Despite only having senior defenseman Chay Genoway for 9 out of the 39 games played to this point, this year’s D corps have surpassed last year in a number of different areas.
For the entire 2008-2009 season (43 games), Fighting Sioux blueliners scored 13 goals and added 55 assists for 68 points. This year, through 39 games (and with between 2 and 7 games left to play), Sioux defensemen have potted 16 goals and 58 assists for 74 points.
(Genoway’s four goals and six assists are included in this season’s total)
On the defensive side of the ice, this year’s squad is allowing 2.10 goals per game on 23.9 shots.
Last year’s team allowed 2.74 goals per game on 26.9 shots.
Certainly some of this is goaltender Brad Eidness, whose numbers compare as follows:
Freshman year (08-09): 24-12-4, 2.56 GAA, .906 SV%, 1 SO
Sophomore year (09-10): 21-9-4, 2.09 GAA, .914 SV%, 2 SO
It’s taken a while for the other Sioux defensemen to adjust to Genoway’s absence, but this team’s recent stretch of nine victories in ten games is a testament to how well the unit has stepped up, adjusted, and filled roles and minutes that underclassmen typically don’t play in the WCHA.
Another key is that both Joe Gleason and Andrew MacWilliam, although freshmen, have played in all 39 games this season, joining Derrick LaPoint and Ben Blood as the four blueliners who have not missed a start (Jake Marto did not play on March 6th against Michigan Tech).
Another injury note: Joe Gleason (nine assists) is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury and is not expected to play in Thursday’s play-in game versus Minnesota-Duluth. Corey Fienhage, who played 26 games in Genoway’s absence before Brent Davidson took his spot in the lineup for the past 5 games, will be back in against the Bulldogs.
I’m not suggesting that North Dakota is fine without Genoway (and now Gleason), or that the team doesn’t miss his presence in the lineup; this is just a way of looking at an injury/hole in the lineup as someone else’s opportunity to step up.
On the other hand, we can only imagine what Genoway in the lineup for 30 more games may have meant to this team’s record, eventual tournament seed, and chances of winning a national championship.
Thank you for reading. As always, I welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions.