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.

No comments: