Last night, all five home teams won opening games in the WCHA playoffs. Three of them shut out their visitors (Minnesota State, of course, shut their visitor out for regulation plus two overtimes).
What's it going to take for the visiting teams to prevail Saturday?
Alaska-Anchorage at Colorado College. UAA needs to finish better. Certainly, that's easier said than done when facing Richard Bachman. But UAA outshot CC last night, and the Seawolves had some chances with the score tied 1-1. Take advantage of one of those, and you have a different game.
Michigan Tech at North Dakota. Perhaps getting a shot in the first period will help. With J.P. Lamoureux in net, you have to get pucks to him. If he has a weakness, it's that he'll sometimes give up a softie. Get traffic, get shots, and don't let up. Michael-Lee Teslak played well in net for Tech last night, but he can't win you a game if you don't get some heat on the other team's goalie somehow.
UMD at Denver. Frankly, UMD needs to take better care of their defensive responsibilities. The Bulldogs gave up too many easy goals last night, and many of them were the result of one or more players being caught out of position. Much of that starts with little battles for the puck that UMD didn't win, but it doesn't matter how it started. UMD has been very good this year at rebounding from tough losses on the road. The added pressure of "the season's on the line" will ratchet up the difficulty of doing that tonight.
Wisconsin at St. Cloud State. From the sounds of it, Wisconsin was pretty lifeless last night. Didn't seem like they had a lot of jump, and they never really got it going. The Badgers need a better all-around effort, which will lead to more pressure on SCSU goalie Jase Weslosky and less on their own goalie.
Minnesota at Minnesota State. More than any other team, the Gophers' lack of offense sunk them last night. They had four power plays in the first period, but had trouble even generating shots. In fact, Minnesota only had FIVE shots the whole period. The Gophers need to play tonight the way they played most of the overtime periods last night. The energy and skating they flashed will carry them to a couple goals, and the way Alex Kangas played in goal last night, a couple might be enough.