Saturday, November 21, 2015

Game 13: UMD at Colorado College

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- This is a good time to remind you of a longtime stance of mine:

"Weather the storm" is rarely a good game plan.

UMD may face a bit of a storm in this game. Colorado College coach Mike Haviland was pretty blunt in his assessment of Friday's 5-0 UMD win, and his captain, Sam Rothstein, called himself and the rest of the team's upperclassmen out.

You can bet they'll come out stronger in the series finale. It's up to UMD to do the same or more.

As assistant coach Brett Larson said before the Omaha series, the coaching staff wants their players to match and exceed the intensity level of the opposition.

The first goal is highly important in this game. Haviland talked about how hard it's been on his team playing catch-up hockey all the time. The Tigers haven't led since the first period of an Oct. 16 loss at UMass-Lowell. They lost the lead in the first period that night, never reclaimed it, and haven't led a game since. Colorado College has, entering Saturday's game, played 531:40 without once leading a game. If UMD can score first and not let up, the Bulldogs will be in great shape.



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

Corrin - Welinski
Soucy - Raskob
Pionk - Molenaar

Kaskisuo - McNeely

Gooch - Bradley (Cody) - Gerdes
Bradley (Trey) - Rothstein - Roos
Fejes - Heil - Hansen
Burmaster - Ockey - Martello

Kivihalme - Lagrone
McCaskill - Emilio
Farny - Kwiecinski

Nehama - Marble - Shatzer

Saturday Hockey Notes and Thoughts: Bulldogs Snap Slide at Expense of Winless, Undermanned Tigers

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Honestly, Friday night was mostly what I had hoped to see to start this weekend series.

UMD jumped on Colorado College early and -- outside of a couple second-period lapses and a big gaffe in the third that we'll discuss -- never looked back in a 5-0 win at the Broadmoor World Arena.

This was UMD's most complete game of the season, but it came at the expense of an undermanned Colorado College team that looked overwhelmed from the opening faceoff, something that has to fire up second-year coach Mike Haviland. To play like that out of a bye week, when the Tigers had actually played pretty well the previous weekend against Denver, well let's just say that won't sit well with any coach. Haviland has been around the block enough to know how to deal with it.

The problem: He already basically admitted his team's having issues with its confidence.

"I do worry about confidence," Haviland told me before the game. "We had some issues early on in the year, when we'd get a goal scored we kind of went down a bit and I had to be a cheerleader on the bench."

UMD was in control from the start on Saturday. The opening faceoff ended up in CC's zone within a few seconds, and Dominic Toninato, Alex Iafallo, and Adam Johnson went to work. If the puck left the Colorado zone before Austin Farley opened the scoring 72 seconds in, it didn't stay out very long. The game's barely started, and an 0-10 team is behind 1-0 while having barely touched the puck.

Going back to Haviland's comment, he did say he thought his team had shaken that habit. If it had, there was a big-time relapse on Friday. UMD played probably 65-70 percent of the first period in the Colorado College zone. I put the first-period shot chart on Twitter (see it here), and it tells a pretty grim story for the home team. UMD attempted 30 shots to Colorado College's seven, and the Tigers blocked more UMD shots (ten) than it had attempts of their own. None of CC's shots came from below the top of the faceoff circles, showing how non-existent their net drive was.

(I didn't get second- and third-period shot charts until after the game. CC was better in the second, but the third was another meh 20 minutes for the offense.)

I'll throw out a couple more thoughts about the work Haviland has ahead of him in Colorado Springs in a bit, but this is a UMD-centric blog, and to not talk about the Bulldogs and the guys who played well is a disservice to them and the work they put in Friday.


As you can imagine, when winning 5-0 and outshooting the adversary 39-19, there aren't a lot of passengers. Somehow, Alex Iafallo, Jared Thomas, and Cal Decowski didn't have any shots, and Willie Corrin also went shotless on the evening. Otherwise, every UMD skater had at least one shot, and no one had more than Tony Cameranesi's five, so it was a pretty well-balanced attack.

In fact, here's the breakdown of shots by line and defensive pairing:

Iafallo - Toninato - Johnson: 5
Farley - Cameranesi - Kuhlman: 11
Osterberg - Thomas - A. Young: 6
Sampair - Decowski - Exell: 5

Corrin - Welinski: 1
Soucy - Raskob: 7
Molenaar - Pionk: 4

That's what it looks like when everyone is pulling on the chain and contributing. When you have the fourth line forechecking and generating chances like it did Friday (I thought Sampair was especially active and had a couple other good chances besides his goal), UMD will win a lot of hockey games. This team is at its best when it's a bear to play against, as it was Friday, but it's also at its best when everyone is getting the job done. That was also the case.

