Saturday, December 29, 2012

Game 20: UMD vs Ferris State (Florida College Classic)

ESTERO, Fla. -- For UMD, the 1-0 loss to Maine was its worst Friday performance in some time. In fact, UMD had not lost a game on a Friday since falling to Notre Dame Oct. 19.

Now, for the first time all season, really, UMD has a chance to come back the day after a poor performance and atone for it. I'm very intrigued to see how this team responds.



Farley - Cameranesi - Seidel
Crandall (Justin) - Herbert - Basaraba
Danberg - Hendrickson - Flaherty
Sampair - Young - Krause

Olson - Welinski
Bergman - Johnson
Smith - Casto

McNeely - Crandall (Aaron)

Bonis - Ouellette - Thompson
Robertson - Kane - Demartino
Huff - Babinski - Alexander
Panetta - Buzzeo - Klecha

Czarnowczan - Binkley
Anselmini - Denis
Dorer - Schmidt

Williams - Motte

Saturday Hockey Notes and Thoughts: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Just when things started to show signs of looking up, it's gone back into the swirl of negativity for the UMD Bulldogs.

4-1-1 over six games going into the Christmas break, the Bulldogs spent 40 minutes looking like they ate too many cookies during the bye, and a two-win Maine team got the one break it needed to burn UMD.

The break happened when Martin Ouellette made a save off a hard point shot, and the puck bounced right to Steven Swavely. He fed Ryan Lomberg out of the penalty box for a breakaway. Lomberg beat UMD freshman goalie Matt McNeely for the only goal of a 1-0 Maine win.

The Bulldog power play -- No. 1 in the WCHA for much of December -- was in a slumber Friday, scoreless in five chances, and often outworked badly by a Maine kill that has continuously improved this season. Things got so bad that UMD used its fourth line of Austyn Young, Charlie Sampair, and Adam Krause for the final seconds of the last power play, and the trio generated more good energy in 25 seconds than the two main power play units did at any point in the game.

Unquestionably, Maine played well. It executed the game plan to a tee, and Ouellette made some big saves. However, UMD spent too much of the game on the perimeter, not working hard enough to get in the tough areas and make the goalie's life difficult. Division I goalies are going to stop most unscreened shots from the outside. It's just the way it is. If a team is looking to win games by scoring goals from the perimeter, it better find a way to screen a goalie, or hope to be facing a bad goalie.

Because the Bulldogs weren't working hard enough as a unit, Maine got more of the advantages to be had out of the plethora of goofy bounces to be had on a terrible ice sheet with pucks that appeared to have been heated in a microwave before use. The Black Bears played a simpler game, while UMD tried too many times to do the fancy thing instead of just getting pucks and bodies to the net.

That lack of bodies to the net is what -- in part -- led to the game's only goal. Because UMD didn't get any real traffic in front of Ouellette, he was able to steer the rebound from a point shot right to a teammate in the slot, and that teammate -- Swavely -- had an easy outlet. It helped that no one for UMD sagged back when Lomberg got out of the box, so all he had to do was wait for the puck. Caleb Herbert and Drew Olson got on their proverbial horses, but had too much ground to cover.

It would be easy to sit here and rip the team, but it also doesn't take a genius to figure out that the effort was much better in the third period. Herbert's major penalty -- hard to argue the call based on the live look and one hard-to-see replay -- took five minutes of life out of the comeback effort, though the penalty kill was quite good.

Actually, the kill was good all night, which is a major reason why it was only a 1-0 game. Maine had trouble throughout the game generating good looks on the power play over its five opportunities, including the five-minute one. Had it not been for the shortie, the special teams game would have been dead-even, despite UMD's power play doing virtually nothing positive in five chances.

I thought Joe Basaraba had another good night. He continues to be a physical threat who does go to the tough areas and does wreak havoc in front of the opposing net. Joe is quietly having a very good season. I know a lot of you out there expect him to score more, but that's not necessarily his role at the moment.

Another guy I wanted to make sure to point out is Young. The freshman played limited minutes as the fourth-line center, but he was noticeable every time he was on the ice. The ejection of Herbert was an opportunity for him, as he got some time in the third period with Justin Crandall and Austin Farley -- another guy who brought some want-to, especially in the third period.

It seemed Tony Cameranesi and Mike Seidel had their struggles through the first 40 minutes with the crappy ice and microwaved pucks, but I thought they simplified things a bit in the third and did a better job of getting pucks to the net.

The third period was the way this team needs to play for 60 minutes. It knows that, and Saturday against Ferris State will be a chance to prove once again that it's capable.

Losing to a two-win team does nothing good for any team's NCAA at-large hopes, but as our good buddy John Forsyth (@blackbear93 on Twitter) pointed out after Friday's game, it isn't insurmountable from a mathematical perspective.

Where it becomes difficult is that we are 19 games into the season, and outside of the six-game run before Christmas, UMD has shown little consistency. Disappearing acts similar to Friday's first 40 minutes can't continue to happen -- not even once a month -- if this thing is going to get turned around.

Beat Ferris State, hit the beach, and get ready for Michigan Tech in two weeks. That's all that can happen now.


Wondering about potential lineup changes? Well, because it's a non-conference trip, everyone is here. Virtually anything imaginable might be in play, and I don't have any answers as to what things will look like for Saturday afternoon's game.

The one thing I will say is I think McNeely has earned the right to start a fourth straight game, simply by virtue of his play. Doesn't mean that will happen, as it's only my opinion, and my input on the lineup is usually not required or requested!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Game 19: UMD vs Maine (Florida College Classic)

ESTERO, Fla. -- Greetings from Germain Arena, which sits 10 miles or so south of Fort Myers, where the UMD hotel is located.

This is the home of the ECHL's Florida Everblades, and also the 12-year home of a college hockey tournament.

People wonder how the hell this works. I'll confess I'm also curious to an extent, but the Everblades have run this thing long enough for me to realize that it's working in at least some ways. Last year's tournament drew an announced 9,644 for the two sessions (average of 4,822 in a 7,000-seat building). That isn't bad.

When UMD was here in 2005, attendance was announced at 11,922 for the two days, an average of 5,961. I was in my first season calling games, and had almost literally no idea what I was doing, so I can't corroborate this with any memory of what it looked like in the arena.

(To put that in a bit of perspective, the Everblades are drawing 4,800 per game or so through 14 home games this season.)

We'll see what this weekend brings. Hopefully it ends up with two UMD wins.



