Sunday, March 31, 2013

UND 2012-13 hockey season post-mortem

English: Ralph Engelstadt Arena at the Univers...

For UND hockey fans, the end of every season is always tough, especially for the last 13 years.  UND hockey fans don’t take losing well and UND hockey is a way of life, much like football is in Nebraska or Texas.
But I digress.
If you would have asked me how I thought this year would have ended, I would have said anything is possible including this ending.  Although, I was thinking that the Green and White’s season would have ended in a trip to Pittsburgh, PA culminating in their eighth NCAA title.
I thought this team had the “potential” to take it all the way to Pittsburgh, but in the last month, those expectations were quietly dampened as they had trouble getting sweeps against the likes of Bemidji State and Michigan Tech.
This year’s team was hard to put a finger on.  They never really clicked defensively or offensively.
The coaching staff was still messing around with line combinations up until the end of the season. Some of that was a result of UND’s incredible depth this season. There was also, for the most part, no major injuries so there were many combinations to play with.
Players that played poorly on the ice found themselves sitting in the stands the next game.
There never seemed to be a lot of great chemistry among the forward lines except for the top line and the energy line.
A great hockey mind told me earlier in the season; that if your team is still screwing around with the forward lines in late January, your season wasn’t going last very long. Hum…those words of wisdom, now proved to be very true. It’s not really rocket science per see, but it’ makes a lot of sense. Just seems like there was no continuity to this hockey team.
This year’s team never really had that killer instinct, they never seemed to have to have ability to put a team away and they had a propensity to let bad teams hang around longer than they should have.
That being said, this team wasn’t a bunch of talentless hacks either.
The 2012-13 version of the UND hockey team was still a pretty decent hockey team that at times looked like they could beat the best teams in the country and played one of the toughest schedules in the country.  They didn’t rack up 22 wins playing the weak sisters of the poor.
On the negative side of things, UND had two league sweeps all season long, UNO and MTU and both of these sweeps were on the road. UND swept one team at home, and that was nonconference foe Holy Cross.
The 2012-13 UND hockey team finished with a 22-13-7 record and also finished one win away from sharing the McNaughton Cup with Minnesota and Saint Cloud State.
Let this one sink in for you, this is the first time in 10 years that the UND hockey team isn’t going to go to the Frozen Four or win a Broadmoor Trophy or McNaughton Cup.  I didn’t even realize this until I read Brad Schlossman’s post game report in the Grand Forks Herald.
There are going to be those that will say that this UND hockey team didn’t meet expectations. There will be others that will say that this team lacked grit and heart.
Secondary scoring was an issue with this team and after Danny Kristo (26-g-26a—52pts), Corban Knight (16g-33a—49pts) and Rocco Grimaldi (13g-23a—36pts), there was a drop off of in scoring after the top line.
Next season, the junior class of Mark MacMillan (13g-12a—25pts) and Michael Parks (7g-1a—8pts) along with Roco Grimaldi are going to be expected to lead the way for UND.  Michael Parks was slowed this season by an injury and he never really seemed to regain his rhythm that he had from the previous season.
Fire Hakstol
As always, expectations are pretty high, especially when your team resides in Grand Forks, North Dakota, almost to a point of fanaticism. When the season ends prematurely without a NCAA title, some in the fan base begin to call for the coach’s head.
I can tell you right now that there is zero chance that head coach Dave Hakstol gets fired, he’s not going anywhere.  Not going to happen, first-off Hakstol just signed a long term deal and you would require a very big buy out.  If I had to guess, a buyout it’s in the $800,000.00 – $1,000,000.00, so no, coach Hakstol is going anywhere, unless someone is going to step forward to write the University of North Dakota a huge check and I don’t see that happening.  Nor am I suggesting that this should it happen.  The next quesition would be, who do you replace him with? Replacing him doesn’t mean the program succeeds either.
Lastly, Dave Hakstol is a very good hockey coach and has done a good job with the UND hockey program.  UND just won 20 plus games for the ninth year in a row and I think it’s just a matter of time before he leads UND to a national title. Then the naysayers will be running to catch up with the Hakstol bandwagon.

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