So if you follow the ‘About’ section link at the top of my blog there is an excerpt stating that I will not necessarily be the first to stories as I am not watching games from the press box. Well another reason I may be slightly late for my weekend reactions is my life outside of this blog. My work, family, and birthday got in the way of hashing my thoughts out this week. So, my apologies for the tardiness of this but here are my reactions to the predictions made last Thursday.
The UND vs. Bemidji St. series went how I imagined with the Sioux beating BSU up and down the ice both nights. I have already touched on the Friday night game that I attended, which was basically a one-sided affair in every facet of the game besides where it matters, the scoreboard. Saturday night’s game that was played in Grand Forks, ND at ‘The Ralph’ was much of the same. Only this time I believe the key was the home team getting a few of those goals early to open the floodgates. Andrew Walsh very much came back down to earth on Saturday although he still had a few ‘look what I found in my glove’ type saves. Again, North Dakota dominated in the shots on goal stat and in the defensive zone allowing only 30 total shots all weekend, pretty impressive. UND’s goalie, Zane Gothberg, wasn’t tested much but the 2nd goal that he let in will make Sioux fans nervous coming down the stretch. A harmless wrist shot hit him in the chest/glove area, popped up in the air behind him, and was eventually swept into the goal by a Beaver player. The team can’t afford these types of goals coming down the stretch run if they hope to make the NCAA tournament. Despite the bad goal, it never felt like Bemidji threatened to get back in the game and UND won it’s least dramatic game of the season 4-2 after a 1-1 tie on Friday night.
The 2nd series that I was interested in was the Ferris State Bulldogs travelling to Mankato, MN to take on the Minnesota State Mavericks. I had stated in my predictions that Ferris State hadn’t quite earned their #2 ranking as all of the teams they had beat were outside of the top 20 rankings. That, coupled with the fact that Minnesota State had only 1 loss on the year at home lead me to believe the Mavericks could take some WCHA points from Ferris State. However, the trip from Alaska by MSU the week before stopped me short of predicting anything more than a split. Well it appears Mankato may have turned the corner this weekend with a tidy sweep of Ferris State and a nice little fight to boot. (Video Note: Game Highlights up until 8:23, then the fight begins)
It was a huge weekend in the standings for the purple cows as it vaulted them into 2nd place in the WCHA and 2 points behind Ferris State in the race for the McNaughton Cup(Ferris St has 2 games in hand). Towards the latter part of Saturday’s game there was a huge brawl that broke out that reminded me of the old WCHA of the 90’s and early 2000’s. I didn’t have any issue with the fights as it was a heat of the moment scrum between two future rivals in the same league. It’s what you like to see as a fan because it makes the game seem that much more important if the players get that heated during the tilt. When the dust settled, the MSU Mavericks swept the Ferris State Bulldogs by scores of 6-2 and 4-3.
These two series had me going 2-2 on the weekend predictions. This brings my total season record to 5-2 after my perfect 3-0 record last week.
– JP Lafontaine for Minnesota State is the real deal. If you watch the above highlight video from the beginning it will show one of his one-timer PP goals and it’s a rocket. There’s a reason he leads the nation with 11 powerplay goals.
– Defenseman Jordan Schmaltz for the U. of North Dakota looked like the best player on the ice Friday night in Bemidji. The way he skated around the offensive zone made it look like he was playing a different game that was a mix between figure skating and hockey. I can’t remember a defender look so effortless in the recent past. He had a toe drag move in the offensive zone that looked like something a certain #7 named Oshie used to pull of in a Sioux jersey. It just doesn’t look like there’s room to shoot until he creates it.
– Boston College is rolling…again. Since their lose to Holy Cross on November 29th the Eagles are on a 10 game unbeaten streak and this is largely due to Mr. Johnny Gaudreau. On Saturday, in BC’s 7-2 thumping of Maine, Gaudreau had a silly 5 assists. He leads the nation in goals(21) and points(48). What might be even more ludicrous is that the guy 5 points behind in him in 2nd place is his linemate, Kevin Hayes. What about the other guy on their line Bill Arnold, you ask. Oh, he’s tied for 5th in the nation in points. Best line in college hockey? The jury’s out on that, but they’re making a solid case for it.