Wandering The Nation: Florida Classic

Checking in with Minnesota-Duluth

The Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs are enjoying the trip down south, especially after knocking off the highly-regarded Maine Black Bears Tuesday night by a 4-1 score. Despite getting scored on off the opening faceoff, the ‘Dogs held tight, got their legs going, and ran the table for chunks of the game.

“We were pretty upbeat on the bench despite the early goal, and we gained confidence as the game wore on,” said UMD assistant coach Lee Davidson, who checked in Wednesday morning with an update from the pool. “There was pretty good ebb and flow to the game, we were pleased with the way we played.”

Davidson and the Bulldogs arrived very late Sunday night after a day of travel from Duluth, and didn’t get to the hotel until close to 1 a.m. Monday morning.

Monday was a lazy day, except for an hour of on-ice workout. Then it was off to the beach for dinner at one of Davidson’s favorite seafood haunts in the area.

“Lots of walleye and blackened grouper for this group. Hey, it must have been a pretty good pregame dinner — we won,” he quipped.

Against Maine, the Bulldogs rode the brilliance of Isaac Reichmuth, who made several big saves as the Black Bears got rolling through periods of the game. Both teams showed some signs of rust, but despite the layoff the pace was what was expected of NCAA play.

Tourneys like these are great for teams who don’t see each other much (17 years, in this case). That allows them to focus on themselves and their play first and foremost.

“As a staff we felt we’d see some of Maine on tape against Denver (a game on CSTV on Oct. 14),” said Davidson, “but we stressed to our players that we want to play our game, work on the things we need to improve upon as a hockey team, and that was helpful to our mindset.”

The Bulldogs then were to get ready for Cornell in the title game, the first meeting between those two schools since 1968. It will be the same idea for Duluth regarding scouting.

“We saw Cornell yesterday, so we have an idea what they like to do,” said Davidson, who joked, “We have that 1968 game on tape; maybe we’ll watch that.”

Thursday will be a day off “in which the goal would be not to get sunburnt,” said Davidson.

The UMD basketball team is also playing a tourney down there, so the hockey team will venture over to see their hardcourt brethren. Head coach Scott Sandelin, who at this time last year was at the helm of Team USA at the World Juniors in Grand Forks (a 90-degree temperature difference from this year), will golf Thursday at a Bulldogs alumni function.

“I have the hard job. I’ll take the team to the beach,” Davidson said with a laugh.