Sunday, March 25, 2012

Previewing the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs

In what should be one of the best games all season, the Eagles will look to punch yet another ticket to the Frozen Four tonight, but standing in their way are the defending champion Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs. After the Eagles defeated Air Force 2-0 yesterday afternoon, Duluth used a couple of fortunate bounces to end Maine's season via a 5-2 victory. The Bulldogs had two goals from Jake Hendrickson, one goal from JT Brown, Caleb Herbert, and also star forward Jack Connolly. Connolly is the WCHA player of the year as he has recorded an amazing 20 goals and 40 assist so far this season for the Bulldogs. Another weapon on the UMD arsenal is forward JT Brown who has recorded a team leading 24 goals and 23 assist so far this season. In terms of what to expect, I think it's going to be an amazing hockey game between two teams that have powerful offenses but can also play some pretty solid defense when they want to (I.e. last night). The Bulldogs had the #1 scoring offense in the WCHA this season, averaging 3.67 goals a game but they also rank #3 in scoring defense with just 2.67 goals allowed per game this year. Obviously, with UMD being the defending champs, this is going to be a really tough out for the Eagles because the Bulldogs will have a lot of confidence after last nights big win over the Black Bears. In terms of special teams, the Bulldogs actually haven't been to efficient on the man up this season as they rank 7th in the WCHA in power play percentage (21%). In terms of their penalty kill the Bulldogs rank 11th in the WCHA with just a 77% kill rate so look for the Eagle power play to come up big tonight. While the Bulldogs have a high powered offense, they also allowed the second most goals in their league (147 so far this season). Unlike yesterday, I think this could be a pretty high scoring up tempo game, much like a game you would see versus BU or Maine.

Keys for the Eagles 

1. Defense. I think BC will score some goals tonight but the team needs to limit the grade A chances for the Bulldogs. UMD obviously has some guys that can put the puck in the net like Connolly and Brown.

2. The power play. UMD takes a lot of penalties so let's hope the power play can stay hot and pot a couple of goals tonight.

3. Need more shots. Yes, BC outshot Air Force badly last night but in reality, the team needs to create more shots and odd man rushes for themselves.

Players to Watch 

1. Jack Connolly. WCHA player of the year and Hobey Baker candidate Jack Connolly is going to be all over the ice tonight for UMD. The BC defense needs to keep him in check.

2. JT Brown leads all Bulldogs in goals scored this season with 24 goals scored so far including one last night versus Maine.

3. Travis Oleksuk has recorded the most assist on this Bulldog team including two in last nights game.

All Time Series- BC is 10-4-1 all time versus UMD

Prediction- BC 5 UMD 3

If BC wins, they get the winner of North Dakota/Minnesota in the Frozen Four.

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