Inside College Hockey continues its power rankings here with just a week remaining in the college season. See if UMD is in the top 20. Also, this appeared in the News Tribune last Saturday as a Minnesota Duluth season-ending wrap:
A second straight 22-win season, the best Western Collegiate Hockey Association finish since 2004, five sweeps and a first-round league home playoff series.
The Minnesota Duluth men succeeded on many levels in 2009-10, yet were stung by late-season inconsistencies and missed getting into a second consecutive Division I tournament.
The Bulldogs (22-17-1) ended with a 2-0 loss to eventual-champion North Dakota in the WCHA Final Five play-in game. They were one of the last teams cut from NCAA consideration.
“I would’ve liked our chances in the NCAA tournament because we were playing well again our last four games,” UMD senior winger Jordan Fulton said. “We hit a rough patch in January and February, which kept us from our most important goal, but we did a lot of good things with a young team.”
Coach Scott Sandelin played a combined 11 freshmen and sophomores in a 20-player lineup in the final game. UMD loses senior forwards Fulton and Drew Akins, and likely senior defenseman Chase Ryan (although he has a redshirt season remaining). Junior winger Rob Bordson has left for the NHL, but senior defenseman Trent Palm is expected to receive an extra year after missing all but three games this season following hip surgery.
NHL teams also are eyeing free agents Mike Montgomery, Justin Fontaine and Brady Lamb, while freshman defenseman Dylan Olsen, Chicago’s 2009 first-round pick, must gauge his first-year progress.
“We had a good, but not great season, and we have a very good nucleus coming back,” said Sandelin, who signed a two-year contract extension last July through 2011-12. “We got points all but one weekend in our conference; we won four overtime games; we scored 55 power-play goals; we were resilient.”
However, the one overtime loss of the past two years, Jan. 23 against Bemidji State at the DECC, put UMD off-course for much of the rest of the season. The Bulldogs went 6-10 the final 16 games, including a WCHA playoff series win over Colorado College. Before that streak, UMD was 16-7-1 and 12-5-1 in the WCHA with a legitimate chance at the league title.
Bemidji State scored with two seconds left in the third period to tie the game and scored 36 seconds into overtime for a 5-4 victory and a series sweep. The Beavers are in the NCAA tournament; a victory by UMD may have gotten the Bulldogs into the tournament. UMD is 7-1-9 in OT since March 2, 2008.
“We were 4-4 in nonconference games and the four losses were to teams in the NCAA tournament. Those hurt,” said Akins, UMD’s captain. “The losses to Bemidji, especially the one in overtime, took something out of us. We took a few steps back and changed the way we played. We didn’t come after teams the way we did in the first half of the season.
“Everyone kept trying, but everyone was frustrated for a while. It became hit-and-miss. When we were on, it was like no one could beat us, and when we were off, it was like anyone could beat us.”
UMD had four players with 40 or more points in Jack Connolly, Fontaine, Mike Connolly and Bordson, with Jack Connolly a lead candidate for team MVP. A 23 percent effective power play ranked No. 3 in Division I. There were wins over No. 2 Denver, No. 3 Wisconsin and No. 5 North Dakota. The Bulldogs tied North Dakota for fourth place in the league, moving up three spots from the previous season. There were also two losses to last-place Michigan Tech.
Expected to be in UMD’s freshman class for 2010-11 are defensemen Luke McManus of Rosemount, Minn., and Justin Faulk of South St. Paul; and forwards Joe Basaraba of Fort Frances, Ontario; J.T. Brown of Rosemount, Minn.; and Duluth’s Chris Stafne and Max Tardy.
The first eight home games next season will be played at the 44-year-old DECC before the UMD men and women move to the DECC expansion. The first game is Dec. 30 as the UMD men face North Dakota.
Blais finished as scoring leader
A goal in the NCAA women’s hockey title game Sunday gave UMD senior winger Emmanuelle Blais a tie for the points lead in Division I for 2009-10. The All-American from LaSalle, Quebec, finished with 32 goals and 33 assists for 65 points in 41 games, and 145 points in 145 games (eighth all-time among Bulldogs). Her 32 goals led Division I.
UMD freshman goalie Jennifer Harss led Division I in minutes played (2,386) and saves (1,138), and tied for first in wins (29). She had a .934 save percentage and 2.01 goals-against average.
UMD (31-8-2) defeated Cornell University 3-2 in three overtimes in Minneapolis for its fifth NCAA title in 10 years. The Bulldogs were 4-0-2 in overtime this season and are 3-0 in OT in the Frozen Four.
“My strength coach [Julianne Vasichek] told me at the start of the season this team listened and they had a great work ethic, and if you have that in the beginning, you know you’re going to accomplish some great things,” UMD coach Shannon Miller said Sunday. “We’re a very strong-willed team.”
Cornell University’s Doug Derraugh was named 2010 Division I women’s coach of the year Friday by the American Hockey Coaches Association. He’ll receive the award April 30 in Naples, Fla.
Derraugh led Cornell to the regular-season and playoff titles in the Eastern College Athletic Conference. The Big Red advanced to Sunday’s Division I title game, losing to UMD 3-2 in triple overtime. Derraugh is 58-81-15 in five years at the Ithaca, N.Y., school and 21-9-6 this season.
Rick Seeley of Quinnipiac University was voted runner up.
Since the Division I award began in 1998, three coaches from the Western Collegiate Hockey Association have been honored — Minnesota’s Laura Haldorson (three times), Wisconsin’s Mark Johnson (three times) and UMD’s Miller (once, in 2003).