BY JIMMY GILLIGAN | The Statesman SERIES PREVIEW: UMD (3-5-1, 0-3-1 NCHC) at Colorado College (0-8, 0-3 NCHC), 7:37 p.m. Friday and 7:07 p.m. Saturday in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
LISTEN/WATCH: The games will be broadcast on local radio on 92.1 The Fan, and on television on the My9 Sports Network.
In this weekend’s series between Colorado College and the University of Minnesota Duluth, at least one team will come out with their first National Collegiate Hockey Conference win.
Pairing the bottom two teams in the NCHC standings, this matchup is key for the Bulldogs to stay relevant heading into Thanksgiving Break.
“It’s a big weekend for us because we don’t play next weekend. These are critical points if you want to stay in any type of race,” head coach Scott Sandelin said.
The Bulldogs hope to snap their five-game winless streak this weekend against a team that has yet to win a game this season. But like UMD, they have faced some quality opponents. Three of the teams they faced earlier this season are now in the top five in the USCHO Poll (No. 2 Boston College, No. 4 North Dakota and No. 5 Massachusetts-Lowell).
“They’ve been very tested against a tough schedule, they’ve competed in a lot of those games,” Sandelin said.
“Obviously the biggest concern going in is looking at a team that hasn’t won a game yet, and what I told our guys is that if you look at the league, we haven’t either. So if you go by the league, which I’m going by, we’re in the same boat.”
After last Saturday’s tie (in which UMD got the extra point), their confidence is high. UMD dominated Denver in the 3-on-3 overtime period, outshooting them 7-0.
They will see more open ice this weekend when they travel to Colorado College’s home rink, The Broadmoor World Arena, which features an Olympic size sheet of ice. It’s 15 feet wider than the ice at Amsoil, which is set to NHL specifications.
But the focus at this point is really about getting in the win column, and playing with urgency, not frustration. On a five-game winless streak, UMD isn’t worrying about anything but their own game.
“It doesn’t really matter. We’ve been good on that type of rink so hopefully it holds true. Right now we just have to win,” Sandelin said.
Difficulty scoring has contributed to both UMD and CC’s struggles early in the season. UMD is averaging 2.2 goals per game this year, while Colorado College averages 1.5 goals per game. However, CC isn’t getting the number of shots that the Bulldogs are, averaging 10 fewer than UMD’s 37 shots per game.
Senior Tony Cameranesi said his team needed to get more traffic down low this weekend against the Tigers in order to cure UMD’s offensive woes.
“I just think we need to get more bodies to the net, but for now we just need to continue doing what we’re doing,” he said.