Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Roses and Thorns: The Two Dogs Have Their Days

St. Cloud State became the third team to capture the NCHC
Championship Trophy in three seasons of the event, topping
Minnesota Duluth 3-1 in the Frozen Faceoff championship
on Saturday at the Target Center in Minneapolis.
DDC did it again. It was UND vs. Denver and St. Cloud State vs. Minnesota Duluth on Saturday at the Frozen Faceoff.

Nailed it!

Wait... so you're telling me DDC went 0-3-1 this weekend in his picks?

Damn you, Target Center.

Much to UND and the DDC's chagrin, the Green and White again struggled at the NCHC Frozen Faceoff in Minneapolis dropping a 4-2 decision to UMD on Friday afternoon and playing to a 1-1 tie on Saturday against Denver, moving to 1-4-1 in three years of the tournament.

St. Cloud State topped Denver 4-2 in the other semifinal on Friday and capitalized on their chances in the Finals en route to a 3-1 win over the Bulldogs despite being outshot 34-18.

The two sets of Dogs had their days as SCSU won the NCHC Frozen Faceoff Championship Trophy and UMD, despite the loss in the final, punched a ticket to the NCAA tournament.

Here's what stood to the DDC in the Frozen Faceoff version of Roses and Thorns.


No. 1 -- The CBS Connects

UND So. F, Nick Schmaltz
scored two of three Green
and White goals this weekend.
The winger has goals in five
straight games for UND.

It's hard to be rosy when talking about UND's play this weekend as the Green and White didn't do much all weekend to keep the partisan Green clad crowd happy. However, it certainly started well. Just 49 seconds into Friday's game, the CBS flashed its scoring touch, as Nick Schmaltz buried a one-time feed on a nice drop pass from Drake Caggiula. It was a hot start for UND's electric line and this bodes well going forward. While the results didn't continue, it was good to see this line get a big goal early. Schmaltz scored two of three UND goals on the weekend and now has a five-game goal scoring streak heading into the national tournament. Harnessing that kind of play will be absolutely essential for the Green and White in the NCAAs.

No. 2 --  A Green and White Gathering

DDC had the pleasure of attending the Frozen Faceoff with Mrs. DDC and several of his closest friends and despite the results, he genuinely enjoyed his time this weekend. The Pourhouse again hosted a fun and raucous UND gathering and that energy moved across the street to the Target Center. For the 14th-straight season, North Dakota fans ascended on the Twin Cities and brought their passion and lively attitude and it made the Frozen Faceoff an amazing weekend, once again. Cheers to the fans. The NCHC, the city of Minneapolis and surrounding establishments, DDC is sure, also gives you all thanks.

Despite the results across the street at the Target Center, the Green and White faithful again turned out in droves to Minneapolis. For the 14th-straight season, UND fans made the Twin Cities their second home for a conference postseason tourney. Cheers to you, UND fans. Well done, once again. (Photo Credit: Logan Werlinger, GF Herald)


No. 1 -- What Could Have Been

UND head coach Brad Berry
decided not to challenge a
potential goal late in the
first period on Friday, believing
the play was inconclusive.

Up 1-0 with the seconds ticking down in the first period on Friday's game against Minnesota Duluth, UND missed out on an apparent goal late in the period when officials decided not to review a shot by Tucker Poolman that may have been stopped by UMD netminder Kasimir Kaskisuo behind the goal line. UND bench boss Brad Berry explained that he decided not to challenge the call for fear of losing his timeout early in the game. “We tossed it around a little bit,” Berry said. “From our side, it looked like the pad got stuck out. We looked at it after the period and it looked pretty inconclusive to me. When you only have one timeout, you have to be very selective of when you use it. Asking all of the coaches on the bench, we decided not to take it. I thought it was inconclusive.” This could have made a big difference as Duluth took over in the second, but we will never know.

No. 2 -- Missed Opportunities

In both games, UND squandered leads and in both nights, the Green and White had their chances to extended leads, but failed to do so. Whether it was the decision to not challenge Poolman's close attempt against Minnesota Duluth or hitting several pipes and missing open nets against Denver, UND will need to remedy these missed opportunities immediately as it's one-and-done time starting on Friday in the NCAA tournament. Fans of the Green and White can take solace that their team had chances to make plays in the Frozen Faceoff, but these cannot be misses anymore. Duluth did a tremendous job on Friday in limiting UND's time and space. This cannot happen starting on Friday. The players must bear down and bury. Simple as that.

No. 3 -- Moving On Away from the Target Center

Another Frozen Faceoff, another disappointing weekend for UND.

UND Jr. D, Troy Stecher.
Whatever the reasons, the Green and White are mired in a paltry 1-4-1 record at the Target Center with the loss and tie this weekend. However, UND fans can take heart as they aren't playing in Minneapolis for the NCAA tournament.

"I can't point to one thing why we're losing here," UND defenseman Troy Stecher said after Friday's loss to UMD. "But it's better to lose now than next weekend in my mind."

Well said, Mr. Stecher. It's time to move on and UND will do just that and coach Berry sees no reason to panic. “We hit four pipes tonight,” Berry said after UND's tie with Denver. “Hopefully some puck luck will go our way next week. We need to make sure we play hard to get the puck luck and go forward. I think we’re in a good spot. Our guys are working hard. We’ll make sure we’re ready for next weekend.”

Thanks again for reading. Check back on Friday morning for DDC's preview of the Midwest Regional as UND takes on red hot Northeastern and Notre Dame battles Michigan.

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