Series Preview: Bulldogs Head South to Mariucci

After two very dissapointing losses last season the Dogs are looking for a little revenge.  I can still vividly remember being there and witnessing some of the best hockey i've seen in a long time.  But literally, I think myself and every other Bulldog fan in attendance was hockey-blue-balled.  So many intense moments that lead to either some crazy goal or an unbelievable save.


Now I don't think this series will be quite the same as last year, I do expect it to be a fun one, though.  I mean it's not everyday that big sister UMTC gets a shot at proving the more recent successful team that they can win, too.

For those who don't know, my father graduated a Gopher and my brother and many friends are Gophers in the making.  Yeah, the hockey arrogance I'm surrounded with is crazy!  :) But for them, this is going to much more of an in-depth preview.  So enjoy!

Wait, Who's Playing?

Let's kick this preview off with the Minnesota Golden Gophers.  For a team that started off more shaky than solid, the Gophers have really bounced back and started playing the high-calibered hockey that the entire nation knew they were capable of.

Erik Haula leads sister UMTC's Gophers with 37 points on 13 goals, followed by Kyle Rau with 31 points and Nick Bjugstad with 29 points.  But in 2013, the Gopher point leader may just surprise you... Since January 1st, Nate Schmidt has earned the most points with 13, five of those being goals.  Now as a defenseman that's not to shabby, but the Gophs might want their forwards to step up, or tell Nate to stop embarrassing Nick and his Hobey chances.  Nate has a shot that hums by faster than Randy (the big unit) Johnson's fastball, so his offensive production shouldn't surprise many.

Remember Alex Stalock?  The crazy-good UMD goalie?  Well his little cousin minds the net for the Gophers, and has had one hell of a year.  It's difficult for a coach to ask a freshman tender to play virtually every game in the hockey season, but Adam Wilcox has handled it more than well.  Wilcox's 91.9% save percentage and 1.85 GAA back that up nicely, I mean if you didn't believe me.  Although things for Wilcox have been shaky lately, as his starts are starting to rise slowly, he's still performing much better than most other freshman goalies and also better than Lucia could have ever expected out of the former Tri-City Stormer.

Scoring Leaders:

Pos.
(GP) G-A-Pts.
Pts/G
Erik Haula (MIN)
F
(27) 13-24-37
1.37
Kyle Rau (FLA)
F
(30) 13-18-31
1.03
Nick Bjugstad (FLA)
F
(30) 16-13-29
0.97
Nate Schmidt
D
(30) 8-21-29
0.94
Ben Marshall (DET)
D
(30) 5-8-13
0.43
Pos.
(GP) GAA/Sv%
Mins.
Adam Wilcox (TBL)
G
(29) 1.85/.919
1717




Now, let's get to The University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, who have definitely seen some brighter sunshine in the past few years.  If anyone would like to argue the previous statement, I'm all in.

Now let's start with a little sob story; life without Jack.  Jack Connolly meant a lot more to this team then his 20 goals, 40 assists, 60 points, 41 games, 4 years, national title ring, and Hobey Baker award, and I think we're realizing it more and more every time the Pups step on the ice.  With Jack, shots were quality opportunities, not exactly just putting pucks on net.  The power play flowed like ancient rivers of Babylon, guys were where they were suppose to be, and lose pucks were buried before a tender could pounce on it.

But this is a new chapter, Jack left, so we gotta wipe our tears and push forward.

Mike Seidel has really stepped up to take the lead as the senior difference maker.  It was something I felt he might have been pressured into, but managed real well.  The only difference is Seidel doesn't exactly have the people that have been setting up for so long, which took awhile to adjust too.  Seidel leads the team with 27 points on 13 goals, followed by freshmen Tony Cameranesi with 25 points and Austin Farley with 21 points.

Freshman Matt McNeely has pretty much solidified himself as UMD's starting goaltender, but after last weekend I think Aaron Crandall will take the number two spot, but still rotate time in, much like how they started the year off.  McNeely, former member of the US National Developement Team, has produced pretty decent numbers for a freshman, stopping 89.8% of shots faced while producing a 2.68 GAA.  McNeely's numbers are slowly getting better after every weekend as well.

Scoring Leaders:

Pos.
(GP) G-A-Pts.
Pts/G
Mike Seidel
F
(30) 13-14-27
0.90
Tony Cameranesi (TOR)
F
(30) 12-13-25
0.83
Austin Farley
F
(28) 10-11-21
0.75
Wade Bergman
D
(29) 2-13-15
0.52
Andy Welinski (ANA)
D
(30) 3-10-13
0.43
Pos.
(GP) GAA/Sv%
Mins.
Matt McNeely
G
(20) 2.68/.898
1187



Let's Compare:

Bulldogs
Gophers
10-16-4
...Overall...
20-6-4
8-12-4
WCHA
12-6-4
5-8-1
Home
12-2-2
5-6-3
Away
8-3-2
2.43
Avg. Offense
3.67
2.97
Avg. Defense
1.97
16.4
PIM/G
10.1
19.6%
Power Play
26.3%
80.5%
Penalty Kill
89.0%
33.2
Shots/G
33.6
26.5
Opponent S/G
23.4


Past Meetings:


Fun Facts:
Minnesota

  • Gophers are 15-1-3 when they score the first goal
  • When Erik Haula scores a goal, UMTC is 8-1-3
  • Gophers are 1st in NCAA in scoring offense (3.67) & power play (26.3%)
  • When behind entering the 3rd period, Minnesota has not won a game
  • Gophers win percentage is .733 overall, but .636 against WCHA teams
  • If Adam Wilcox falls, backup Michael Shibrowski has a 3.18 GAA / .881 Save %
  • Enrollment: 51,659
  • Head Coach: Don Lucia (Notre Dame) 318-173-54


