Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday Musings: Bulldogs Lay the Wood to Minnesota

Probably couldn't have scripted a better way for UMD to go into its Thanksgiving bye week. After a 6-1 loss Friday in Minneapolis, the Bulldogs hopped on the bus Sunday, went back to Mariucci, and thumped the No. 1 Gophers 6-2.

It marks UMD's most lopsided win and most goals scored at Mariucci since 1997 (8-4). It also marks Minnesota's worst home loss since a 6-0 defeat to Wisconsin three years ago.

Not much went wrong in the game for UMD. The Bulldogs came out physical, and Minnesota didn't look nearly as sharp as it did Friday. The fact that UMD stayed physical and didn't let Minnesota do anything easy surely played a role in that.

Special teams were huge. The talented Gophers scored just twice in ten power plays, while UMD got four goals in seven power plays. The onslaught pushed UMD's season percentage up five points to around 17 on the season. Still not the 20-25 percent we're used to, but a really positive step.

Dominic Toninato got the Dogs' first short-handed goal since Adam Krause in Houghton last year. It was the first shortie for UMD outside of Houghton since Mike Connolly's score-and-truck-the-poor-Yale-guy in the 2011 regionals.

Justin Crandall (twice), Austin Farley, and Kyle Osterberg scored on the power play for UMD. Tony Cameranesi scored the game's only even-strength goal.

I was impressed with UMD's resolve once again. I don't doubt it at this point, but it's always nice to see. Friday got away from them. It didn't necessarily feel like a 6-1 game, but the scoreboard is the scoreboard. Sunday felt a little more like a blowout because UMD was so determined and physical throughout the game. But it got away from the Gophers with all the special teams foibles, especially on their struggling penalty kill.

I thought UMD did a better job keeping the Gophers from piling up glorious scoring chances in the third period than the Gophers did to UMD Friday. Matt McNeely still had to be sharp, and he came up with 36 saves. Carson Soucy and Dan Molenaar both gave UMD some puck-moving back on the blue line. Soucy was especially good after missing a couple games as a healthy scratch.

A big step is coming for this group. It has to find a way to piece together two consistent, quality performances in a weekend. Doesn't matter what days the games are, what times the games are, where the games are, or who UMD is matched up against.

The Bulldogs play St. Cloud State out of their bye Dec. 6-7. SCSU has lost once this season, and the Huskies are off this weekend, too. It'll be a hell of a test for UMD, and it'll be for conference points.

Enjoy your holiday, everyone. Shop 'til you drop.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Game 12: UMD at Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Packers are getting blown up at home by a 2-8 team that has done everything but actually give up.

Let's start this game already.



Farley - Cameranesi - Krause
Osterberg - Herbert - Crandall (Justin)
Iafallo - Toninato - Basaraba
Sampair - Decowski - Spurrell

Soucy - Welinski
Smith - Raskob
McManus - Molenaar

McNeely - Crandall (Aaron)

Warning - Rau - Fasching
Condon - Kloos - Cammarata
Serratore - Boyd - Ambroz
Reilly (Connor) - Isackson - Lettieri

Skjei - Bischoff
Reilly - Parenteau
Marshall - Brodzinski

Wilcox - Shibrowski - Coyne

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Saturday (Sunday?) Hockey Notes and Thoughts: Bouncing Back, Soucy, More

Fun "off day." Drove home, ran a practice, and then watched Wisconsin's now-annual football beating of Minnesota.

(It was cute how the Gophers had worked themselves into a lather by beating hapless Northwestern, overrated Nebraska, and pitiful Indiana, wasn't it? Play a real team next time, yo.)

Anyway, it wasn't a day off for the UMD men's hockey team, as the Bulldogs practiced at Amsoil Arena. UMD will board a bus bound for Minneapolis Sunday midday, and then play No. 1 Minnesota to wrap up their non-conference series Sunday afternoon at Mariucci Arena.

Of course, the sting of a 6-1 Minnesota win remains from Friday, and no amount of video review or memory recall is going to make anyone feel better. That said, let's be fair about a few things.
  • Minnesota is really, really, really good. To make things more difficult, Minnesota is playing at a very high level right now.
  • UMD started great on Friday. Took the play to the home team for a time. 
  • Like I said Friday night, sometimes it just gets away from you.
  • I didn't hate how UMD played the last 25 minutes or so of the game. Sure, the Gophers throttled back a bit, but UMD did some good things and didn't stop competing. 
I have no idea if the day between games is a benefit or not. I don't have a clue if coming home and going back for the game Sunday will be good for UMD. I also won't criticize UMD for making that decision. I know I'm glad I came home, and I have to think they are, too.

Sunday, I expect to see UMD tweak a few things in the lineup. For those asking about freshman Carson Soucy, he's playing Sunday unless he catches whatever North Dakota was passing around on its bus from Omaha a couple weeks ago.

I don't even have to ask. I'm just that confident.

Soucy looked fantastic for a few games, but was sent upstairs last Saturday in Grand Forks after struggling a bit. He's a freshman. It happens. The onus is on him to make his spot in the lineup more permanent this time around.

UMD has eight defensemen, and they've all played a good chunk of game except for freshman Dan Molenaar, who was injured and missed a lot of time last year. He's needed some time to get acclimated, but I've been told he is getting closer. Honestly, if he's close enough, he could draw in on Sunday, too.

There's a lot of competition, and only X number (six) of lineup spots available nightly.

Up front, I'm not sure I'd change a single thing about the lineup as it was constructed Friday. I know I wouldn't touch the fourth line, but I might move them up the ol' chart a bit. Cal Decowski, Charlie Sampair, and Sammy Spurrell were consistently in the offensive zone making good things happen Friday. Let them do that again.

I'm tempted to say that Tony Cameranesi/Austin Farley should break up for at least a night, but I'm not ready to say it's time. I don't hate the idea of seeing what they can do apart, but I also don't like the idea of panicking and doing it when they just had an outstanding game a week ago.

