Saturday, March 19, 2016

Game 38: UMD vs St. Cloud State (NCHC Championship)

MINNEAPOLIS -- Back at Target Center. Thanks to Aaron Sickman and the incredible Wild PR staff for the accommodations. Always fun to get to a Wild game, and wish I could do it more often.

Now, on to the business at hand. The Bulldogs have work to do in order to secure an NCAA Tournament bid.

Thoughts on Friday's win
Saturday NCAA scenarios

For UMD, the momentum appears to have been built pretty effectively, and it all started in St. Cloud with that stunning sweep of the Huskies. UMD allowed just two goals all weekend in St. Cloud, and the Bulldogs have held a team averaging 4.31 goals per game to six in four games, including one each in the last three get-togethers.

This time of year, defense is the name of the game, and the best defense is mashing on the opponent with puck possession. It's something UMD has done quite well at times this year, including in Friday's win over North Dakota. The old adage is "They can't score if they don't have the puck," and while it certainly qualifies as "no duh," it also applies in spades come playoff time.

Want to hold the likes of Kossila, Eyssimont, Benik, Peterson, Morley, and friends off the board? Make them defend. Cycle the hell out of the puck and make them chase. UMD is at its best when it's using its depth to wear down opponents, but this is one opponent that has the depth to play with the Bulldogs. Not everyone does, but UMD has to play an effective game against a strong Huskies squad.

I'd say it's an advantage to get SCSU off the big sheet, but look at these numbers:

At home, St. Cloud State went 13-5, outscoring opponents 70-37 (3.9 goals per game to 2.1).
Away from home (road and neutral site games), SCSU is 17-3-1, outscoring adversaries 98-47 (4.7 goals per game to 2.35).

So, yeah. Arguments existed in the past that St. Cloud was a big-sheet team that didn't play nearly as well on "standard" surfaces. Those arguments are old and lazy. Don't buy into them. This is a dangerous opponent and it won't be easy to win this game.



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

Welinski - Pionk
Soucy - Raskob
Corrin - Kotyk

Kaskisuo - McNeely - Deery

Eyssimont - Kossila - Russell
Benik - Morley - Murray
Jackson - Winiecki - Newell
Storm - Peterson - Benson

Schuldt - Prow
Widman - Borgen
Nevalainen - Lizotte

Lindgren - Reijola - Zevnik 

(Matt Wellens reports the SCSU lines could change. If I hear anything, I'll update on Twitter.)

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