Series Preview: Bulldogs Host St. Cloud State Huskies
After a long break in action, and literally what feels like an eternity since the Bulldogs have played at home, Minnesota Duluth hosts two conference games this weekend against ex-wcha rival and current nchc-rival (unless they decided to become friends) the St. Cloud State Huskies.
Last year tUMD took to the Huskies and narrowly defeated our sister dogs by a 2-1 Friday score before falling 5-1 at Amsoil Arena. As we know, the Huskies went on to to compete in the Frozen Four last year, so hopefully that should give you a little piece of mind.
St. Cloud State owns the all-time record at 56-40-8, but are just 2-2-1 against the Bulldogs in the last five outing. As it turns out, the Huskies don't prefer Amsoil Arena as much as the old DECC, finding only two wins in six games in the relatively new arena.
Wait, Who's Playing?
We'll start the preview with the more playful puppy, the St. Cloud State Huskies. The Huskies lost Hobey Baker winner and Hermantown native Drew LeBlanc, as well as three other key components to what generated wins last season, but they returned 22 players.
Sophomore Jonny Brodzinski leads the team in scoring with 5 goals and 7 helpers for 12 points, followed by senior Nic Dowd and redshirt-sophomore David Morley with 11 points. With the scoring power this team possess, it's hard to argue the fact that they currently have the best win percentage in all of college hockey (.833).
Between the pipes stands junior netminder Ryan Faragher, who currently stands at third in nation with a winning percentage of .850. His talent may be slightly masked by St. Cloud State's ability to block shots and play effective defense, but slipping a puck by Faragher is no easy task.
St. Cloud State Jock Jammer:
On the other, the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs are all rested and ready to play after spending last weekend playing this "bye" team for the second time this season. The Bulldogs will play at Amsoil Arena for the first time in six weeks, going back to Saturday, October 26th against Notre Dame.
In their last series, the Bulldogs split with the #1 ranked Minnesota Gophers, leaving the sister school on Sunday after routing the home team 6-2.
Despite leaving Minneapolis two weekends ago without a point, freshman Alex Iafallo leads the Bulldogs in points with 10, followed by sophomore Tony Cameranesi and junior Caleb Herbert with 8 points apiece.
In net, both senior Aaron Crandall and Matt McNeely have seen playing time. Crandall had earned 8 straight starts, a career high, until Friday's game against the gophers. Crandall sports a 4-4-0 record, 2.67 GAA, and a .897 save percentage in 8 games, while McNeely exhibits a 2-1-0 record, 1.78 GAA, and a .927 save percentage in 5 games of action.
2013 UMD Men's Hockey History Intro:
The Huskies are undefeated on re-match games, which have all been played on Saturdays, displaying a 5-0-1 record. They're also in one of three teams in the NCAA to rank in the top 10 for both scoring
offense (3.58 g/gm) and defense (1.83 ga/gm).
Senior forward Nic Dowd has played in 95 consecutive games for the Huskies, while classmate Cory Thorson has played in 91 consecutive contests for the Huskies. Dowd has 38 goals and 54 assists in his career and is eight points from hitting the 100-point plateau. Dowd would become the 25th player in the history of DI hockey at SCSU to do so.
SCSU junior defenseman Andrew Prochno and sophomore forward Joey Benik both own four-game point streaks heading into the series at UMD. Prochno has one goal and five assists in his last four games.
The Bulldogs have picked up their game in the last four outings against very difficult teams in North Dakota and Minnesota. In that 4-game stretch UMD is averaging 3.75 goals per game, 33 shots per game, and a power play at 30.4%. Again, those numbers were against long-time rival North Dakota and #1 ranked Minnesota, with both series being away from home.
Despite being blanked in both ends of the Minnesota series, rookie left winger Alex Iafallo still tops the Bulldogs in scoring with 10 points. Iafallo is part of the nation’s sixth-highest scoring rookie class (an even 3.00 points per night from freshmen). He also ranks second among NCHC freshman scoring.
The 1.78 goals-against average sophomore Matt McNeely has com- piled thus far is second only to Denver senior Sam Brittain’s 1.66 GAA mark among NCHC puckstoppers.
UMD is partnering with the 148th Fighter Wing and the Salvation Army for the annual Toyland Express Toy Drive. Fans are encouraged to bring a unwrapped toy to AMSOIL Arena that night.
St. Cloud State is currently ranked #3 in the SBN College Hockey Rankings, #2 in the USCHO Poll and the USA Today/USA Hockey Poll. Minnesota Duluth sits at #20 in the USCHO Poll, but has proven to be a constant threat, especially as of lately. Unlike the Ohio State football team, UMD has battled difficult teams and found triumphs in each series.
One common statistic between the two teams? Neither played very well on Friday night's game against the Colorado College Tigers.
Both Teams are coming out of a Thanksgiving bye week, so everyone should be rested and healthy for what should be a great series. The Huskies are coming out off a win Colorado Springs, but the Bulldogs rode home after dismantling the Gophers.
This should make a for a great series, and now that all the snow has stopped, everyone will have the ability to get out and welcome the Pups back home.
See Ya There!
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