Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why UMD Will Beat Union College

Hobey Baker finalist Keith Kinkaid will have to be good
Friday afternoon to slow down UMD's offensive attack
Union College is a really old, (est. 1795 according to their jerseys) small, (2,133 enrollment) liberal arts college located in upstate New York. Schenectady, (ska-neck-ta-dee) New York, to be exact, 150 miles north of Friday's game in Bridgeport, Connecticut. But enough with the parentheses and on with the bullet points. Here's why the Bulldogs will beat the Dutchmen on Friday:

  • Union College plays in the ECAC, one of the weaker conferences in college hockey. The Dutchman only played 3 teams who made the NCAA tournament this year and went 2-4 against those opponents: #1 seed Yale (1-1), #10 Western Michigan (0-2), and #15 Rensselaer (1-1).
  • Union finished on fire, closing out the regular season 14-1-1. They started the ECAC conference tournament as the #1 seed and proceeded to lose in the first round to last-place Colgate, who managed only four conference wins all season.
  • The Dutchmen only made the jump to Division I hockey prior to the 1991-92 season and this is their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament. After losing to Colgate this year, Union is 5-8 in the ECAC playoffs the last four years.
So they're inexperienced, coming off an embarrassing playoff loss, and haven't faced much stiff competition. Honestly I don't have a lot of respect for the ECAC. I think the fact that Yale was ranked #1 all year was a joke. Plus UMD has a 6-0-1 all-time record against Union.

It won't be a cakewalk though. Union is the best defensive team in the country, allowing only 1.95 goals per game. They have the ECAC Defensive Defenseman, Defensive Forward, Goalie, and Coach of the Year. Their goalie, Keith Kinkaid, put up a 1.98 GAA and a .920 save percentage on his way to a Hobey Baker nomination. Zane Kalemba flashbacks, anyone?

My earlier misgivings about the Bulldogs' playoff chances have not evaporated, but UMD was put in the weakest bracket and could potentially do some damage against opponents from weaker conferences. In the end, the sudden-death format of the tournament makes the whole thing a crapshoot. A few bad bounces, bad calls, or a hot goalie and it's all over. Hopefully Lady Luck is on our side.

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