Seidel - Cameranesi - Basaraba
Farley - Herbert - Crandall (Justin)
Danberg - Hendrickson - Flaherty
Sampair - Young - Krause

Olson - Welinski
Bergman - Corrin
Smith - Casto

McNeely - Crandall (Aaron)

Shore - Beattie - Norman
Leen - Swavely (Steven) - Lomberg
Anthoine - Higgins - Swavely (Jon)
Riley - Leidermark - Merchant

Rutt - Nemec
Williams - O'Connor
Hutton - Cornell

Sullivan - Ouellette - Morris

(I talked to Maine's radio guy, and it appears this is how the goalies are always listed on Maine's line chart. He said he'd "eat his shoe" if Ouellette wasn't the starting goalie, and it appears he's wearing a real shoe.)

UMD Prepares for Business in the Sun

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The palm trees scattered around the hotel property add a sense of "Holy crap, we're in Florida" to the fact that we're in Florida.

For hockey.

Holy crap.

Before incorporating some beach time into the itinerary, the UMD men's hockey team has business to take care of. The 13th annual Florida College Classic is underway Friday, with UMD playing Maine after Cornell takes on Ferris State. Maine is the defending champion and an annual co-host with Cornell.

For the Bulldogs, it's a second foray to Florida. UMD was here in 2005, finishing second to Cornell after beating Maine in the semifinals.

This isn't the Maine team that UMD saw in the NCAA Tournament last March. And while the same could be said the other way around, UMD has done much more this season to show it can still field a good team than Maine has.

The Black Bears are 2-11-2, and have scored only 20 goals in 15 games. There are some warning signs heading into this weekend, however. Junior forward Jon Swavely is back after missing 12 games with a lower-body injury. Senior forward Joey Diamond is mad that UMD ended his team's season last March, and he's an explosive player with poor numbers so far.

(Diamond is similar to UMD's Caleb Herbert in that regard. Both players have numbers through half the season that are not indicative of their overall skill and talent. And you can bet that will change in the next couple months, probably for both guys -- hopefully for Herbert!)

Maine has skilled players, but the Black Bears seem to lack the high-end skill they had in their top six last year. Diamond is still a dynamic player, but he doesn't have Brian Flynn, Spencer Abbott, Matt Mangene, or Will O'Neill around him. It makes the Black Bears not as dangerous, neither five on five nor on the power play, where UMaine is only at 7 percent on the power play, down some 75 percent from last year's 26.7 percent clip.

One thing has been obvious lately: Maine will sell out for their goaltender. Junior Martin Ouelette has played six in a row, and he has good numbers (.915 saves, 2.23 goals against) despite a 1-5-2 record overall. In the Boston University game (Maine's last before Friday's date with UMD), the Terriers had multiple sustained sequences in the UMaine zone, but couldn't get many -- if any -- shots on goal. Maine actually outshot BU 28-21 and lost 1-0.

For UMD, a big key in this game is going to be similar to the Saturday game in Alaska. Just stick with it.

The Bulldogs want to play a certain way, and UAA didn't let them do that in that Saturday game two weekends ago. The Bulldogs never trailed, but had to grind out a 2-1 win that was every bit as hard-earned as any win UMD will attain this season. Maine might not be as physical as UAA, but the Black Bears will make it really hard for UMD forwards to get to Ouelette for rebounds, and they're going to block some shots, too, if the BU game is any indication.

Reality is that Maine simply isn't going to score as many goals as it did last season. Not even close. So coach Tim Whitehead has gotten this group to buy into a certain way of playing. It isn't anything sexy, but it's what has to be done to keep the team in games.

If the forwards start producing more consistently, perhaps the style will be further adjusted. But it is what it is, and UMD may have to grind out another 2-1 kind of game to advance.

There were questions going into the season about whether UMD could handle that style. The 2010-11 and 11-12 teams were pretty good at beating teams that wanted to slow the game down, but previous UMD groups had struggled in that area.

Against Bemidji State and UAA -- teams notorious for playing more of a slow-down, grinder style -- UMD went 3-1. We'll take it.

Ahead on Saturday is either Cornell or Ferris State. Those two teams play the early game in Estero, about 15 miles down the road. Both semifinals are rematches of NCAA regional games from March, as Ferris beat Cornell in Green Bay for the right to go to the Frozen Four.

The four coaches in this tournament -- Whitehead, UMD's Scott Sandelin, Bob Daniels of Ferris, and Mike Schafer from Cornell -- have combined to win 1220 games in 69 years as head coaches. Sandelin is the "baby" of the group, in his 13th season as a head coach. Daniels is in his third decade with Ferris' Bulldogs.

Don't expect any lineup changes from UMD. It's safe to say Sandelin will run with the same group of 20 he used in Alaska for both games. Of course, if something goes awry, it's nice to know that he has all his players on this trip. Since it's non-conference, there was no reason to leave anyone at home.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

UMD Preps for Florida Excursion

There are worse things in the country to prepare for than a late-December trip to Florida.

Yes, UMD is still a game under .500 (7-8-3), but at 4-1-1 over the last six games, the Bulldogs got things going in the right direction before a weekend off. During that off week, UMD players wrapped up final exams for the first semester, and also got to take some time away from the rink to celebrate Christmas.

The team returns to practice Wednesday, then flies to Florida on Thursday to play Maine (2-11-2) on Friday evening in Estero, a community of around 18,000 people located not too far south of Fort Myers.

This is the 13th annual Florida College Classic, an event that is hosted by the ECHL's Florida Everblades and played at Germain Arena, a building that seats around 7,000 fans. The Classic is co-hosted by Maine and Cornell, both of which have played in the event in each of its 12 previous years. The Black Bears have won the event five times, including two of the last three years, while Cornell has won it three times. One of those was in 2005, when the Big Red beat UMD in a shootout after a 1-1 tie in the championship game. UMD beat Maine 4-1 in the opening round.

(In case you're wondering why there's a hockey tournament in Florida, Everblades owner Craig Brush is a Cornell alum who played on the Big Red's 1970 NCAA title team.)

The weather looks awesome, with sunshine and temps in the 70s expected, outside of a small chance of a thunderstorm Saturday. But make no mistake: This is a business trip for UMD first.

The business starts Wednesday, as the players try to shake off the rust after a layoff. Before the layoff, things were going well, as the Bulldogs put together four wins in six, including their first sweep in Anchorage since 1996. It doubled as UMD's first WCHA road sweep since Dec. 2-3, 2011, at Michigan Tech.

On Friday, UMD faces a Maine team that has scored just 20 goals in 15 games, but seems to be gaining some footing as of late.

In its last six games, in which Maine has gone 1-3-2, the Black Bears have allowed 12 goals after surrendering 24 in their previous six and they have scored 10 goals after scoring just five in the six prior games.

Also, Maine is 4 for 27 on the power play (14.8 percent) and 20 for 23 on the penalty kill (87 percent) after going 1 for 32 (3.1 percent) with the man-advantage in the previous six games and killing off 31 of 40 (77.5 percent).

Doesn't sound like much -- coach Tim Whitehead said it's been "baby steps" -- but they had to start somewhere. If the Black Bears are going to start scoring, expect a lot of it to center around senior Joey Diamond. The abrasive star scored 25 goals last season, but has just three in 14 games this season while battling injury.

