So I don’t want to toot my own horn on my first weekend predictions. That being said…toot toot. I predicted UND would sweep with scores of 4-2 and 3-2(OT). They won by scores of 5-3 and 3-2, albeit not in overtime but I’m not a stickler for details. The other prediction I made was that Boston College would expose Providence College in Friday night’s tilt and defeat them 5-2. Boston College did take it to Providence behind Johnny Gaudreau’s 2 goals and come out victorious by a 5-2 score. I know not all predictions will go this smoothly so I’m basking in the glory while I can.
Now onto the actual games that I was able to watch this weekend. The Fighting Sioux really took it to Colorado College on Friday night besides a short lapse in the 3rd period where UND allowed the Tigers to cut it to a one goal deficit. Watching Friday night’s game you could see why Colorado College only has 2 wins to their credit on the entire season. They did not create a whole lot of offense and despite scoring 3 goals, I believe some of the blame can be place on Zane Gothberg’s shoulders for 1 or 2 of them. He’d like a few goals back on the weekend as it wasn’t his finest performance in a series that didn’t seem to test him as much as he was before Christmas Break. With that out of the way, the guy has 7 straight wins so who am I to nitpick?
In other news, it’s great to see Mark McMillan back on the ice as he had two highlight goals to start out both Friday and Saturday night’s game. Both plays showed his incredible speed and hands that we got a taste of last year before being out or playing injured most of this year. Friday night’s goal saw Jordan Schmaltz enter the zone and saucer a beautiful backhander leaving McMillan with a little space where he roofed a forehand shot where Thorimbert didn’t know existed. It reminded me a bit of Drake Caggiula’s goal earlier this year against St. Cloud State where he toe dragged through a defender and put it in the exact same spot on an unsuspecting goalie. Those types of plays show the type of talent that is present on this team which makes the power play even more of a mystery. The power play looked sad to say the least. The 5 on 3 power play on Saturday was difficult to watch and it seems as though it can’t get any worse. Some of the decision-making at the blueline of UND is absolutely maddening. The antithesis of this was Nick Mattson telegraphing a pass across the blue line that was read and sprung a breakaway for Colorado College that luckily was muffed up as soon as he closed in on Gothberg with no North Dakota defender in the zip code.
All things considered, the University of North Dakota is now on a nation leading 7 game win streak with 3 consecutive sweeps. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly nervous when Tambellini announced his departure to the CHL last week but now that I have seen this team’s reaction, good riddance. The team’s response both in the press room and on the ice show that they are moving on and don’t have room for anyone in the locker room that has a “what’s in it for me” attitude which Adam Tambellini absolutely did. What other reason would a player who is getting the amount of playing time Adam was getting decide to ditch his team mid-season and not have one thank you thrown the University’s way that provided him the unbelievable opportunity he was given? I’ve heard people excuse it as immaturity and use his age as a crutch but that’s providing an easy pass for a selfish player who only asks what his team can do for him not the other way around. A sarcastic “good luck” is the only parting words I have for Mr. Tambellini. Good luck making a career thinking only of yourself in a team game.
On the other side of the coin, you have Bryn Chyzyk who knows he messed up and took his spot on UND’s team for granted. In the post-game of Friday’s game where Bryn scored a goal and an assist, he was damn near choking up talking about how thankful he is to be part of the Sioux family and have this chance. Those are the type of players this team needs moving forward, not the former. As Hakstol said in the Wednesday press conference, UND is not an easy place for a player to play or be successful, nor should it be. I believe that’s about as close as you’ll hear Coach Hak saying we don’t have room for soft players that are more concerned about themselves than this program. The University of North Dakota hockey program is bigger than any one player and the players on every year’s team must buy into this to be successful.
Other notes on the weekend games:
-Ohio State moves the puck incredibly well on the power play and their players are always moving making it very difficult for the shorthanded team to stay in passing lanes, maybe North Dakota takes some notes? Just a thought…
-Air Force and Army was not an interesting game to watch as Army looked more like a club team trying to hang around long enough to tie a much more talented Air Force. However, at the end of the game both teams combining for a stick salute puts hockey in perspective as to what these guys put on the line off the ice.
-Scott Owens’ interview on CBS leading up to the Friday UND v. CC game, he stated they had good leadership on the team through the 1st half and that they need to focus more on defense to take pressure off the offense. Watching the interview, you would have guessed the Tigers were a .500 team. Someone in Colorado Springs needs to give Owens’ a wake up call because this is a terrible season and should not be acceptable for a team like Colorado College.
-Miami(OH) might be requesting they open the CCHA back up for play if their season keeps going this way. I thought a few writers might be a bit premature crowning them the champions of the NCHC in the preseason as they were joining a league that consisted of top end teams from the former WCHA. I know they are incredibly talented but this league is not the CCHA and it is a different, more physical brand of hockey than the Redhawks played in the former CCHA which may be why they’re currently in the basement of the league at 3-7-0. Also, from an NCAA tournament perspective Miami now sits at 29th in the Pairwise Ranking that determine the final 16 teams in the tournament field. They may be missing the tournament without winning the NCHC Final Faceoff and the autobid that follows. The interesting part could be that if the rankings stay as they are now, St Cloud State University’s reward for winning the NCHC would be hosting Miami in the 1st round of the NCHC tournament and trying to end their season. There is obviously no more Michigan Tech or Alaska Anchorage to beat up on after winning the league as in the former WCHA.