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09-18-2011, 11:30 AM
Join Date: Sep 2007
The Defending National Champs
What a season for The Dogs last year; no one swept them in the regular season and they maintained a consistent level of play that culminated in a title over WCHA killer Michigan. They lose a lot of key components from the title team but there is still reason for hope in the frigid climes of Duluth.
Scoring machines Jack Connolly, and JT Brown are back up front as is sturdy pivot Travis Oleksuk. They'll struggle a bit for scoring on the lower lines but a team built on speed makes good things happen more often than not.
Losing Justin Faulk on the blueline is a blow, for sure, and it seemed losing Dylan Olson mid-season would be disasterous to a title chance and we see how that turned out. It's a bit much to expect the same results as last year but The Dogs are definitely capable of making some noise this year. Brady Lamb and Wade Bergman will serve as good anchors to a fairly young backline. There will be adjustments and a learning curve for the younger guys but they should be decent on defense.
Kenny Reiter and Wisconsin cast off Aaron Crandall give the team a very solid 1-2 in net. Reiter was clutch in the playoffs but he won't have quite the scoring punch in front of him this year. He knows what it takes to win at a higher level and he should be able to win a few of those one goal, uh, dog fights.
The W is not stellar as a whhole this year so even with the subtractions Duluth should be more toward the top of the conference and a playoff team. It will come down to guys stepping up on the scoring and generating offense from the backline. I can see them making the second round of the NCAAs in a best case scenario, worst case scenario sees the team chemistry broken up because of the significant losses ala Wisconsin the year after their championship season (those were the days!)
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