Plus, the problem here isn't something that will be solved by changing up the lines. It'll be solved by playing better and not dropping off the face of the earth when a couple bad things happen. UMD couldn't stop the avalanche on Friday. Surely, the Gophers will try to do the same thing Sunday. Pushback will be vital.

Driving down early Sunday afternoon. I'll talk to you from the rink. Let's hope for a good one, and a good result!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Saturday Hockey Notes and Thoughts: Well, That Escalated Quickly

MINNEAPOLIS -- About the first ten seconds of this are all you need.

Sums it up.

Not sure what else needs to be put in this space after a 6-1 Minnesota win here Friday night.

UMD scored first, as its fourth line continued to be effective. Charlie Sampair buried a close-in rebound and gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead.

As well as UMD played the first 14 minutes of this game, little did we know it would be the highlight of the night for the visitors.

Minnesota buried a turnover that turned into a speed rush into the Bulldog zone to tie the score. And it was curtains from there. UMD forgot everything good that happened over 14 minutes, and the Bulldogs couldn't regain their poise at any point in the game before the score was out of hand.

We just were talking earlier this week on the radio about the Wild, after they lost 6-2 to Montreal on Tuesday. Games get away from even the best NHL teams over the course of a long season.

The college season is much shorter, but the same is true. Games get away from you every now and then, even if you're a good team.

That's all this was, ultimately. It wasn't a mandate about how good the Gophers are. We know how good the Gophers are. Instead, it was a mandate about what happens when you feed into the Gophers' strengths, which UMD did all night with bad turnovers and bad clearing attempts. The Bulldogs did a pretty decent job for a good chunk of this game at getting pucks to the net, but UMTC sophomore goalie Adam Wilcox was as good as I've ever seen him. That only made UMD's job even more difficult. It was bad enough when the goals started piling up for Minnesota, but Wilcox' play made any sort of attempt at a rally virtually impossible.

UMD will be back in Duluth by the time most of you read this. The Bulldogs will bus back down Sunday. It's a move that will draw plenty of questions if UMD doesn't play well. Of course, we all know that's unfair. Doesn't stop people from doing it.

Reality is that a day here to do nothing does nothing for the team. They can sleep in their own beds for two nights by going home, and they can practice at home Saturday before coming back down Sunday. Is it a "normal" game day? No. But no 4pm game on a Sunday after a Friday game and basically a day off is going to be a "normal" situation for people who as accustomed to their routines as Division I athletes tend to be.

If UMD doesn't rebound with a better effort Sunday, it won't have a damn thing to do with the travel schedule. Nothing.

I'll probably add to this either Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning, or post a separate blog. I have an early wake-up to get back to Duluth Saturday morning and run my PeeWee team's practice. And after what I've heard about their game Friday, that practice won't include many pucks.

Talk at you again later this weekend.

Game 11: UMD at Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS -- Welcome to the home of the big block "M" and all things hockey.

Or something.

I've always enjoyed our trips here, but especially lately. Like Grand Forks, my early years calling games featured a lot of lopsided losses here, but recent trips have seen UMD play better. Losing sucks, but losing 4-3 is much more enjoyable than losing 7-0. And I've seen that happen here. It's no fun in any way for anyone.



Farley - Cameranesi - Krause
Osterberg - Herbert - Crandall (Justin)
Iafallo - Toninato - Basaraba
Sampair - Decowski - Spurrell

Corrin - Welinski
Smith - Raskob
McManus - Johnson

Crandall (Aaron) - McNeely

Warning - Rau - Fasching
Condon - Kloos - Cammarata
Serratore - Boyd - Ambroz
Michaelson - Guertler - Lettieri

Skjei - Holl
Reilly - Bischoff
Marshall - Brodzinski

Wilcox - Shibrowski - Coyne

(By the way, the Gophers list goalies in whatever order they want, with the disclaimer on the line chart that the order does not indicate the starter. I'd be stunned if Wilcox didn't start, even though Shibrowski shut out Minnesota State in Saturday's game last weekend.)

Bulldogs Blocking Way to Defensive Success

MINNEAPOLIS -- It wasn't blatantly obvious in the season opener against Michigan Tech, but it didn't take long for most observers to realize that this UMD men's hockey team wasn't going to make life easy for opposing offenses.

Before the season started, many wondered where the defense would come from. UMD lost three top four blue-liners from last year's sub-.500 team, and while there was plenty of experience back, the Bulldogs knew they were going to be relying on players they hadn't relied on much before.

What's happened through ten games? Lots of pats on the helmet, plenty of ice, and probably some visible bruising.

UMD is blocking shots like crazy.

No matter who is on the ice, guys are making it extremely difficult to get shots through to the net.

"It starts at the top with our leaders," junior defenseman Derik Johnson said this week. "We block shots every day in practice. We're in the training room with ice bags on. I think that sends a pretty strong message to the rest of our team about how we're gonna play. It's sacrificing your body for your teammates."

"It fires up the whole bench," head coach Scott Sandelin said recently.

In last weekend's series at North Dakota, UMD blocked over 30 shots in two games, including 23 on Friday. Willie Corrin blocked six by himself, even though he hadn't played much this season, especially lately.

There is no reason to think any of this will change anytime soon, especially heading into this weekend's series against No. 1 Minnesota.

Some will joke that shot blocks come from being out of position to begin with. Johnson doesn't necessarily argue that, but he notes that the game has evolved to a point where shot-blocking has become vitally important.

"You look back maybe ten years ago, it wasn't done as much," he said. "But with the way guys are able to move the puck, sometimes you're out of position. You gotta put your body in front of it."

UMD will take the blocked shots as long as they come. Between defensemen and goalies, there were plenty of questions about the back end coming into the season. While Aaron Crandall has played well over his seven straight starts, it doesn't hurt to have guys making those sacrifices in front of him.

