Photo Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn, Duluth News Tribune
In the opening Frozen Faceoff game, the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs face North Dakota at 4:06 PM central time. This semifinal is the #1 seed-#4 seed matchup on the weekend and most of the college hockey world sees this as an unwinnable game for the Bulldogs.
Don’t tell that to UMD fans, though. The Bulldogs are coming into the weekend on a six game winning streak after a sweep of the #2 seeded St. Cloud State Huskies in St. Cloud followed by four straight victories over the Miami Redhawks (regular season and NCHC Tournament first round).
Most Denver fans remember the hotly contested series at Magness Arena near the end of January in which the Pioneers swept the Bulldogs, 3-2 and 2-1. After spotting UMD an early 2-0 lead in game, DU quickly regrouped and scored the next three goals. Then if it wasn’t for a great performance by UMD second string goalie, Matt McNeely, Denver likely would have won game two by a score of 4-1 rather than 2-1.
Overall Record: 17-14-5
NCHC Record: 13-10-3
Bulldogs By The Numbers
Team Offense (National Rank)
Goals Scored: 98 (30th)
Goals per game: 2.72 (28th)
Total Shots on Goal: 1,235 (10th)
Shooting Percentage: 7.9% (50th)
Power Play: 23-146, 15.75% (41st)
Shorthanded Goals Scored: 4 (T21st)
Team Defense (National Rank)
Goals Allowed: 73 (7th)
Goals Allowed per Game: 2.03 (7th)
Total Shots Against: 912 (4th)
Save Percentage: .920 (T16th)
PIM per Game: 10.92 (35th)
Penalty Killing: 112-130, 86.2% (7th)
F Tony Cameranesi: 10G-24A-34P, 1.00 Points per game
F Austin Farley: 13G-15A-28P, 8 Power play goals (leads team)
F Dominic Toninato: 13G-6A-19P, 4 Game-winning goals (T-team high)
D Andy Welinski: 6G-13A-19P, Top-scoring Defenseman
D Carson Soucy: 2G-9A-11P, Team-high 55 PIM
G Kasimir Kaskisuo: 17-13-5 (.557), 1.89 GAA, .924 SV%
- UMD was ranked as the preseason #1 team in the conference and #2 team in the country. Right now, the Bulldogs are No. 16 in the USCHO poll and No. 13 in the PairWise Rankings.
- The Bulldogs have 0 players who have scored 35 or more points, but they have 11 players with double digit point totals.
- Starting goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo has two assists on the year.
- UMD’s senior class is made up of nine (9!) players.
UMD is a defensive team. The stats bear that out and when you watch them play, you see it. They get into the passing and shooting lanes very effectively and anything that gets through, Kaskisuo is likely going to be there with the save.
It’s no secret that the Bulldogs underachieved this year. As mentioned, they came into the season as the #1 ranked team in the NCHC and the #2 team in the country. Across the country, the Bulldogs were seen as one of the top teams in college hockey.
Then they started playing hockey and the results weren’t there. They played great defense, but they couldn’t score. Every team is plagued with this problem at some point or another, but it seemed to affect UMD more than anyone else (well maybe not more than UNO).
Don’t let that fool you, though. Duluth has really picked it up late in the season. Their sweep in St. Cloud was no fluke. The Bulldogs are talented and it seems like they might be starting to put it together right now. Sure it’s late in the season, it might even be too late if they don’t win the NCHC this weekend, but hey if they eke their way into the NCAA Tournament, they’ll certainly be a team to watch.
They say defense wins championships, and UMD certainly has top-notch defense. Don’t sleep on the Bulldogs. That defense and great goaltending might carry them further than you think.