Bulldogs Take Rubber Match, Series
Well, at least it’s only November and not March. And things were not as bleak as last night. The Gophers were beaten 2 – 1 on Saturday night and swept in a series for the first time in almost five years. It was a fairly even game and while the Gophers really came back in the last 10 minutes, they were unable to even things up and head home for a bit of a break with some confusing issues after the first six weeks of the season.
Not the start that the Gophers wanted after a really ugly game on Friday. The Gophers played a much better period than at any point last night, however UMD was able to capitalize on a couple of their chances. Just twenty-eight seconds in, Dominic Toninato poked a loose puck in the crease past Adam Wilcox, who after a scrum in front, attempted to jump on a loose puck but Toninato got to it first and got it under and into the net for the early lead.
The game evened up quite a bit and it appeared like the Gophers were gaining some momentum when UMD’s power play doubled the lead. Karson Kuhlman put a tremendous tip on a shot from Willie Raskob which slipped five-hole on Wilcox and the balance of the game & weekend was tipping towards a sweep.
Justin Crandall hit Michael Brodzinski with a knee on knee hit just before intermission. He was given a 5 minute major and a game misconduct. This was where the game was probably lost by the Gophers as they really did nothing over the course of five minutes outside of not allowing a goal against.
Duluth was awarded a 5 minute power play of their own in the second period, but their power play looked really bad as well. Wilcox seemed dialed in as he was on top of anything that came his way. The crowd was quiet and it just felt like if they got one goal, they could find a way to steal this one.
The Swedish Chef (Leon Bristedt) managed to get that goal with just over eight minutes remaining. He took advantage of Dan Molenaar tripping over the blue line to drive the net and soak Bulldog goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo to the short side. It ended up getting very chaotic towards the last few minutes and while the Gophers had the Bulldogs leaning the right way, they could not get many shots directed on net and end up leaving Duluth a frustrated bunch.
The Gophers seemed disjointed all weekend long and appeared low on energy, while Duluth was clearly firing on all cylinders for a majority of the two games and earned the sweep. After a great four periods to start against Notre Dame last weekend, it’s been a jumbled mess of confusion through the next eight periods. Too bad only an exhibition game vs. the US Under-18 team remains before a Thanksgiving series at Boston College & Northeastern.
On the flip side; aside from the really damaging situation this represents in the Pairwise rankings, weekends like this aren’t necessarily the worst thing if done early and lessons learned. Time to get a bit of rest and focus for next week’s game and the rare trip east which follows.