"They take a lot of pride in what they do," Crandall said about his defense. "I joke with them that sometimes it takes away from my saves, I could pad my stats a little. But it's awesome. They've had some huge blocks on pucks I haven't even seen.

"When you see guys laying out, blocking shots, it makes you want to make big plays. Because it obviously hurts them more than it hurts me."


Of the likely lineup for Friday's game, 15 players are from Minnesota, one more from Superior (close enough, right?). It's hard to find a series on the schedule that would have more guys fired up and ready to go than this one, even though it's non-conference.

Despite not being in the same conference anymore, Sandelin knows his team is facing a huge rival. A big reason for it is the number of Minnesotans currently on the UMD roster.

Sandelin also knows it's a formidable opponent, even though it's one that UMD thinks it can play with.

"I think too many teams go in there and give them too much respect," he said this week. "We know how we have to play. Hopefully we can go in there and do that. It's a big series, a big rival. We've got a lot of Minnesota kids that like beating them."

The Gophers are certainly powerful up front. Hudson Fasching is a power forward-type who has flashed some Nick Bjugstad-type ability along the wall and with a deadly shot. Fasching isn't quite that good yet, but you can see some similarities with his game. Remember, it took Bjugstad a little while to learn how to use his big body and long arms, but once he did, he quickly became one of the best players in the college game.

Forwards like Justin Kloos -- a former Minnesota Mr. Hockey -- and Taylor Cammarata have speed to burn. They are part of a forward group that already possessed the lightning-fast Nate Condon, the underrated (for now) Sam Warning, and the always-dangerous Kyle Rau. Yes, the Gophers lost a lot after last year, but Don Lucia has them well-positioned to continue their recent success.

By the way, if you can get the puck to the net, the reward you face there is dynamic sophomore Adam "Stalock's Cousin" Wilcox, who only has a .931 save percentage so far.


We're an underdog here this weekend, no doubt, but Sandelin is also right. Too many teams play almost scared of Minnesota's speed. But the Gophers aren't unlike any other speedy college hockey team out there, including UMD.

(People seem to forget that UMD has plenty of quicks in its lineup, too.)

Hit them hard enough and often enough, and speed tends to slow a little bit. UMD's gameplan should include relentless pursuit in all zones, hard hitting, and smart plays with the puck. Manage the puck, keep it away from their guys, limit their transition opportunities, and get people to the front of the net to make Wilcox' life a difficult one.

Not easy, but doable. Like I said before Notre Dame, the opponent is definitely good, and UMD believes it's good, too.

Time to forget about the former and prove the latter.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

2014-15 UMD Recruiting Taking Shape

The UMD men's hockey team signed four players during the fall signing period. The four will, barring setbacks, play for the Bulldogs starting next season.

Via UMD, here is some background info on the group, which includes one local player. With only four players in this year's senior class, you can expect UMD will be light on spring-time recruits unless there are early departures. UMD does appear in need of one more goaltender for next season.

Brett Boehm • F • 6-3 • 170 • 9/19/94 • Martensville, Saskatchewan (Flin Flon/SJHL)
Currently holds a share of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League scoring lead with 20 points on nine goals and 11 assists in 16 outings ... took part in the Canadian Junior Hockey League's Prospect Games last month in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia ... is in his second full season of duty with the Flin Flon Bombers  ... was chosen the SJHL Rookie of the Year in 2012-13 after racking up 25 goals and 29 assists during the regular season (49 games) ... paced all SJHL first-year skaters in goals, assist and total points  .. added six more points during the Bombers' 10-game playoff run last winter ... enjoyed a rewarding two-year career with the Beardy's Blackhawks of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League prior to his arrival in Flin Flon ... ranked first in the SMHL in goals, (40) assists (46) and points (86) en route to being named that circuit's Top Forward and a first team All-Star for 2011-12.

Blake Heinrich • D • 5-11 • 200 • 2/17/95 • Cambridge, Minn. (Sioux City/USHL)
Has been stationed in Sioux City, Iowa, the past two seasons, skillfully manning the point for the United States Hockey League's Musketeers ... his stat line thus far in 2013-14 includes three goals and two assists  in 14 games ... closed out the 2012-13 season with the third highest scoring total of any Sioux City blueliner (20 points on three goals and 17 assists) and was a +12 on the year ... skated for the gold medal-winning U.S.entry at the 2012 World Junior A Challenge .... is a teammate of fellow 2014-15 UMD recruit Jared Thomas ... was coached in 2013-14 by former UMD assistant coach and hockey alumnus Brett Larson ... was part of a defenseman crew one year ago that included current UMD rookie Dan Molenaar ... passed up his final year of eligibility at St. Paul's Hill-Murray High School to join the USHL ranks in 2012-13 ... was taken in the fifth round (144th selection overall) by the Washington Capitals in the 2013 National Hockey League Draft.

Jared Thomas  • F • 6-1 • 190 • 2/21/94 • Hermantown, Minn. (Sioux City/USHL)
Enlisted his services with the Sioux City Musketeers in 2012-13 ...  has four goals and assists to his credit through 16 games this season while sharing the locker room with fellow UMD recruit Blake Heinrich ... those 20 points are bettered by only three other USHL combatants at the moment ... made quite a splash as a USHL rookie, producing 18 goals and 23 assists for 41 points (second among all full-time Musketeers) ... a team-high 11 of his 18 goals came on the power play ... starred at nearby Hermantown High School for three seasons before moving on to the USHL ... his UMD athletic bloodlines run deep -- his father, Mike, was an All-American offensive lineman for the Bulldogs while his mother Kelli (Ritzer), received All-Northern Sun Conference recognition in both basketball (four times) and softball (three) and is a member of the UMD Athletic Hall of Fame ... his uncle, Corey Thomas, also lettered in both baseball and football for the Bulldogs.

