Saturday, December 06, 2014

Saturday Hockey Notes and Thoughts: UMD Shakes off Tryptophan, Finds Way to Win

I know the tryptophan/turkey/sleepy thing isn't necessarily proven science, but it's the stuff of legend, so we'll roll with it.

That said, the turkey sleepies aren't supposed to last a week, are they?

For UMD, the turkey sleepies lasted into the second period on Friday night, and could have cost it three valuable NCHC points. But you should really know better by now.

Down 2-0 in the second period, UMD used a great play down low by freshman Karson Kuhlman to wake up the echoes, tied the game late in the third, and got a Kyle Osterberg goal in overtime to squeak past Colorado College 3-2 Friday night in Duluth.

The Tigers took the lead halfway through the first as the drowsy Bulldogs were made to pay for puck-watching late in a penalty kill. Cody Bradley created a passing lane to the back door, where Sam Rothstein was wide open for a tap-in goal by Kasimir Kaskisuo for a 1-0 lead.

The play was a microcosm of UMD's start. The Bulldogs were a tad leaky defensively, getting help from Kaskisuo and the goalpost, both of which kept the score from being worse than it was.

CC's Hunter Fejes then made it worse early in the second, doubling his team's lead by driving down the right wing and flipping a shot five-hole. Things didn't look great at 2-0, but UMD had a rally in it, for sure. Just needed a spark to get it started.

Kuhlman provided that spark. He won a battle down low and fed the puck across the low slot to Tony Cameranesi to set up UMD's first goal a bit more than seven minutes into the second period. That woke up the crowd, the UMD bench, and changed the complexion of the game.

From there, the Bulldogs seized momentum. The puck possession clearly was in UMD's favor, but the Bulldogs were their own worst enemy, missing the net and whiffing on chances. That said, they had the puck enough that CC was forced to adopt the Bemidji State "Hold On For Dear Life and Ice It Whenever Possible" plan. Also forced CC to use its timeout in the second period after a particularly long shift ended with an icing.

For a while, the Tigers held on. UMD struggled to generate great scoring chances and test goalie Chase Perry, but as the game wore on, you could see Colorado College wearing down from all the defending. UMD finally took advantage with a hair under three minutes to go in the third. Dominic Toninato and Alex Iafallo were reunited with a returning Adam Krause in the second period, and that line -- so dynamic before Krause's injury -- made the play to tie the score. Krause took the initial shot, Toninato banged away at it, and then Iafallo picked up the loose puck at the bottom of the left circle and beat a prone Perry high.

UMD buzzed a bit more late in the third but couldn't get one home, so the game went to overtime. Colorado College had some zone time in OT, but only a couple relatively harmless-looking shots at Kaskisuo. Then Osterberg and reunited linemates Cal Decowski and Justin Crandall went to work in the offensive zone. Osterberg insisted to Matt Wellens that he simply got lucky, but "being where you're supposed to be" is not good luck, it's good hockey. He potted the overtime winner on another rebound chance, this time after the initial play came from Crandall and Decowski was able to get it on goal. Perry was down and out and -- just like Iafallo's goal -- Osterberg beat him up high.

It is UMD's first overtime win at home since Mike Seidel scored in double overtime to beat Minnesota State 3-2 on March 10, 2012, and clinch an opening-round WCHA playoff series win. It was the first regular-season overtime win since February 24 of that year, when JT Brown scored to beat Colorado College 4-3.

Just like we talked about in the pregame, this was not going to be an easy game unless UMD made it one by coming out hard and taking the play to Colorado College from the start. It didn't take long to see that the Bulldogs weren't themselves at the outset. They allowed a couple strong scoring chances and couldn't complete passes to get the puck up the rink clean. CC clogged up the neutral zone effectively, which further accentuated UMD's struggles moving the puck and using its speed.

To avoid a similar fate on Saturday, UMD needs to come out of the gates stronger and more assertively. This was similar to the Omaha series, in that UMD probably should have lost the Friday game, but instead dug deep and found a way to win. In that series, Ryan Massa stood firmly on his head and UNO was able to steal Saturday's game despite garish deficits in puck possession, attempted shots, and shots on goal. If UMD comes out as strong as it did against UNO two weeks ago, there's no way history repeats itself.

But the Bulldogs have to make it happen.


Speaking of Massa, he got pulled from his start at Miami Friday as the RedHawks hung half a snowman on him before Dean Blais went to Kirk Thompson. He proceeded to allow the other half a snowman as Miami won 8-2. Insert "Frozen" jokes here. Cody Murphy had a natural hat trick for Miami, which holds on to first place in the conference.

Thought UMD had a nice comeback? North Dakota chuckles at the cute rally from a little 2-0 deficit to win in overtime. Down 4-1 in the second period, UND scored four goals in less than seven minutes to take a 5-4 lead into intermission, then added two more in the third to beat Lake Superior State 7-4 at The Ralph. Also in non-conference play, Cornell handed the NCHC a rare loss by besting Denver 4-1 in Ithaca, N.Y.

All those matchups repeat on Saturday. A reminder that the UMD-Colorado College game can be seen on FSN PLUS. Find a channel guide here. If you have DirecTV, you'll want to watch channel 668-2 for game coverage at 7pm. If you prefer radio (thank you), use your DVR and our radio stream and you can synch the broadcasts by pausing the DVR until the radio stream catches up.

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