dakota vs. St. Cloud State:  The NCAA playoffs have essentially started for the Fighting Hawks a loss could doom their hopes.  The Huskies are a much better team and I think they will use their defense and goaltending to get the win.

UMD vs Denver:  These are two evenly matched teams even though the Pioneers have had UMDs number this season.  I like the all around play the Bulldogs have shown recently and I am picking them to win in a close one.

Championship:  My pick for the Champion is the Huskies.  They seem to be the best all-around team and likely to be the one holding the NCHC Frozen Faceoff Champions Trophy. 

Third Place game:  If it is UND and DU there will be two very different levels of effort given on the rink.  The Fighting Hawks need the win and Denver needs to stay healthy.  The Pioneers are good enough to have this end in a tie. 

Friday, March 9, 2018

NCHC Playoffs

The greatest time of the year is finally here for college hockey fans, conference playoffs and the NCAAs.  This year playoffs results, like past years, will have big implications in the Pairwise Rankings and NCAA playoffs seedings.  Thankfully for Bulldogs fans UMD is a near lock to make the NCAAs.

The NCHC first round playoff matchups are very good and I think they will be some upsets.  From top to bottom the conference is so close that any team could step up and make a run.  I particularly like Colorado College and Nebraska Omaha as potential first round upsets.  The Mavericks power play is so potent that if they get hot they could easily propel them for a trip to St. Paul.  Like wise, the Tigers have developed some high ends players who if matched with some good defense and goal tending also have what it takes to get the upset.  It should be some great hockey over St. Patrick's weekend in St. Paul. 

#RV Western Michigan @ #8 Minnesota Duluth:  The last time they played a couple weeks ago UMD won the two games with a combined score of 14-1.  It will be different this weekend as the Broncos are healthier, but they won't be able to win two games at Amsoil.  UMD wins in 3 games.

Miami @ #1 St. Cloud State:  The Huskies have played like a #1 team recently and the Redhawks won't be able to change that, the Huskies sweep.

#13 Nebraska Omaha @ #14 North Dakota:  Both the Fighting Hawks and the Mavericks are playing for an NCAA birth, winner likely goes and loser is done.  I like the PP for the Mavericks to carry them to a playoff birth in three games even with their poor road record. 

Colorado College @ #4 Denver:  This years matchup is much closer than last years for these teams.  My gut says the Tigers get the upset in three games, so I am going with it.    

Friday, March 2, 2018

Final Weekend of the Regular Season

The NCHC 2017-2018 season has flown by once again as the Bulldogs are hosting Nebraska Omaha for the final weekend series.  If UMD is able to get one point they will clinch the third place position in the NCHC regular season standings after last weekend securing home ice for the playoffs.  The excellent play since Christmas has put this team as an almost sure thing for the NCAA tournament.  In my opinion this is quite an accomplishment. 

Coming into the season with UMD down 10 players from last years NCAA runner-up team there were so many question marks that my expectations were set low since the NCHC is such a strong conference.  This year the Bulldogs have shown they can beat tough teams and can win a bunch of games in a row and steal some games that they probably should have lost which makes for new expectations of a team that can be a real factor in the NCAA tournament.  The players that returned from last year know the pressure they will face hopefully will be able to show the youngsters how to handle this pressure. 

There are several bright spots with this young team first with goal tending and the second with the defense.  The biggest question mark coming in was who would be heir apparent to Hunter Miska which has been answered by Hunter Shepard who has six shutouts on the season to his credit and the season isn't done yet.  On defense, returning one starter usually is enough to cause heart palpitations, but this group of youngsters have stepped up and played fantastic.  So good in fact, that everyone hopes they will wear the UMD sweater for several seasons and not be done after one or two.  The future looks good. 

As for the final two games of the season, UMD is in a good spot.  The Bulldogs seem to match up well with the Mavericks.  Back in December they split with the Mavericks scoring 11 goals in the two games in Omaha but did give up 9 goals. 

This shows that Mavericks are a good team that can score a lot of goals but have have struggled to score at times as well.  The Mavericks have had scoring outputs of one game of 11 goals, two games with 7 goals and three games with 6 goals, but like the Bulldogs they have been shutout on six occasions this season as well.  Staying out of the penalty box will be very important for UMD if they want to keep the scoring low for the Mavericks. 

Nebraska Omaha @ Minnesota Duluth:  I like the way UMD has played on defense the last few weeks and they will continue this and pull out a sweep.

St. Cloud @ North Dakota:  The Fighting Hawks have struggled recently but should be helped by facing a rival that clinched the Julie and Spencer Penrose Memorial Cup.  My gut say major let down by the Huskies but I can't say a sweep by the Fighting Hawks, so it will be a split.

Miami @ Denver:  These team split early in the year, but Miami hasn't been great on the road this year.  Denver sweep.

Western Michigan @ Colorado College:  Two big games for these teams.  If the Broncos play like last weekend they will have a long trip back to Kalamazoo.  The Tigers will sweep. 

Friday, February 2, 2018

UMD at Denver

UMD Looks to Continue Rise in NCHC Standings

UMD has made great gains in the last weeks. Going 3-1-0 against UND and SCSU helps.

UMD is currently tied for 3rd in the NCHC with North Dakota and Western Michigan. The Bulldogs can make great strides towards the top with a series at #1 (NCHC) Denver this weekend.

Last time these two teams played, it was a sweep for DU in a pair of low scoring, tight checking, one goal games. This weekend looks to be more of the same, but maybe a different outcome? Both teams are playing well and getting better as the season wears on.

UMD is at the end of a challenging stretch of games before a weekend off next. And there is not reprieve with the Olympics. DU star Troy Terry is skating for Denver this weekend before leaving for The Games next week.

Looking Forward. After this heavyweight weekend with Denver and the weekend off, the Bulldogs have series three series left. They will be home against a mediocre Miami, at a down trending Western Michigan, and at home against a pesky Omaha team.

This Weekend.

Friday, January 19, 2018

SOS for UMD As They Meet UND

Tough Grind for Bulldogs Starts with Hawks this Weekend

2018 continues on for UMD and gets important quickly. This weekend the Bulldogs host UND for a pair of NCHC games. UMD then travels to Mankato on Tuesday, January 23, to play MSUM for the back end of a home and home series that started in Duluth November 25. The following weekend the Bulldogs host Saint Cloud State for a conference series. The last games of this grind for UMD occur at Denver the following weekend, February 2-3, at Denver.

So that means UMD will play four teams in three weeks for a total of seven games. Those four teams are currently ranked in the PairWise (PWR) #10, #8, #3, and #6 respectively.

Wow, SOS!

Not Save Our Ship, not Save Our Season, not Save Our S*#t, but Strength of Schedule.

UMD has logged the one of the top three SOSs for the last few seasons now. A hallmark of UMD under Scott Sandelin is a challenging schedule and it also helps to be in arguably the top conference in the nation. Currently the NCHC has the top four SOSs and six of the top eight. UMD currently is eighth.

Quick look at UMD and their upcoming opponents PWR and SOS:

StatPack for UMD vs UND:

Friday, January 12, 2018