What is it about the black jerseys? UND is 3-0 wearing black this season with wins against Dartmouth, Minnesota and Denver. Are they really lighter, like Nike Bauer claims? Does the team get a little boost when they walk in the locker room and see the black jerseys hanging up? Or is it a big coincidence?
Whatever it is, UND got a split against Denver this weekend by winning Saturday night after losing an overtime heartbreaker Friday. The Sioux remained eighth in the USCHO.com poll and more importantly, they are 10th in the PairWise. If you add the estimated secret bonus points in, they are ninth.
If the Sioux have a big weekend in St. Cloud, they could just about lock up a spot in the NCAA tournament. First, let’s look back at the Denver series.
Offense: B. It was more of the same from the Sioux. The top line was dominating, scoring five of six goals on the weekend. The rest of the forward lines didn’t generate a lot of production. Rylan Kaip got a goal Saturday and UND improved to 13-0-1 when getting a goal from a third or fourth line player.
Defense: B. Coach Dave Hakstol said he didn’t think his blue liners had a good night on Friday. They allowed some tap-in goals and Phil Lamoureux stopped back-to-back breakaways in the third period to bail them out. Saturday night was another story. Lamoureux didn’t have to make a whole lot of great saves because they did a great job keeping shots to the outside and keeping odd-man rushes down.
Goaltending: A-. The only goal Lamoureux may want another look at is Ryan Dingle’s backhand from the bottom of the right circle. The others, he didn’t have any chance. Lamoureux also made some big stops, including a pair of breakaways. Two shutouts in the last three games for Lamoureux. He’s still on his game.
Special teams: A. The penalty killers were key this weekend. They successfully killed all 11 DU power plays. It seems that the penalty kill is getting more and more comfortable each weekend. This weekend’s success was especially impressive considering the Sioux were without Matt Watkins — one of the team’s best. The first power-play unit was fantastic, as usual.
Road support: A+. As I said in the comments section in an earlier post, there were tons of Sioux fans in Magness Arena. It was basically just as loud when the Sioux scored as it was when the Pioneers scored. The only chants heard in the arena over the weekend were "Lets Go Sioux" and "Sioux Yeah Yeah."
Hanging out with blog readers: A. Among the Sioux fans in Denver were some blog readers. I even met infamous troller tooovssuxascks, who trolled in the DU student section with a bright green UND shirt. From the people at the Lazy Dog to those in the airport to those in the arena, it was good chatting with all of you.
The Paukovich-Bina factor: NA. It was non-existent. Players didn’t seem to have a lot of words for Paukovich. He was called for interference after taking a run down the ice and hitting T.J. Oshie, but the play seemed to upset ref Todd Anderson more than anyone. During Saturday’s handshake, Paukovich stopped and said a few words to Bina, who nodded his head. After the game, Paukovich said he’s happy to see Bina back on the ice. It appears the incident has been put to rest.
Review of the three keys
1. Phil Lamoureux needs to outduel either Glenn Fisher or Peter Mannino. Pass. Lamoureux did it both nights. He had a better save percentage both nights than DU’s standout goalies. It was .943 for the weekend.
2. Get a goal from the second line. Fail. UND only got one goal from a line other than the Duncan-Toews-Oshie line, and it was Rylan Kaip and the third line. Can UND continue to win without getting consistent scoring from other lines?
3. Keep Denver’s third and fourth lines off the scoreboard. Fail/Pass. On Friday, Paukovich got on the board to tie the game. That was the only goal from the third or fourth line on the weekend. It was a big one, though.