UMD coach Scott Sandelin wasn’t happy with his team’s effort and execution in a 1-1 tie against Bemidji State Friday. Paraphrasing, the head man said the players were prepared all week for the opportunities to make certain plays against the exceptionally-tough-to-play-against Beavers, those plays were there, and they largely went unmade.
He bemoaned a lack of energy, especially in the first half of the game, and a general lack of execution throughout. It’s as displeased as Sandelin has been after a game this season.
Saturday, it sure didn’t start well. Kyle Bauman snapped a shot bar-down 44 seconds into the game to send the Bemidji half of the crowd into delirium (probably overestimating the UMD fans there, but 30-40 percent isn’t unreasonable). The Beavers again led 1-0 after one, but UMD began to get its legs going in the second half of the first period. A five-minute power play came up empty and didn’t look very good, but Bemidji was unable to seize any momentum from that kill because UMD successfully killed a penalty shortly after that.
Bemidji losing a player for that major — Phillip Marinaccio — was significant, because he is a key forward and the Beavers aren’t terribly deep when it comes to scoring. They have very good speed and skill, but his loss was tough to overcome.
(It was also warranted, as that was not a smart hit on his part.)
Karson Kuhlman drew UMD even off a great Neal Pionk pass during a second-period power play, just the eighth power play goal Bemidji State has allowed in 22 games. Then UMD proceeded to dominate the rest of the second period, though unable to take the lead. Captain Dominic Toninato hit a post (it came out weird enough that it completely fooled me, but it absolutely didn’t go in) before he tipped in Brenden Kotyk’s point shot for the eventual winner with 7:27 left.
Loved Toninato’s line with Alex Iafallo and Adam Johnson on Saturday. Didn’t do a great job tracking back on Bauman’s goal, which came at the tail end of a shift that was otherwise contained in Bemidji’s zone, but otherwise they dominated possession and helped grind Bemidji State into the ice, figuratively speaking. Johnson had played center, but moved to accommodate Avery Peterson’s debut, which came in the middle. With Joey Anderson returning after hopefully making the World Junior team and available for the Colorado College series Jan. 6-7, it’ll be interesting to see what UMD does. I have to think Anderson goes back with Iafallo and Toninato, and Johnson could very well move back to the middle or perhaps serve as a wing for the second line. Peterson looked fine and won four of nine faceoffs, not superstar numbers but certainly adequate.
Bemidji State had two power plays in the final <4:00 of regulation. Not only did the Beavers not cash in, but UMD held them without a shot to win 2-1 and improve to 12-3-3 going into break. UMD lost seven first place votes in the USCHO poll this week, but holds on to the top spot for the break, comfortably ahead of Denver and Penn State.
(I will not go on a rant about Penn State being ranked this high. I will not go on a rant about Penn State being ranked this high. I will not go on a rant about Penn State being ranked this high. I will not go on a rant about Penn State being ranked this high. I will not go on a rant about Penn State being ranked this high. I will not go on a rant about Penn State being ranked this high. I will not go on a rant about Penn State being ranked this high. I will not go on a rant about Penn State being ranked this high. I will not go on a rant about Penn State being ranked this high. I will not go on a rant about Penn State being ranked this high.)
As the season hits the midway point, I’ll give you some numbers on the team.
Iafallo leads the team with 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists). Here’s the rest of the top five:
Joey Anderson, Fr F 6-11-17
Kyle Osterberg, Sr D 9-7-16
Adam Johnson, So F 7-8-15
Neal Pionk, So D 4-11-15
Hunter Miska, Fr G 11-2-1, 2.19 GAA, .920 saves, 2 assists
UMD is 12-3-3 through 18 games. The Bulldogs were 7-7-4 at that number of games played last season.
The final blog of 2016 is also the final entry on this platform.
As of January 1, I will be working out of a different building, as KQDS has been purchased by Midwest Communications. Midwest has been gracious enough to bring me on board, and I will still be a part of that wonderful station. As mentioned on the radio this weekend, UMD games will still be heard on The Fan starting again on Jan. 6, and the broadcast crew will stay the same (for better or for worse). Should that have to change at some point, we will give you as much notice as possible.
In the meantime, you’ll find future updates on UMD hockey on my personal blog, which has been dormant since September so we could use this setup.
Thanks to all of you for reading and for supporting our broadcasts. We very much look forward to what should be a great second half of the season. For now, sincerest wishes for a great holiday season. Check out the new blog and follow me on Twitter for more updates on everything going on.