Blake Young  • F • 6-3 • 185 • 11/21/94 • Battleford, Saskatchewan (Battlefords/SJHL)
Will come to UMD with at least two years of Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League seasoning tucked under his belt ...  ranks fifth on the 2013-14 Battlefords North Star scoring charts with with 10 points (six goals and four assists) ... took part in the SJHL Showcase event earlier this fall ...  put up eight goals and 12 assists in 52 games during his first SJHL go-around in 2012-13 ... was the recipient of the North Stars Fan Favorite Award that year ... captained the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League's Battlefords Stars in 2011-12 and topped the team in scoring.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday Musings: Bulldogs Split at UND

For the second straight year, the UMD Bulldogs played generally fantastic hockey in Grand Forks over a weekend. This time, they didn't leave North Dakota without a victory in their back pocket.

Friday's 4-2 loss was somewhat disappointing. Before Saturday's game, talk of the loss was largely nitpicking little things UMD could have done better to prevent the loss.

* Don't lose the faceoff after Adam Krause's power play goal tied the score 2-2.

* Play with more poise in the defensive zone in that ensuing shift, increasing the chance that someone would clear the zone and relieve the pressure.

* Don't put yourself in a position to go a man down after a 90-plus second defensive zone shift, leading to an eventual power play goal.

* Don't commit two more stick infractions later in the third period, hurting momentum and taking precious time off the clock.

* Get to the net and stay there in the offensive zone, instead of turning away after driving to the front.

When you can talk about little plays here and there over the course of 60 minutes, that's a good thing, even in a loss. There have been wins this season where UMD didn't play as well over the course of a whole game as it did on Friday.

Saturday, those little things were largely cleaned up, and UMD ended up scoring its most goals (six) and winning by the biggest margin (three) it has ever won by at the new Ralph, taking a 6-3 victory and three NCHC points back across Highway 2.

The Bulldogs have to be pleased with the effort, as Krause scored twice, Tony Cameranesi and Willie Raskob had three assists apiece, and Austin Farley scored for the first time in a while.

UMD chased UND starting goalie Clarke Saunders with three goals on 13 shots in the first, then got a key five-on-three kill (1:20 worth) in the second period after UND had cut a 3-1 lead in half. That kill got the Bulldogs going again, and freshman Sammy Spurrell restored the two-goal cushion with a late second-period snipe.

UMD threw up another crooked number in the third to finish it off.

Many, many Bulldogs played well on Saturday. It was really good to see Farley get back on the scoreboard. Cameranesi had a great night, and Raskob is playing incredibly well right now. I'm excited to see what he can do with the puck on the big sheet this week. Krause got to the net for a goal on Friday, then showed he has quite a shot with his two goals on Saturday. The Bulldogs blocked shots, played with snarl, and showed off some incredible skill and higher potential over the weekend.

While we'd all like to see this team win Friday games, it's good that they've been able to rally three times this season from Friday losses to earn series splits. The next step is not just playing well both nights, as the 'Dogs did in Grand Forks, but making that lead to wins both nights.

The next chance to do that is this weekend, when UMD battles No. 1 Minnesota at Mariucci Arena. Games are 7pm Friday and 4pm Sunday. The Gophers will test UMD across all four lines and three defensive pairings. They're the best team in the country right now, and playing them in their barn will be a great challenge.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Game 10: UMD at North Dakota

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Off we go from Grand Forks, where the UMD men try to salvage a series split from North Dakota.

Sounds strange to say, but there shouldn't be a whole lot of schematic changes for UMD. The penalty kill struggled a bit, but UMD has to be generally pleased with its effort Friday. Of course, you have to expect UND will be even better in this second game, so raising the game is a must for all Bulldog players.


Farley - Cameranesi - Krause
Osterberg - Herbert - Crandall (Justin)
Iafallo - Toninato - Basaraba
Sampair - Decowski - Spurrell

Corrin - Welinski
Smith - Raskob
Johnson - McManus

Crandall (Aaron) - McNeely

Chyzyk - Caggiula - Grimaldi
MacMillan (Mark) - Johnson - Parks
Pattyn - Gaarder - Rodwell
MacMillan (Mitch) - Tambellini - Murphy

Simpson - Schmaltz
Mattson - LaDue
Ausmus - Stecher

Saunders - Gothberg - Hrynkiw

Saturday Hockey Notes and Thoughts: Blowing Off Steam After ANOTHER Frustrating Loss in North Dakota

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Unfortunately, frustration seems to come along with any trip we make to Grand Forks for hockey.

More of it came Friday night, as UMD lost 4-2 at Ralph Engelstad Arena in a game that featured over five minutes of action before the first whistle of the game, two goals scored with UMD skaters laying in the net, what felt like about a ten-minute review of a play that had already been reviewed, and your typical inconsistent call-nothing-and-then-call-everything officiating.

Let's pick apart the important stuff.

Early in the third period, a Michael Parks wraparound attempt appeared to be stopped by UMD defenseman Willie Corrin. Why Corrin? Because he was checked into the net behind the play, and couldn't get out of the crease area before Parks got the puck there.

Only, it wasn't stopped.

Referees Derek Shepherd and CJ Beaurline took a look at the video and quickly confirmed there was no goal scored.

Only, they must not have looked closely.

According to what I was told after the game, it seems UND coach Dave Hakstol told the officials that the team's video coordinator upstairs had looked at the replay and seen it was clearly a goal. Armed with that news, Shepherd and Beaurline went back to the replay monitor and started watching it.

Sure enough, television replays confirmed it was a goal. Then TV showed the replay again. And again. Shepherd and Beaurline must have been watching a riveting hockey game on that monitor, because there's no way it took that long to review the goal and determine the correct time. There was some mumbo-jumbo in the press box that there was a problem with the video, but it seems convenient.

