Friday, March 06, 2015

Game 35: UMD at Western Michigan

KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- I'll just cut to the chase.

Don't forget we're on 92.1 The Fan starting with this series. Network stations are unchanged. Red Rock Radio app for mobile streaming, go here for non-mobile.

Lines?

Lines.

UMD
Sampair - Toninato - Krause
Farley - Cameranesi - Kuhlman
Osterberg - Thomas - Crandall
Decowski - Young (Austyn) - Molenaar

NOTE: Nick McCormack will take the warmup and may play at forward.

Johnson - Welinski
Soucy - Raskob
Corrin - Kotyk

Kaskisuo - McNeely

WMU
Tiffels - Nong-Lambert - Laporte
McKee - Mellor - Rebry
Hargrove - Dries - Novak
Kovacs - Kessel - Muir

Stewart - Morrison
Goff - Moldenhauer
Dienes - Fleming

Slubowski - Bridges - Hafner

Thursday, March 05, 2015

NCHC Season Wraps Up With UMD Facing 'Skating Refrigerators'

KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- When I tweeted the quote Wednesday, a UMD fan responded by asking if it was bulletin board material.

I've listened back a few times now, and I don't believe it was.

In fact, UMD assistant coach Jason Herter -- conducting the weekly men's hockey press conference Wednesday in place of head coach Scott Sandelin, who was making his way down I-35 to watch son Ryan play and score a goal in the state tournament -- was referencing how he doesn't think UMD matches up wonderfully with Western Michigan.

It actually started with a question about the teams' meeting in January, one that saw Western Michigan take five of a possible six points. The question framed that series as "disappointing."

"Disappointing? I don't know. You look at our league, every weekend so far, we've gotten points," Herter said. "Points matter. Yes, disappointing we didn't get three points, but as close as our league is and as hard as it is every weekend, playing against a team I would say we don't match up great against because they're like a bunch of skating refrigerators.

"They're big men who have a decent amount of skill. They work hard and they're well-coached."

Herter wasn't trying to insult the Broncos. Instead, the point was to show why UMD doesn't necessarily match up very well against them. That is especially true when the Bulldogs -- who probably have a speed and skill advantage in these games this weekend -- aren't moving their feet and are maybe trying to be too physical themselves.

Times have changed. When Western rolled into Duluth, Andy Murray's Broncos were, well, rolling. After starting 3-8-1, WMU ripped off a pair of three-game winning streaks in going 7-1-2 over a ten-game run that ended in Duluth. The Broncos split the following weekend at St. Cloud State, and since beating the Huskies 3-2 on Jan. 24, Western has won just one out of eight games (outscored 24-14, but half that margin came in Saturday's 5-0 loss to Colorado College).

Murray, however, says that doesn't tell the whole story.

On the North Dakota series, which ended in a UND sweep, Murray noted "we liked our compete level." He said UND goalie Zane McIntyre was the difference.

Murray thought his team played very well against North Dakota, but McIntyre (Murray called him the MVP of the NCHC) helped the adversary get all six points on the weekend. The Broncos rallied from 2-0 down in the third period of the Saturday game to force overtime, but gave up the winner in the extra session.

Last weekend, however, Murray wasn't as pleased with what he saw. Western outshot Colorado College 52-25 in the Friday game, which ended in a tie and a WMU shootout win. Saturday, the Tigers pummeled a Bronco team Murray described as "arrogant."

"Most disappointing game, probably, that I've had as a college coach," the former NHL bench boss said this week. "We knew we were going to finish seventh (in the NCHC), and did not show enough respect for our opponent. We were undisciplined in our game, and we got what we deserved.

"How can you play arrogant as a seventh-place team? I've always told people that if you don't stay humble, you'll get humbled."

That's the backdrop for this weekend.

Murray is an exceptional coach, one of the more intense individuals you'll ever come across. If you think he hasn't reminded his players of what happened Saturday -- whether it be subtle or blunt -- you're nuts. He's a smart guy. He'll use that as motivation for this weekend, when Western Michigan knows it will play at Lawson Ice Arena for the final time this season.

WMU only has four seniors -- Justin Kovacs, Will Kessel, Matt Stewart, and goalie Frank Slubowski -- but Senior Night can be a catalyst for everyone on the roster. Especially when the group knows it isn't playing at home again, no matter what.

My point? The Broncos will be ready.

UMD should be, too. The Bulldogs didn't play poorly last time out against this team, but UMD is 0-3-1 over four meetings against Western going back to last year's NCHC playoffs, when WMU ended UMD's season at Amsoil Arena.

(Murray said he felt his team's goaltending was the difference that weekend.)

As Herter said this week, UMD needs to do a better job using its speed as an asset. In January, there were times where the Bulldogs looked liked they were playing more at Western's pace, which is slower. Most opponents will try to -- at least to an extent -- slow UMD down. There aren't a lot of Miamis out there who can skate with the Bulldogs.

If the Bulldogs can quicken the pace and make Western chase more, they'll find more success this weekend.

It's a vital one for UMD's home-ice chances, which took a significant hit with the two ties/shootout losses against Omaha. UMD now trails Denver by two points for fourth and UNO by three for third. With UNO hosting last-place Colorado College this weekend, odds are high the Mavericks will go "over .500" and pull far enough ahead of UMD to hold on to third place. Denver is the kicker. UMD owns the tiebreaker, and DU is at St. Cloud State, which still has an outside shot at improving its position.

UMD will be trying to move up the standings without speedy sophomore Alex Iafallo, who will miss a second straight weekend because of illness. Herter was quick to point out Wednesday that both he and Sandelin were sick for extended periods of time. He forgot that his favorite radio nerd was also sick -- started with respiratory flu symptoms and then a persistent cough and off-and-on stuffiness and sore throat -- for close to two months. There's some serious crud going around, and it sounds like Iafallo is the latest victim.

It stinks, because this is the time of year you want your optimal lineup out there consistently. It's not the time for experimentation or rotating players. North Dakota, for example, has pulled away from the pack by going 11-1-1 since losing to UMD Jan. 9. The lineup hasn't changed much over those games, though it will now with senior forward Mark MacMillan (finalist for both the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award and Hockey Humanitarian Award) out indefinitely.

UMD hasn't been able to field its best lineup since a Feb. 6 win over Northern Michigan. The Bulldogs are 3-2-2 while dealing with the five-game absence of Dominic Toninato and now the two games Iafallo has missed (you can add these two to that record once we know the results of the games).

So it's "GOHUSKIESWOOOO" this weekend for UMD fans (that's a real Twitter handle, y'all), while hoping for the best in Kalamazoo.

That's all for now. I'll return at some point and post all the standings scenarios and the tiebreakers the NCHC will use. For now, know that UMD can finish anywhere from second to sixth, so there are a lot of possibilities in play. Obviously, some are more realistic than others.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Game 34: Omaha at UMD

Final regular-season home game for the Bulldogs, and it comes with an early start for FSN television.

The Bulldogs weren't at their sharpest Friday in a 1-1 tie that ended with an Omaha shootout win. UNO won a lot of races and a lot of battles, and UMD will have to be better in all zones to get out of here with four points on the weekend.

It will also have to break what's been a bit of a hex on Saturdays. Since Christmas break, UMD has had four chances to win an NCHC series on Saturday (North Dakota, Western Michigan, St. Cloud State, Miami) and is 0-4 in those games, outscored 17-8.

Before the game, UMD will honor seniors Adam Krause, Justin Crandall, Derik Johnson, and Alex Fons. Krause, Crandall, and Johnson have combined to play 366 games in these colors, with 55 goals and 128 points. Obviously, they're hoping to play more in this building, but they get their salute Saturday just in case.

Lines?

Lines.

UMD
Osterberg - Thomas - Krause
Farley - Toninato - Kuhlman
Decowski - Cameranesi - Crandall
Sampair - Young (Austyn) - Molenaar

Johnson - Welinski
Soucy - Raskob
Corrin - Kotyk

Kaskisuo - McNeely - Fons

UNO
Nogard - Guentzel - Ortega
Randolph - Vesel - Gallo
Pope - Peterson - Parizek
Polk - Lane - Davis

Cooper - Messner
Snuggerud - O'Rourke
Youso - Brady

Massa - Thompson

Friday, February 27, 2015

Game 33: Omaha at UMD

Greetings from Amsoil Arena. Feels like I was here less than 24 hours ago. Weird.

Anyway, the Bulldogs and UNO Mavericks face off in around two hours. Kasimir Kaskisuo vs Ryan Massa in net.

Hectic few days at work with our changeover to 92.1 The Fan (WWAX-FM) coming Monday. That's the reason for no normal Friday pregame blog.

