Monday, February 10, 2014

Monday Musings: Red-Hot Bulldogs Not Sharpest, Get Five Points Anyway

At no point over the weekend did it appear UMD was as sharp as it had been the previous week against Western Michigan.

Despite that, UMD got five points from Colorado College, a huge get for a team that is now knock-knock-knockin' on first place in the NCHC.

Yeah, six would have been nice, but that ship sailed Friday, when overtime produced no winner and the teams went to a shootout. From that point on, five was the maximum for UMD, and five is what UMD got.

This was not a great weekend for the Bulldogs. Yes, they outshot CC 52-22 Friday, but they settled for perimeter shots, didn't get enough traffic to the net, didn't work hard enough to get to rebounds, and were guilty of some questionable penalties in the offensive zone. Honestly, it was an achievement for UMD to get two points out of the game, because it was not a winning performance.

Saturday didn't start well. Colorado College led 8-1 in shots at one point in the first period. The Tigers were taking it to UMD in some respects, and the Bulldogs needed to get going. A five-on-three power play came up empty, but it did generate some momentum for the home team. A later major penalty on CC defenseman Aaron Harstad led to the game's first goal, as Kyle Osterberg -- in the slot -- deftly tipped in a shot-pass from Willie Raskob from the left side.

Cal Decowski gave UMD a 2-0 lead in the third before a Carson Soucy major for contact to the head gave the Tigers a power play and their only goal of the game.

CC outshot UMD, but Aaron Crandall was strong as an ox in net, and the Bulldogs moved up the NCHC ladder.

The top six teams are separated by just four points, so there is virtually zero margin for error. St. Cloud State leads the pack with 30 points. UMD has 28, then North Dakota and Nebraska Omaha are tied with 27, and Denver and Western Michigan each have 26.


UMD heads to St. Cloud Friday and Saturday. You probably know that it's been a struggle for the Bulldogs at the National Hockey Center, but the building has been renovated and now features Herb Brooks' name (it's the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center). Maybe the renovation exorcised some demons for the Bulldogs, who haven't played there since March 2012. Since the start of the 2005-2006 season, UMD is 1-10-2 in St. Cloud, and that win came during a playoff series in 2007.

Last regular season win in St. Cloud? Nov. 27, 2004. Almost a decade.

Of course, you might remember St. Cloud State sweeping UMD in Duluth in December. Since those impressive 4-2 and 5-1 wins, the Huskies have come back to Earth a bit, going 4-5-3. UMD has caught fire. The Bulldogs lost their opener the following weekend to Western Michigan, but have gone 7-1-3 since.

It should be a fantastic weekend of hockey.


One more note from the weekend: UMD has added another future goalie.

Hunter Miska of Stacy, Minn., has committed to UMD, likely to start in the 2015-16 season. Miska played two years for the U.S. National Team Development Program, and is currently with the Penticton Vees of the BCHL.

Miska is the second goalie to commit to UMD in the last month. Minnesota Wilderness (NAHL - Cloquet) goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo committed to UMD in January, and is expected to be a factor in the race for the starting job in the 2014-15 season.

Both goalies made NHL Central Scouting's mid-term rankings for North American goalies. Kaskisuo is 16th, while Miska is 32nd. Boston College's Thatcher Demko is No. 1.

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