Just think about it: We haven't talked about Kasimir Kaskisuo yet, and he posted a shutout. Let's be honest, Kas could have gotten some homework done during the first period. His biggest challenge was likely to avoid getting bored. The Tigers got the first five shots of the second period, but Kaskisuo looked sharp, and he honestly wasn't tested a ton after that.

Well, outside of one play. The wonderful @umdhockeygifs Twitter account has animation of it. It looks like Colorado College was able to win a race near the UMD blue line. Raskob appeared to make a poor decision to step up, and he missed his guy. That helped spring Christian Heil and Teemu Kivihalme in on Kaskisuo on a two-on-none. It looks like Kaskisuo poked the puck away from the slot as Heil tried to pass to Kivihalme. No matter what happened, it was a massive fail and the Tigers didn't even get credit for a shot when they had a two-man breakaway.

That was really it in this game for Colorado College. The Bulldogs did a great job forechecking and applying constant pressure to the puck. While I'm sure CC will produce a better effort on Saturday night, the Tigers are now 0-11, outscored 43-15, and have lost the last seven while being outscored 28-6 and shut out four times. Even with a better effort, UMD has to be "favored" on Saturday.


I addressed a bit of the Tigers' issues in the Thursday blog (read it here). Looking at this team (I watched back the Tigers' games against Denver, and then obviously watched them a third time Friday), it seems more is at play here.

First off: Tyler Marble -- who started Saturday -- and Jacob Nehama are not the problem. Yes, Colorado College could be more competitive with elite goaltending, and neither goalie has elite numbers. But it's not fair to blame this solely on the goalies. It's taking a broad brush to the problem.

Part of the issues here are timing. Haviland took over for Scott Owens last year, and he inherited a team with some nice pieces. However, he now has 14 freshmen as he tries to overhaul the roster. But to bring in those 14, much of the late recruiting involved players that weren't getting Division I looks.

Some of these freshmen -- Trey Bradley, especially -- look like they'll be pretty good. I like Cole McCaskill on the blue line, too. I assume we'll see Nehama in goal in Saturday's rematch.

But Haviland can't be happy with his upperclassmen. Captain Sam Rothstein was invisible Friday. Juniors Luc Gerdes, Heil, and Alex Roos didn't do much. Kivihalme is a really nice defenseman, but he can't do it all alone, and it felt like he played 25 minutes in the first two periods. He's also only a sophomore, someone Haviland thinks "has a chance to play in the NHL."

There's a lot of work ahead for Haviland and his staff. It isn't good for anyone -- not here, not in the NCHC -- to have Colorado College be this bad. It won't last forever, but I don't know when it will end. I still believe this group can do some good things, but not when they're playing with such a lack of confidence and drive.


Elsewhere in the NCHC, the North Dakota Fighting Hawks debuted in St. Cloud, and got a win. UND held off St. Cloud State 4-3 in front of a big crowd at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. Drake Caggiula had a hat trick, and goalie Matt Hrynkiw made 36 saves. Nick Schmaltz had three assists for the Fighting Hawks, and that is officially weird to type.

In Oxford, Ohio, Miami and Omaha played to a 3-3 overtime tie, which meant three-on-three hockey at Steve Cady Arena. It didn't last long. Wild prospect Louie Belpedio scored 49 seconds into the three-on-three period, giving the RedHawks an extra point in the NCHC standings. Austin Ortega's ninth goal of the year knotted things at three about midway through the third period. Freshman Jack Roslovic had a goal and an assist for Miami.

Non-conference, Denver got second-period goals from Trevor Moore and Evan Janssen to erase a 3-1 deficit and tie Wisconsin 3-3. That's how the game ended. Quentin Shore also scored for the Pioneers, who were outshot 32-24 by the Badgers. Wisconsin won an exhibition shootout 1-0 because the night wasn't already long enough for the assembled media.

Also on Friday, St. Scholastica beat Northland 4-2 at Mars Lakeview Arena. I bring this up not because the Saints are now 3-1-1, or because they scored three in the third to complete a comeback from 2-0 down to win. Instead, I bring it up because CSS won despite being outshot 51-27. The Lumberjacks outshot the Saints 30-7 in the second period. How? Because CSS had two players sent off for checking from behind at the same time. That gave Northland a five-minute five-on-three power play, something I can safely say I've never seen. Fans in attendance ended up not seeing it, either. Less than three minutes into the power play, Northland got tagged for too many men on the ice, nullifying the five-on-three for two minutes. The Lumberjacks didn't score with the man advantage and the score stayed 2-1, setting the stage for the Saints' comeback.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Game 12: UMD at Colorado College

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Scott Sandelin wants points this weekend. Badly.

"We have to go in there and build off what we did Saturday," Sandelin said earlier this week. "It's a big weekend, because we don't play next weekend. These are critical points for me, if you want to stay in any type of race, important points before we get to December."

