Game Preview - Maine (FCC Tourney)

Florida College Classic - Game 1

Overview:

Maine is having a disappointing season to say the least.  Feeling similar pain the Bulldogs were feeling towards the beginning of the season, only multiplied a bit more as they only have tallied two wins all season.  Keep in mind Maine lost Spencer Abbott, a Hobey Baker Award finalist who lead all NCAA skaters last year with 62 points.  Between Abbott and Brian Flynn, another Maine graduate with 48 points, the team took a big hit.

Minnesota Duluth started on the same page as Maine.  Losing Jack Connolly, J.T. Brown, and Travis Oleksuk didn't help UMD's scoring any, but luckily they've found freshman who have stood up and performed.  Minnesota Duluth went into the break playing some of their best hockey of the year, even earning their first sweep of season.  Matt McNeely is slowly proving his tending abilities and earning more and more playing time as well.  The Bulldogs have split time between Aaron Crandall and McNeely for the most part of the season.


Offense:

To no surprise, Maine's offense just isn't clicking like it was last year.  The loss of Spencer Abbott has proved to impact the rest of the Black Bears, especially Joey Diamond, who had a pretty successful season last year but hasn't made too much noise this year in the absence of Abbott.  Freshman Devin Shore has made a little bit of noise for the Black Bears with 7 points but only 1 goal.  Joey Diamond has buried 3 goals for 6 points and Connor Leen has also found the back of the net 3 times and has 5 points.  The lack of scoring contributes to the Black Bear's 1.33 scoring offense, obviously.

Senior Mike Seidel is having himself a great last year in maroon and gold, leading the Dogs in goals (11) and points (19), looking to continue and possibly break the magical 40 point mark at the end of the season.  Freshman Tony Cameranesi (8 goals, 19 points) and Austin Farley (7 goals, 16 points) have also proved to be very beneficial to the Bulldog's offense.  Defenseman Wade Bergman leads all WCHA senior defenseman with 12 assists as well.  The Bulldog's average goals per game, which is at 2.89 right now, continues to climb week after week.

Defense:

For a team that is having troubles with offense and finding wins, Maine's defense isn't so bad.  They're sitting in 7th in Hockey East for scoring defense, averaging 2.80 goals per game.  Ben Hutton, a freshman and Vancouver prospect, plays a role in keeping the scores low as well as the senior experience of Mike Cornell.

Between the pipes has been Martin Ouellette, a junior and Columbus Blue Jacket prospect, taking 53.2% of the minutes played so far, but junior Dan Sullivan (33.6%) and freshman Matt Morris (12.3%) have seen time as well.  Ouellette has a GAA of 2.23 and a save percentage of .915, while Sullivan has posted a 3.34 GAA and .898 save percentage.  Both Ouellette and Morris have one win.

Struggling with Saturday wins hasn't exactly helped the Bulldog defensive statistics, but they're getting better.  The dogs let in 2.78 goals per game, on average, but as the goalie situation clears up and the team learns to play consistently from Friday to Saturday this number should drop.  Wade Bergman has led the defenseman with scoring and his experience as a senior.  Drew Olson has also shown his ability to move the puck very well; this kid moves a hell of a lot faster than people think.  Freshman Andy Welinski and sophomore Chris Casto have also contributed a lot to help the team defensively.

For the most part the season, junior Aaron Crandall and freshman Matt McNeely have split time, alternating nights over the weekend unless one of them played lights-out, then they usually earned a 2-start weekend.  McNeely has started 10 games, posting a 2.47 GAA and a .899 save percentage while Crandall has played in 8 games, tallying a 3.10 GAA and a .884 save percentage.  McNeely earned both starts in the Bulldog's first half ender against Alaska Anchorage and played pretty well, I would assume he would at least start against Maine.

Special Teams:

Maine leads all of Hockey East in penalty minutes, averaging 15.5 minutes per game mostly from Joey Diamond (17/45) and Brice O'Connor (13/45).  Of the 72 penalties they've taken, 60 have been successfully killed, displaying a marginal 83.3% penalty kill.  The power play is horrendous, ranking Maine last in Hockey East and 58 of 59 in all of College Hockey at 7.04%.

Minnesota Duluth also leads their conference in penalty minutes with 16.6.  The number is slowly dropping each game as players begin to play a little more disciplined.  Adam Krause leads the Dogs in penalty minutes with 45, but Derik Johnson follows closely behind with 44.  The penalty kill sits at 84%, hopefully going to be staggering up as 2nd half play resumes.  The power play has helped the Dogs win plenty of games by tallying points and changing momentums as they post a WCHA leading 23.5%.

(HockeyJournal.com)

The Verdict:

With the way the Bulldogs were able to close out the first half conference play with an away-sweep and the way Maine's season has been going, I really cannot predict a Bulldog loss here.  I would anticipate a closer game than one might think being Maine has kept most of their games decently close, but statistically, the Dogs are just better.

I would assume McNeely would get the start and the lines would be the same as they were starting in the Michigan Tech series where Farley moved down to Herbert and Crandall's line.  Farley's stats may have taken a bit of hit from this but it seemed to fire Herbert and Crandall up.

Looking forward listening or hopefully watching this game online somewhere!


GO DOGS!!!!

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