Surging Bulldogs looking solid just over seasons midway point
Just passed the halfway point of the 2017-18 University of Minnesota Duluth men’s hockey campaign and the Bulldogs boast a 13-10-3 overall record and hold the No. 9 spot in this week’s USCHO.com poll.
The Bulldogs have been surging despite last night’s 1-0 loss to No. 7 Minnesota State. They rode an eight-game unbeaten streak and a seven-game win streak into last night’s final non-conference showdown of the regular season. UMD and MSU were wrapping up an extended home-and-home series that began at Amsoil Arena back on November 25.
Last weekend the Bulldogs made a statement. Not only to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference but to the rest of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division-I hockey teams with their convincing weekend sweep over then No. 7 University of North Dakota.
Sporting the seventh best power play in the nation at 24.8 percent, the Bulldogs went 6/11 on the man advantage last weekend to extend their program best win streak over their longtime conference rival to eight games.
The youth of this UMD team has shown maturity over the course of the last two months. Following their two-week hiatus from play over holiday break, the Bulldogs returned to the ice and hit the East Coast for the Ledyard Classic. There, UMD captured the tournament championship suiting up 18 players on Friday and 17 on Saturday. UMD was short-handed due to losing five of their key players to the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championships.
“Obviously in the first half we had a lot of ups and downs, we had a young team, so we were kind of expecting it coming into it,” said senior forward and captain Karson Kuhlman. “I thought that we battled through a lot of adversity there, a couple injuries early on but I like the way this teams going in the second half. Obviously, we won a couple big series, a couple big games so we’re just looking to keep that going.”
Scoring 3.04 goals per game this season, this is a young Bulldog team that has been clicking on all cylinders lately. However, the Bulldogs face another tough challenge this weekend finishing their regular season series with St. Cloud State at Amsoil. UMD Head Coach Scott Sandelin thinks this weekend’s series will be another good test for his team and is looking forward to getting another crack at their NCHC rival, this time with a healthy roster.
Midseason prediction for the men’s team is Bulldog country will see UMD appear in its fourth consecutive NCAA playoff appearance.