No Alex Iafallo for UMD. The sophomore was practicing this week and is not in the lineup for the Friday tilt because of illness, I'm told. We'll see about Saturday. Get through this first.

No Saturday blog because I'll be at the Proctor Arena working the Minnesota Hockey 12UA Olympic Region Tournament, which we're hosting this weekend. Saw some great hockey this afternoon, as top seed Brainerd rallied from two goals down to beat Thief River Falls 5-4 in double overtime. Fantastic game. If you're looking for a youth hockey fix this weekend, come up to Proctor.

That said, follow me on Twitter for thoughts and lineup news if there is any during the day Saturday. And don't forget Saturday's game starts at 6pm Central time. Tickets say 7pm, but the game was moved up an hour to accommodate Fox Sports North television.

Lines?

Lines.

UMD
Osterberg - Thomas - Krause
Farley - Toninato - Kuhlman
Decowski - Cameranesi - Crandall
McCormack - Young (Austyn) - Sampair

Johnson - Welinski
Soucy - Raskob
Corrin - Kotyk

Kaskisuo - McNeely - Fons

UNO
Nogard - Guentzel - Ortega
Randolph - Vesel - Gallo
Pope - Peterson - Parizek
Polk - Lane - Davis

Cooper - Messner
Snuggerud - O'Rourke
Youso - Brady

Massa - Thompson

Monday, February 23, 2015

Monday Musings: Bulldogs Lose Lead, Settle for Split

On the surface, the result was the same.

A two-goal win Friday and a tough loss Saturday. A 60-minute effort Friday, but only three points on the weekend. A split.

In no other way was UMD's split against Miami similar to its split against St. Cloud State.

The Bulldogs competed Saturday. They played hard. They battled. They executed wonderfully at times.

It just wasn't quite enough.

Miami rallied from 3-1 down with a goal set up by a great power play, followed by an actual power play goal, then won it in overtime on a Blake Coleman goal 4-3 over UMD.

In all honesty, it was a wonderful game and a great series, every bit as enjoyable for me as the Denver weekend was. Miami solidified its status in the completely unofficial and 100 percent meaningless Ciskie Top Five (joined by UMD, Minnesota State, North Dakota, and Boston University in an order I refuse to try to determine).

Yes, UMD proved it belongs. The Bulldogs went into a tough building against a great team and won four of the six periods. I was impressed by much of what I saw, starting with a pretty solid 120-minute effort. Was it perfect? No. UMD made some mistakes, especially on Saturday. But it's easier to refine execution than it is to coax effort at this point in the season.

There were a few missed scoring chances, a couple instances where guys overpassed, lost faceoffs, and failed to clear the defensive zone. Miami made UMD pay for some of the mistakes and played a strong game on Saturday. The fact UMD led much of that game is a credit to its battle level and its freshman goalie.

Yeah, Kasimir Kaskisuo allowed five goals on the weekend. They came on 80 shots. Considering the quality of the opponent and the quality of its chances, this might have been Kas' best weekend in our colors, even though we only won one game. Practically stood on his head in the second period Saturday (24 saves). 45 stops in the game.

And how about that UMD power play? Two more goals Saturday and four on the weekend in eight chances. Nothing fancy. Guys shot the puck and went to the net. Then they stayed at the net and caused trouble for the Miami goalie of choice. Sometimes, you don't need to draw up a cross-seam, high-low or low-high play. Just get the puck to the net. Worked for UMD on the weekend, and this would be a really good time for the power play to get hot.

In the end, Anthony Louis and Coleman made a play, and Miami got the money. Louis was great all night, using his speed and skill to create space and opportunities. Austin Czarnik continues to only have two goals this season, but man is he a good player.

UMD could see Miami again after a 2-2 season series split, either in the NCHC playoffs or the NCAA Tournament. Despite the strong effort, UMD fell to fifth in the NCHC, and would be on the road for the first round of the playoffs if the season ended today.

(It doesn't.)

Oh, and UMD's third in the Pairwise. So it's possible a No. 1 NCAA seed doesn't even get home ice in its conference playoffs.

That kind of year.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Game 32: UMD at Miami

OXFORD, Ohio -- It was very Minnesota-y here, with close to a half foot of snow falling on a mild day, the warmest of the trip so far.

Oddly, there was apparently at least discussion about the status of this game, as Miami's hockey Twitter feed sent multiple updates saying the game would be played as scheduled.

Hey, this isn't Minnesota. I saw a guy using a snowblower to take down what couldn't have been more than a couple inches left outside his business. In Minnesota, one gets chided for something like that.

Anyway, tremendous and significant opportunity for UMD in this game, with a chance to sweep the series and at least maintain a home-ice spot. Denver is hosting Colorado College, so it seems a safe bet the Pioneers get points and at least keep pressure on UMD, if not pass the Bulldogs if they don't win.

No Dominic Toninato for the Bulldogs. No Riley Barber for Miami.

Lines?

Lines.

UMD
Iafallo - Thomas - Krause
Farley - Cameranesi - Kuhlman
Osterberg - Decowski - Crandall
McCormack - Young (Austyn) - Sampair

Johnson - Welinski
Soucy - Raskob
Corrin - Kotyk

Kaskisuo - McNeely

MU
Murphy - Coleman - Schmit
Loe - Greenberg - Mooney
Wideman - Kuraly - Gacek
Louis - Czarnik - Morris

Belpedio - Caito
Sullivan - Paulides
Dornbrock - Richart

McKay - Williams - Jacaruso

Friday, February 20, 2015

Saturday Hockey Notes and Thoughts: Huge Third Period Leads to Huge Win

OXFORD, Ohio -- Stop me if you've heard this one before.

UMD outscored and badly outshot an opponent in the third period to break open a tie game and win.

Well, it happened again Friday at Steve Cady Arena. UMD scored two third period goals to break a 1-1 tie and outshot Miami 16-8 in the third en route to a 3-1 win.

On the year, UMD has outscored opponents 43-25 in the third period, and a plus-97 shot differential is its highest of any period (plus-91 in the first, plus-36 in the second).

Freshman goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo made 30 saves, including 22 over the first two periods. He was peppered at times as the Bulldogs gave up some extended zone time here and there, but they also blocked 14 shots and cleared some loose pucks from the danger zone.

Third periods have become a bit of a way of life for UMD up to this point, but this game saw UMD set itself up for third period success by killing off a pair of Miami power plays in the second and doing a better job defensively.

Then Tony Cameranesi took over. He had a great scoring chance down the right wing early in the third, then on a power play, he found a puck Miami goalie Jay Williams couldn't cover up and jammed it home for a 2-1 lead.

UMD had to kill off two more Miami power plays in the first half of the third. The back-to-back chances included a brief five on three for the RedHawks. MU got three shots on the first chance, but none on the second as UMD did a great job keeping the home team to the outside.

A great effort by Cal Decowski in the left corner led to a huge second third-period tally. Decowski got the puck to Willie Corrin, who walked into the left circle and ripped a shot by Williams to make it 3-1. Miami never really threatened after that, and UMD picked up its 19th win of the season.

******

Miami entered the game third nationally in faceoff percentage. UMD is in the bottom ten.

But UMD, continuing its recent trend upward, won 29 of 56 draws against Miami, and made the RedHawks centers and forwards work for a good number of the 27 they won.

UMD has won five of six, and a big reason for it is the improved play in the faceoff circle. Look at the fact that the Bulldogs have dealt with some good faceoff teams in this run of games, yet have won more than they've lost. It's a huge turn of events that is largely overlooked out there.

Another big factor Friday was UMD's battle level, which I thought was outstanding, especially in the third period. Decowski beat out two MU players for the puck that set up Corrin's goal, and UMD was clearing pucks defensively while driving the net offensively. It was a tremendous effort that led to a tremendous win. Adam Krause and Andy Welinski had big-time effort plays during penalty kills. Oh, and did I mention the 14 blocked shots?

UMD also was solid defensively, keeping Miami's transition game at bay outside of Blake Coleman's first period goal, which came 50 seconds after Justin Crandall gave UMD the lead with a power-play goal.

Speaking of that ...

Finally, how about that special teams effort? UMD scored twice on four chances against the best penalty kill (percentage-wise) in the NCHC, while holding a potent power play off the board in four chances of its own. In referencing last weekend, UMD coach Scott Sandelin said before the game that "when you win the special teams battle, you expect to win hockey games." His team did just that on Friday.

Now, it's time to win on Saturday. UMD has split three of four NCHC series since break, and the Bulldogs are 1-3 on Saturdays in those four series. That just doesn't get the job done. To win this league, we need to see some sweeps. Even with a tremendous opponent this weekend, the Bulldogs have a chance to finish off a six-point get, and it would be great to see them pull it off.