It was one of those moments where I would have really appreciated the officials having to crack open a mic and explain what the hell was going on. Of course, that makes too much sense to ever happen.

Ultimately, this sequence didn't adversely impact the outcome, because UMD responded to it well. That doesn't mean that NCHC officiating guru Don Adam shouldn't lob a call to UMD coach Scott Sandelin Saturday morning to apologize. No excuses, just admit that the guys didn't get it done and they'll all try their damndest to learn and be better next time. Keep it simple, eh?

After that Parks goal, UMD got mad and got a couple quick goals to tie it up at 2-2. On the first one, Alex Iafallo was checked into the crease while UND goalie Clarke Saunders went to try to play a puck outside the crease. As Saunders tried to get back, he stumbled, and a Dominic Toninato shot hit Iafallo and went across the line to make it 2-1. Adam Krause scored on a scramble play 20 seconds later to level.

UMD took a couple penalties, though, including a cross-check on Carson Soucy that led to the game-winning goal by Jordan Schmaltz. The Bulldogs also got nailed with a couple extremely ticky-tack hooking penalties in the final eight minutes, calls that were completely unnecessary and luckily harmless from a scoreboard perspective.


This brings me to the next point.

There were 18 minor penalties in the game, ten on UMD and eight on UND. As they got into the third period, Shepherd and Beaurline officiated like the game was spiraling out of control. The fact of the matter was that the closest we came to a major fracas was at 17:44 of the first period. Matching two-minute minors were called and life went on.

A huge beef for me over the years with officials has been what I perceive to be a lack of understanding of the game. I'm not just going to attack the guys we have here this weekend, because it's a common thread in college hockey. Either slightly chippy games like the one here on Friday get over-called because the officials are seeing things getting out of hand when they most certainly aren't, or they ignore everything and let the game get out of control.

In Friday's case, it was the former.

Hockey is a fast, emotional, physical game. Things will happen that are in violation of the rules, sometimes because the emotions are so dang high. But games like Friday's don't need to be over-officiated, because they never get close to being out of control. Want to see a game that got out of control? Look at this boxscore.

(In that particular game, post-whistle garbage was let go time and time again until things boiled over. Different officiating crew than what we have this weekend, but the same problem. No real basic idea of game flow, and they let things get out of hand before finally putting their feet down.)

Another complaint: How many times this season has UMD owned puck possession and shots on goal, only to somehow have more power plays against than for? I know we have a couple young guys who have taken dumb penalties along the way, but it's pretty hard to believe that the team chasing the puck a preponderance of the game is the one drawing all the penalties.

Anyway, I've written enough about the officials. Y'all don't pay to watch them work.


Can you tell some of us are frustrated with playing well here and losing? Going back to last season, UMD has now played 190 generally wonderful minutes of hockey at The Ralph, only to come away from it with just one league point, a tie last season.

It beats the hell out of what has been generally the only other way I've seen UMD play in Grand Forks, which is not very well. But it still sucks, and it's wearing on a few of us who work closely with this team but don't put on the skates.

I can't sit here and complain about very much that UMD did on Friday. I thought the forwards on the penalty kill did a lackluster job helping on a couple clearing opportunities, and the Bulldogs ended up paying dearly for that with the Schmaltz power play goal.

UMD was pretty good on the power play in limited opportunities. The Bulldogs have to find a way to stay out of the box. Six power plays against doesn't sound like a ton, especially when a couple were abbreviated, but it sounds like a ton when you only have three chances of your own.

Dominic Toninato and Alex Iafallo were dynamic at times in this game, and I really liked the fourth line when it got ice time. Cal Decowski continues to take hard hits to make even the littlest of plays, and he nearly set up Charlie Sampair for goals twice.

UMD blocked 23 shots Friday, including 11 in the first period. Corrin, a guy who hasn't played in a while in part because he hasn't been great at some of the little things, blocked a team-high six. Unfortunately, he was stuck in the net for a huge play in this game, as mentioned above.

The Bulldogs need a split here. This is the perfect time to be playing UND, as it is still trying to find itself in some ways. The high-end skill is there, but UND doesn't have the depth UMD at least thinks it has. That depth needs to come to the forefront for the Bulldogs.

If nothing else, for the sanity of certain people, including me.


When I got to the hotel Friday, I was greeted with an email from the NCAA. In said email was a statement from one of the rules gurus, former CCHA referee Steve Piotrowski. It was sent to clarify a rule about video replay. In part, the statement read:
In order to clarify the rules committee’s position, effective immediately, only games that are being televised (e.g., national/regional network, cable, or recognized broadcast entity) are allowed to be used. Therefore, any in-house camera feeds or video that is being produced for an internet streaming broadcast are no longer allowed for this video review purpose.
This didn't make a lot of sense to me for a couple reasons. For starters, the rule is dumb, and I'll outline that in a second. Also, why was it being sent out? Something must have happened, but no one I mentioned the statement to at the arena was aware of anything.

Thanks to some sleuthing from College Hockey News, we know.
After it appeared UMass tied the game in the third period, Boston College head coach Jerry York called a timeout and asked for the play to be reviewed. After the review, the goal was called back for a UMass player being offsides, however, according to NCAA rules, officials may only review offsides during televised games.

Boston College went on to win the game, 2-1.

"There is a little bit of confusion based on how the rule is worded," said (Hockey East commissioner Joe) Bertagna ... "We can go up and look at and review a bunch of things. ... Offsides and too many men on the ice are not traditionally things you can review. In the current two-year rulebook, it says in championship play, you can review offsides and too many men on the ice. Well, over the summer, the NCAA decided to expand that to any televised games, but it did not really define what it meant by televised games."

