NO. 10 DENVER TO PAY FIRST-EVER VISIT TO AMSOIL ARENA FOR WEEKEND SERIES WITH UMD
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
The University of Minnesota Duluth will return to Western Collegiate Hockey Association warfare this Friday and Saturday (Feb. 1-2) for a two-game home series with the University of Denver. The puck drops at 7:07 p.m. both nights at AMSOIL Arena (6,737) in downtown Duluth.
The Bulldogs are 10-11-3 overall and occupy eighth place in the WCHA standings at 8-7-3 while Denver sports a 13-8-4 record in all games and an 8-6-4 league mark (seventh place).
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HOW THEY RANK: Here is how the UMD and Denver stacked up in the latest USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls as well as the PairWise rankings:
USCHO.com USA Today PairWise
UMD NR NR NR
DU 10th 10th 13th
ON THE AIR: UMD’s two bouts against the Pioneers will be carried locally on 94X (94.1/104.3 FM) with Bruce Ciskie handling the play-by-play. The broadcast can also be heard on KQ 105.5 in Grand Rapids/Hibbing and KQ 106.7 in Ely/Virginia as part of the Bulldog Sports Radio Network and is available on the internet at: 94xrocks.com.
In addition, My9 (KBJR DT 6.2/KRII DT 11.9) is televising both ends of this weekend’s series. Veteran sports anchor Tom Hansen and former Bulldog puck standout Judd Medak will serve as the on-air talent. My9, which is scheduled to carry at least 21 games during the 2012-13 regular season, is also available locally on Charter and Mediacom cable. The telecast will be videostreammed as well and can be viewed for a fee: americaonesports.com.
THE COACHES: The runnerup for the 2010-11 Spencer Penrose Award (American Hockey Coaches Association NCAA Division I Coach of the Year) and recipient of that honor in 2003-04, Scott Sandelin is in his 13th season behind the UMD bench where he has compiled a 227-221-61 overall record -- including a 105-61-24 mark (for a .616 winning percentage). Besides capturing the school’s first NCAA championship two years ago, his Bulldogs have posted four consecutive 22-win seasons while advancing to four NCAA tournaments (2004, 2009, 2011 and 2012), two Frozen Fours (2004 and 2011) and seven of the past 10 WCHA Final Five playoff events. During the course of the 2011-12 season, the Bulldogs set a club record by going unbeaten in 17 straight games and were ranked first in both major weekly polls (USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine for a program-best nine consecutive weeks. In March 2009, UMD became the first play-in game participant to ever claim the Final Five title and, later that spring, strung together a school-record six-game postseason winning streak before it fell to Miami University 2-1 in the NCAA West Regional final. Nine years ago, Sandelin, 48, turned UMD into a NCAA Frozen Four participant for the first time in nearly a generation, marshaling his troops to their most victories (they were 28-13-4 overall) and highest WCHA finish (second place on a 19-7-2 mark) since 1992-93. For his efforts, the Hibbing, Minn., native was chosen the WCHA Coach of the Year as well as the national coach of the year by both insidecollegehockey.com and uscho.com. In 2002-03, Sandelin’s charges went 22-15-5 overall and captured fifth place in the WCHA with a 14-10-4 mark while experiencing the greatest one-season turnaround of any league member that winter. One year earlier, he guided UMD to a 13-24-1 record in all games -- nearly doubling the number of victories from the previous season (7-28-4). Sandelin officially signed on with the Bulldogs on March 31, 2000 following six years of assistant coaching deployment at North Dakota (which won two NCAA titles during his tenure). Prior to that, Sandelin spent the 1993-94 season as the head coach of the Fargo-Moorhead Junior Kings of the Junior Elite Hockey League after working in that same capacity (and doubling as general manager) the previous winter with the American Hockey Association’s Fargo-Moorhead Express. He capped off his four-year playing career at North Dakota in 1985-86 by being named one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award. An All-WCHA first team pick and an All-American second team selection as a senior, Sandelin went on to play seven years of professional hockey, which included National Hockey League stints with the Montreal Canadiens (1986-88), Philadelphia Flyers (1990-91) and Minnesota North Stars (1991-92). Sandelin, one of just two active WCHA coaches to do time in the NHL, was the Montreal Canadiens’ second-round pick in the 1982 NHL draft (40th choice overall). He served as Team USA’s head coach at the 2005 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championships, directing that club to a fourth-place finish, and was an assistant coach for the U.S. entry at that same event last winter.
George Gwozdecky (University of Wisconsin, 1978) is in his 19th year at Denver and has a 435-261-64 record and two NCAA championships (2003-04 and 2004-05) to show for it. A four-time WCHA Coach of the Year honoree (2009-10, 2004-05, 2001-02 and 1994-95) and two-time winner of the Spencer Penrose Award (2004-05 and 1992-93), Gwozdecky directed Denver to a share of the 2004-05 WCHA regular season title and the outright crown three winters ago. His Pioneers have also advanced to NCAA post season play on 11 occasions (2012, 2011, 2010, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2002, 1999, 1997 and 1995). Prior to his arrival in Denver, Gwozdecky spent five years as the head coach at Miami University (Ohio). The recipient of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association Coach of the Year honor in both 1991-92 and 1992-93 was 83-94-19 at Miami and coached his troops to their first CCHA regular season title in 1992-93 as well as their inaugural NCAA post-season berth. Gwozdecky, whose hockey resume includes a five-season assistant coaching stint at Michigan State University (1984-89) and a three-year head coaching stay at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls (1981-84), owns a 30-24-5 career mark against UMD.
