Hello everyone from the land of Corn.
Goon asked me to give my thoughts on the weekend since I went to both games and live in the great city of Omaha, NE. What I saw was a mixed bag, but I assure you (since the haters are out in force) that what I'm about to relate is PURELY my opinion and my opinion alone.
The Venue and Atmosphere
If you live in Omaha, you get to see two venues for hockey: CenturyLink for Mavs hockey and the Ralston Arena for Lancers (USHL) hockey. CenturyLink is older than Ralston Arena. CenturyLink is a better environment to watch hockey. Sure, Ralston is newer and gets you closer to the ice. One can argue that there really is no bad seat in the Ralston Arena. But go to a Lancers game and you have an arena full of cow bells and vuvuzelas and NO ONE who has them knows when to silence them! Not so at the CenturyLink. I enjoy my time at the CenturyLink Center. Great atmosphere and fun to watch hockey when you don't have endless noise flowing into your ear.
It seemed more crowded Saturday than Sunday. Unfortunately, those who didn't come on Sunday missed a far better game (even if I say that knowing UND won).
I have honestly NO IDEA what got into Gothberg Saturday. No idea at all. He was BRUTAL. He reminded me of his first game as a freshman. BIG rebound cost him the first goal and the other two was so fundamentally poor hockey play that I was honestly stunned Hakstol didn't pull him. The second goal itself was one that I think even I could have stopped (and let me tell you, if I can make even ONE save facing DI players, that'd be a miracle!)! The second one was simply a loss of focus.
Saunders tonight was far better and he had to be. Why? Because, in my opinion, UND played far more careless hockey Sunday than they did Saturday. In the end, Saunders played VERY well and will certainly garner more playing time going forward. I just wish I knew what the Sam Houston State was going on with Gothberg (and I know what the haters will say. Too bad I don't care).
Massa for UNO was VERY solid and I'm surprised he didn't play on Sunday. It turns out it was bad karma because UNO's starter, Thompson, caught the Gothberg bug and gave up two horrific goals (though to be fair the second goal he gave up was simply his defense abandoning him).
On Saturday, we looked flat, imo. We looked especially bad in the first period. I thought we looked slow, behind the play. Goon disagrees with me when I say that UNO was clearly the better team and was very solid at even strength. I truly don't believe Massa was challenged that much. To my recollection, Massa had to make two great saves and the rest of the night was largely unchallenged.
Let's face it: I noticed a LOT more defensemen leading the rush on Saturday than on Sunday and ANY time you have a Dman leading the rush into the offensive zone that, to me, speaks VOLUMES about where we are at with our attack.
As for our power play, it still sucks. IIRC, we only scored 1 goal on the powerplay all weekend.
Our Penalty Kill? Both of UNO's goals on Sunday came on the Power Play. Neither goals were weak as far as Saunders is concerned. The first was where we gave them the center of the ice below the faceoff circles and the second was where we forgot about a man (Archibald) and gave him the center ice below the faceoff circles. Imagine that. They scored on both times.
Sunday was a FAR more entertaining game. UND had to kill off 1:45 of a 5 on 3 PowerPlay after Grimaldi took a stupid penalty... I'd argue that Panzarella's penalty was also stupid. It also had what had to be the most tense final 2 minutes of the game I've witnessed in quite some time.
I always get a different opinion of the officiating when I view it live at the arena rather than on TV or webcast. I didn't think the officials were that bad. I'm a bit baffled as to why UNO came away with a powerplay with 1:10 left in Sunday's game. Pattyn and UNO #13 clearly deserved penalties. So did UND's second of the altercation. But I thought the other UNO participant should've gone as well.
Players that stood out or I thought would stand out:
Archibald (UNO): I think he was one of the best players for UNO on Sunday. I'm still a bit confused as to why he wasn't ejected on Saturday though. He had a ton of energy and he reminded me at times of Mike Prpich.
Grimaldi (UND): Boy, UNO fans don't like him. UNO was trying to run him all game long on Sunday and Brady (UNO) nearly took himself off the ice with an injury because of it. In the end, Grimaldi ended up being a sort of agitator... a role I didn't know Grimaldi was supposed to serve with UND.
Walters (UNO): Ok, he factored in on one of the goals on Sunday but I didn't notice him much at all this weekend.
The MacMillans (UND): Neither stood out to me.... at all.
Caggiula (UND): I liked the way he played. Drake and Rodwell impressed me with their aptness to crash the net.
Ladue (UND): I'll always be a fan of Dmen that aren't afraid to shoot the puck, especially on the PowerPlay. It started with Nick Fuher and it continues with Paul LaDue. I LOVE IT when he shoots the puck.
Overall impressions of the Sioux:
We have a ways to go. With the NCHC being like it is, though, I'm not sure how it is going to work out. I'm not sure what to expect going forward. I always hope for the best. The tools are there. How fast they mature and get into their stride is unknown. It's going to be one helluva ride. The fun times and the haters will make the season an interesting one for sure.
My player of the weekend is Drake Caggiula. He was noticeable on both games.