UMD men’s hockey: Jacques and his teammates find an offensive touch as NCHC play resumes
Then there’s the speech of the coach he wishes he could bury, like the line he had to dig out on New Years Day after the home loss to Minnesota State at Amsoil Arena.
“We are a team where we cannot have any passengers,” said Sandelin. “Everyone has to go. ”
It wasn’t the first time Sandelin has turned to the “passenger” analogy this season to describe those he believes are not fully engaged in a game. In fact, this isn’t the first time he’s used it in the Bulldogs’ last six games, which have produced just one win and five losses.
Currently fourth in the NCHC ranking, the Bulldogs will resume conference play this month. They are hoping it will be against Miami at 7:07 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Amsoil Arena in Duluth after last week’s trip to St. Cloud State was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols at UMD.
Once they get out of quarantine, the Bulldogs will need everyone as engaged as ever if they are to host an NCHC quarterfinal series in March, and not hit the road for the first time in seven seasons.
“If we’re going to be more successful in the future, we’ve got to have more of some players,” Sandelin said Jan. 1 after a pair of losses to No.1 Minnesota State. “Now there’s Guys who I think have had two good games for us, the way we have to play, but we haven’t had enough, certainly tonight. “
Among the players who had two good games, there was one line that struggled to start the season. It’s the veteran Bulldogs forward trio of Kobe Roth, Jesse Jacques and Koby Bender.
North Dakota forward Jake Schmaltz (8) and Minnesota forwards Duluth Kobe Roth (10) and Koby Bender (11) will meet for the puck on Saturday, November 20, 2021 at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, Dakota. North. Clint Austin / Dossier / Duluth News Tribune
After combining seven goals in the first 14 games of the 2021-22 season, the three seniors have punctuated the struggling Bulldogs’ offense in the last six games, combining six goals.
Three goals came from Jacques, the true senior center for Hermantown, who scored the only UMD goal on December 30 to force overtime against the Mavericks at Mankato. It was only his fifth goal of the season, but third in two games.
“It’s good for self-confidence, for sure,” Jacques said on December 30th. Hopefully the snowball effect will continue, but at the end of the day it’s a team game. We’re just trying to win on the scoreboard.
Jacques, who has five goals for five points this season, scored two goals in the Bulldogs’ most recent Dec. 11 win over Denver. That ended a 13-game goalless streak for him.
Roth, with five goals and seven assists this year, has scored two goals in UMD’s last six games. They both faced Denver on December 11. Bender, with three goals and seven assists this season, has registered one goal and one assist in the last six games.
In an attempt to make that line work offensively, Sandelin tinkered with it at times, replacing Jacques with freshman center Carter Loney at one point. He also tried out Tanner Laderoute senior on the right wing instead of Bender.
Sandelin said the Roth-Jacques-Bender line needs to be a solid line for UMD with his two fifth-year seniors at Roth and Bender and then another veteran at Jacques. If they can score a goal per game or more, that will be good for the Bulldogs, said Sandelin.
“We need this line. If that line is good, we are a better hockey team, ”said Sandelin. “Whether it’s Jesse scoring, Kobe or Koby, they’re guys you count on – it’s not just offensive, but every 200 feet of the ice.
Breaking down the rest of the Bulldogs’ offense
Minnesota forward Duluth Casey Gilling (37) shoots the puck on goal against Minnesota State goalie Dryden McKay (29) on Thursday, December 30, 2021, at the Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center in Mankato. Clint Austin / Dossier / Duluth News Tribune
While the Roth-Jacques-Bender line – ranked second on the nightly line chart – found the back of the net more, other Bulldogs lines and units saw their offensive production drop.
Senior wing lead trio and captain Noah Cates, senior fifth-year transfer Casey Gilling and Laderoute have combined three goals in the last six games. cats, who was invited to play for the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team at the 2022 Olympics in Beijing in February, has one goal and two assists in the last six games. The same is true for Gilling, despite leading the team in the face-off circle, winning 51.3% (60-57) of their draws.
Laderoute, who scored four goals early in the NCHC game in November at Western Michigan, now has one goal and one assist in his last 12 games.
Opposing teams also found a way to slow down what was UMD’s most explosive line offensively to start the season. Junior wing Quinn Olson, first-year center Dominic James and second-year winger Blake Biondi have scored one goal and had two assists in the last five games after combining two goals and four assists on December 3 north of the Michigan. In the last five games, Biondi has a goal and an assist, Olson has an assist and James hasn’t been credited with a point.
Loney has the only fourth-liners committee goal in the last six games, while the Bulldogs defensemen have collected nine assists – but no goals – in the same span. Overall, the UMD has only scored three goals all year from the blue line.
Minnesota forward Duluth Noah Cates (21) shoots the puck on goal against Minnesota State goalie Dryden McKay (29) on Thursday, December 30, 2021 at the Mayo Health System Event Center in Mankato. Clint Austin / Dossier / Duluth News Tribune
The power play is struggling as well, although it has been for most of the season. The UMD is 10 for 65 (15.4%) on the men’s advantage this year, 4 for 33 (12.1%) in the last 11 games and 2 for 16 (12.5%) in the in the last six games.
Led 2-0 against Minnesota State on New Years Day after two periods, UMD had 1:45 power play to start the third period, and another advantage late in the period. UMD came empty on both and were only limited to two shots on goal during the 3:45 with an extra man.
When your team struggles to score and lose in a game, “that’s where the power plays come in,” Sandelin said.
“When you have a power play, you have to take advantage of it,” Sandelin said. “We had at least two opportunities to gain momentum and we didn’t. Then you have to come back to 5-on-5. Maybe we score a power play goal, maybe we get some life. “