It’s now or never for the Bulldogs this season.
Despite sitting at a 7-20-2 record on the season, the Bulldogs sit ninth in the WCHA conference standings, only three points behind the University of Alaska Anchorage for the eighth spot in the standings. Why is that important? Because the WCHA conference tournament takes only the top eight teams in the conference.
Safe to say, the pressure is on if the Bulldogs want to make some noise in the postseason. One mistake could force them to miss the action for the second season in a row.
With this past weekend a bye week for the Bulldogs to catch their breath, there wasn’t a hint of panic for the team. Senior forward Dominic Lutz described the team’s feeling heading into the final stretch of the season.
“I feel like everyone’s feeling pretty good at the moment. While we’re not in the best position we could be in, it’s certainly not the worst. We feel like we’ve been playing pretty well and believe we can make the playoffs down the stretch,” Lutz said.
This was reiterated by junior forward Coale Norris.
“I think the past few weekends we’ve been playing really good hockey,” Norris said. “We’ve come out the past three weekends and have pretty much shown we can play with anyone. While the games haven’t gone our way as much, we’re feeling pretty good about where we’re at.”
The schedule ahead of them is tough, but not impossible. Currently, all three of the final opponents for the Bulldogs this season sit outside the top 25. With four games at home and the other two at Bowling Green, the schedule lacks the grueling intensity that has plagued the team this season.
Alaska Anchorage has two non-conference games before closing out the season against ranked Bemidji State and University of Alaska (Fairbanks).
If the Bulldogs make the playoffs, they will be playing defending conference champions Minnesota State, the number three ranked team in the country, and a team that swept the Bulldogs earlier in the season 5-0 and 5-1. Lutz was confident the team could pull a surprise against the Mavericks.
“I feel like once you get into the playoffs anything can happen, I feel like we’ve always played pretty well at Minnesota State, I don’t know if it’s the atmosphere there or what. Either way, once you get into the playoffs it’s survive and advance.” Lutz said.
If the Bulldogs want to make an attempt toward, and during, the playoffs, both their offensive goal output and their defensive outputs need to improve, as the Bulldogs rank eighth in the conference in both goals for and goals against.
The Bulldogs will make their run to the playoffs this weekend against the Huskies of Michigan Tech. The Bulldogs competed at Michigan Tech three weeks ago and split the weekend 1-1. This duo of games will be at home in Ewigleben Ice Arena at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14 and 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15.