UMD ended a 1-3-2 skid by thumping a very good Nebraska-Omaha team 4-1 at Amsoil Arena Friday night.
It was UMD's first Friday night win since Jan. 21, their first Friday night point since Feb. 4, and their first home Friday win since a 2-0 victory over Wisconsin Jan. 14.
There were enough positives in this game to fill the Bulldogs' wonderful home facility, but we'll quickly summarize.
- UMD got scoring from lines not lamely nicknamed "FCC" by homer media members. Travis Oleksuk's line scored twice, including once on the power play, and Keegan Flaherty set David Grun up for a snipe job in the high slot.
- Kenny Reiter was sharp, making 29 saves on 30 shots. More than anything, as Lee Davidson talked about in the pregame, he avoided giving up any bad goals. Bad goals can be more deflating than great saves are inspiring.
- UMD only took three penalties for six minutes, which should cut a bit into their per-game minutes average of 15.8.
- Reiter was the recipient of a solid defensive effort that featured plenty of hard skating and physical play. It was a total team effort.
The goal of an NCAA championship isn't going to be significantly helped by a high seed. Just getting in the tournament is enough, because you give yourself a chance to go all the way.
Heading into Saturday, the Bulldogs have to continue the positive strides they made Friday. You don't want to take a step back after such a nice step forward.
Before Friday's game, UNO coach Dean Blais talked about his team being able to play relaxed, now that they've clinched home ice and a top four position. There wasn't much they could do without help to aid their playoff positioning, and they're happy with the season they've had.
They appeared to be a bit too relaxed at times Friday, and one has to think that will change Saturday. Expect the Mavericks to get in some faces, especially early, and try to set a different tone for this game. UMD has to get off to another good start and build on a lead, just like they did Friday.
A sweep in this series gives UMD a chance to finish second in the league, and while the prize of playing Minnesota State might not sound enticing, it's better than the prize of playing Wisconsin if they finish fourth.
Courtesy of the WCHA, here are the scenarios for UMD.
Seeded 2nd with a win and a Denver loss or tie.
Seeded 2nd with a tie and a Denver loss.
Seeded 3rd with a win and a Denver win.
Seeded 3rd with a tie and a Denver win or tie.
Seeded 4th with a loss.
The following teams have a chance to finish between 11th (UMD would play if they finish second) and ninth (UMD would play if they finish fourth):
St. Cloud State
Take your pick, and root for the proper outcome. The full list of scenarios is way too long to print in this space, even though my space is technically unlimited. Check it out at wcha.com.
Here are the pairings for the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament:
CLASS A QUARTERFINALS - WEDNESDAY
(2) Hermantown vs. Alexandria, 11am
(3) Rochester Lourdes vs. Hibbing, 1pm
(1) St. Thomas Academy vs. New Ulm, 6pm
(4) Breck vs. Thief River Falls, 8pm
CLASS AA QUARTERFINALS - THURSDAY
(2) Edina vs. Blaine, 11am
(3) Duluth East vs. White Bear Lake, 1pm
(1) Eden Prairie vs. Lakeville North, 6pm
(4) Eagan vs. Moorhead, 8pm