Weekend of Nov. 19 and 20

I liked last week’s format. Let’s stick with that. There are also quite a few thoughts rolling around from the weekend, so I’m going to quit delaying and get a cracking.

– The Bulldogs, with their program-best 11-1-2 start, continue to keep on rolling.

– The roll is partly due to UMD’s insane ability to win in overtime. The team is 11-1-11 in its last 23 overtime games. Why are they so good? Coach Scott Sandelin was asked this on Friday and, well, read for yourself.
“I don’t know, I really don’t,” he told media. “I’d like to say I’ve got this masterful game plan, but it’s try to get pucks to the net and any shot is good.”

– On the flip side, Wisconsin, UMD’s opponent, needs to avoid what fans affectionately call “free hockey” at all costs – the Badgers are 0-8-17 in overtime since the beginning of the 2007-08 season.

– Despite the Badgers’ recent struggles, the team feels like it’s on the cusp of breaking out.
“Nothing’s coming easy for us, especially wins,” Jordy Murray told media on Saturday. “But we’re close. We’re right there. We think we’re playing good hockey, but we just couldn’t pull it out.”

– Another team that believes it’s on the cusp is Bemidji, who fell twice to Denver this past weekend in games that were much closer than the scores indicated.
“We knew this wasn’t going to be easy in this league and we knew what we were getting into,” said coach Tom Serratore on Friday. “It’s tough, it’s a very difficult league and our effort is there. We’re playing entertaining hockey and we’re close.”
“We’re close. We’re just an eyelash away right now and we have to keep our chin up and keep working,” said Serratore on Saturday.

– I got to see Bemidji play for the first time this weekend and the team is one of the best I’ve ever seen at cycling the puck. It’s quite awesome to watch when they get it going.

– Fans got their money’s worth in the North Dakota/Nebraska-Omaha series this weekend, and there were a lot of them – over 11,000 on Friday and 7200 on Saturday (not bad for Nebraska, considering the Huskers were playing at the same time). They were treated to a wild and woolly shoot out on Friday (a 6-5 Sioux victory) and a tight, defensive, goalie duel on Saturday (a 1-0 Maverick win).

– Speaking of Saturday, the Mavericks proved, once again (if the regionals a few years ago weren’t enough proof), that every second matters in hockey, scoring with 0.3 seconds remaining on the clock to win the game.

– Weekend quotables:
“I haven’t had a chance to breathe yet,” quipped UND coach Dave Hakstol to media after Friday’s offensive shoot-out. “It was a good hockey game and it was certainly entertaining with the two teams playing extremely hard and in that sort of game where it goes right down to the win, we were looking to come out on the right end of it.”
“We could have easily won last night, and they could have easily won tonight,”
said UNO’s Dean Blais to the media Saturday, summing up the weekend quite nicely.

– Remember last week, when I mused on whether the Sioux had a goalie controversy or a goalie duel going on? Apparently, the team is confident in both goaltenders, according to the Grand Forks Herald‘s Brad Schlossman. However, if I may very loosely paraphrase those crappy late-90s, early-00 commercials, dude, UND’s gotta go with Dell.

– Kind of surprising to see Minnesota with the sweep of Michigan Tech, but it’s a good thing for the Gophers. It’s not so much of a good thing for the Huskies, however, and I hope to touch more on their current woes later this week.

– Notable from the weekend was Gopher Mike Hoeffel with back-to-back two goal games.
“I don’t know what it is, but I just enjoy playing here,” he told media on Friday.

– An almost footnote was that MTU forward Eric Kattelus was dismissed from the team Friday for violating team rules. Not much has been said as to why.

– The other Huskies, the ones from St. Cloud, split with Alaska-Anchorage this weekend. Come on, Huskies, sweep someone already. Hoping to get more details on that as well this week since I’d really like to know what’s going on with them besides the following:
“We’re just not a very good hockey team right now,” coach Bob Motzko told media on Saturday. “We can point at a number of things, but we don’t have a lot of confidence. We’re going to have to dig down.”

– That being said, props to UAA for fighting hard to get the overtime win on Friday and to stay in the game on Saturday.
“We needed this game to get over the emotional part of some close games that haven’t gone our way,” coach Dave Shyiak told media after Friday’s game. “We earned this puck-luck break.”

– Finally, it’s good to hear that Travis Novak wasn’t seriously hurt in Saturday’s game. According to the Anchorage Daily News, Novak’s head appeared to hit the boards in an innocent collision and he then lay motionless on the ice for almost a half hour while treated by trainers and medical staff. He’s not paralyzed, but was taken to the hospital due to neck pain. He also flew home with the team.

– I should also mention that, while Novak’s collision with UAA’s Brad Gorham (described by the ADN as a “rub-out” move along the boards) is being described as innocent and the play as an accident, Gorham did receive five and a game for checking from behind prior to the start of the third period.