Friday, February 25, 2011

Roadtrip: Mankato

With the sour taste of Friday's 3-1 loss in Mankato still lingering, Kriz and I hopped in my trusty Camry and embarked on another roadtrip to visit my brother Grady.  We stopped in the Cities to pick up our buddy Mossberg, and after some shaky driving by yours truly, we finally arrived at Grady's dorm around five.

After a few pregame beers we went down to the Verizon Center. Saturday's game was a sellout, but we were lucky enough to nab some standing room only tickets and squeezed into the student section. Mankato's student section was WEAK. No creativity, no passion, and everyone had thunder sticks. Gross. It reminded me of going to high school football games with my buddies when I was in middle school. Sure we were there, but strictly to socialize. And by the middle of the third period everyone was long gone.

A few more notes about the Verizon Center:

  • Jack Links is a big sponsor of Mankato hockey. They threw sample packets of something called 'Ham Nuggets' into the crowd during the second intermission and had a Sasquatch mascot running around. Free beef jerky, (or ham nuggets, which were actually not terrible) is always great.

Every lady's dream

  • The UMD student section is far from sober, but a strategically placed bar directly above the Mankato student section made definitely upped its collective BAC.
Two guys, Four beers, One thunderstick.
  • The replay screen was absolutely pitiful. Not to sound like a snob now that Amsoil has opened in all of its world-class glory, but the screen was 100 feet up on the far end of the rink, and it was about 10 feet across. Also the blue/green tint was seriously off. I'd rather have the old-school, cheesy screen we had the DECC over Mankato's piece of garbage. Look at the picture at the top of this post. Try and find the replay screen.
We went to bed around 3 am with no signs of storms or snow. We awoke around noon to 8 inches and counting of blowing snow. It made for an awesome drive back. For some reason Kriz was super concerned about my ability to take video and drive at the same time.

As for the actual game, it was awesome. JT got two, Fontaine got two, and we dug ourselves out of an early deficit to salvage a split. Good times. Overall though, I'm worried about the Bulldogs long-term. They're too reliant on cutesy stickhandling and backdoor passes on offense. They need to get more traffic in front and let Faulk rip shots from the point. They also need to get tougher in front of the net on both ends, which is something I talked about back in December.

Also, the goaltending situation is less than ideal. Reiter is still really shaky at times, and gave up a pretty bad goal on Friday. Still, he has been better than Crandall, who left two wide open nets which the Mavericks inexplicably missed on Saturday. It was about this time last year Sandelin handed the reigns over to Reiter and he responded well, and I'd like to see that happen again.

Now we go on the road to face a Colorado College squad that is fighting for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. They just got back dynamic freshman Jaden Schwartz, so it's going to be tough. Luckily history is on UMD's side. In the last two years the Bulldogs are 8-2-1 against the Tigers. This is the time of year we need to be peaking, and it feels like the Bulldogs are sliding. They can change that this weekend.

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