Friday, February 05, 2016

Saturday Hockey Notes and Thoughts: Bulldogs Rally and Get Rewarded for Effort

A happy Saturday blog for the first time in a while. The Bulldogs hadn't won a Friday game since Dec. 4 against Western Michigan, a run of five straight Friday non-wins (0-4-1).

Won't be a really long blog, but I wanted to get some thoughts out there on the game. Plenty of programming notes on the bottom of this.

When Luc Gerdes scored on a power play early in the second period to put Colorado College ahead of UMD 2-0, it appeared that the home and Friday futility would quite possibly continue, despite another strong first period effort.

UMD outshot CC 16-6 in the first, took 32 shots, missed two tap-in goals and a couple potential tip-in goals, and watched Cody Bradley score the only goal of the period when a bad pass intended for his brother Trey bounced to him in the slot. Of course it bounced right to him, right?

The Bulldogs have been given numerous chances to pack it in, lamenting their terrible luck this season. Yet they keep coming, and they were finally rewarded on Friday night.

Austin Farley ripped a wrister top shelf to break UMD's long power play drought at 39 chances and get the home team on the board less than two minutes after Gerdes' goal. Farley's line with Dominic Toninato and Karson Kuhlman was going all night, and it was Kuhlman who made a great move to the net to tie the game in the second period. Farley got an assist on that goal, by the way, for his 100th career point.

Kuhlman had a great night, creating chances by making power moves to the net. Probably should have had a hat trick, but CC's Jacob Nehama was able to do just enough to keep the door shut on a couple other great chances Kuhlman created.

Toninato had a strong night as well, picking up two assists to triple his season total. He's been among UMD's best players in all phases, especially since the calendar turned to 2016, and it's nice to see him getting points to show for it.

Frankly, I really liked most of everything I saw from UMD tonight. Cal Decowski's line (Adam Johnson and Parker Mackay) was a minus on the night, and Willie Corrin and Brenden Kotyk were each minus-two in the back, but that's not indicative of the team effort. The new "second" line of Jared Thomas, Tony Cameranesi, and Alex Iafallo were stellar, with Iafallo getting his first two-point game of the season (two goals) and scoring a nice rebound goal to put UMD ahead for good in the third.

Even the fourth line of Sammy Spurrell, Charlie Sampair, and Austyn Young contributed solid shifts, even when stuck out there against the Bradley line of CC a couple times.

Neal Pionk had a great game, as did partner Andy Welinski (two assists each, both plus-four). Pionk's poise is that of a seasoned Division I veteran, but he shows that poise in his 26th game. It really is a sight to see, and it's not something that should be taken for granted.

It was a good team effort by UMD, and for a team that has struggled to score, getting five had to feel really good. The net drive was there, the net front presence was there, and the goals came as a result.

Simple formula, and this is how it looks when it works. It just hasn't worked often enough this season, even though the effort was there numerous times.


Lots of Hockey Day Minnesota coverage on Saturday. If you can't make it to Bayfront Park, join us on 92.1 The Fan at 9:30. Jeff Papas will call Duluth Denfeld vs Eveleth-Gilbert at 10am, and Kraig Karakas and I will be on the mic for Duluth East vs Lakeville North at 1pm. Lots of interviews around the games, as we tell the story of how this event came to be and what it means for Duluth's hockey community.

Also, I'll be on Beyond The Pond on KFAN in the Cities with Brandon Mileski and his crew at around 10:25, and you can catch me later in the day on KFAN with Joe Nelson in the 2pm hour. #overexposed

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