Friday, February 17, 2017

Game 29: UMD at Colorado College

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Since back-to-back 2-1 losses to Colorado College and St. Cloud State, UMD hasn't lost in seven games. The Bulldogs have ground out low-scoring wins, fought their way from behind, and jumped on teams.

The lineup you see in the series opener is one that I think UMD can roll into the postseason with, provided a couple things.

  • Obviously, everyone has to stay healthy. This team's been pretty fortunate when it comes to man-games lost, and let's not take that for granted. Parker Mackay missed six games, and Nick McCormack is out with a practice injury, but UMD has been lucky with its front-line guys, who play a ton of minutes. Captain Dominic Toninato has twice left games, once after blocking a shot and once after taking what appeared to be a check near the head after a shot. But he's barely missed a shift.
  • There have been tweaks. Players who were moved to different lines need to be willing to embrace their new roles. Specifically, Adam Johnson has to be more consistent as a center. He improved greatly on faceoffs as he gained experience, but he wasn't always a solid defensive player. With Johnson's speed and playmaking ability (he can make plays at full speed that most guys wish they could make a three-quarters speed), he should be a force in the middle. Also, Jared Thomas has to be willing to be a fourth-line center. He's been killing penalties more and more lately, partially because of Mackay's injury, but he acquitted himself well. One of Thomas' best games of the second half was Jan. 14 against St. Cloud State, when he played on the fourth line. He won draws, was physical, and it made his line better.
I was a huge fan of junior Blake Young's game against Omaha before break. That and two good weeks of practice are why he's in the lineup. He can stay there if he doesn't forget what made his game so good against the Mavericks. He needs to be physical, win battles and races, and use his size and underrated skating ability to be a factor on the forecheck against the smallish Colorado College defense.

Looking forward to this series. As I wrote in the preview, CC is markedly worse at home (1-11, 53-24 goals) versus in road/neutral games (6-8-2, 41-34 goals). I believe the Bulldogs are going to try to carry pucks into the offensive zone, taking advantage of the extra room on the Olympic ice. If UMD can play with its traditional speed -- something I don't believe happened against this team in Duluth -- it can accomplish that task, making things much more difficult on the Tigers' defense.



Iafallo - Toninato - Anderson
Osterberg - Johnson - Mackay
Tufte - Peterson - Kuhlman
Young - Thomas - Exell

Soucy - Raskob
Pionk - Kotyk
Wolff - Molenaar

Miska - Deery

Bergh - Gerdes - Hansen
Berardinelli - Rothstein - Van Horn
Gooch - Kehoe - Michaud
Heil - Ockey - Makara

Blumenschein - Farny
McCaskill - Pernitsky
Kivihalme - Israel

Leclerc - Shatzer

CC lists David Radke, a sophomore who has played in one game this season, as an extra skater for warmup. If he plays, we'll update via Twitter

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