A win over Maine could lead to a matchup with a Cornell team that should be a tournament contender, making the matchup quite valuable for a UMD squad that enters the weekend with a pedestrian 2-2 record in non-conference games.

As the Bulldogs look to head in the right direction, it's paramount that they avoid a slip this weekend. Do well in Florida, take another week off, and then look ahead to a lot of home games in the second half.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bob Nielson Leaves UMD For Division I Gig

Speculation ramped up late last week that UMD football coach and athletic director Bob Nielson could be on his way out. In its search for a new coach, Division I Western Illinois University listed Nielson as a finalist for the position last week, and interviewed him on Monday.

Tuesday, it began to become more clear that there was at least a real chance Nielson would move on.

Now, it appears to be a done deal.

According to a source within UMD, Nielson has decided to take the head coaching position at WIU. Various reports have indicated there could be a press conference as soon as Wednesday afternoon.

Nielson went 100-26 in two stints as the Bulldogs' football coach, including 62-7 over the last five seasons, with two Division II titles during that span. A program that had not made a single appearance in the Division II playoffs before Nielson arrived has now made six, including five in a row.

Replacing Nielson won't be easy, especially considering that he is also the school's athletic director, and has been since 2003.

It's unclear what direction the school will take with that position, but indications are that both football coordinators -- Curt Wiese on offense and John Steger on defense -- will stick around, with Wiese the likely successor to Nielson as head coach.

Getting a coach hired is important, because whoever it ends up being has to nail down a recruiting class that was expecting to sign to play for Nielson. The athletic director search can be a bit more protracted, and could very well include outside candidates.

We hope all Bulldog fans wish Nielson well. It was always good to work with him, and there's no doubt in my mind he'll do well at the next level of college football.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Game 18: UMD at Alaska Anchorage

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- For UMD, it's the final game of the season's first half. It's a first half that included a few low points, but the last ten games have generally been pretty good for the Bulldogs, starting with a series at North Dakota in mid-November.

It isn't enough to completely shake a poor start to the WCHA season, but UMD can still get to 13 points with a Saturday win in Anchorage. It isn't exactly halfway to the magical number of 28 that often leads to a team attaining home ice, but it's a positive step.

To do so, the Bulldogs have to win a series finale for the first time this season (0-6-2). It won't be easy. Expect a lot of jump from UAA in this one, as the Seawolves were pretty thoroughly beaten on Friday. If UMD wins this one, it will have earned it.



Seidel - Cameranesi - Basaraba
Farley - Herbert - Crandall (Justin)
Danberg - Hendrickson - Flaherty
Sampair - Young - Krause

Olson - Welinski
Bergman - Corrin
Smith - Casto

McNeely - Crandall (Aaron)

Allen - Tatchell - Gellert
Trupp - Naslund - Pettitt
Sproule - Bailey
Murphy - Currier - Crowell

Warner - Williams
Docken - Coldwell
Sevalrud - Leask
Matthews (extra D)

Gunderson - Matyas

Saturday Hockey Notes and Thoughts: Here We Go Again

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The definition of insanity is usually described as something remotely resembling the following:

Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.

With that in mind, UMD is teetering on the brink of insanity when it comes to Saturday games. Entering this weekend, UMD is 0-6-2 in such situations, with four losses (Ohio State, Notre Dame, St. Cloud State, Bemidji State) and a tie (Michigan Tech) coming when UMD could have swept a series.

(Yes, I know that one of UMD's series finales was on a Friday, and another on a Sunday. Just play along for the sake of simplicity.)

In order for the Bulldogs to make any serious headway up the WCHA table, it's a statistic that simply must turn around.

And you can bet that UMD will keep beating its proverbial head against the wall trying.

Its next attempt at a sweep comes on Saturday, as the Bulldogs routed Alaska Anchorage 5-1 Friday night.

Needless to say, Saturday's game will end up being tremendously more difficult to play than a good chunk of Friday was.

The Bulldogs had their way with the Seawolves from the opening faceoff, when the puck barely left the UAA zone over two shifts that lasted 86 seconds. It was then that Jake Hendrickson scored on a Keegan Flaherty rebound to give UMD a 1-0 lead.

UMD had little resistance for much of the game. UAA just didn't have pushback. They passed on some scoring chances early in favor of ill-fated passes, and the Seawolves went most of the second period without much of anything that resembled a scoring opportunity.

(There was a long shift in the UMD zone, but the Bulldogs blocked a ton of shots, and freshman goalie Matt McNeely only stopped one shot in the whole middle stanza.)

I've mentioned previously that there's part of me that thinks the Bulldogs tend to go as their all-senior line goes. Friday was a shining example of that.

Hendrickson, Flaherty, and captain Cody Danberg were a combined plus-seven, all three factored into the scoring, and the trio did a bang-up job on UAA's top line of Blake Tatchell, Alex Gellert, and Scott Allen. Those three totaled two shots on goal and were a minus-six in the game.

The team effort was notable. Three lines figured in the scoring, with Tony Cameranesi scoring twice, Caleb Herbert pitching in an assist, and the seniors doing what they did. Sophomore defenseman Chris Casto had a strong game with two goals and a plus-three, and UMD's fourth line of Austyn Young, Charlie Sampair, and Adam Krause contributed some strong shifts and five total shots on goal.

But now it's on to the next challenge. UMD has to figure out how to win on a Saturday. UAA wants to play in-your-face hockey, and you can bet that the Bulldogs will see the best of what the Seawolves have to offer in Saturday's game.

To put this game in perspective, the Bulldogs' edge of 38-17 in shots on goal marks the first time since Nov. 20, 2009, that UAA has been outshot by 20 or more in a home game. On that night, it was Minnesota State outshooting the Seawolves 39-16 in an 8-2 win. The next night, UAA outshot the Mavericks 25-22 and won 4-1.

One of the great things about this league is that teams have the opportunity to have a really crappy night, and bounce back 24 hours later.

When the puck drops tomorrow night, UMD better be ready, otherwise it could very well end up being another series split for the Bulldogs heading into finals week.


For the Bulldogs, there is likely little reason to make any lineup changes into Saturday. Young and Sampair played pretty well, I thought, with Young generating scoring chances a couple different times by working hard and/or winning faceoffs. Krause and Justin Crandall were beasts on the penalty kill, even though it wasn't Crandall's strongest offensive game of the season by any means.

UMD only has six defensemen on the trip, so Casto, Tim Smith, Willie Corrin, Wade Bergman, Drew Olson, and Andy Welinski will be back in the lineup on Saturday.