******

Elsewhere in the NCHC, St. Cloud State blew a 2-0 lead before rallying late to beat Omaha 4-3. Ethan Prow scored two power-play goals in the first period, then UNO rallied, taking the lead on Austin Ortega's power-play goal in the third. But SCSU answered, getting goals 16 seconds apart from Blake Winiecki and David Morley for the win. With the victory, SCSU is back to .500 overall and has shot up to 14th in the Pairwise, putting the NCHC in position to potentially get six of its eight teams in the NCAA Tournament.

In Kalamazoo, North Dakota held off Western Michigan 3-1. UND took sole possession of the NCHC lead with the win, as both Miami and UNO lost. Nick Schmaltz set up two goals and Zane McIntyre made 33 saves.

Danton Heinen and Daniel Doremus each scored twice for Denver on Friday as the Pioneers won 6-4 at Colorado College to clinch the Gold Pan. Zac Larraza had a goal and two apples, and Denver kept pace with UMD in the race for the final home-ice spot in the NCHC playoffs.

In those stadings, North Dakota now owns the top spot by three points over Miami and Omaha. UMD is one point behind the RedHawks and Mavericks and four back of UND. Denver remains two back of UMD, and St. Cloud State trails DU by four. With Friday's loss, Colorado College has clinched last place and will play the league champion in the first round of the playoffs.

Game 31: UMD at Miami

OXFORD, Ohio -- I know it's a pain from a logistical standpoint, but this is one of those weekends where the NCHC's television partner -- the wonderful folks at CBS Sports Network -- could really benefit from flex scheduling.

No disrespect to Western Michigan or Colorado College, but which game do you think they'd be better off airing tonight?

No TV for this one, so you're stuck with me. Apologies in advance. Remember, I don't make the television schedule.

(If I did, UMD would never be on TV, and you'd always be stuck with me. Heh.)

Lines?

Lines.

UMD
Iafallo - Thomas - Krause
Farley - Cameranesi - Kuhlman
Osterberg - Decowski - Crandall
McCormack - Young (Austyn) - Sampair

Johnson - Welinski
Soucy - Raskob
Corrin - Kotyk

Kaskisuo - McNeely

MU
Lemirande - Greenberg - Morris
Murphy - Coleman - Schmit
Wideman - Kuraly - Gacek
Louis - Czarnik - Barber

Belpedio - Caito
Joyaux - Paulides
Dornbrock - Richart

Williams - McKay - Jacaruso

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Red Rock Radio Unveils Duluth's First FM Sports Radio Station

Exciting news, at least in my humble opinion.

Lots of work in the interim, but it'll be awesome once we get rolling.

Press release:
Red Rock Radio is proud to unveil the first-ever FM sports radio station in the Duluth-Superior market. Effective March 2, 2015, WWAX-FM 92.1 will be known as “92.1 The Fan.”

92.1 The Fan will continue to carry programming from KFXN-FM 100.3 in Minneapolis, highlighted by the Powertrip Morning Show (5:30am-9am weekdays), Paul Allen (9am-noon), “The Common Man” Dan Cole (noon-3pm), and Dan Barreiro (3pm-6:30pm).

The Fan will also lead the way in local sports coverage. Starting with the March 6-7 series at Western Michigan, 92.1 The Fan will be Duluth’s radio home of UMD Bulldog men’s hockey. UMD football will move from KQDS-AM 1490 to 92.1 The Fan starting this fall.

92.1 The Fan will also carry a selection of high school sports, including football and hockey, along with Minnesota Wild hockey.

Shawn Skramstad, President of Red Rock Radio says, “This is a major commitment to sports in the Northland. We are very excited to bring a variety of sports products to the FM band and have great confidence in the success of 92.1 The Fan.”

Bulldogs, RedHawks Ready For Huge Series

OXFORD, Ohio -- The longtime college head coaches who face off this weekend are in agreement, not that it's difficult to form a consensus who believe the NCHC is a competitive conference.

When talking about how hard these last four weekends of NCHC play are for everyone, Miami coach Enrico Blasi made it clear he wasn't complaining.

"This is what we signed up for."

When talking about how hard this conference in general is, UMD coach Scott Sandelin made it clear he wasn't complaining, either.

"We all knew that when we signed up for it."