Thursday's game was not broadcasted on television, but a webcast was available through the internet.
So in other words, if a rinky-dink cable network somewhere -- a "recognized broadcast entity" -- is airing a college hockey game with two or three crappy cameras and primitive replay equipment, that can be used for video review purposes. But NBC Live Extra's multi-camera, high-quality Notre Dame webcasts can't be.


Extreme examples, yes. But this rule is dumb. If the cameras and technology exist to properly look at a play like that, do it. Shouldn't matter what those cameras are at the game for. The purpose here should be to get calls right, not confuse everyone and make dumb rules.

Bertagna went on to say that his officials erred in reviewing that UMass goal after being asked to by York. Sound familiar?

(Ah, there I go again.)


In the NCHC Friday, Denver rallied from 2-0 down to beat Western Michigan 5-3 in Denver. Trevor Moore lit the lamp twice for DU, while Sam Brittain outgoaltended Frank Slubowski. Non-conference, Miami got another Ryan McKay shutout to beat Wisconsin 2-0. UNO got two in the third, including the scorching Josh Archibald's ninth of the year, to upend Michigan 3-2. Also, St. Cloud State edged past Alabama Huntsville 10-0.

(Prediction: Whoever loses to UAH this season will not make the NCAA Tournament.)


One last thing: UMD's series against Minnesota is listed as Friday/Saturday, but those of you who have tickets to Saturday's game should pay close attention to college football. Why? Because the to-be-determined start time of next week's Wisconsin-Minnesota football game will determine the start time -- and possibly day -- of next Saturday's UMD-Minnesota game.

TV rules the world, after all. Oh, and TCF Bank Stadium was built on what used to be a parking lot for Mariucci Arena. When a football game is happening, there is almost literally nowhere to park on campus. They simply can't cram 50,000 in there for a big football and and almost simultaneously have 10,000 at Mariucci for hockey.

If the B1G decides that Wisconsin-Minnesota will start at 11am, then our game next Saturday will shift to an 8pm start. If the football game is placed in the 2:30pm time slot, we won't play Saturday, and instead will play Sunday at 4pm.

So keep that in mind if you have tickets for "Saturday" or plan to get them.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Game 9: UMD at North Dakota

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Despite reports of vomiting players throughout the week in Grand Forks, it appears all or a significant portion of UND's roster is healthy enough to play hockey in this series opener against UMD.

For the first time in a while, the teams will actually play a four-game season series. It's the first time in four years that the teams are scheduled to play two-game series both in Grand Forks and in Duluth.

(In 2010-11, they met in Grand Forks, but the only meeting in Duluth was a non-conference game to open Amsoil Arena that we otherwise won't discuss. In 2011-12, their only meeting was a split in Duluth. Last year, the teams played two here, with North Dakota getting a win and a tie.)

For such longtime rivals, the move to the NCHC is already paying off. I'd much rather come here annually than go to -- no disrespect intended -- Bemidji, where the games and atmosphere isn't nearly as enjoyable.



Farley - Cameranesi - Krause
Iafallo - Toninato - Basaraba
Osterberg - Herbert - Crandall (Justin)
Sampair - Decowski - Tardy

Soucy - Welinski
Smith - Raskob
Corrin - Johnson

Crandall (Aaron) - McNeely

Chyzyk - Caggiula - Grimaldi
MacMillan (Mark) - Johnson - Parks
Pattyn - Gaarder - Rodwell
MacMillan (Mitch) - Tambellini - Murphy

Simpson - Schmaltz
Mattson - LaDue
Stecher - Panzarella

Saunders - Gothberg

Familiar, Similar Teams Meet in Grand Forks

Couple housecleaning notes before we get started.

1. I've gotten a few emails asking for more UMD coverage. I'll try to get more of that going for you. Balancing work and coaching and calling hockey games is proving difficult, but I'll do my best.

2. Look for info on Red Rock Radio's updated apps soon. For now, I believe the iPhone bit works, but you can still go here and listen to games via your internet browser on any smartphone.

Now, on to business ...

Grand Forks has not been a good place for UMD in a long time. The Bulldogs are 2-7-1 in their last ten games against North Dakota in any building, but the team's history at Ralph Engelstad Arena is cover-your-eyes worthy.

UMD is 36-71-3 all-time in Grand Forks, including a 3-13-3 mark in the new Engelstad Arena, which opened for the 2001-02 season.

Perspective: I've seen UMD win two games in Clarkson's building. I've also seen UMD win two games at The Ralph. It's not something that happens often.

These are two pretty similar teams when you look at the general makeup. Each team is loaded with talented freshmen and sophomores, and some of those good players haven't quite found their stride yet in 2013-14. They have senior and sophomore goalies who have both played and have experienced varying success.

The way things are going, they probably deserve to be teams playing around the .500 mark, which both are (7-7-2 combined). If North Dakota wins and ties this weekend, the teams will have identical 4-4-2 records.

UND coach Dave Hakstol called his team "inconsistent" when I talked to him this week.

"We've done a lot of things well, and we've had time periods where we've done a lot of things poorly," he said. "I thought we were a lot better last week against Omaha."

Could this be a great chance for UMD to end a long string of poor results in Grand Forks? Senior goalie Aaron Crandall hopes so.

"I've never beat them, and that's a huge goal for me this weekend," Crandall told me. "I really want to get on the board against them, especially at The Ralph."

(Crandall is 0-3 in three career starts against North Dakota.)

This isn't the same Crandall that UMD fans saw his first three years. Rattled by inconsistency, Crandall has been fantastic as a senior. He seems much more comfortable in virtually every way. A 1.81 goals against and .925 save percentage serve as sound evidence of that fact. Also, Crandall doesn't think he's started five straight games since high school or maybe juniors. He's earned those five starts, and he's earned the right to take the first crack at North Dakota.

"I think we've played a lot better than our record is," Crandall said. "It's exciting because it's early, and obviously you're not measured on what you do early. It's what you do late."