Against winless Colorado College, which has been outscored 38-15 in ten games, it better not be an assumption in that room that anything is going to be easy. When your opposing goalies are stopping pucks at an alarming rate (.941 team save percentage for UMD opponents so far), you haven't scored more than three goals in any game, and you have a grand total of eight goals in a five-game winless streak, you've lost the right to rest on your laurels.

It's time to go. It's time to turn things around. I strongly feel UMD is one bounce away from starting a tidal wave of positivity, but the Bulldogs have to keep working hard before that bounce will ever come.



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

Corrin - Welinski
Soucy - Raskob
Pionk - Molenaar

Kaskisuo - McNeely

Bradley (Trey) - Rothstein - Bergh
Fejes - Heil - Gooch
Gerdes - Bradley (Cody) - Hansen
Maric - Ockey - Roos

Kivihalme - McCaskill
Farny - Emilio
Lagrone - Israel

Marble - Nehama - Shatzer

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Bulldogs Still Seek Breakthrough Performance

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- For UMD, Saturday was a huge load off a lot of shoulders.

A scoring drought of 106:34 was snapped in the third period, as senior Tony Cameranesi took what he called "an absolutely perfect pass" from freshman Adam Johnson and had a tap-in to tie the game against Denver. The goal came after three glorious UMD chances -- an Andy Welinski short-handed breakaway where Welinski beat the goalie clean but rang a wicked wrist shot off the goalpost, a Charlie Sampair pass to Austyn Young on a two-on-one where Young was robbed blind by DU goalie Tanner Jaillet, and a Johnson partial breakaway where the puck wobbled and his backhand shot went wide -- went awry.

"I give our guys a lot of credit," coach Scott Sandelin said this week. "We've gone through this a couple times. Teams go through it. There's not a lot you can really say as a coach. Keep doing the things you're doing, if you're doing good things. We were generating opportunities."

UMD outshot Denver 46-20 through the five-on-five overtime Saturday. To put that in perspective, you have to go back more than a year to find the last time Denver allowed that many shots in a game. The Pioneers gave up 48 on Oct. 25, 2014 ... to UMD. To find the last time Denver was outshot by 20 or more in a game, you have to go all the way back to Dec. 6, 2013, in a 3-1 win at Miami (34-12 shots in favor of the RedHawks). That's a stretch of 76 games for DU without being that badly outshot.

I know, you're sick of hearing about shots on goal. You want results. However, I'll go back to that quote you see above from Sandelin.

"Keep doing the things you're doing, if you're doing good things."

In other words, stick with it. It isn't always easy when things are perceived to not be going your way. And things surely weren't going UMD's way on Saturday. For the second time in four goals on the weekend, Denver scored when a puck went in off a UMD defender. Friday, it was Jarid Lukosevicius trying to pass across the slot and having the puck go in off Andy Welinski's skate. Saturday, a left point shot by Adam Plant bounced in off the shoulder of Carson Soucy.

But UMD kept at it, outshooting DU 19-5 in the first period and eventually cracking Jaillet, who made 45 saves on the night and watched in horror (maybe not literally) as Evan Cowley, who shut the Bulldogs out on 27 saves Friday, earned NCHC Goaltender of the Week honors.

(Sorry, NCHC, you got the wrong guy. With all due respect to Cowley, who's a solid goalie, Jaillet's 45 saves on 46 shots was much, much more impressive than his 27 saves on 27 shots. Not even close, in my view.)

Total shot attempts were 82-34 in UMD's favor, much more similar to the Omaha series than it was to the Friday game against DU. The Bulldogs went from not being very good to being very good and plain unlucky.

And when Cameranesi put that last puck by Jaillet in the three-on-three, you could tell by the way UMD celebrated that it meant a little more to them than the one standings point would indicate. It was the positive jolt UMD needed and it couldn't have come at a better time.

"Hopefully a game like that where the result is what we got, gives our guys some life," Sandelin said. "Because the other way, right now going into Colorado, I'd be very worried with our mindset. If you look at the last four games, three of the four you play well enough to win, it's a hard thing to manage."

"I thought we played well," Cameranesi said. "I just think after the first one went in, you could see a little weight come off guys' shoulders. You could tell by the way we reacted on that goal, it was a lot of hard work to get that extra point. If we keep playing like that, we'll be fine."


Never one to make excuses, Sandelin said this on the UMD Coaches Show Wednesday on 92.1 The Fan:

"You can't control the bounces. We haven't had a lot of puck luck either way, offensively or defensively, I'll be honest. It's not an excuse, but you need a little bit of that, too."

Look at the numbers. Look at the shooting percentages. Sandelin is on to something. This isn't just a case of guys who can't score. UMD has hit pipes and found ways to hit goalies at an alarming rate in the early going.

We discussed it heading into the Denver series. Trust me, one goal on 73 shots isn't going to help the percentages.