In goal, I was wrong last week when I said I thought McNeely would play again. I'm going to run the risk of being wrong again, because I think McNeely deserves to play again. He was sharp when he had to be, and the only goal came when a UAA player (Chris Crowell, I believe) got a puck to the net low, and McNeely couldn't control it. Tyler Currier was all alone in front, and had a pretty easy tap-in goal.

Not exactly the goalkeep's fault.

I won't complain if the coaching staff decides to mix in the three guys -- counting goalie Aaron Crandall -- who sat out Friday. But I don't see any real reason to tinker with things outside of "just because," so I'll predict the same lineup plays Saturday.

(By the way, there is a plan should a defenseman not be available. Krause worked there a bit this week, and would play on the blue line if it was absolutely necessary. Let's hope it isn't, because if it is and he plays well, we might never hear the end of it. Smiley)


In other WCHA action on Friday, Bemidji State got a third period goal from Aaron McLeod to draw Denver 1-1. Chris Knowlton scored for the Pioneers, who outshot BSU 34-21, but Andrew Walsh made 33 saves in his second straight strong performance in goal for the Beavers. DU is winless in seven, but is still in first place in the league standings.

Minnesota State's winning streak hit seven with a 6-3 win over Omaha. Jonny McInnis scored twice, and Teddy Blueger had three assists. Stephon Williams won again in goal, as MSU scored two insurance goals in the third period on only two shots. The Mavericks are tied for second place, one point behind Denver.

MSU is tied with St. Cloud State, which erupted for four third-period goals to beat Colorado College 5-3. David Morley scored twice, while Jonny Brodzinski, Drew LeBlanc, Nic Dowd, and Nick Jensen all registered two-point nights.

Also, North Dakota blew out Michigan Tech 6-1 in Houghton. Corban Knight had two goals and two assists for UND, while linemate Danny Kristo scored once and assisted on two others. Goalie Clarke Saunders made 34 saves, while Blake Pietila had MTU's only goal. North Dakota is now 6-2-3 in league play for a .682 win percentage. Even though UND is tied with Minnesota in fourth place in the standings with 15 points, that win percentage is the best in the league.

Wisconsin won a non-conference game over Alabama-Huntsville 4-1 to finish up a sweep. The Badgers had four different goal scorers in support of goalie Joel Rumpel.

Even more incredible is the fact that we got through all these games without any major officiating foibles or notable on-ice incidents of any kind. Well done, WCHA. Way to get in the holiday spirit!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Game 17: UMD at Alaska Anchorage

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Needless to say, all of us send our thoughts and prayers to the victims of the awful shooting in Connecticut, along with their families.

For many of you horrified by the news, I hope we can deliver you a short diversion from reality on this night.



Seidel - Cameranesi - Basaraba
Farley - Herbert - Crandall (Justin)
Danberg - Hendrickson - Flaherty
Sampair - Young - Krause

Olson - Welinski
Bergman - Corrin
Smith - Casto

McNeely - Crandall (Aaron)

Allen - Tatchell - Gellert
Roy - Bailey - Kwas
Trupp - Naslund - Pettitt
Murphy - Currier - Crowell

Warner - Williams
Sproule - Docken
Sevalrud - Coldwell

Kamal - Gunderson

UMD Heads North for Final Time With WCHA

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- With more schedule holes to fill, and the attraction of two extra home games in exchange for a trip here, there is no guarantee that UMD is done making trips to Alaska.

However, what is certain is that UMD won't be visiting the 49th state next season, and there are no concrete plans to return after this trip.

The Bulldogs match up with Alaska Anchorage here Friday and Saturday. With UMD moving into the newly-formed National Collegiate Hockey Conference starting in 2013-14, and UAA staying in the revamped WCHA, this is the last scheduled meeting between the two schools.

As is likely the case with the others who are leaving the WCHA, I can't imagine too many UMD players will miss the five hour, twenty-plus minute flight from Minneapolis to Anchorage. As the plane approached the Anchorage airport Wednesday night, there were a few comments from guys about their legs feeling like "microwaved bacon," which is probably not a good thing.

(Though at least they don't have a game until Friday. Plenty of time to get adjusted.)

(Oh, and clearly these youngsters have not tried the new-fangled fully-cooked bacon you put in the microwave. Done properly, it's farrr from rubbery.)

This has never been an easy trip for teams to make. It will continue to not be an easy trip for teams to make as realignment puts college hockey into a blender starting next fall.

That's only a part of the story, however, because Anchorage is clearly a better team at home than it is on the road.

At home, the Seawolves got a point against Minnesota, then controlled five of six periods against St. Cloud State, only to see the Huskies pull off a comeback win on Friday before UAA won Saturday.

Against SCSU, I watched the first two periods live on the video stream while we were in Houghton for UMD-Michigan Tech. The Seawolves played very well, keeping the Huskies largely away from the front of the net, and taking a 3-0 lead in the first period. UAA tailed off in the second 30 minutes, however, and SCSU woke up to stage an impressive comeback in a 4-3 overtime win.

I thought they did a good job pressuring the puck at times, forechecking and making SCSU's usually-poised defensemen look somewhat uncomfortable with the puck at times. That was true in both games, but UAA did a better job sustaining its effort in the Saturday win (obviously).

The Seawolves aren't as big as they've been, but there are still some large bodies to deal with. The top line has some talent, with sophomore Scott Allen holding the team goal-scoring lead (seven) and linemate Blake Tatchell leading with ten points. Alex Gellert has five goals and eight points.

Smallish Scott Warner leads the defense, and it's a smaller group than we've seen here in a while. Not many imposing 6-4 types, but more mobile with puck-moving ability.

UAA is thin up front, thanks to the injury-driven retirement of Andrew Pickering, the loss of Corbin Karl (left the team), and a broken collarbone suffered by Brett Cameron.

UAA still has the two-headed monster in goal, with Chris Kamal having started three straight games. I'd be surprised if we didn't see Rob Gunderson at some point this weekend.

A big key this weekend will be pace. Even though I think there are areas where UAA is vastly improved, they do not want to play an up-and-down game. They want to pack it in around their goalie, keep shot totals low, and try to win a low-scoring game. It's an area UMD struggled in last weekend, allowing Bemidji State to dictate the pace of the games far too often, especially on Saturday. When the Bulldogs get moving and play with an edge, they're tough to beat. But UMD won't have a ton of success this weekend if it lets UAA control the pace of the game. It's not a pace UMD is comfortable with or particularly effective at playing.

UMD is relatively healthy, only reporting an upper-body injury for sophomore defenseman Luke McManus, who is not here this weekend. The Bulldogs shouldn't be making any drastic changes to their forward lines, and I expect freshman Matt McNeely to start in goal on Friday (though I've been wrong before).

Heading into a bye week for the Christmas break, and with final exams looming in Duluth, this is an interesting weekend for the Bulldogs. Four points would be a great way to end an up-and-down first half, and I'd say at least three is a must to keep the good vibes going into the post-Christmas trip to Florida.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Wisconsin's Ryan Little Earns First WCHA Supplemental Discipline of Season

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Greetings from Anchorage, where it's shockingly mild, and we finally started to get daylight around 9:15am local time.

(Enjoy it while it lasts, Ciskie. It'll be dark by 4:00.)

Anyway, more content on the UMD-UAA series is coming before Friday's series opener at Sullivan Arena. For now, I wanted to discuss some news that broke while we were traveling Wednesday.

Not so long ago, I was lamenting the fact that we have yet to see any supplemental discipline in the WCHA this season, despite numerous opportunities to send a message and make sure kids are held accountable for dangerous and illegal play.

On Friday, there was an egregiously dirty play by Michigan Tech freshman Jujhar Khaira in Madison, as he went vintage Sting on the bit with a Scorpion Death Drop on Wisconsin defenseman Jake McCabe, complete with a facemask grab to start the whole thing off. Officials assessed a two-minute minor for holding, and Khaira was inexplicably allowed to play in Saturday's series finale.

Obviously, what happened late in overtime could have happened to anyone, but it's hard to imagine it's a coincidence that one of Wisconsin's seniors -- alternate captain Ryan Little -- happened to throw an equally dirty hit on Khaira.

Little was suspended one game by the WCHA, as announced by the league Wednesday afternoon.

Listen, I'm not going to sit here and rip the WCHA for inconsistent enforcement of hockey rules that govern basic competitive decency. The fact Khaira didn't get a game DQ for his actions is a joke, and the league needs to be willing to step in a spot like there where the officials somehow bungle the call.

(You know, like Saturday, when there was no penalty assessed to Little.)

However, one miss does NOT justify two misses. In this particular incident, Little launches himself into a player (Khaira) who doesn't have the puck, and during the sequence you see on this short video, Khaira doesn't ever have possession. Little appears to launch toward Khaira's head, which makes it even worse.

This should have been a major and a game disqualification, but instead was nothing. That's not excusable, but supplemental discipline exists -- in part -- to help governing bodies penalize plays like this that are missed by game officials.

It's inherently wrong to suggest that no player should be eligible for a suspension unless a penalty is called on the play in question, and it's also wrong to suggest that leagues suspend officials for missing these calls.

In the WCHA, officials work part-time. There is no need to publicly scrutinize these guys any more than what we already do (I'll raise my hand on this one). As we saw with the Randy Schmidt debacle in Denver a few years ago, the WCHA doesn't like to publicly announce anything regarding game officials, and typically won't unless it's a major deal.

In this case, the league has screwed up more than the officials did. The league missed a chance to send a message to Khaira, a hell of a talent who plays the game on edge and already is developing a reputation as the kind of player who will cross the line once in a while. That edge will get him places when you look at his size and skill set, but if he doesn't tone it down, we'll be wondering about potential WCHA supplemental discipline again, because he'll cross the line again.

Thursday, however, it's Little who pays a price for crossing the line. It's a justified suspension, and hopefully that sends a message to players, too.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Game 16: Bemidji State at UMD

Let's try this again.


Seidel - Cameranesi - Basaraba
Farley - Crandall (Justin) - Herbert
Danberg - Hendrickson - Flaherty
DeLisle - Krause - Tardy

Olson - Welinski
Bergman - Johnson
Smith - Casto

Crandall (Aaron) - McNeely - Fons

Kinne - McLeod - George
Illo - Ward - Mattson
Orban - Jubinville - Boehm
Gerbrandt - Cain - Robbins

Areshenko - Wacker
Carlson - Prapavessis
Rendle - Windle

Walsh - Dugas

Saturday Hockey Notes and Thoughts: UMD Rides Seniors to Hard-Fought Win

At various points this season, two of UMD's main lines have been productive. Tony Cameranesi and Mike Seidel have done plenty of damage this season, and the line of Justin Crandall, Caleb Herbert, and Austin Farley had a pretty good weekend in Houghton.

Friday night at Amsoil Arena, the seniors got in on the scoring act. Center Jake Hendrickson scored twice, and Keegan Flaherty had the game-icing empty-net goal in a 4-2 win over Bemidji State.

Hendrickson's first goal opened the scoring, on a weird play where he almost scored off his glove, then bounced the puck in off the skate of BSU goalie Mathieu Dugas. His second goal was a very impressive net drive where he went forehand-to-backhand and got the puck by Dugas. It gave UMD a 2-1 lead in the third, and it would stand as the game's last lead change.

Joe Basaraba scored 1:21 later for a 3-1 lead, and Flaherty clinched the win in the final minute.

In head coach Scott Sandelin's 500th game behind the UMD bench, the Bulldogs picked up their 100th win since the start of the 2008-2009 season.

The Bulldogs moved into sole possession of eighth place with a win, climbed a game closer to .500, and hopefully got some good vibes going for their older guys.

This wasn't an easy win at all. Bemidji State plays a tough, tight game, and it makes scoring chances and shots hard to come by. The Bulldogs didn't play particularly well at times, but were tough defensively and found a way to win the game, something that was a real struggle in late October and most of November.

UMD's top players weren't all at their best. It looked like BSU did a very good job negating UMD's speed, and the Bulldogs didn't work hard enough to regain the advantage.

Enter Hendrickson. He's seen plenty of this grind-it-out hockey, and it doesn't phase him. He won faceoffs, drove the net, played physical, played an extremely intelligent game in all zones, and picked up his second career two-goal game (had two in the NCAA regional game against Maine in March).

Same goes for Flaherty and Danberg. They haven't scored much -- at all in Cody's case -- this season, but they were consistently effective Friday because of their work ethic and smarts.

Saturday is a chance to get others on board. It'll take a faster start, crisper passing, and players willing to work hard to make plays around the Bemidji net. The Bulldogs took nearly 55 shots in Friday's game, but 20 of them were blocked before Dugas had to do anything about them. A bunch of others missed the net. For UMD to succeed, the Bulldogs have to bear down in front of the BSU net and make more of the opportunities to make Dugas' life difficult.

I doubt any major changes will be made to the lineup. Matt McNeely gave up an ugly goal on a rebound, but he was pretty solid, and likely merits a second straight start in the series finale.

These are key points for UMD. It's important to keep climbing the ladder, building confidence, and racking up points.


Hermantown junior defenseman Neal Pionk announced via Twitter Friday that he has committed to UMD. Pionk is averaging two points per game this season over the Hawks' first three games, including a goal in Friday's win over Hopkins.

As a sophomore, Pionk -- listed at 5-11 -- contributed seven goals and 13 points to the Hermantown varsity. He will be more of a factor in the offense this season as he gets more power play time than a year ago.

I wouldn't expect to see Pionk in a UMD uniform before the 2015-16 season, though depending on his development arc, that might change.

I know there are diverse attitudes toward the recruiting of local players, but I've generally seen the presence of them on the UMD team as a good thing, both for the program and for local hockey. I don't care where the Bulldogs' players are from, as long as they are good and can help UMD win.


In other action Friday, we saw some fun officiating foibles in Madison, where Wisconsin got a third period power-play goal from Tyler Barnes in a 1-1 tie against Michigan Tech. The goal was set up by a holding call on Tech's Jujhar Khaira that could have merited more than a minor penalty. As you can see in these stills, Khaira appears to pull a Wisconsin player down by the facemask. From behind. Video might show this to not be so bad, but looking at the stills, and knowing the way the NCAA has been trying to hammer into officials to crack down on facemasking in hockey, I don't know how this isn't a major and a game DQ, as it was for Derik Johnson in Omaha a month or so ago. I know it won't get reviewed for supplemental discipline because the WCHA doesn't operate that way, but it should get a look, and the officials on the ice should get a phone call regarding this glaring miss.

In Colorado Springs, Minnesota got a third period goal from Tom Serratore to beat Colorado College 4-2. The Gophers led 2-0 before the Tigers got two late goals in the second period. Sam Warning scored a pair for the Gophers, who picked up a key road win.

Denver and North Dakota played to a 2-2 tie in Grand Forks. DU had a fast start to lead 1-0, outshooting UND 5-1 at one point. The No-Names came back, and ended up leading in shots 33-20 for the game, including 5-0 in overtime. Sophomore Juho Olkinuora made 31 saves for DU.

Omaha needed only 27 shots to rack up six goals and beat St. Cloud State 6-5 in a wild game in St. Cloud. Reigning National Player of the Month Ryan Walters continued to be on fire with four points in the game, while Matt White racked up three points for the Mavericks. St. Cloud State tried to rally from 3-1, 4-2, and 6-3 deficits, but never equalized. David Morley had a hat trick for the Huskies, including two in the third after Walters scored to make it 6-3.

Minnesota State charged back after giving up the first goal in a 3-1 home win over Alaska Anchorage. Matt Bailey tallied for the Seawolves in the first two minutes, but took a penalty later in the shift, allowing the Mavericks to score a power play goal to tie it up. Eriah Hayes, Jonny McInnis, and Brett Knowles had the goals in support of red-hot goalie Stephon Williams, who made 20 saves.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Game 15: Bemidji State at UMD

The final home series of 2012 kicks off here tonight, as UMD takes on Bemidji State. The Bulldogs have played well as of late, outside of that infamous Saturday night hiccup against St. Cloud State.

Bemidji played two good games with Michigan Tech a couple weekends ago, but got zero points, then the Beavers took three from UAA before losing both games in Mankato last weekend.



Seidel - Cameranesi - Basaraba
Farley - Crandall (Justin) - Herbert
Danberg - Hendrickson - Flaherty
DeLisle - Krause - Tardy

Olson - Welinski
Bergman - Johnson
Smith - Casto

McNeely - Crandall (Aaron) - Fons

Kinne - McLeod - George
Illo - Ward - Mattson
Orban - Jubinville - Boehm
Cain - Brewer - Robbins

Areshenko - Wacker
Carlson - Prapavessis
Rendle - Windle

Dugas - Walsh

Opportunity Ahead for UMD as Christmas Approaches

There are four games left in the 2012 calendar year for UMD. Those four games could tell the tale of the Bulldogs' chances in the second half of the college hockey season.

Heading into Friday's game with Bemidji State at Amsoil Arena, UMD sits at 4-7-3 overall, 2-5-3 in the WCHA. Those seven points are good for an eighth-place tie, and leave the Bulldogs three points behind a home-ice position in the WCHA playoffs.

Yeah, 18 league games remain for UMD, but there can be no more coughing up points if there is going to be a chance at home ice in the playoffs.

No more blowing leads late in games. No more no-shows for home games when a series sweep is attainable.

(You think the Saturday loss to St. Cloud State stings? As recently as Thursday, in an appearance on KQ, UMD coach Scott Sandelin quipped "We played against St. Cloud State that Saturday?" He's still bitter about that game, and that should tell you something regarding how bad it was.)

With Bemidji State in town, and a trip to Alaska-Anchorage to follow, there is no avoiding the need to get points before the holiday break.

The going theory is that 28-30 points will get you home ice in the WCHA playoffs most every season. The math here is obvious.

This weekend will mark the 11th and 12th league games on the UMD schedule. Next week will be Nos. 13 and 14, and UMD will be at the halfway mark.

Half of 30 is 15. UMD is at seven. Two sweeps is tough to ask for, but I have said I think UMD can get six points out of these next two weekends. Doing that should leave the team feeling pretty good about itself going into the second half of the season.

And it'll be a home-heavy second half.

UMD will play eight of 14 league games at home in the second half, including series against Michigan Tech, Minnesota State, Nebraska Omaha, and Denver. They'll all be difficult, but if UMD can become a strong home team -- as it's been for a few years now -- there's no reason to think UMD can't get 10 of 16 points, if not more.

On the road, UMD matches up with Minnesota, Bemidji State, and Colorado College. Get six of 12 points, add the 10 from the home games, and the seven UMD already has, and you have 23.

Want to get to 28? That means the Bulldogs need only five points out of the next two weekends, a number that should absolutely be attainable.

This isn't mindless optimism. It's optimism, but hardly mindless, and it's backed by pretty simple math.

Bemidji State is traditionally a tough team to play against. This isn't the same team without outstanding defenseman Brad Hunt, who graduated last year after tormenting UMD and others for four years. Coach Tom Serratore acknowledges that it's been hard to replace Hunt, as he knew it would be, but he doesn't feel his team has played as strong defensively as he expected it to.

Goalies Andrew Walsh and Mathieu Dugas have faced a lot of pucks so far, and while the goals against average isn't impressive, the veteran coach feels both have played well.

Senior Jordan George is the top forward, but I really like what I've seen from freshman Cory Ward. He's stepped in, won some draws, and has been a factor in all zones. He provides strength in the middle, which is an area BSU isn't particularly deep in.

The Beavers will struggle with UMD's power play, led by freshman Tony Cameranesi and senior Mike Seidel, who has points in nine straight games. Freshman Austin Farley really seemed to ignite the second line with sophomores Justin Crandall and Caleb Herbert last week, which made UMD a much more dangerous team at even strength. That will create tougher matchups for opponents if it continues to evolve.

UMD needs to be smart with the puck, especially through the neutral zone. The Beavers won't apply a suffocating forecheck, but if an opponent isn't smart with the puck in the offensive zone, said opponent won't get a lot of scoring chances.

It's an area the Bulldogs have improved in, but need to get better. If they don't, this goal of accumulating points in the final two weekends before the break won't get accomplished, and optimism will be harder to come by.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Bret Bielema's Departure Stuns Wisconsin

Shocking news out of Madison Tuesday, as Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema has decided to head to Arkansas.