Both teams have been elite on the penalty kill, in the top three of the nation. UMD is first (93.6 percent), and UND third (92.5).

"You just have to keep things simple, stay within the system," Hakstol said. "Bottom line is you gotta work your tail off, and our group has done that."

UMD is similar. Good kills rely on sound play from all four skaters on the ice, and sometimes the goalie has to come through. For both teams, this has been the case. Crandall has been especially sharp short-handed.

North Dakota should be ready this weekend, despite the short week of prep. Last time on home ice, UND was swept by St. Cloud State. You can bet that we'll see the best this group can give on Friday. Hopefully UMD is sharp off its own bye and can exceed that intensity level.

These teams have hooked up for some very good and often emotional hockey in recent years. For UMD to take another step in its development, it must go into The Ralph and play at least as well as it did last year. Do that, and the result from last year (loss and a tie) could be flipped, or even more than that.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Game 8: UMD at Ohio State

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- One more game before the break, and despite Friday's win, look for UMD to deliver a much-improved performance in this series finale.

Ohio State is bound to be better, as well, so the Bulldogs had better step up their level of play. Faceoffs were largely non-competitive in Friday's 3-1 UMD win, and it's an area UMD must make some headway in to have a good shot at a weekend sweep.


You know it. Lines.

Farley - Cameranesi - Basaraba
Osterberg - Herbert - Krause
Iafallo - Toninato - Tardy
Sampair - Decowski - Spurrell

Soucy - Welinski
Smith - Raskob
Johnson - McManus

Crandall - McNeely

Niddery - Statchuk - Johnson
Gust - Dzingel - Angeli
McCormick - Lundey - Greco
Schilkey - Oddo - Szczechura

Gedig - Healey
McLean - DaSilva
Jardine - Brevig

Tomkins - Davis

Friday, November 01, 2013

Saturday Hockey Notes and Thoughts: Winning Ugly > Losing Pretty

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Friday night wasn't pretty, unless you just look at the final score.

UMD 3, Ohio State 1

The Bulldogs got outshot, lost 53 of 78 faceoffs, continued to struggle on the power play, but found a way to win a key non-conference game here Friday night.


Aaron Crandall made 28 saves, including a couple big ones on Ohio State power play chances. UMD skaters blocked 19 tOSU shot attempts. And UMD's freshmen came up big.

Of eight scoring points in the game, five came from first-year Bulldogs, including all three goals. Reigning NCHC Rookie of the Month Kyle Osterberg started things off with a power-play goal in the first. Sammy Spurrell got his first UMD goal in the second, and Dominic Toninato ran his goal-scoring streak to two games (Smiley) in the third period.

It was in no way a pretty performance for UMD. Sometimes, especially on the road in a tough environment like this, it just isn't going to be pretty.

But winning ugly is a heck of a lot better than losing pretty.

The Bulldogs were tough defensively. Everyone was in on the shot-blocking act, which was led by Derik Johnson (three) and Luke McManus (among those with two). The UMD "third" defensive pairing has been quite a find, a duo that the coaches can put out in virtually any situation and know that pucks will have a hard time getting through to whoever the goalie is. 11 of 18 skaters blocked at least one shot.

I felt like UMD's top line struggled in its new look Friday. Caleb Herbert didn't play badly in the middle. In fact, he was our best faceoff man by far, winning 12 of 21. He just didn't have a ton of help. Wingers Joe Basaraba and Austin Farley struggled to keep control of the puck, and the line just didn't look in synch. It makes some sense, considering they were just put together this week. But it can't continue much longer.

Farley has one goal and three points in seven games. We need to get him going. Same for Tony Cameranesi. The sophomore won three of 15 faceoffs Friday, and that left linemates chasing the puck all the time.

(Toninato was a garish 5-17 on the night, but one of those 17 losses came right before he scored. Alex Iafallo stripped an Ohio State player of the puck and fed Toninato for a close-in shot.)

I thought this was UMD's worst game when it came to puck possession so far. Not just because it got outshot. There were too many times where tOSU won a draw clean, and it led to Bulldog players chasing the puck up the rink. UMD couldn't take ownership of the neutral zone like it has at times this season because it could never hold on to the biscuit long enough. The Bulldogs did a fantastic job clogging lanes defensively, and for as much chasing as they did, I thought it was very good they somehow avoided constantly icing the puck.

But the overall possession numbers couldn't have been as good as they've been, and UMD can't keep playing this way and expect success.

There are a lot of guys who have to get going. Cameranesi has more PIMs (nine) than points (three). Farley has just the three points. We know Andy Welinski can be more of a factor.

But while these three sophomores try to get things clicking, we'll gladly let the freshmen carry the load. Osterberg and Iafallo each have five points to lead the team.

Oh, and Crandall has a 1.51 goals against and .935 save percentage. The team save percentage is up to .930. That's a good way to win hockey games while the offense solves itself.

UMD improved to 3-1-1 in non-conference play, obviously a huge component -- like it or not -- in the Pairwise.

Oh, and we saw an actual, honest diving penalty. Toninato went for it late in the first period. I didn't get a good look at it from 4,877 feet away like we are in this building, but word is it was a legitimate call. I've never understood why officials don't call it more often. Even if it isn't always easy to call, it's something that could really benefit the game if they did roll it out more. Imagine the hesitation we'd see from players when they thought about diving, then thought about putting their team short-handed with such a dumb play. As it stands, that threat doesn't exist enough to be relevant.


In the NCHC, Western Michigan rallied from 2-0 down to beat Colorado College in overtime, 3-2, in Kalamazoo. Archie Skalbeck and Alex Roos had CC up 2-0 in the first before Justin Kovacs and Jordan Oesterle leveled for the Broncos later in the frame. It stayed 2-2 before Kyle Novak scored in overtime, making a winner out of Frank Slubowski.

