(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.
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!