THE RIVALRY: This weekend’s series will mark the 192nd and 193rd meetings ever between UMD and Denver -- but the first in Duluth since Dec. 3-4, 2010 The Pioneers hold a 107-74-10 lead in the rivalry, which began on Dec. 28, 1961 in Denver and were 1-1-1 against the Bulldogs one year ago. UMD took three of our points from the host Pioneers in the two clubs’ lone regular season confrontations, following up a 3-3 overtime time with a 4-0 triumph on Nov. 4-5. Four months later (March 16) in St. Paul, UMD was ambushed by Denver 4-3 in double overtime in the WCHA Final Five semifinals. Denver and UMD have traded wins in each of their last four series.
LAST WEEK: UMD took a break from regular season play Saturday afternoon and skated off with a 3-1 exhibition victory over the U.S. National Under-18 Team at AMSOIL Arena. Senior right winger Mike Seidel, sophomore left winger Justin Crandall and sophomore center Caleb Herbert (on the power play) had a goal apiece while freshman Matt McNeely (15 saves) and Alex Fons (six saves on seven shots) and Aaron Crandall (three saves) each handled the goaltending duties for one period.
Denver has been idle since falling twice at WCHA rival St. Cloud State (5-2 and 5-1) on Jan. 18-19.
DRAWING A CROWD: UMD’s last regular season appearance in Duluth (a 5-4 victory over Michigan Tech University on Jan. 12) was played before a standing-room only crowd of 6,829 -- the largest to ever take in a UMD home game. The Bulldogs are 24-13-4 in 41 lifetime engagements at AMSOIL Arena, which opened its doors for business on Dec. 30, 2010. That includes a 5-4-1 record this season UMD is currently averaging the sixth best home attendance (6,255 a night) of any team in the nation at the moment.
IT’S ABOUT TIME: Denver is the only WCHA school that has yet to pay a visit to AMSOIL Arena. The Pioneers, however, hold the distinction of being the Bulldogs’ opponent for the 862nd, and final, game ever at the 45-year old Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center. UMD prevailed in that Dec. 4, 2010 confrontation, shading the Pioneers 2-1.
THAT’S ALL FOLKS: UMD and Denver, along with current WCHA colleagues Colorado College, the University of Nebraska-Omaha, North Dakota and St. Cloud State University, will join forces with Miami University and Western Michigan of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association in the new eight-team National Collegiate Hockey Conference next fall. The Bulldogs have been members of the WCHA since the 1965-66 season.
BULLISH ON THE BULLPUPS: UMD’s rookie class is the ninth highest-scoring group in the country at the moment amassing 54 points on 21 goals and 33 assists. Center Tony Cameranesi ranks seventh nationally in freshmen scoring with 22 points and is second among WCHA newcomers in that department (one point back of St. Cloud State’s Kalle Kossila). Cameranesi’s 12 power play points this season are the fourth most of any WCHA skater -- and tops among freshmen (he shares that honor with Denver defenseman Nolan Zajac) while his 3.79 shots per game ranks fifth in the league. Left winger Austin Farley is tied for 6th among WCHA freshmen in points (17) and Andy Welinski holds down the No. 2 slot on the WCHA first-year defensemen scoring charts with two goals and nine assists for 11 points -- six back of frontrunner Nolan Zajac. Welinski is currently mired in a six-game pointless funk.
SURGING ‘DOGS: The Bulldogs are unbeaten in eight of their last 10 WCHA engagements (7-2-1) and had reeled off five straight league victories before dropping a 5-1 decision at Colorado College in their most recent WCHA outing on Jan. 19.
SAVING SOME OF THEIR BEST HOCKEY FOR LAST: Senior right winger Mike Seidel continues to pace the Bulldogs in scoring with 23 points. Six of Seidel’s team-leading 12 goals have come on the power play (the last on Dec. 1), a number bettered by only one other WCHA combatant-- Minnesota State University-Mankato’s Eriah Hayes (seven). Seidel, whose last power play goal came on Dec. 1, He’s also tied for fourth in the WCHA in game-winning tallies with three. Back on the blueline, senior Wade Bergman has accumulated three goals (including a pair of game winners) 11 assists for 15 points. That’s the 10th most of any WCHA defenseman in 2012-13 and three points shy of his career high which he set last winter.
POWER TO SPARE: UMD has struck at least once with the man advantage in all but seven games this season and currently possess the WCHA’s second most efficient power play at 22.4 percent. Only four other NCAA clubs -- Union College (31), the University of Minnesota (30), Minnesota State-Mankato (28) and Western Michigan University (25) -- have racked up more power play goals than the Bulldogs (24) to date.