Bielema’s agreement with Arkansas came together in less than 24 hours, according to multiple sources.

... Money likely played a role in Bielema’s decision. He reportedly will make $3.2 million from Arkansas and turned down even more, so the money could go to his assistants.

... Having a better chance to win a national title also was a motivating factor for Bielema, Ball said. Arkansas is a member of the Southeastern Conference, which has produced the last six national champions.

Arkansas, which competes in the loaded West Division against the likes of Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M, has yet to win an SEC title since coming over from the former Southwest Conference in 1992, losing all three of its appearances in the league title game.

The Razorbacks are upgrading their infrastructure, with an 80,000-square-foot football operations center currently under construction, and are looking into expanding the 72,000-seat Razorback Stadium.

After going 68-24 in seven seasons at UW, Bielema leaves a hole.

(I've never been Bret Bielema's No. 1 fan, but it's impossible to argue that he wasn't successful at Wisconsin, as evidenced by his teams winning 44 more games than they lost in seven seasons.)

Athletic director Barry Alvarez is now charged with filling that hole. At least temporarily, there's a puncher's chance he'll fill it with Barry Alvarez.

According to a source close to the UW football program, athletic director Barry Alvarez does not plan to allow Bret Bielema to coach the Badgers in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 against Stanford and may lead the team on the sideline himself.

That source said Alvarez, who was out of town and unavailable for comment, planned to oversee the team while he searches for a replacement for Bielema, who accepted a job Tuesday to coach the University of Arkansas.

Alvarez's last game as coach at UW was the 2006 Capitol One Bowl, a 24-10 victory over Auburn. He led UW to victories in the 1994, 1999 and 2000 Rose Bowls.

In the university's only public comment about Bielema's departure, Alvarez made it a point to say that one of his priorities was making sure the current players, "especially our seniors ... have a tremendous experience in the Rose Bowl."

Certainly, you can infer -- if you're inclined to read between lines and such. It sure seems as if Alvarez is contemplating taking the team to Pasadena himself, and the report linked above from Jeff Potrykus adds more fuel.

As a UW football fan, I'd have to support the endeavor. Perhaps it'd be a trial balloon of sorts for a full-time return. One more run for Alvarez, and the chance to perhaps pick his own successor a second time.

With a 68-24 record and three straight Big Ten titles, I'd say Alvarez did all right with his choice of Bielema.

Stunned by his departure, perhaps the best thing Alvarez can do is let the smoke clear, focus on his current crop of football players having a great time at the Rose Bowl, and make sure he does the right thing for the program's future.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Christian Ponder Running Out Of Time

A few things I will say are absolutely true with no arguments:
  • Adrian Peterson is the best player in the NFL. If the Vikings had two more wins, he'd be a serious candidate for MVP, and he probably should be anyway. Unfortunately, we have a somewhat warped idea of what an MVP is, and the MVP can't come off a 6-6 team that is probably on its way to 7-9 more than on its way to the playoffs.
  • Aaron Rodgers' numbers aren't as good as they were last season, but that's an unreasonable expectation, and it doesn't mean Rodgers isn't playing at an MVP level. Despite banged-up receivers and an offensive line that lacks depth and high-end talent, Rodgers leads the NFL in quarterback rating, is still near the top in completion percentage, and is every bit the reason this team is 6-1 in its last seven games.
  • Christian Ponder sucks.
  • He's also not getting much help as he tries to attain his goal of not being terrible.
What isn't as certain, but is something I believe pretty strongly, is that Ponder is running out of chances to prove he is the guy Minnesota thought it was getting.

He was dead-on awful Sunday, hitting just five passes for 36 yards before a couple of stat-padding series against a prevent defense. All five completions came on a touchdown drive for the Vikings that got them on the board in the first quarter. That was it.

After a 48-yard scamper by Peterson in the third quarter -- a run that followed Mason Crosby's out-of-bounds kickoff -- the Vikings were in scoring position. Ponder rolled out right on second down, and threw across his body for Kyle Rudolph in the back of the end zone. Safety Morgan Burnett made sure the ball never got there, intercepting it to give Green Bay life in a game it was about to go down 21-10 in.

From there, it was all Green Bay, with both Ponder picks eventually setting up Crosby field goals (actual made field goals!). James Starks added a touchdown run (!) in a 23-14 win.

At 6-6, the Vikings are pretty much screwed when it comes to the playoffs, thanks to a remaining schedule that includes the Bears and Packers at home, and Houston and St. Louis on the road.

Can Peterson run Minnesota into the playoffs? In other words, can he do enough to keep Ponder's dumb mistakes from killing the team?

The answer Sunday was a negative one. Peterson went off for 210 yards, but Ponder's inaccuracy and inefficiency sunk the team.

Packers defensive tackle Ryan Pickett summed it up pretty well.

"They should run him until he can't even breathe," defensive end Ryan Pickett said. "I don't understand why they wouldn't. I ain't seen nobody stop him. No one.

"If I had him, I probably would be tempted to not even pass."

... "An average running back today would have had 50, 60 yards," said Pickett. " 'AP' had 200. It wasn't like we were getting beat up. He would just make people miss."

He's right. Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave should be taking the air out of the ball completely. If it isn't a safe play-action pass to Rudolph, it probably shouldn't even be attempted at this rate. Just let Peterson get his 200-plus yards and hope it's enough.

Hell, the Vikings were so bad Sunday -- outside of Peterson -- that they got whipped in time of possession by a team that never makes a truly concerted effort to hold on to the ball. It's hard not to feel badly for Peterson, seemingly a good guy who just plays the game at a level higher than anyone else can reach. And he blew out his knee last December.

Fear not, Vikings fans. Ponder has the answer. He wants to hang out on the ranch.

 Ponder told that he has never spoken with Brett Favre, who had officially retired — for real this time — several months before the Minnesota Vikings used a 2011 first-round pick on the former Florida State standout. Ponder, though, said he has recently chatted with “people in the (Vikings) organization about maybe going and hanging out with him for a couple of days.”

“We’re going to bring that up and try to take advantage of that,” Ponder said Thursday.

Well, Ponder already knows how to make brain-dead throws into coverage. Maybe Favre can teach him the good stuff.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Game 14: UMD at Michigan Tech

HOUGHTON, Mich. -- On an uncharacteristically mild Saturday in Houghton, the UMD men will try this four-point thing again.

Three previous series-opening wins, followed by three losses, the last two (Notre Dame and St. Cloud State) by a combined 9-2.

To continue to improve, the Bulldogs need to show they can close out a series. Another opportunity looms in this game, after a 7-3 win on Friday. 



