Saturday, November 01, 2014

Saturday Hockey Notes and Thoughts: Kaskisuo Save Overshadows Negative Ending

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words.

What's a video worth, then?

If you weren't one of the 5,322 -- well, less than that, but that's the official number so we have to go with it -- in attendance for Friday's game at Amsoil Arena, you missed one of the more incredible plays you'll ever witness.

UMD freshman goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo was already having a pretty strong game against Miami, especially in the second period. As the RedHawks gained a semblance of control over the proceedings, he kept UMD either tied or in the lead once Andy Welinski scored a power-play goal to make it 2-1. A Bulldog power play came up empty, and Miami's Cody Murphy got out of the box. Someone for Miami -- honestly can't remember -- got him the puck, and he rushed up the right wing. Murphy made a strong move to the front of the UMD goal, cutting across from Kaskisuo's left to right.

The rest can be seen on this video that's been making the rounds.

I don't have words for this. Kaz made a couple other very nice saves in this game among his 35 for the night. He told Matt Wellens he got lucky on this one, which might be true. I don't know enough about goaltending to verify that statement for you. What I do know is sometimes you're better off being lucky than good, and I'm happy to say Kasimir Kaskisuo is both.

Unfortunately, Kaskisuo was tagged with a loss, as Sean Kuraly's five-on-three goal with 1:59 left gave Miami a 3-2 win.

Apologies for the somewhat quick blog, but there are errands to run and a lacrosse game to attend before heading back to the rink for Saturday's series finale.

(Well, that and we're choosing to ignore the large elephant in the room when it comes to the Friday tilt. It does no one any good to debate the major penalty call on Dominic Toninato or the high-stick call on Brenden Kotyk. What Dom did was 100 percent a penalty, and unfortunately he was in a position where the officials could overreact to an embellishing opponent and levy a major. Kotyk, well, damn him for being tall, I guess.)

(Short of calling for UMD to change its style of play and not be as physical in all situations, what do you want me to say? UMD needs to play an aggressive style to be effective, and curtailing that could be problematic. I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired when it comes to addressing the officials, and I'm sick and tired of UMD players getting ejected from games. It's happened five games in a row, and it's too much in my opinion. But what do you do? Of the plays, only two of them have been even moderately undisciplined in their nature. The hitting from behind majors on Toninato, Kyle Osterberg (Oct. 17) and Sammy Spurrell (last weekend) were highly debatable at best.)

(Dammit, I just addressed the elephant in the room. Sorry.)

Anyway, there were plenty of positives on Friday, including the play of Kaskisuo. UMD has a budding star in goal, it seems. Kaz has a .922 save percentage over his three starts in league play, and I don't care that his record is a pedestrian 2-3. Get this guy some run support, and he'll take care of the rest.

The Bulldogs have to make some adjustments on Saturday.
  • Miami got too much traffic and too many pucks to the net. The Bulldogs have to do a better job in their own zone to make sure the RedHawks don't get 70-plus shot attempts.
  • Faceoffs weren't lopsided, but UMD is still not a good faceoff team. Things got worse after Toninato's ejection. But it isn't just on one guy. Everyone who takes draws has to improve. Quickly. Either that, or UMD will run the risk of getting outshot and out-possessed by good faceoff teams like Miami (No. 1 in Division I after Friday; we're No. 50).
  • I don't know how to accomplish this without a dramatic change in the team's style of play, but UMD has to do a better job staying out of the box. Miami was on power play for over 13 minutes of Friday's game, and it was enough to make the difference in an otherwise entertaining and even game. UMD's 24-plus minutes of penalties per game is the most in the nation, by a five-minute margin over Brown (one game) and Bentley (seven, the same as UMD). Gripe about individual calls as much as you want, but the number isn't acceptable and it has to change soon.

Elsewhere in the NCHC, St. Cloud State scored the first four goals of the game and went on to beat No. 1 Minnesota 4-1 for the first blemish on Minnesota's record this season. The teams meet at Mariucci Arena Saturday afternoon.

Also, Omaha drew 1-1 at Cornell, and Boston College got a late goal to beat Denver 2-1. Those matchups repeat on Saturday, while Air Force visits North Dakota for the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game.

1 comment:

Eric Burton said...

@bruceciskie is there video on these calls?