Minnesota Duluth

  • Bulldogs are 7-3-1 when Joe Basaraba records a point
  • When Caleb Herbert records an assist, the Dogs are 5-1-0
  • Matt McNeely is 4-1-1 in his last 6 starts away from home with 2.17 GAA / .903 Save %
  • When behind after the 2nd period, the Dogs are 0-10-1
  • Dogs are 2-12-1 if the first goal scored is against them
  • UMD is 2-7-1 when Mike Seidel does not tally a point
  • Enrollment: 7,600
  • Head Coach: Scott Sandelin (North Dakota) 217-210-58


Behind Enemy Lines - Perspective from a Gopher:
A Brief History:
The first meeting between the Gophers and Bulldogs was December 13, 1952. The true winner of this game was the Gophers, obviously, 14-2. Last year the Gophers swept the Bulldogs at Amsoil Arena. Therefore the over all record in this series favors the Gophers 131-72-15.
Now that we see who is the better team in the history of the sport, this weekend should be a fun match.
Currently tied for 7th in the WCHA the Bulldogs have had a rough year. Coming off a pretty decent 2011-2012 season, the Bulldogs have plummeted to the bottom of the standings with a record of 8-12-4. On the other hand, the Gophers are tied for 4th in the WCHA, nearly points from the top. As well as they are ranked 2nd nationally. The Gophers seem to be consistent in play, but also seem to lose the easy games. Therefore holding the record of 12-6-4 (Records from WCHA play only).
Offensively they Bulldogs can score goals... but defensively the are slacking. Matt McNeely has a 2.68 GAA while Adam Wilcox holds a 1.85 GAA. Unmistakably, Wicox has the upper hand against McNeely. With defense alone, the Gophers rank 4th overall in the WCHA while the Bulldogs are tied for 8th with Bemidji (the Beavers just beat the Bulldogs last Friday and tied on Saturday).
Defense is defiantly a game winner. But in order to win a game, you actually have to score goals. Erik Haula is a major weapon used by the Gophers. This Finland native does nothing but bring the Gophers glory. Along with Kyle Rau (who it has been a pattern that when Rau nets a point, the Gophers win the game). Minnesota ranks number one in both penalty kill and power play. This was shown last weekend against Wisconsin on Friday- scoring their 3 goals on power plays.
Duluth isn’t at the bottom of the list for everything, they rank 3rd in penalty minutes. Also two key players on the Bulldogs line are Tony Cameranesi and Mike Seidel. Both play an aggressive game which will be key for the Bulldogs this weekend.
Even though both teams have their flaws, hockey is dependent on the night they game is played. Meaning, no matter what your rank is, no matter who is on your line, the drop of the puck decides who is going to get the W that night.
This weekend it will come down to capitalizing on opportunities when presented. The Gophers have struggled with being flat on their feet to start a series and getting fire under their butts a little too late (example against the Badgers). The Bulldogs have only won two series this year (against Alaska and Michigan Tech) and aim to make something of themselves in front of a hockey hungry Gopher crowd. They have struggled to keep a lead and finish out a series, usually losing their Saturday games.
This match-up will be nothing but intense. The Gophers struggle on Friday’s- when the Bulldogs shine. And the Bulldogs cannot seem to win on Saturday’s- when the Gophers dominate.
All in all, Gophers are looking to raise their rank to win the WCHA and the Bulldogs will do anything to prevent this.

History Lesson:

Bulldogs
Gophers
Recent
6-7-4
H2H Record
7-6-4
*
MacNaughton
2012
2009
WCHA Champs
*
2009, '11, '12
NCAA Appearance
2008, '12
2011
Frozen Four
2012
2011
NCAA Champ
*
2012
Hobey Baker
*
All-Time
72-131-15
H2H Record
131-72-15
3
MacNaughton
13
3
WCHA Champs
14
8
NCAA Appearance
33
4
Frozen Four
20
1
NCAA Champ
5
5
Hobey Baker
4


The Verdict:

One can not fathum how excited I am for this series and how I'm hoping the Bulldogs take Mariucci by storm and shut the Gophers down winning 13-0 in the combined game effort, but that just won't happen.  As much as I love my Dogs, the Gophers have been firing on all cylinders now for a couple games.  It's almost ridiculous to watch them play, well indoors anyway.  Good team chemistry and confidence has led to their tear.

But this is the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and wins just don't come easy for any team.  I'm going to go out on a limb here and call a series much like last year.  As much as I would love to predict a split, after last week those cards went flying out the window.  I'm hoping for an overtime game.  One that hopefully we can win.

I'll be in attendance at both games, so make sure you look for the guy in maroon and gold... ;).  Games can be seen on FSN I would assume.  Tickets are going for $60 right now, which was what I heard, but students can join the gopher ticket exchange group and hope to find a cheaper one in the student section.  You simply show them your UCard, which is pretty identical to UMTC's.

Bulldog Fans - Lets pick a bar.

See ya all there.


Enjoy.

Questions?  Comments?  Ask Below!

2 comments :

Can't believe I'll be missing it, this year. Loved the post- good luck to both teams. Perhaps a little more luck to my boys, though...Ski-U-Mah.

-H

Yeah this is not going to be an easy serious for the Pups to get through. :/