OMAHA, Neb. -- Away we go from Baxter Arena, where UMD tries to avoid what would qualify as a losing streak. The Bulldogs have dropped two straight after a 4-2 loss here on Friday night, and UMD hasn't held a lead in either game. More disturbingly, perhaps, is that the games have only been tied for 21 minutes and 42 seconds out of 120. That's a lot of time playing catch-up hockey, something Scott Sandelin preaches about regularly.
A poor first shift doomed UMD on Friday night. Brian Cooper scored on a lost defensive coverage 24 seconds in, and Omaha actually pressured for more after that before the Bulldogs got their footing. An empty power play, however, was quickly followed by a bad turnover in the UMD zone that led to Fredrik Olofsson's goal that made it 2-0.
1-0 after that start would have been manageable. 2-0 was going to be tough sledding.
UMD didn't help its own cause. The Bulldogs missed the net 19 times on 84 shot attempts Friday, along with drawing iron once. Freshman goalie Evan Weninger, who has a .955 save percentage in five starts for UNO, made 45 saves and got plenty of help from his friends, as the Mavericks blocked 17 shot attempts.
Total attempts on goal: 84-38 UMD. Shots on goal: 47-28 UMD. Even-strength shots on goal: 32-19 UMD. Score: 4-2 UNO.
(Last two games in Omaha, including last year's series finale at CenturyLink Center look like this:
Total attempts on goal: 169-69 UMD. Shots on goal: 87-46 UMD. Even-strength shots on goal: 67-36 UMD. Score: 8-3 UNO.
Let's buck this trend, eh?)
You guys aren't stupid. You know the result matters more than anything in the short-term, and I'm not going to try arguing that point. But Sandelin and his staff have preached this is a process, and if you're going to give them that, you have to understand, then, that a game like Friday will be won by UMD much more often than it's lost.
And even UNO coach Dean Blais, wily veteran he is, has to understand his team caught a few breaks to get those three points. Similarly, he has to understand that his team will have games where it plays like UMD did on Friday and loses anyway.
Sometimes you're the bug (not Austin Farley), sometimes you're the windshield. Or something.
Big-picture, I'll take my chances with most of UMD's game Friday. Yes, the start has to be better, but not every game is going to be a 60-minute virtuoso. Doesn't happen. Hell, you think Blais was thrilled watching his team take silly penalties and get outshot 36-15 over the last 40 minutes? I doubt it.
Anyway, on to Saturday. Only one lineup change for UMD. Same for UNO.
Osterberg - Thomas - Iafallo
Farley - Toninato - Kuhlman
Johnson - Decowski - Young (Austyn)
Sampair - Spurrell - Mackay
Corrin - Welinski
Soucy - Raskob
McCormack - Pionk
Kaskisuo - McNeely
Pope - Guentzel - Ortega
Randolph - Vesel - Parizek
Olofsson - Alferd - Spinner
Lane - Nogard - Peterson
Cooper - Messner
Snuggerud - Gallo
Brady - Buchta
Weninger - Blankenburg - Thompson