The Bulldogs second period
Outscored 12-7 in the second period in the last six games, Minnesota Duluth bucked the trend by tying Western Michigan 1-1 in the second stanza. Despite being outscored almost 2-1 in the second period down the stretch, the Bulldogs were 4-1-1 in the stretch.
“Well, I think their second goal woke our bench up for sure,” said Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin. “I thought we played better toward the end of the period and got a goal and tried to carry that over into the third. We have to get better in the second periods. You know teams are going to make a push when they’re trailing and we were up 2-1. Very similar to the game we had there Saturday where we were up 2-0 and they came out and made a real good push in the second.”
The same six games also saw freshman goaltender Hunter Miska’s save percentage suffer, stopping just .852 with a goals-against of 3.33 compared to the prior six-game stretch where he sported an unworldly .958 mark with a GAA of 1.33. For the season, Miska holds a .917 save percentage and 2.21 GAA.
Both the second period woes and Miska’s lower save percentage come at a time where the Bulldogs are allowing seven less shots per game in the last six games versus the previous six.
Western road woes continue
The Broncos’ road woes continue. At home, Western Michigan is 10 games over .500 (14-4-3) while just one game over 500 away from Lawson Ice Arena (8-7-2). Offense seems to be an issue, as the Broncos score an average of 3.85 goals at home vs. 2.94 away from Lawson. Defensively the team is playing slightly worse.
In neutral-site games, the Broncos are 2-1 including Friday’s 5-2 loss, scoring 2.33 goals per game while allowing two goals a game.
“We’re actually pretty good at neutral-site games if you check that,” said Broncos coach Andy Murray. “This is what you’d call a neutral-site game; we’ve won quite a few neutral-site games this year. They’re seven other pretty good teams in this league too.”
With only neutral-site games remaining, the Broncos need to find a way to score away from Lawson in hopes of a making a strong tournament run.
“Lawson is definitely a tough building to play in,” said senior defenseman Taylor Fleming. “Nice to have those fans and they help us out and give us a lot of energy. Any time you are on the road, it’s always going to be a tough game. I don’t think there’s a reason for us being a .500 team on the road; we just have to be better, because the rest of the season is going to be on the road, so we have to pick it up.”
Chasing a one seed
Both teams came into the game staring at one seeds in the NCAA Tournament. Western had a half-game lead on Minnesota for the final one seed, while Duluth had locked up its one seed and had a chance of the top overall seed. Western’s chances were significantly hurt with Friday’s loss.
Losing Saturday will end any hope the Broncos have for a one seed. Duluth will need Denver to lose at least once and get some help from teams that played Denver, such as Air Force.
Check out this scenario in the PairWise Predictor: