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.

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