Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Finishing Up With The Bulldogs

UAA's regular season end's this weekend at the Sullivan Arena with the same opponent they finsihed with last season; the UMD Bulldogs.  Last year, the Seawolves traveled down to the DECC and swept the Bulldogs in surprising fashion.  Many a UMD fan credit that sweep with propelling the squad through the WCHA Final Five and into success in the NCAA's.  It was a wake up call for them.  

The Seawolves beat the favored Bulldogs by 5-4 and 4-3 both nights.  UAA went on to lose two very tight games to highly favored DU in the playoffs.  UMD on the other hand won their next 6 in a row falling just short of reaching the Frozen Four with a 2-1 to Miami in the West Regional Final.  It was quite a nice postseason run for the Bulldogs who'd finished 7th in the league just 4 points ahead of UAA.  They became the first "play-in" team in WCHA history to win the Final Five.

This season it's a bit of a different story though.  While the opponent is the same, instead of the dinky-rinky in Duluth ... this series is on big ice.  Instead of being in 7th, Duluth is looking to secure their positioning in the upper-half.  Depending on results, the Bulldogs could finish from 3rd to 5th as they currently sit in 4th.  North Dakota fans will actually be cheering for UAA this weekend.

So what do the Bulldogs have this year?  They've got consistently decent goaltending, three good scorers with quality secondary scoring and somewhat young but steady blueline crew.  #37 Justin Fontaine leads UMD in goals with 21 and has added 19 assists so far this season.  #12 Jack Connolly has pumped in 16 goals with 25 assists to lead the team in total points.  And #22 Mike Connolly has 11 goals and 24 assists for 3rd on the team.  I mentioned secondary scoring?  They've got plenty ... they've got 4 guys with 8 goals or better (Bordson 8 ... Oleksuk 8 ... Lamb 9 ... Schmidt 10)

Sandelin looks to have shuffled his lines around a bit over the course of the season, so I'd expect to essentially see 2 "#1" lines this weekend.  

In the net, Sophomores Kenny Reiter (Kevin's little bro) and Brady Hjelle (yup ... it's pronounced "Jelly") have played about an equal number of minutes.  Reiter is 2.42 and .909 and Hjelle is 2.84 and .900.  That's the very definition of consistency.  Sandelin can throw either kid out and be confident.  And with similar records he knows his team plays equally well in front of either.  Expect to see both goaltenders this weekend.

On defense the Bulldogs have two scoring threats in #2 Brady Lamb and #24 Mike Montgomery.  Lamb has an impressive 9 goals this season with 8 assists and #24 Montgomery has 2 goals and 13 assists.  Highly regarded prospect freshman #4 Dylan Olsen adds a goal and 10 assists to the scoring/threat list from the blueline.  6 of Lamb's 9 goals have come on the power play.  Expect to see him shooting the puck in power play situations.

The Bulldogs are solid on special teams with an overall 22% on the PP and a decent 81% kill.  The team is scoring 3.18 goals per game and giving up 2.76 overall on the season.

So ... How do you beat the Bulldogs?  Come back Thursday and I'll take my best shot at outlining the keys to success.

Edit: Came across this interesting future Olympic sport by chance this afternoon; so that I'd add it ...


A Seawolves Fanatic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A Seawolves Fanatic said...

An UA_ _an stung us with a comment, that our mascot/logo/moniker/nickname brings _ortune to others, and not us or Seawolves _ans. Really stings because here is another example o_ that comment.

C'mon Seawolves stop breaking our hearts. Sweep UMD again and become the 2nd team to win "play in" in the WCHA _inal _ive.


A Seawolves Fanatic said...

FYI, I deleted my own comment, and nice profile pic D

Suze said...

UAA already won "play in" when they beat CC several years ago. I know this team can do it again!

Donald Dunlop said...

Yes we have Suze and yes we can.

I should have made it clearer. UMD was the first team to win the Final Five tournament coming from the "play in" game.

Anonymous said...

we have not lost to minnesota duluth in 2 years, let's not start now. Go seniors go. All the way to the playoffs.

Runninwiththedogs said...

This is a very weird post, Donald. Where is the rage and hate?

I do not know if Kenny will play. He has an injured finger.

This is a strange series. How often is it that teams with a single meeting during the year do not have that meeting until the final weekend of the year?

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