My impression of North Dakota? I think they're a team that looks for and takes every opportunity to put on pressure. No matter the situation. When they're on the power play they can swarm. When they're killing penalties they continually harass the puck. And they've shown an ability to draw on emotion and kick their game into an even higher gear.
I think it means that whatever lineup hits the ice this weekend had better be prepared to respond in kind. They'll need to match North Dakota at every turn. Whether it's defending 3-on-2 chances or moving the puck forward to create a 2-on-1.
On the power play they'll need to get the puck to the net and bang it home. A pretty one-timer would be sweet but dirty goals in close come more frequently. 5-on-5 play has been a strength this season but over the last few weeks I haven't seen quite as much possession as earlier in the year. Granted there is so little 5-on-5 play anymore that such an assessment is not much more than a guess.
I hope that the defensemen can continue to contribute so well in transition. Everybody on the blueline has been making the effort and it's been a big positive overall. But I've got to add here that we've seen a bunch of offsides calls that were avoidable. Some sync is needed there.
The PK and goaltending have been sharp as far as I'm concerned. I'm expecting we'll see Bryce on Friday night. If he plays like he has been playing then Saturday night will probably be his as well. If he falters I've got no doubt after Jonny O's last couple of outings that he can come in and give the team a chance to win. Last weekend I thought the team did a good job keeping their feet moving when they were killing penalties. Same thing this weekend. If they can be aggressive and disruptive (and teammates cover for each other as they have been doing) then they might find themselves with shorthanded chances here and there.
Parents weekend really ought to be some encouragement to any sort of emotional play the team is able to muster. Every Seawolf on the ice should be primed to play their best with mom and dad in the barn. Right?
I've got no insight as to what lineup we're likely to see this weekend. I'm pretty sure there are suspensions outstanding; who they are is the question. "Jeff" noted in the comments section yesterday that Tommy Grant was wearing a no-contact jersey at practice. I suppose that means he's questionable for the weekend. Perhaps since it's parents weekend Coach Shyiak might consider suspending the remaining suspensions for the Duluth series?
I read that Coach got a call from Bruce McLeod regarding his comments to the press after the Saturday night game in Minneapolis. It seems that Bruce felt Dave was walking a fine line and wanted to touch base with him. I'm all about what Shyiak said to the press. It seems to me he was indeed walking a fine line but he did so perfectly. He didn't cross the line and he made his point very clearly. I was just happy that he was saying what he said while I was typing UAA 2 - UofM 2 - Referees 2.
There are still enough points available for UAA to improve itself in the conference standings. Going to one of the top three rinks is a tougher row to hoe than matching up with the 4th or 5th place team. There's 8 points left to be had. No doubt the plan is to start by getting 2 points this Friday night.