But at some point, one has to wonder if the overall confidence of the team becomes more fragile if there isn't a breakout game to be found.

Sandelin was talking last week about the offensive struggles and correctly noted that this isn't a team that's built to win games 8-2 all the time. He said that before St. Cloud State put that 11-1 whooping on Western Michigan on Saturday. Reality is that UMD will win most of its games in 3-1, 3-2, 4-2 variety. That's just the way the team's constructed, combined with how the sport works right now. The days of teams winning games 8-4 are generally over.

(This is a bit of a subtweet, or subblog if you will, towards those who like to remind us how many points Bill Watson accumulated in a single season. Those days are gone, though not forgotten. The game has evolved, not all of it good, and scoring is what it is, unless the rules committee does something like make nets bigger, which would be rather silly if the NHL isn't following suit.)

But to win games 3-1, you have to score three goals. UMD hasn't done that in its five-game winless streak. There are more things the Bulldogs can do, even more than they did on Saturday. There's more work that can be done in front of the net, taking the goalie's eyes away and increasing the chance said goalie will give up rebound chances. There are times UMD is too tight in the crease area, decreasing its chances of pouncing on rebounds. In fact, I'd argue the forwards have either been too tight or too loose in front of opposing goaltenders as of late. Too loose means you have games like Cowley's on Friday, where he was entirely too calm and relaxed. Too tight means you miss on the chance to get pucks back to the net after the goalie kicks them out.

It's up to the Bulldogs to figure out the happy medium, because it does exist. Cameranesi showed what happens on Saturday when you get where you need to go at the netfront.


Colorado College awaits UMD this weekend. After an 0-10 start that featured games against Boston College, UMass-Lowell, North Dakota, and Denver, the Tigers took last week off. Second-year coach Mike Haviland has a very young team, with 14 freshmen -- including former Cloquet/Esko/Carlton star Westin Michaud, who is out for the season after tearing an ACL in October -- and only four seniors.

The Tigers are 0-10 and have been outscored 38-15. On average, they've been outshot in games 36-27. You think UMD's been unlucky? Well, CC's got them beat.

Opposing goalies have a generally unsustainable .941 save percentage against UMD through 11 games. Through ten games, opposing goalies have a .944 save percentage against Colorado College.

"They've played some very, very good teams," Sandelin said. "They've been in a lot of those games. They're hoping for something good to happen. They've got some good players. They're a young team. When you look at Rothstein, Bradley (there are two of them now), they've got guys who can make a difference."

UMD has to attack the Tigers' goaltending. Junior Tyler Marble and freshman Jacob Nehama have basically split the games so far (Nehama has played 317 minutes, Marble 274), and neither has been consistently good. Marble has a .901, and Nehama is at .897. UMD's Kasimir Kaskisuo, by comparison, has played all but 22 minutes this season and has a .910 save percentage.

The Bulldogs are due some luck. Maybe this is the weekend. But as much as I abhor the phrase "You make your own luck," there is a shred of truth to it.

You can't make luck. You can't manufacture luck. But you can be in better positions for something to bounce your way. I do believe that when it comes to the netfront, UMD can do more than it's been doing. And it can do smarter things that will help create the necessary traffic to score goals. I also think UMD can shoot smarter from distance, putting pucks at an elevation and in places where they can be tipped and/or create better rebound opportunities.

CC has some talent in the back, led by Teemu Kivihalme, the son of former UWS forward Janne Hassi. Cole McCaskill is a promising freshman, and Andrew Farny can play, too. But Kivihalme is only a sophomore, and Haviland has five freshman defensemen who have played at least five games so far. UMD's speed is tough to prepare for, because the Bulldogs tend to be faster on the ice than they are on video. They need to attack CC's defense and get them on their heels. The ability to do that and get to the net and create havoc will be a huge key for both games this weekend.


Got a great question Wednesday via email, and decided I'd answer it here.

Scott emailed and asked "Can you tell me a little bit what has happened to CC? I understand they were never a power, but what has happened to get to this?"

Well, they have been a power. They won a couple national titles many years ago, then were an NCAA Tournament regular through around 2008ish and a Frozen Four team in 2005.

That said, the program has been in a nose-dive for a little while now. Some of it starts with goaltending. The Tigers simply haven't gotten consistent goaltending for quite a while now, and that's the lifeblood of any program now. If you don't have goaltending, you don't have any real chance to win over the long haul. CC's simply had some guys not pan out there, going back to when they had Joe Howe (good in spurts) and Josh Thorimbert (same) a few years back.

Colorado College's last elite goaltender was Richard Bachman, who backstopped the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament in 2008 as a freshman. He won 25 games and posted a .931 save percentage on the season. But playing on home ice in the NCAA regional, Colorado College lost a first-round game to Michigan State despite outshooting the Spartans 42-23.

Bachman's save percentage fell from .931 as a freshman to .914 in 2008-2009. That year, CC was swept in the first round of the WCHA playoffs by Alex Stalock and UMD. The Bulldogs went on to win the Final Five and make the NCAAs, while CC hasn't been the same since.

The Tigers made the NCAAs in 2011 despite 18 losses, but were basically a .500 team in Scott Owens' last five years on board. Seeing the writing on the wall with a couple middling recruiting classes and the program fading into irrelevancy in the fledgling NCHC, the school made a coaching change. Haviland, as Sandelin noted on the coaches' show, is trying to rebuild the program. But that won't happen right away. It'll take time, and there's no better evidence of that than the 14-man recruiting class Haviland has brought in this year.

In Owens' defense re: recruiting, he did bring in two gems on the blue line in Jaccob Slavin and Gustav Olofsson. Unfortunately, the two players combined to play three years in college. Olofsson turned pro after the 2013-14 season, his freshman year, signing with the Minnesota Wild. Slavin left after two years and signed with Carolina (as of this writing, he's expected to make his NHL debut Thursday night for the Hurricanes, playing possibly with former UMD star Justin Faulk).

But that's what high-end players do. They leave early (at least most of the time). Other players haven't panned out, and CC's depth is really lacking as a result. Haviland brought in some promising youngsters, including Trey Bradley and Trevor Gooch up front and McCaskill, Farny, and Jake Emilio on defense. It's not going to get fixed overnight, but I do sense from watching the Tigers' games two weeks ago against Denver back that this team is similar to UMD, in that they could break out if they get a bounce at some point.

Also got another question via Twitter this week:

Adam: "dropping quickly in polls and low in pairwise. Should I be worried about frozen four hopes?"

Not now, no way.

Providence started 4-5-1 last year, including losses to non-NCAA teams Ohio State and Vermont. The Friars did OK.

Union slipped out of the gates in 2013-14 and even got swept at home by Lake Superior State. The Dutchmen did OK.

Yale lost five in a row at one point in 2012-13, scoring six goals in the losing streak. I'd argue the Bulldogs ended up OK.

Extreme examples, sure, but every team has adversity, and every team struggles at one point or another. I'd argue UMD needs to find its game quickly, but we're nowhere near panic time. That said, if you booked a flight to Tampa already for next April, you're a huge gambler. Even if this team ends up being great, there are just no guarantees in the NCAA Tournament.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Game 11: Denver at UMD

Five losses in a row is not optimal. No need to dissect the importance of this affair.





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

Corrin - Welinski
Soucy - Raskob
McCormack - Pionk

Kaskisuo - McNeely - Deery

Levin - Shore - Terry
Moore - Marcinew - Lukosevicius
Heinen - Gambrell - O'Connor
Arnold - Janssen - Staub

Hammond - Zajac
Plant - Butcher
Hillman - Neville

Jaillet - Cowley

Saturday Hockey Notes and Thoughts: Lackluster Effort, Worse Execution Lead to Fourth Straight Loss

From the start Friday night, it didn't look like UMD had "it" against Denver.

Passing was off, the net drive was non-existent, and there wasn't enough physicality*.

(* - outside of an early boarding penalty against Charlie Sampair. I know some disagree, but I thought it was a dumb penalty, and Sampair was lucky the player he hit -- Adam Plant -- was only a foot or so from the boards, or it could have been an early shower for Chuck.)

UMD paid for these things with a 3-0 loss. The Bulldogs have now dropped four games in a row, and possibly worse, have not led for one second in any of the four games. Worse, the games have only been tied for 43 minutes and 29 seconds out of a possible 240 minutes. That's nearly 200 minutes (196:31, to be precise), or seven full periods, of playing catch-up hockey.

To put that in perspective, UMD trailed for 35:20 in its first six games, a total of 370 minutes when you count the two overtimes against Notre Dame.

Not hard to see why the Bulldogs are struggling. It starts with scoring the first goal, something that seems so simple but has become oh so complicated for this team. UMD is 0-4-1 when conceding the first goal, and its only loss when scoring first came in the opener at Bemidji State, a team that by the way hasn't won since that night.

Denver freshman Jarid Lukosevicius scored two power play goals Friday, one about five minutes in, and one late in the second period. The former came after Sampair's penalty, and the latter on the third of three DU power plays in the second period. UMD was actually close to surviving a second period where nothing of any note really happened, but Lukosevicius and Grant Arnold scored 40 seconds apart for a 3-0 lead that broke UMD's back for the night, basically.

We've been preaching even-strength shots quite a bit, as it shows how UMD has been controlling possession in games. Going into Friday, the Bulldogs were outshooting opponents 25-17 per game at even strength. Friday, shots at even strength were 18-18.

UMD hadn't been a good faceoff team. Naturally, the Bulldogs won 29 of 47 draws on a night where little else went right.

The Bulldogs looked like a frustrated bunch late in Friday's game. If they can avoid getting frustrated Saturday, it could certainly help lead to a sharper performance. Teams tend to not play well when they're frustrated, because it leads to too much negative energy. Even anger can be spun into a positive in an athletic arena. Frustration can't.
Honestly, I don't have much else to say. Things aren't going well at the moment, and hopefully better things are in store in Saturday's series finale. What happened Friday was generally unacceptable, and I have a hard time imagining it will happen again Saturday.

That's all I have. Keep your chins up.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Game 10: Denver at UMD

UMD coaches and players have preached patience this week, to an extent. Bottom line, the series in Omaha was full of bad bounces and great UNO goaltending, and the shot totals show a dominant UMD effort where the Bulldogs deserved a better fate than they received.

We'll see if they can duplicate the effort and get a better result. If not, you Corsi people can go to hell. :)



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

Soucy - Welinski
Corrin - Pionk
Raskob - Kotyk

Kaskisuo - McNeely - Deery

Levin - Shore - Terry
Moore - Marcinew - Lukosevicius
Heinen - Gambrell - O'Connor
Arnold - Janssen - Staub

Hammond - Zajac
Plant - Butcher
Hillman - Neville

Cowley - Jaillet

UMD Must Show Confidence Not Shaken by Omaha Sweep

No question the Omaha trip was a frustrating one for UMD. Call it a hot goalie, bad luck, ineffective finishing, or a combination of the three, but the Bulldogs scored four goals on 84 shots and were swept out of Baxter Arena by the Mavericks.

Instead of licking their wounds, UMD got together Monday and set out to move on as quickly as possible.

"I thought Scott Sandelin's speech to the team Monday was one of the best I've seen him give," assistant coach Brett Larson said. "When you go out and get 160 shot attempts to their 80, go out and score a couple power play goals, Grade-A chances are heavily in our favor, it's tough to be mad at you. We all hate losing, but it was hard to be mad at the group after the weekend."

Sandelin said multiple times Wednesday that the Bulldogs "did a lot of good things" against Omaha, "everything but score enough goals." Obviously, the return of senior forward Tony Cameranesi from a shoulder injury is going to help. But it's not the cure-all.

More than anything, UMD needs to keep doing what it did in Omaha, minus some puck management errors and defensive lapses. Even then, it's not fair to blame those factors by themselves. Over 120 minutes, it's just not realistic to expect mistake-free hockey. Errors -- mental and physical -- are going to happen. They're inevitable. Coaches make corrections and move on to the next game, where errors -- hopefully different ones -- will happen.

Driving home from Nebraska on Sunday, I have to admit being quite a bit peeved at the weekend result when we set off from our hotel near the arena. Even the announcer hates when UMD gets swept, after all. But by the time we pulled into our driveway, it was more disappointment about the result, because it is simply not fair to be disappointed by that effort. The effort was good, and there were many more positives than negatives to take from the series.

Larson, who was on a recruiting trip and not in Omaha (typically, one assistant goes with the team on a road trip, and the other will go somewhere to recruit), echoed those sentiments this week. He said the coaches got together to watch the video Monday and quickly realized they couldn't be mad about the players' effort.

"You can sit here and skirt it," Sandelin said. "You can sit here and try to go around it. You meet it head on. We did a lot of good things."

Sandelin wants more "moxie or patience" around the net, but otherwise not many adjustments from the Omaha effort.

Cameranesi has been skating, so his conditioning should be pretty solid. I don't expect him to take a lot of faceoffs initially, instead ceding that task to fellow senior Austyn Young, who will center a line with Austin Farley and Cameranesi. If that's how things start, it would open the door for Dominic Toninato and Alex Iafallo to reunite after two-plus games on different lines.


Nothing will likely change until UMD's shooting percentage does. The Bulldogs scored goals on 8.9 percent of their shots on goal last year, but are only shooting at a 6.9 percent clip in 2015-16. Toninato -- who scored 16 goals on 87 shots last year -- is shooting at half that percentage so far this year. Iafallo has one goal on 30 shots, Karson Kuhlman one on 24, Adam Johnson none on 24.

Willie Raskob's goal Saturday was his first in 24 shots on goal. Cameranesi's shooting percentage is down slightly so far this season, as is Jared Thomas'.

Did I mention UMD's shooting at a 6.9 percent clip right now? 6.9 percent!

These are, frankly, unsustainable shooting percentages. I'd say the same thing if the Bulldogs were shooting at a 17-plus percent clip, like Harvard is right now. Of course, they'd be averaging something like six goals a game with that shooting percentage, so let's be honest: If that were the case, we'd all be booking April flights to Tampa.

