Wisconsin Week/Back to Work

After sitting four players and dropping a game that doesn’t count to the USA Under-18 team conference points will be on the line this weekend when the Badgers come to CenturyLink.  Unfortunately, neither Wisconsin, nor Duluth next weekend can really help UNO improve their ranking in the PairWise.

The Badgers are below the Mavs in 28th while the Bulldogs aren’t in the top 31.  UNO, by the way, is 21st, five spots below the last NCAA tournament spot.  That spot is currently held by Rensselaer in a tie for 15th.  From Rensselaer to UNO sit St. Lawrence, Robert Morris, Alaska and Union.

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By the way, how sweet were those Team USA jerseys the day after the 33rd anniversary of the Miracle on Ice?

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The BeeGees, Stayin Alive – B side take a bow Mr. Searfoss

Sweeping a 4-19-7 team on the road should never be that great of an accomplishment.  But after dropping two straight at home against North Dakota, failing to earn a point at Quinnipiac and dropping a game to Michigan Tech, the wins in Anchorage were some of the biggest of the season.

Let’s put this into perspective.  In the PairWise rankings (for those of you new to the system it’s how teams are selected for The NCAA Tournament) the Mavs currently sit out of the big dance in a tie for 20th.  A sweep at the hands of North Dakota (6th PairWise) and Quinnipiac (1st PairWise) stopped UNO’s chances at picking up valuable power points for beating or tying two of the best teams in the country.  Now of course they got some of those points with a wins over Mankato, Minnesota, St. Cloud State, Northern Michigan, Colorado College and a tie against Denver.  But the Mavs record against TUC (teams under consideration) is just 6-10-1.  Imagine where they’d be if they had gotten at least one win against Quinnipiac and North Dakota, a TUC of 8-8-1.  To give you an idea, Denver is 8-8-4 and currently 11th in the latest Pairwise.  Of course 8-8-1 isn’t 8-8-4, but you’d have to think UNO would be close to that if they had squeezed two wins out of those four, and not dropped a game to Michigan Tech.

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Weekend Scenarios

Last weekend’s results were the worst possible thing that could have happened to the Mavs’ postseason chances.  After the game I asked Archibald and Zombo their concerns about the NCAA tournament after dropping two against North Dakota.  I got the normal coach speak answer about taking each game one at a time and not looking past anybody in the WCHA.

But they had to know the rest of the schedule doesn’t include anybody who can help their PairWise rankings.  Wisconsin continuing to win would help a lot but Alaska Anchorage will not and it’s unlikely that Duluth can creep up enough to help UNO’s PairWise once the last weekend of the season rolls around.

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Thursday…48 hours away

Unfortunately there’s little for us to go on in terms of predictive stats for this weekend.  As noted yesterday, and last week, the all time series is tied 3-3.  Whats more, in Omaha it’s 1-2 and in Grand Forks its 2-2.  Hard to say how that works out for a home game and an outdoor game.

On the road this year, the Fighting Sioux (and if you’re wondering why I’m using that term after North Dakota dropped it, read yesterday’s post) are 5-5-1 and 4-3-3 in the last 10.  At home the Mavs are 9-4-1 and 7-2-1.

UND’s road games over their last 10 include at Minnesota, at Michigan Tech, at Colorado College, at Notre Dame and at Saint Cloud State.  Minnesota was a loss/tie, Tech was win/win, CC was loss/win, Notre Dame was win/loss and St. Cloud was win/loss.  Thus, against the top of the conference North Dakota has gone 1-2-1.

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The Week We’ve Been Waiting for since last March

Let’s not start washing ourselves in the moment just yet, or at all this week for that matter.  This is one of the closest conference races in recent memory.  There are four teams within striking distance of St. Cloud State – UNO, Minnesota, Denver and North Dakota.

The all-time series between the Mavs and the Fighting Sioux (sorry, I know we’re not allowed to call them that anymore but it’s who they are, and from my understanding, the Lakota were more than happy to allow UND to keep the name) is tied 3-3 so it’s unlikely anybody is gonna sweep this weekend.  All three series have been 1-1 splits.

However, getting 4 points, or at least four would go a long ways towards challenging for the Macnaughton Cup.  From here the schedule eases up in a sense.

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Good to be back at home

It’s been 25 days since UNO played a home game but it feels like we haven’t been to the CenturyLink for a hockey game since last year.  But almost a month later the Mavs return to action after earning 5 of 8 points on the road at Denver  and Bemidji State.  During the time away one streak continued, and luckily another ended.

UNO has never won a game at Magness Arena in Denver, that continued.  The Mavs have also never swept Bemidji State head-to-head in a conference series.  The last 12 times UNO had played the Beavers in conference, the Mavs had won just one game, lost seven and tied four.

2012 alternate captain John Faulkner

2012 alternate captain John Faulkner

How they suddenly came out of their funk last weekend is hard to say.  I think it has a lot to do with having a focus on the bigger picture than revenge.  Being in the midst of a conference championship race can do a lot for the psyche.  In UNO’s case I think it allowed them to look past the name of the opponent and just win because they have to/are supposed to.

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Thursday News

This came out last Thursday but I haven’t brought it up yet.  Alabama Huntsville found a permanent home with the WCHA next year.  Remember, most of the teams in the league right now are leaving for either the B1G 10 or the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

Quick review———- Penn State announced about 2 years ago that they were adding a hockey program.  There was speculation at the time that the five other B1G 10 schools with a hockey program might break away from the conferences and start a B1G 10 conference.

That’s exactly what happened.  Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State of the CCHA, and Minnnesota and Wisconsin of the WCHA announced near the time the tournament started two years ago they were leaving their respective conferences to start the B1G 10.

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Week off does little to hurt WCHA chances

Despite having a week off, the Mavs only lost ground to the top spot of the WCHA by three points.  North Dakota played at Minnesota and the Gophers kind of dominated.  They won on Friday 5-1 then the two teams tied 4-4 on Saturday.  Three points for the Minnesota vaulted them to the top with 22 points.  St. Cloud State downed Denver 5-2 then 5-1 to join Minnesota on top.

UNO is only two points out of the top spot but won’t have the opportunity to play against the two teams in front of them.  That isn’t all bad because once we compare schedules, the Mavs have a much clearer path to the MacNaughton Cup than almost anyone else.

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