Friday, January 29, 2016

Game 24: UMD at Northern Michigan

MARQUETTE, Mich. -- I can think of no better time to start turning this season around. At 8-10-5, UMD is completely off the national radar, an also-ran in the bloated national polls (one-third of the nation's teams are ranked by USCHO, just think about that, then ponder the fact that national polls rank 25 of nearly 340 Division I basketball teams!), and trailing in the PairWise.

This weekend, the Bulldogs do battle non-conference with Northern Michigan, a WCHA team that has been hovering around .500 much of the season and is sitting at exactly .500 right now (9-9-6).

It might be an unfamiliar venue (UMD hasn't played in Marquette since 2010), but it's a familiar feel. The Berry Events Center is an Olympic ice sheet -- 200 feet by 100.

The Olympic sheet -- or "big sheet," as most call it -- has been very good to UMD over the last two seasons. "Good" might be an understatement.

Since the start of the 2014-15 season, UMD is 6-0 in Olympic surfaces, outscoring the adversaries 23-4. Included in that is a 3-0 mark this year, with a 14-1 aggregate.

That average of four goals per game sure is enticing. UMD just can't seem to shake the scoring doldrums this year. I don't know the power play/even-strength breakdown from 2014-15, but last season UMD scored on 8.9 percent of its shots overall. This year, the Bulldogs have 59 goals on 884 shots (7.0 percent). If UMD was scoring on 8.0 percent of its shots this season, the Bulldogs would have 20 more goals.

Think about that. A team that has lost three games by one goal and three more by two (one of those was a one-goal game until a late empty-netter) with 20 more total goals scored, nearly one per game. If UMD merely matched its opponents' shooing percentage of 8.4, the Bulldogs would have 13 more goals, more than enough to still make a difference.

It's scary.

That's how low the margin for error is in this sport, and UMD is consistently -- for whatever reason -- coming up on the wrong side of it.

As head coach Scott Sandelin noted this week, there's still time to get this fixed. But he also correctly stated that "we're running out of time." Sounds contradictory, but both statements are very true.



Iafallo - Toninato - Mackay
Farley - Cameranesi - Kuhlman
Thomas - Decowski - Johnson
Sampair - Spurrell - Young (Austyn)

Welinski - Pionk
Soucy - Kotyk
Corrin - Molenaar

Kaskisuo - McNeely - Deery

Adair - Nowick - Shine
Hanson - Sooth - Siemer
Payne - Diamantoni - Purpur
Black - Starzynski - Pierce

Klimek - Kaib
Maschmeyer - Urban
Frantti - Trenz

Tolvanen - Israelsson - Dahlstrom

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