Friday, February 08, 2013

Saturday Hockey Notes and Thoughts: Not Even Sure What To Put Here

Slumps happen. Bad nights happen.

But what has happened to UMD over the last four games is nothing short of "potentially will-crushing."

On Jan. 19 in Colorado Springs, UMD allowed four straight goals in a 5-1 loss to Colorado College.

Last Friday, UMD basically no-showed a 3-0 home loss to a Denver team the Bulldogs could have caught in the league standings.

Last Saturday, DU scored three goals in a 91-second span of the third period and won 4-3 after UMD basically dominated most of the game.

Friday, looking to see how his team would come out, UMD coach Scott Sandelin watched the Bulldogs make a defensive-zone mistake and give up the first goal.

This time, however, UMD responded well. The Bulldogs scored the next two, took a lead into the third period, and proceeded to epically collapse once on home ice once again.

Minnesota State ripped off three goals and a 22-7 shot advantage in the third period to beat the Bulldogs 4-2 and hand UMD a fourth straight loss.

As has been the case most of the season, there were multiple culprits. Too many mental mistakes to mention. Too many guys letting their minds betray them and drifting away from what had been successful. Not enough people stepping up and leading the team when things start to go bad.

Unfortunately for UMD, mental mistakes and inconsistent effort have become hallmarks, not aberrations. And it once again has sent this team searching for answers.

To make matters worse, sophomore center Caleb Herbert missed most of the game with an undisclosed injury. He's listed as day to day, but there's no way of knowing right now if he'll be available anytime soon. It's just another in a long series of blows for a team that is running out of time to find the elusive answers.

What has to change? UMD has to stop recoiling when something bad happens. Right now, as I mentioned in the preview blog Friday, there isn't a line Scott Sandelin can rely on when things start going south. There is no lockdown line, no "go get a big goal" line. It doesn't just make his job tougher, it makes it nearly impossible.

There is plenty of season left, but it's almost a foregone conclusion at this point that season ticket holders will have a chance to apply their playoff ticket money as a down payment on tickets for next year. This team isn't getting home ice, barring the kind of run through the rest of the schedule that the first 27 games of the season indicate is simply not possible.

Could UMD rip off six wins in the remaining seven league games? Sure. But there isn't any reason to think it will.

That's reality. At this point in the season, you are who you are, after all.


Hats off to Drew Olson. He's been playing hurt a lot this season, and he's trying to put this team on his back. That's leadership. Too bad there isn't enough follow going on right now.

I thought Jake Hendrickson played his rear end off Friday, too, but a mishmash of line combinations after Herbert left the game made it tough for anyone to generate anything consistently.


Get asked a lot about lineup changes. In a case like this, anything conceivable is probably in play, especially if Herbert is ruled out.

There were three forwards and two defensemen who sat out Friday. Frankly, I don't have any reason to not believe that any of them who are deemed healthy should sit again Saturday. What would be the point?

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