In its second season, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference has already established itself as the toughest league in college hockey. Four of the top six in the current Pairwise -- along with five of the top nine -- reside in the NCHC.

Two weeks from Saturday, we'll know the pairings for the NCHC quarterfinal series. I can tell you right now that every coach of a home team will talk about how his team is playing a team no one wanted to have to face in a best-of-three. Even lowly Colorado College is showing signs of life thanks to improved defensive play. If the Tigers figure out how to score, they're going to give real trouble to the league regular-season champ.

(Yeah, we'll lock the Tigers into last place in the league, even though it's mathematically possible for them to tie Western Michigan for seventh and win the tiebreaker.)

What we have in Oxford this weekend is a marquee matchup of teams that are -- at least in my estimation -- among the five best teams in Division I. They played an outstanding series in Duluth on Halloween weekend, and I expect this one to be similarly good.

"I feel they're one of the best teams, if not the best team, in our league," Sandelin said of this week's adversary.

"Oh, my God, it's become quite a rivalry, and we know how hard they play and how skilled they are, and how well-coached they are," Blasi said. "It's going to be a fun weekend, two good teams going at it."

Look at this Miami roster. The RedHawks are so deep and talented up front that it doesn't even matter that senior captain and Lowe's Senior CLASS Award finalist Austin Czarnik somehow only has two goals this season.

(Don't worry. He's contributing plenty. He has 27 assists.)

Miami will field a lineup that features four guys in double figures in goals. Sean Kuraly (14), Riley Barber (13), Cody Murphy (11), and Blake Coleman (10) all can fill the net. They're highly-skilled players who make life a living hell for opposing defenses.

While the RedHawks don't sport the high-end skill Denver has on its blue line, the RedHawks are just as active. Matthew Caito, Ben Paulides, and stud freshman Louie Belpedio (Sandelin says Belpedio is "as good a freshman 'D' as I've seen in a while") aren't afraid to get down around the faceoff dots. They don't score a lot (Miami's blue line has combined for 12 goals this season, while UMD has 16), but they force teams to account for them in close. That can create chances for the forwards as the puck goes low to high and people get open.

UMD counters with even more offensive balance. Miami has the four guys in double figures, but only six total players with five or more goals. Even taking leading scorer Dominic Toninato out of the equation (he's on the trip but not a safe bet to be in the lineup), the Bulldogs have eight players with five or more goals.

The Bulldogs' team speed has given even top defensive teams like Denver fits this season, and I expect there will be times this weekend where UMD is able to establish its forecheck and just suffocate Miami. But the RedHawks are so skilled up front that they don't need much of an opening to make something happen.

******

Saturday wasn't a great performance for UMD. The Bulldogs fell to St. Cloud State 4-1 and looked just flat, especially in the second period. Sandelin says he's heard coaches talking about how their players put so much into a Friday win that they had nothing left on Saturday, but he won't go there.

"I don't know how you can't play 120 minutes of hockey," Sandelin said this week. "It's what you signed up for."

Even if UMD had lost on Friday, Sandelin would have been pleased with his team's performance. The same wouldn't necessarily been true had they found a way to win Saturday's game.

"Everyone focuses on the end result, I look at the 60 minutes," he said. "For us to come out and not have a better game on Saturday, for me and the guys, it's not acceptable. There's no excuse for it. Not when you're 30 games into the year and playing for valuable points. We had a good talk about that Monday."

Sandelin was quick to say he doesn't expect his team to play perfectly at this stage. However, he wants a better effort for 120 minutes or more this weekend.

"It can't just be one night. It can't just be part of the game. We need it from everybody. We need to play better hockey for 60 minutes. We've got to play better. Our league is too good. Any lapses cost you."

******

Quick injury update for you.

As I mentioned, Toninato is on the trip. However, listening back to Sandelin's press conference Wednesday, I'd say it's unlikely he plays Friday. UMD brought eight defensemen on the trip, and one of them -- probably freshman Nick McCormack -- will likely play on the fourth forward line Friday.

That's a sign that Toninato won't play. Freshman Blake Young, who had been playing on said fourth line, went down in the first period Saturday and did not return. He did not make the trip.

I don't know if there's any chance Toninato plays this weekend, or if it's like when Adam Krause went on the Omaha trip when I had a better chance of playing than he did.

All I know is he practiced some on Wednesday and he's here this weekend. Hopefully, even if he doesn't play, it's a sign of progress in his recovery.