RANK AND FILE: The Bulldogs are 2-4-1 against nationally-ranked opponents this season, with wins coming at then-No. 10 Notre Dame (3-1 on Oct. 18) and against No. 12 St. Cloud State (2-1 on Nov. 23).
BOMBS AWAY: When UMD and Denver last collided (March 16, 2012 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul), the Bulldogs put a school-record 70 shots on goal, but still came up on the short end of a 4-3 double overtime decision in the semifinal round of the WCHA Final Five tournament. Current Pioneer junior netminder Sam Brittain finished with 67 saves in a game which lasted 88:14 -- the longest in the 25-year history of the Final Five.
BOMBS AWAY II: The Bulldogs, who have outshot the opposition in all but four of their 24 engagements to date, are averaging 33.1 shots on goal per night, which ranks eighth nationally. At the same time, they are giving up 26.0 shots to the opposition, the eighth lowest figure in the country.
TIME TO RALLY THE TROOPS: The last time the Bulldogs overcame a second-intermission deficit to win was on Nov. 10, 2010 when they erased a 2-1 Michigan Tech advantage by scoring four goals in the final 20 minutes of regulation on their way to a 5-3 triumph at the DECC. UMD is 0-23-2 (0-8-0) in that situation since then.
THAT’S A PLUS: Junior defenseman Tim Smith (+7), sophomore defenseman Chris Casto (+3) and freshman center Tony Cameranesi (+2) are the lone three UMD skaters who currently sport positive plus-minus numbers. Casto is an impressive +24 for his career while senior defenseman Wade Bergman is not far behind at a +20.
GET SHORTIE: UMD has given up three shorthanded goals this winter -- including one each in both of its Florida College Hockey Classic bouts last month -- after ceding just two during all of 2011-12. On the flip side, the Bulldogs have collected only two shorties over the past two seasons -- by sophomore center/wing Adam Krause (his first collegiate tally) at Michigan Tech on Nov. 30 of this year and Keegan Flaherty (also at Michigan Tech on Dec. 2, 2011). Denver, incidentally, leads the WCHA in shorthanded goals allowed this season with six.
MAKING HIMSELF FEEL RIGHT AT HOME: Rookie goaltender Matt McNeely, who has gotten the starting nod in 10 of the past 12 games, including the last eight in a row, is 3-1-1 with a 1.98 goals against average, a .923 saves percentage and one shutout (vs. Michigan Tech on Jan. 11) in his five lifetime appearances at AMSOIL Arena.
BULLDOG BITS: UMD will play 10 of its final 14 games of the 2012-13 regular season at home and won’t have to leave Minnesota until at least the postseason since its remaining road contests are at Bemidji State (Feb. 15-16) and Minnesota (Feb. 22-23) ... The Bulldogs have scored the second most first-period goals (29) of any WCHA club, taking a backseat only to Minnesota (36), but have collected the second fewest goals in the second period (15 – three more than Alaska-Anchorage) ... Senior right winger and alternate team captain Keegan Flaherty has now skated in 105 consecutive games, the longest ironman streak among active Bulldogs while senior center Jake Hendrickson has made 89 appearances in a row dating back to Dec. 30, 2010. Sophomore center Caleb Herbert hasn't missed a game -- 65 to date -- since joining the Bulldog program one year ago ... With an average of 16.5 minutes of infraction time per night, the Bulldogs are the nation’s second-most penalized team. Their opponents haven’t fared much better in this department, accruing 157 penalties (two more than UMD) for a 16.4 minutes per game clip ... Going back to Feb. 26, 2010, the Bulldogs have lost two or more games in a row only five times and the longest losing streak they’ve had to endure during that stretch is three outings (Oct. 8-16, 2011) ... UMD is unbeaten in 38 of their last 43 overtime games (15-5-23; 0-1-3 in 2012-13) stretching back to the 2008-09 season opener. Among active Bulldogs, only two have an overtime goal to their collegiate credit -- senior forwards Cody Danberg (Jan. 11, 2008 vs. Minnesota State-Mankato) and Mike Seidel (March 10, 2012 in UMD’s 3-2 double-overtime victory over visiting Minnesota State-Mankato in the WCHA playoffs) ... Senior team captain Cody Danberg, who because of injuries had taken part in only one game over the previous two seasons (the 2011-12 opener with the Notre Dame at AMSOIL Arena), is the first sixth-year senior to ever play at UMD .... Since suffering a 3-2 setback to Bemidji State in the opening round of the 2011 WCHA Final Five, UMD is 24-1-4 when taking a lead into the third period (6-1-2 in 2012-13) ... UMD is 8-2-1 in series openers this season but a mere 2-7-2 in rematch games with those two triumphs coming on Dec. 15 at Alaska Anchorage and Jan. 12 vs. Michigan Tech ... All three of junior defenseman Tim Smith’s points this season have been registered at AMSOIL Arena ... This is the fourth straight year UMD and Denver will meet in just one regular season series ..Junior right winger Joe Basaraba has equalled a career high for goals this season with seven (the same number he produced one year ago).
ON TAP: The Bulldogs will remain at AMSOIL Arena to host WCHA rival Minnesota State-Mankato on Feb. 8-9.
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