2013-14 Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs Season Preview

The Official Bulldog Country Season Preview

Finally, it has arrived.

We've been watching youtube highlight videos, reading through old game programs, counting our leftover ticket stubs, and sobbing in front of our computer screens for months, but I have good news...  We're finally within 24 hours of the first puck dropping for UMD in the 2013-14 season.

Season Previews are generally full of random information on what the writer thinks is going to happen and what you, the fan, should expect from this season.  But we all know that I am clueless when it comes to college hockey and especially at making predictions, so this is just your fair warning. :)

So this is how this post is going to go...  I'll start with offense, defense, and finally goaltending strengths and weaknesses with a quick overview of what to expect.  I'll try and include all aspects as well as some history and cool color-pictures, because I'm going to assume your computer monitor isn't black & white.

Graduations & Departures

Forwards

Name
Height
Weight
2012-13 Stats
Reasoning
Mike Seidel
5-10
175
(38) 17-17-34
Graduation
Keegan Flaherty
6-0
195
(33) 3-5-8
Graduation
Jake Hendrickson
5-10
180
(38) 5-3-8
Graduation
Dan DeLisle
6-5
230
(28) 3-2-5
Graduation
Cody Danberg
6-0
190
(35) 2-3-5
Graduation

Defense

Name
Height
Weight
2012-13 Stats
Reasoning
Wade Bergman
5-10
180
(37) 3-14-17
Graduated
Chris Casto
6-2
210
(36) 3-6-9
NHL - Boston
Drew Olson
6-0
200
(38) 1-6-7
Graduated

Incoming Freshmen

Forwards

Name
#
Height
Weight
2012-13 Stats
From
Kyle Osterberg
8
5-8
180
(46) 9-15-24
Omaha (USHL)
Alex Iafallo
14
6-0
180
(50) 20-23-43
Fargo (USHL)
Dominic Toninato
17
6-1
180
(64) 29-41-70
Fargo (USHL)
Sammy Spurrell
28
5-10
180
(41) 22-21-43
Spuce Grove (AJHL)

Defense

Name
#
Height
Weight
2012-13 Stats
From
Dan Molenaar
3
5-11
185
(34) 3-5-8
Sioux City (USHL)
Carson Soucy
4
6-4
190
(51) 6-11-17
Spruce Grove (AJHL)
Willie Raskob
15
5-9
185
(57) 9-40-49
Shattuck-St. Mary's

Key Returners


Name
Year
Pos
2012-13 Stats
Tony Cameranesi
Soph.
F
(38) 14-20-34
Austin Farley
Soph.
F
(36) 16-18-34
Caleb Herbert
Jun.
F
(35) 6-19-25
Andy Welinski
Soph.
D
(38) 4-14-18


Adjustments

Obviously we lose the players noted above, which is actually only 35.5% of UMD's total scoring throughout last season.  The biggest issue with the players that have moved on is that scoring goals wasn't actually their intended jobs.  Now, Obviously Seidel's mission was to bury pucks, but the Dogs lost an entire "grind" line in Flaherty-Hendo-Danberg.  Those guys were able to successfully wear down opponents and give our scoring guys a breather.  Hendo's work ethic was something that I seemed to have noticed game after game.

Taking the biggest hit will be our defensive depth.  Olson and Bergman brought experience to the table, which is important, especially for incoming recruits to see.  They knew what it was like to win a national championship and were hungry for it again.  Olson's ability to skate the puck from end-to-end will be greatly missed, as well as his ability to fly down the ice, which I feel as though was under appreciated.

Casto's departure caught me off-guard to be honest.  I thought Sandelin was doing a great job at molding him into a quality defenseman, and definitely saw progress in his ability to see the ice, but I still believe he left too early.

The good news is we have some new talent coming in that I believe will really make a strong difference.  Scoring wise, most of us know that Dom Toninato, former Duluth East Greyhound, exceeded expectations in the USHL as a member of the Fargo Force alongside teammate Alex Iafallo.  He's also a bigger guy, giving him the ability to play a physical game as well.  I'm curious as to how Sammy Spurrell will play as well.  He put up some good numbers in the AJHL, so I would assume he is capable of making ripples in the NCAA.  Needless to say, putting lines together will be tough.

Defensively, the Bulldogs will count on Molenaar, Soucy, and Raskob to develop as quickly as possible to the pace of college hockey.  I'm interested to see how Raskob is able to play defensively at his height.  Whoever is able to adapt the fastest, will have the best shot at raking up minutes in a shallow defensive pool, but until then, count on upperclassmen to take the reigns.

Team Strengths

I couldn't imagine that putting the pucks away will be too much of an issue with this team.  We've seen Caleb Herbert display an amazing amount of scoring ability when he had help from the best in his freshman year.  Hopefully he's able to improve from that point now that the offensive-talent is more abundant.

In practice, Basaraba and Cameranesi were flying down the ice and looking really good moving the puck.  I think our first line would be Basaraba-Cameranesi-Farley to be honest.  Each one of those guys has a high ability to score, but Basaraba brings size and strength to the table, which gives Cameranesi and Farley more room to unload.

On my last offensive note, I anticipate both the captains as well as Justin Crandall to have very impressive years.  Both Basaraba and Krause have an edge to their games, playing physical to open up scoring chances, which often is overlooked.  I believe Crandall has the potential to be a solid college hockey player, as we've seen him pull some "what the hell" stuff in the past.