Seidel - Cameranesi - Basaraba
Farley - Crandall (Justin) - Herbert
Danberg - Hendrickson - Flaherty
DeLisle - Krause - Tardy

Olson - Welinski
Bergman - Johnson
McManus - Casto

Crandall (Aaron) - McNeely

Pietila (Blake) - Khaira - Petan
Furne - Kero - Gordic
Johnstone (David) - Johnstone (Jacob) - Gould
Holmberg - Rix - Hietila

Stebner - Nielsen
Seigo - Sweeney
Hyland - Fillion

Genoe - Copley - Phillips

Saturday Hockey Notes and Thoughts: UMD Gets Much Needed Touchdown, Win

HOUGHTON, Mich. -- Earlier in the week, I crabbed about how UMD has seen a pretty notable decline in its even-strength scoring this season.

All season, I've used various opportunities to crab about how UMD hadn't scored a short-handed goal since an early December game here last season.

Apparently, someone is tired of my whining.

UMD rode a season-high four even-strength goals and its first short-handed goal in 363 days to a 7-3 win over Michigan Tech Friday.

Two of the four even-strength goals came from freshman Austin Farley in the first five minutes of the game, both coming before MTU recorded its first shot of the game. Farley was moved onto a line with sophomores Justin Crandall and Caleb Herbert this week, and the three connected with goals on their first two shifts.

Not bad.

Tech started to get the legs a bit, and a Herbert interference penalty at 8:55 of the first was the initial power play chance for either team.

13 seconds into it, sophomore Adam Krause scored his first career goal, a beauty of a short-handed snipe to the top corner, glove-side on goalie Kevin Genoe after an end-to-end rush.

OK, that's not how it happened. But it looks that way in the box score, which says "SH Adam Krause/1," with no one credited with assists.

Instead, what happened was Drew Olson threw the puck down the rink. Genoe came out to play it ahead of Krause, but fanned on a pass and watched helplessly as Krause grabbed the puck in front of the net. Genoe threw his stick, which did nothing but cause the officials to assess an interference penalty that nullified the power play.

Oh, and Tech coach Mel Pearson pulled Genoe from the game after the goal. So it was a really bad moment for the senior.

44 seconds later, Mike Seidel whipped a twisted wrister past freshman Pheonix Copley for a 4-0 lead.

Game over?

Oh, no.

Tanner Kero scored for MTU before the first ended, then Blake Hietala got a fluky one for the Huskies in the second, a period in which UMD was generally rotten but still escaped with a two-goal lead.

Then David Johnstone scored on his own rebound at 4:21 of the third, which sent UMD fans into full-on grip mode.

A Keegan Flaherty tripping call at 8:07 sent Tech to the power play, but it also led to the game's final turning point.

UMD gave up a quick scoring chance, but began to regain a work ethic on the kill. Justin Crandall drew a slashing call on Tech's Milos Gordic, and that nullified the power play. After a short four-on-four period, the Bulldogs struck on the power play.

It was a weird sequence, though.

A Wade Bergman right point shot stunned Farley, causing the youngster to leave the ice. Herbert took his spot. The puck was on the left side of UMD's power play formation when Seidel fed across the rink to Herbert at the right post. Herbert's tap-in goal made it 5-3, and the man of the 14-goal freshman season finally had his first of 2012-13.

Joe Basaraba added a power play goal less than two minutes later for a 6-3 lead, and Crandall ended the scoring at 14:15 to make it 7-3.

UMD outshot Tech 35-30, and scored goals on the power play, five-on-five, four-on-four, and short-handed. Outside of a mundane second period that was generally ugly for the visitors despite the lead, UMD played pretty well in this game and certainly deserved the two points.

Now comes the next challenge. Given a chance to take four points in a WCHA series last week, the Bulldogs fell flat badly on Saturday.

Can't do that again. This one has to be finished, and doing so could do wonders for the confidence of a team that continues to grow.


When faced with the ugliness of last Saturday's loss, UMD coach Scott Sandelin declined to make any drastic lineup changes.

The group generally recognized as UMD's top six forwards stayed the same, and the only moves that were made were Farley to Crandall's line, Herbert to right wing on that line, and Basaraba to the Tony Cameranesi line.

Fans expecting more moves were probably disappointed, but it's obvious that Sandelin pushed some correct buttons.

Now UMD has to get its other two lines going a little bit more consistently, assuming the top six require no further tweaks.

A team hitting the way UMD is on the power play shouldn't struggle that much to score even strength, in all honesty.

Also helping UMD's cause Friday was a solid faceoff effort. It was ugly early, with MTU winning 18 of 26 draws in the first, and 27 of the first 41. From there, though, UMD won 19 of the game's last 25, going 33-32 on draws for the game.

It's a start.


In other WCHA action, one-time Minnesota recruit Ryan Walters set up fellow Minnesotan Josh Archibald for the only goal of the third period as Omaha beat the Gophers 3-2 at Mariucci, moving Dean Blais to 3-0 at Mariucci as UNO's coach. The Mavericks also got goals from Dominic Zombo and Jaycob Megna in support of goalie John Faulkner, who made 19 saves for the win.

Sophomore Stephon Williams stays hot for Minnesota State, making 20 saves as the Mavericks doughnutted Bemidji State 3-0 in Mankato. First-year coach Mike Hastings has MSU over .500 overall and 4-5 in league play. Dylan Margonari, Zach Lehrke, and Bryce Gervais had the goals for MSU, which has won three straight.

Colorado College shook off a tough non-conference weekend over Thanksgiving by beating North Dakota 5-2 at home. Scott Winkler (two goals, two assists) and Alexander Krushelnyski (one goal, three assists) each had a four-point night, and their line -- with Charlie Taft (three assists) was a combined plus-eleven. The Tigers won despite being outshot 47-26. 

Michael Mersch and Joey LaLeggia traded third-period goals in Denver, as the Pioneers tied 1-1 with Wisconsin. The Badgers still have only one win, but were 1:16 from another before LaLeggia's goal with DU's net empty. UW actually outshot Denver 33-31, but goalies Joel Rumpel and Juho Olkinuora were very good.

Big comeback win for St. Cloud State Friday, as the Huskies rallied from 3-0 down to beat Alaska Anchorage 4-3 in overtime. Jonny Brodzinski scored in the second period to make it 3-1, then Jimmy Murray got one early in the third to cut the lead to 3-2. The Huskies tied it with 2:36 left on a David Morley power play goal, and then Murray's second of the night won it for SCSU in overtime. The Huskies outshot the Seawolves 24-18, including 18-7 after the first period, where UAA did all of its damage against Ryan Faragher. The Huskies were sleepwalking into the second, but there was a momentum turn somewhere in there. It was hard to discern on the video feed exactly where it was, but SCSU was carrying play by the time I shut it off to go to sleep late in the second period. Hell of a comeback win for the Huskies, getting what could prove to be a huge two points.