Thursday, January 12, 2012

UMD Stays Humble Through Streak, Ready for Test From UNO

OMAHA, Neb. -- It's almost getting to the point where UMD's next loss can be greeted by a table talking about what the price of gas was the last time UMD lost, or how much it cost to buy a gallon of milk.

That's somewhat sarcastic, but Oct. 15 was a long time ago. After all, we had no idea the Wild would be good.

(Wait, we still don't really know. Carry on.)

The 16-game unbeaten streak is something for this team to be proud of. They're not really hiding from it, which is odd, because most of the time, you hear teams in this spot talking about the need to take things one game at a time, or some gobbledegook like that.

"It's been a lot of fun," junior defenseman Drew Olson says, "and you don't want it to stop."

Fans will often think teams this hot need to be humbled.

For this group, it doesn't seem like a huge problem.

Instead, it seems they're thriving off the attention, even though the attention and pressure will only increase with every game they win.

"The way we look at it as a team is we like to have fun with it," Olson said. "We don't have guys on this team who get cocky or anything like that. They're very down-to-earth. They just want to get to the rink and get the job done.

"We have confidence in our team, and it doesn't matter what anyone else says."

This weekend, No. 1 UMD plays Nebraska Omaha, a team desperate for the kinds of wins that define a season. You know, the kind you can get against the hottest team in college hockey.

UNO has some nice wins this season, beating North Dakota and Colorado College. There are also head-scratching and potentially damaging losses to Alabama-Huntsville, Alaska-Anchorage, and Alaska. The Mavericks' record has ranged from two games below .500 (1-3) to two games above .500 (9-7-3 and 10-8-4, where it is now).

Coach Dean Blais has dealt with disciplinary issues, centering around the eventual dismissal of senior Alex Hudson from the team, and he hasn't gotten nearly the goaltending any of us expected him to. Senior John Faulkner has struggled, holding just an .877 save percentage in 11 games. Freshmen Ryan Massa and Dayn Belfour haven't been a ton better, and the UNO team save percentage of .886 won't take the club very far.

Up front, Blais has some impressive players. Matt White has 27 points, Terry Broadhurst has 14 goals, and freshman Jayson Megna is at nearly a point per game (21 points in 22 games).

UNO doesn't take a lot of penalties (fewest per game in the WCHA), and the penalty kill is solid when they do.

As you would expect, the Mavericks have speed to burn up front. In fact, they could be fairly compared to Western Michigan in terms of the forwards' skating ability.

Where WMU probably has an edge is on the blue line, where UNO doesn't appear as mobile. They're big and tough in the back, though, and those guys can indeed move the puck when they have to.

Key for UMD this weekend will be using their speed up front to get UNO off balance defensively. You also want to make those big defensemen skate early in the game, then take advantage of that in the third period.

It's a formula UMD has used with great success over the last 16 games. As long as the guys are working hard and staying true to their way of doing things, there's no need for a humbling here.

These guys are already humble. That's why they're so good.


Charlie said...

If you have the means, please think about making a donation to The Jack Jablonski Fund. Jack is the Benidle-St. Margaret's (Minnesota) high school player who was hit from behind and paralyzed wo weeeks ago.

For a link to Jack's Fund and for more information about Jack and the reverberations his injury is causing, please see

Both a former Benilde student and current Benilde student have each written songs in honor of Jack. They can be found here and also have links to The Jack jablonski Fund:

Runninwiththedogs said...

Bruce, here's more proof that I am right!