For UMD, there is something to be said for being a little smarter with the puck in the offensive zone, trying to work around the defense and make goalies more uncomfortable, but it was doing so many of those things in Omaha (especially on Friday) and getting nothing out of it.

I hate to blame luck, but a lot of it comes down to that. These players have generally proven themselves at this level. They simply aren't going to perform like this all year.


The opponent this weekend doesn't care about UMD's three-game losing streak. But don't think Denver coach Jim Montgomery has avoided the topic with his players. His team has been far from perfect so far, and with the margin for error only shrinking as conference play kicks in, expect Denver to come in here and go for the throat while UMD is at least perceived to be a little down.

Montgomery spoke this week about the immense respect he has for UMD. Forwards Trevor Moore and Danton Heinen are among the most explosive players in the country, and defenseman Will Butcher has taken a huge step forward so far, averaging over a point per game while trying to help cover for the loss of All-America blue-liner Joey LaLeggia.

Things haven't gone as smoothly as Pioneer fans hoped. Heinen has shown flashes of brilliance (Montgomery indicated there's been some inconsistency with his game so far), but the coach is still tinkering with line combinations and has actually played Heinen -- a Boston Bruins draft pick that one NHL guy I trust a great deal said could play with the "big boys" right now -- at all three forward positions so far.

Montgomery talked about stepping into a hornets' nest this weekend, and while he says his team isn't happy about being 5-3 and still trying to find some consistency up front, his team shouldn't be as unhappy as UMD. The Bulldogs get Tony Cameranesi back from injury, and I expect a spirited effort from the home team, which is under .500 at 3-4-2 in a season full of expectations.

"I don't know how they're on a three-game losing streak," Montgomery said. "I've watched those games (against UNO), and I thought they were in control of both those games."

Honestly, I don't know, either. But you are what you are. Let's see if UMD is still a sub-.500 team after a pair of critical NCHC home games.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Monday Musings: Bulldogs Swept Out of Omaha

Meandering blog on my day off. Hope you can follow along and make it to the end.

By now, you're well aware that UMD lost 4-2 Saturday in Omaha, marking the Mavericks' first NCHC sweep at new Baxter Arena. Freshman goalie Evan Weninger wasn't tested as much as he was Friday, but he was rock solid again with 35 saves as UMD outshot the Mavericks 37-21, 84-49 on the weekend.

I could shower you with "Patience and it'll come" stuff, but I know you don't want to read that. I'm not going to panic, though I know some of you are and maybe you think I should be. But I also won't go all "cheerleader" on the bit and act like things are all wonderful when the team is 3-4-2 and off to a 0-2 start in league play.

I'm not an idiot. I know things aren't rosy right now. But here are a few important and unimportant points to consider.

--> It's only nine games. Yeah, it's the quarter-pole of the season, but while many of you might think the sky is on the verge of falling, I'd think the same if the Bulldogs were playing at peak efficiency right now. As the coaches have said numerous times, it's a process. That process might not lead to super results in the early going, but the goals this team has can't be reached in October or November. While it's true you can blow title hopes by playing poorly early in the season, there's no way to reasonably argue this team has played that poorly. Not even close.

--> For a comparison, the 2003-04 UMD team went into the season with very high expectations after a hot finish to 2002-03 that saw the Bulldogs barely miss the NCAA Tournament. The 03-04 team started 0-2-1 and was 4-5-1 after ten games. Sitting at a meh 9-8-2 through 19 games, UMD ripped off 13 wins and a tie over the next 14 games. Made the Frozen Four that year. We won't talk about what happened there. The next year, under even higher expectations, the Bulldogs started 5-0-1 before mediocrity reared its ugly head and UMD finished under .500.

--> Last year, UMD went under .500 four times in October before getting hot in November. My point? Every team is different.

--> I will say that I'd like to see someone on the current team take the bull by the horns and step up in times of need. That's not to say guys aren't playing well, but when things aren't going right, who's going to be the one to stop the bleeding? Tony Cameranesi did it in the Saturday game at Notre Dame, which was fantastic, but without him last weekend, it was a missing element against Omaha. Maybe Cameranesi is that guy once he's back, but there are others on the team capable of it. Let's see if others prove capable.

--> Let's give credit where it's due. Weninger was awesome, especially on Friday, and he was strong on his fundamentals all weekend. He outplayed UMD's Kasimir Kaskisuo, who had his moments in both games, but also allowed goals I bet he'd like to have back. Also, UNO got a big weekend from Jake Guentzel, who was all over the ice and even got his name called by this idiot announcer while serving a 10-minute misconduct on Friday. That's how good he was.

--> Speaking of Weninger, saw a few tweets from UMD fans on Saturday -- before I basically stopped looking at tweets from UMD fans -- talking about how they were sick of the "hot goalie" excuse. I'm sick of hot goalies, but if you want to ignore how good goalies are in college hockey right now, you're burying your head in the sand. Weninger entered the weekend with a .955 save percentage, played two games, was really good, and his save percentage went DOWN. Not far (to .954), but it went down.