Defensively theres a couple positives that shine through in a situation that looks gloom (poetic, right?).  We are returning all three goaltenders; two whom have plenty of experience.  Also, Andy Welinski's return is a huge help to blue-line group.  I would imagine he'd lead by example throughout the year, showing the younger players the "UMD way".

Team Weaknesses

Defensively, as we talked about, we're in a scary situation.  This year there will be no "bad teams" or anything of that sort.  If the NCHC brings one thing to the table, it's going to be it's scoring, which will make UMD's blue-line depth a glowing-problem.  In an optimistic view, we still have yet to see any of the recruits play with each other.  The experience that Tim Smith and Derik Johnson bring is valuable too, as they could also be members of our "watch" list.

The goaltending situation isn't exactly the sturdiest spot either.  Both Crandall and McNeely split time last year, and our capable of the job, but consistency is going to be key in this one.  One of the two, hell even three (with Fons), needs to find that consistency if the Dogs have hopes of making it to the Target Center and beyond.

The last weakness I see in this team is puck possession, which most of the time roots itself in the ability of our centermen to win faceoffs.  Hendo was our faceoff weapon last season.  He led the team with 373 wins and 342 losses, which puts him at 52.2%.  The only centers with triple digit attempts besides Hendo was Cameranesi at 44.5% in 668 attempts and Herbert at 52.2% in 466 attempts.

Obviously puck control is going to be key for the Dogs to be able to score goals and keep the puck out of the net.  Losing Hendo has the potential to be devastating if the Dogs are unable to find a consistent centerman who can win faceoffs.  Let's be positive, though.  Cal Decowski, Adam Krause, and Justin Crandall all have experience winning faceoffs, so panic isn't allowed to set in if it proves to be an issue.

Word on the Street

We all know by now that polls mean very little, especially preseason polls, but let's quickly review the few that are out there for UMD sightings...

Poll #1 - NCHC Preseason Poll

Place
Team (1st votes)
Points
1
Miami (7)
115
2
North Dakota (5)
109
3
St. Cloud State (4)
99
4
Denver
66
5
Western Michigan
61
6
Minnesota Duluth
43
7
Colorado College
42
8
Nebraska Omaha
41

So we obviously didn't have too much trouble making this poll.  The NCHC poll is voted on by media members who regularly cover NCHC teams, two per team.

Poll #2 - Preseason USA Today/USA Hockey

Place
Team (1st votes)
Points
Last Poll
Last Record
1
University of Massachusetts Lowell (20)
484
3
28-11-2
2
Miami University (9)
444
6
25-12-5
3
University of Wisconsin (1)
364
13
22-13-7
4
Boston College
359
8
22-12-4
5
University of Minnesota
347
5
26- 9-5
6
University of North Dakota
300
7
22-13-7
7
University of Notre Dame
285
9
25-13-3
8
Yale University (4)
269
1
22-12-3
9
St. Cloud State University
230
4
25-16-1
10
University of Michigan
167
NR
18-19-3
11
Quinnipiac University
135
2
30- 8-5
12
Union College
124
10
22-13-5
13
University of New Hampshire
116
11
20-12-7
14
Minnesota State University
110
12
24-14-3
15
Providence College
103
NR
17-14-7


Poll #3 - USCHO


Place
Team (1st votes)
Points
1
Massachusetts-Lowell (19)
844
2
Miami (14)
837
3
Wisconsin (2)
740
4
Boston College
728
5
Minnesota (1)
660
6
Yale (8)
644
7
North Dakota
636
8
Notre Dame
575
9
St. Cloud State
513
10
Quinnipiac (1)
419
11
Michigan
417
11
Minnesota State
417
13
New Hampshire
354
14
Providence
271
15
Rensselaer
266
16
Union
258
17
Denver
241
18
Western Michigan
117
19
Boston University
113
20
Niagara
94

Technically, if the list ran longer than 20 teams, the Bulldogs would have finished 23rd, receiving 18 voting points.

Puppy Fast Facts

Scott Sandelin's overall record at UMD is 231-229-63 and is currently in his 14th year of coaching the Bulldogs.

Assistant coach Derek Plante was the WCHA's player of the year as a member of the UMD Bulldogs in the 1992-93 season.

UMD freshmen tallied 37.4% of Bulldog scoring last year, putting that class in the top five scoring classes in the country.

This will be UMD's 70th hockey season to date.

UMD will return 4 of 5 power play members from last year's unit, which posted a 23.4% by the end of last season.

This year's roster contains seven NHL draft picks.

Both Austin Farley and Tony Cameranesi finished with 34 points last season, leading the team.

Of the 26 Bulldogs rostered, 18 of them played on a United States Hockey League (USHL) junior team.

20 players on this year's roster grew up in Minnesota.

The Bulldogs play in Amsoil Arena, which has a capacity of 6,726 and contains a sheet of NHL-sized ice (85x200)

Minnesota Duluth will be on the CBS Sports Network while playing at Colorado College on Friday, October 18th and hosting Western Michigan on Friday, December 14th.

The puck drops tonight.  7:07pm CDT.  Be there.

.....

Questions?  Comments?  Ask Below!

Enjoy.

2 comments :

Defense could be a huge weakness for this team. Hopefully they'll adjust on the fly and make it work.

Yup. We'll rely heavily on Timmy Smith, Luke McManus, and Derik Johnson until the youngins can learn. Defense isn't really a position you wanna throw a freshman into, unless you're Andy Welinkski. :D