Bulldogs’ Own the Blue Paint

To be successful against a team like the Minnesota-Duluth you have to get to the front of the net and cause havoc in the blue paint. You also have to take the goaltender’s eyes away. That’s easier said than done.

This past weekend, the University of North Dakota had a hard time getting a lot of traffic in front of the Bulldogs net. The Bulldogs a good job of cleaning up traffic in front of the net. Against the Hawks, the Bulldogs were very good at letting their goalie freshman goalie Hunter Miska see the puck. When the series was over, Miska had an impressive weekend against the Hawks, he was 2-0-0, 1.50 GAA and .943 save percentage. You can also add a third shutout to Miska’s statistics. Two of them have come against the UND.

Bulldogs' Own the Blue Paint
Johnny Simonson (credit UND Athletics/Peter Bottini)

On Friday night, sophomore forward Johnny Simonson gave his analysis of the Bulldog defense.

“Their D take pride in boxing out,” Simonson said. “We knew that going in, our coaches told us that and they did a good job of that tonight. It’s definitely not easy getting to the front of the net and I think we need to do a better job doing that tomorrow night.”

In four games against the Fighting Hawks, Miska is 4-0-0 with two shutouts.  Against UND, Miska has been a brick wall giving up just five goals in four games. Statistically, Miska is ranked third in the NCHC in GAA and save percentage. Miska is the first goalie since Denver’s Marc Cheverie to blank UND twice in the same season.

Bulldogs’ Senior Dominated Defense

Finally,  we need to give credit where credit is due. The Bulldogs are a veteran team and they are very good defensively. The Bulldogs are ranked eighth nationally giving up 2.12 goals per game. The Bulldogs also have a solid D-Core that sports only two underclassmen. They rest of their defense is comprised of senior defensemen.

After the season, the Bulldogs will lose four defensemen to graduation. A fifth defenseman, sophomore Neal Pionk is a free-agent and could garner some attention from NHL teams. To his credit, Pionk has a cannon from the Blueline and has scored five goals and 18 points. In league play, Carson Soucy tied for second the NCHC for points by defensemen with (3g-9p—12pts).

From UMD Hockey SID’s game notes, the Bulldogs have the country’s third-highest scoring senior class as that seven-member ensemble has combined to rack up and 82 points on 32 goals and 50 assists — all NCHC bests.

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