--> "How did the goalies UMD has faced fare against the Bulldogs and against everyone else?" Well, I'm thrilled you asked. Weninger's save percentage on the weekend was .952, compared to .954 overall. Bemidji State's Michael Bitzer was .933 against UMD, .897 against everyone else. Minnesota freshman Eric Schierhorn posted a .912 against UMD, and he's at .925 overall. Notre Dame's Cal Petersen was .929 in two games against UMD, and .909 overall. Finally, UMass-Lowell's Kevin Boyle was a .926 against UMD, and he's at .949 overall. I'm not too much into stats, but it doesn't appear UMD has been significantly worse statistically than could be reasonably expected against this batch of goalies.

--> UMD opponents have posted a .931 save percentage in nine games. UMD goalies are at .898, a number hurt slightly by the two open net goals allowed last weekend, but one that isn't nearly good enough. You can bet this will get addressed this week (purely my opinion). These losses aren't Kaskisuo's fault, but on the other hand, UMD can't live with every mistake it makes ending up in the back of the net, and that was basically life in Omaha. The Bulldogs aren't ever going to play mistake-free hockey. No one does, and as long as goals are hard to come by, the goaltending has to find a way to be better.

--> On average, UMD is outshooting opponents 28-19 at even strength. It's been outshot at even strength twice (opener vs Bemidji State and the Saturday UMass-Lowell game). UMD has been plus-10 or better in that department five times in nine games. The margin over the weekend was 59-33. I'm not saying definitively that things will turn around, but the possession UMD is generating is not going to be for naught over the course of a long season. Maybe it starts turning around against Denver. Maybe it doesn't.

--> That's about all for now. I'm not going to tell you not to panic, but I really don't think you should panic. There are things to figure out, for sure, but there is nothing happening that can't be corrected.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Game 9: UMD at Omaha

OMAHA, Neb. -- Away we go from Baxter Arena, where UMD tries to avoid what would qualify as a losing streak. The Bulldogs have dropped two straight after a 4-2 loss here on Friday night, and UMD hasn't held a lead in either game. More disturbingly, perhaps, is that the games have only been tied for 21 minutes and 42 seconds out of 120. That's a lot of time playing catch-up hockey, something Scott Sandelin preaches about regularly.

A poor first shift doomed UMD on Friday night. Brian Cooper scored on a lost defensive coverage 24 seconds in, and Omaha actually pressured for more after that before the Bulldogs got their footing. An empty power play, however, was quickly followed by a bad turnover in the UMD zone that led to Fredrik Olofsson's goal that made it 2-0.

1-0 after that start would have been manageable. 2-0 was going to be tough sledding.

UMD didn't help its own cause. The Bulldogs missed the net 19 times on 84 shot attempts Friday, along with drawing iron once. Freshman goalie Evan Weninger, who has a .955 save percentage in five starts for UNO, made 45 saves and got plenty of help from his friends, as the Mavericks blocked 17 shot attempts.

Total attempts on goal: 84-38 UMD. Shots on goal: 47-28 UMD. Even-strength shots on goal: 32-19 UMD. Score: 4-2 UNO.

(Last two games in Omaha, including last year's series finale at CenturyLink Center look like this:

Total attempts on goal: 169-69 UMD. Shots on goal: 87-46 UMD. Even-strength shots on goal: 67-36 UMD. Score: 8-3 UNO.

Let's buck this trend, eh?)

You guys aren't stupid. You know the result matters more than anything in the short-term, and I'm not going to try arguing that point. But Sandelin and his staff have preached this is a process, and if you're going to give them that, you have to understand, then, that a game like Friday will be won by UMD much more often than it's lost.

And even UNO coach Dean Blais, wily veteran he is, has to understand his team caught a few breaks to get those three points. Similarly, he has to understand that his team will have games where it plays like UMD did on Friday and loses anyway.

Sometimes you're the bug (not Austin Farley), sometimes you're the windshield. Or something.

Big-picture, I'll take my chances with most of UMD's game Friday. Yes, the start has to be better, but not every game is going to be a 60-minute virtuoso. Doesn't happen. Hell, you think Blais was thrilled watching his team take silly penalties and get outshot 36-15 over the last 40 minutes? I doubt it.

Anyway, on to Saturday. Only one lineup change for UMD. Same for UNO.



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

Corrin - Welinski
Soucy - Raskob
McCormack - Pionk

Kaskisuo - McNeely

Pope - Guentzel - Ortega
Randolph - Vesel - Parizek
Olofsson - Alferd - Spinner
Lane - Nogard - Peterson

Cooper - Messner
Snuggerud - Gallo
Brady - Buchta

Weninger - Blankenburg - Thompson