St. Cloud State scored three in the third to rally past North Dakota 3-2. Drake Caggiula scored for UND in the first, which is awesome after he was stretchered out of the exhibition against the Under 18s on Saturday. But Kevin Gravel, Kalle Kossila, and Andrew Prochno scored for SCSU in the third. Mark MacMillan got one late for UND, but it wasn't enough to keep Ryan Faragher (29 saves) and the Huskies unbeaten.

Josh Archibald got his fifth of the year in overtime to lead Nebraska Omaha past Denver 3-2 in Denver. The Pioneers had leveled with 4:02 to go on a Joey LaLeggia goal. Ryan Massa stopped 33 shots as UNO won its NCHC opener.

Non-conference, Miami shut out Canisius 3-0. Alex Wideman scored twice for the RedHawks.

The UMD women had 53 shots on goal against St. Cloud State Friday. Scored one goal in a 4-1 loss. The UWS women had 29 shots on goal against Hamline. Scored 12 goals in a 12-1 win. I chuckled at that contrast, though surely Shannon Miller didn't find it funny.

53 shots will win UMD more than it loses UMD, so it's probably too early in the season to get overly concerned.

Game 7: UMD at Ohio State

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Bulldogs haven't played particularly well the last two Fridays, so a fast start is highly encouraged as this non-conference series opens up in B1G Country.

Honestly, it's weird seeing the Big Ten logo so prominent inside a hockey arena. It's one thing at a place like this to see it associated with basketball, a sport that shares this building (and draws a few more fans, I'm told). It's another to see it on the ice, something we haven't dealt with before.



Farley - Herbert - Basaraba
Osterberg - Cameranesi - Krause
Iafallo - Toninato - Spurrell
Sampair - Decowski - Young

Soucy - Welinski
Smith - Raskob
Johnson - McManus

Crandall - McNeely

McCormick - Lundey - Szczechura
Gust - Dzingel - Angeli
Lippincott - Oddo - Schilkey
Niddery - Statchuk - Johnson

Gedig - Dalrymple
McLean - Healey
Cristofoli - Jardine

Tomkins - Olson - Davis

Reunion of Sorts Steals UMD-Ohio State Spotlight

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Whether it's a WCHA title, a national championship, or an individual milestone like his 200th career coaching victory, Scott Sandelin is always quick to say that it isn't about Scott Sandelin.

So it wasn't a surprise to hear Ohio State head coach Steve Rohlik remind me that this weekend isn't about Steve Rohlik.

These guys are die-hard hockey coaches. They are as intense and as driven as anyone I've worked with in the sport, and their success in the business is no surprise. The success of their teams on the ice means an awful lot to them, and no one goes into a game more prepared than they do.

They also get it. This isn't about them, no matter how hard we may try.

The storyline this week is simple. Rohlik and associate coach Brett Larson are both former UMD assistants. Rohlik recruited a big chunk of UMD's 2011 national championship team. Larson had a hand in bringing in many of the current players, along with serving as an assistant coach during that magical 2011 run.

The guy who hired them at UMD is still there. Speaking to the Duluth News Tribune this week, Larson was exceptionally complimentary of Sandelin's impact on his career.

“I owe my coaching career to Scott Sandelin. I was kind of an out-of-the-box pick when he hired me. I had just finished playing and didn’t have a ton of coaching experience. Without him taking me on at UMD, I’m not where I’m at right now."

While this "reunion" is taking many of the headlines into this weekend, it isn't the story.

That'll happen on the ice, where UMD looks to figure out what has been a bit of a Friday night slumber the previous two weeks. The Bulldogs were not sharp for 40 minutes of a 3-1 loss at Colorado College two weeks ago, or of a 3-2 loss to Notre Dame last week.

"Our first third of the weekend, the first two periods, were not as good as the last four," Sandelin said of the Notre Dame weekend. "We gotta figure that out."

Rohlik, who calls his Ohio State team a work in progress, says his team also has to "figure out how to play 60 minutes."

Whichever team does that this weekend will clearly have a leg up.

Ohio State has some guys. Ryan Dzingel has six assists and seven points in six games. Darik Angeli has four goals. Nick Oddo has a point per game so far, and Alex Szczechura is off to a good start. Rohlik knows his team can score, and they should test UMD's young defense and a goaltending group that had questions surrounding it before the season started.

That goaltending has been a forgotten storyline with this team so far. UMD's team save percentage was unacceptably below .900 last season. It's .922 through six games. Matt McNeely and Aaron Crandall have combined for a 1.68 goals against, with McNeely starting three straight before Crandall started three straight.

In my opinion, Crandall has been the better of the two. He's seeing the puck well right now, and he's doing a good job playing aggressively in goal and making sure he gets the space he needs to make saves.

Ohio State's goaltending hasn't been as good. Sophomore Collin Olson is off to a horrid start, and so far it's been freshman Matt Tomkins carrying the load. tOSU's only got a save percentage of .868 so far, so neither has been great, but Rohlik said they're seeing improvement.

It could be a tough weekend for UMD in another way. The Bulldogs are accustomed to quality atmospheres in buildings they go to on the road. This will not be one of them. Value City Arena seats 17,500, but when we dropped off the players' equipment Thursday night, the upper deck was already blocked off by curtains. The Buckeyes' game Tuesday against Bowling Green drew a paltry 1,782, and even if those folks are happy to be at the game and make a lot of noise, it isn't much of an atmosphere to play in.

Look for UMD to utilize quick shifts early in the game to try to get everyone involved quickly. The sooner someone throws a big hit or makes a big play, the sooner the bench comes alive. The upshot is that the Bulldogs have some experience in these situations (hello, Anchorage). It shouldn't be a big deal, but I've seen it affect teams before. When playing games you expect to win, you can't afford to get tripped up by something relatively minor like this.

I'll be back later Friday with line charts once we get to the building.