Friday, February 28, 2014

Saturday Hockey Notes and Thoughts: Entertaining Game Sees UMD End Losing Streak at Four

OXFORD, Ohio -- When Miami jumped to a 2-0 lead on UMD late in the first period Friday, I have to admit it started feeling a little bit like Groundhog Day. The Bulldogs only took ten shots in the first period, didn't generate much memorable offensive zone time, and lost some coverage on both RedHawk goals.

Not only that, but junior center Caleb Herbert took two more penalties, giving him 33, 15 more than anyone else on the team. He also almost lit my Twitter feed on fire, with some going so far as to question why he was even in the lineup.

Yes, people were openly lobbying for UMD to bench its leading scorer.


We scored two goals in 120 minutes last weekend (one by Herbert, by the way), and people want him benched. I get it. He's taking a lot of penalties. But he did exactly what he had to do to respond Friday.


And then score again.

Herbert went to the net and potted UMD's first at 1:06 of the second period on a rebound. After some back-and-forth that saw UMD eventually turn 2-0 into 3-3, Herbert was the beneficiary of great power play puck movement by the Bulldogs, and he waited out Miami goalie Jay Williams to give UMD a 4-3 lead.

The two-goal night was a big part of UMD's 5-4 win over Miami, a win that snapped a four-game losing streak. the Bulldogs improved to 2-10-2 when scored on first.

It was a nice character win for the Bulldogs. Miami came hard throughout the game, and UMD missed a golden chance to put the game away late. A Sean Kuraly major for a check from behind would have run the clock out with UMD on the power play, but Andy Welinski was called for a trip with 2:02 left. That allowed Miami to pull Williams and play the final 2:02 with five forwards on the ice and the puck in UMD's zone almost the whole time.

The other hairy sequence came late in the second and into the third period, when UMD had to kill off a major penalty on Willie Corrin for a hit from behind. Corrin may have been victimized by some embellishment by Austin Czarnik on the hit, but it wasn't a hit Corrin had to throw in that spot. Difficult position for him, and Czarnik -- who was called for embellishment earlier in the game -- won the call this time.

Miami scored with five seconds left in the second, but Adam Krause put home a short-handed goal to give UMD the lead for good 1:09 into the third.

Aaron Crandall made a huge save with 22 seconds left, and the Bulldogs blocked shots and played well positionally. Crandall wasn't necessarily sharp early in the game, but he stopped all nine he saw in the third and finished with 20 saves.

Miami has some very good players. Their top line of Czarnik, Blake Coleman, and Riley Barber is as dangerous as any line you're going to find, and Anthony Louis (two goals, one assist) had a big game Friday. But the RedHawks are leaky and not deep defensively, and Williams didn't have a particularly good night in the series opener.

It was an entertaining game. Had a lot of flow. Probably drove both coaches nuts with the defensive breakdowns and sometimes-leaky goaltending, too. I'm sure there's a lot for Enrico Blasi and Scott Sandelin to go over the their respectable teams. I'll put the over/under on total combined sleep Friday night at 9 1/2 hours.

Then after Krause's goal, the game's went away. Lots of icings and pucks out of play in the third period. But UMD played pretty well over the last 40 minutes, outshooting MU 27-17. With Crandall settling in, all four lines contributing good shifts and generating scoring chances, and the power play showing signs of life, the Bulldogs took some good steps forward on Friday.

No, it wasn't a virtuoso. It also wasn't a finger-painting.

It was a valuable three points, the end to a losing streak, and a nice night for the offense. The Bulldogs showed character, generally avoided the really stupid penalties on a night they were there to be taken, and won a road game in which they trailed 2-0.

We'll take it.


Elsewhere in the NCHC, North Dakota fell behind 1-0 at St. Cloud State, then outshot the Huskies 17-3 in hangind a five-spot in the second period. UND ended up winning 5-2 and can clinch the NCHC regular-season title with a win over the Huskies in regulation or overtime Saturday. Connor Gaarder had two of the goals, and Brendan O'Donnell had three apples. Zane Gothberg actually slept for part of the second period, and finished with 22 saves. St. Cloud State undoubtedly misses Andrew Prochno, but the big story in this game was the second period, where UND pretty much did whatever it wanted. Sound familiar at all, UMD fans? I'm interested to see if North Dakota can do it one more time Saturday. Have to think St. Cloud State will bring it, but we thought that with UMD last weekend and it didn't really materialize.

Denver scored three straight goals in the third period to break a 1-1 tie and beat Western Michigan 4-2. Zac Larrazza and Emil Romig had two points apiece for DU, while goalie Sam Brittain stopped 29 shots.

In Omaha, Nebraska Omaha stomped a mudhole in Colorado College, 6-0. Josh Archibald scored two more, giving him an eye-popping 28 on the season. Ryan Massa stopped all 20 he faced, and the Tigers remain winless outside of Colorado this season.

North Dakota leads SCSU by three points. UNO is three back of St. Cloud State. Denver sits in fourth, four points back of UNO. UMD and Western Michigan are tied for fifth, one point behind Denver.

The Bulldogs need either a win or a UNO loss to have a shot at third place heading into the final weekend. Second place is probably out of reach. Fourth place is extremely realistic, but UMD probably needs Western to beat Denver on Saturday, since the Pios close with Miami at home.

For now, forget the scenarios. If UMD keeps plugging along, good things will happen.

No comments: