Given the way each team has played early in the season, I expected Bellarmine to come out with the win. The level to which the Knights smothered Detroit, however, was surprising (and, for UDM partisans, a little depressing).
From the official box score, a look at the tempo-free stats:
|Faceoff Wins||9||Faceoff Wins||9|
|Offensive Efficiency||.108||Offensive Efficiency||.227|
The faceoff battle was even (about in line with what I predicted, though I thought maybe a slight edge to Bellarmine), but the clear/ride game gave Bellarmine a substantial possession edge. Not only did they have more attempts, they converted them much better than UDM.
As for what the teams did with those possessions… yeesh. Detroit’s offense was in a cave (albeit without a key piece and against a good defense). The UDM defense performed well enough to win, but didn’t get much help.
On the faceoffs: redshirt freshman Damien Hicks outplayed any expectations, winning 8-of-13. Brandon Davenport went 1/2 and Ryan Tarzia 0-fer in three attempts. Tyler Corcoran was apparently unavailable, but knowing that Hicks is rounding into form is a good thing. Multiple options will provide this team more answers if something (for whatever reason) isn’t working in a particular game. There’s a certain element of randomness (also who you face: Steven Soriano was 8/13 for BU), but it’s clear that this UDM team will no longer be crushed on faceoffs.
Defensively, Chris Kelly got the start between the pipes. He saved 14 while allowing 10 goals, not a bad performance. On the video stream (though it was pretty zoomed out on some possessions), he looked very solid. Not sure if there’s an injury issue, UDM simply going with a rotation, or some other factor at play, but there are clearly two capable goalies. Still, I give the edge to Levell assuming he’s available.
The Titans’ defense caused only seven turnovers in 44 opponent possessions. That CT rate seemd to be dropping like a stone… but the defense isn’t performing worse overall. Maybe turning the pressure back up will help generate fast-break opportunities and a boost to an offense that clearly needs it?
The offense. I guess I’ll talk about it. I guess I have to. Positives: Four assists on four goals. With the team’s top offensive talent (Shayne Adams) out nursing an injury, that the scheme generated most of the offense is nice. On the other hand, it would be even better to have a couple guys win one-on-one battles, in addition to generated offense.
Alex Maini, coming off a career-high five goals, notched just a solo assist (he also took five shots, three of them on net). The consistency level to the offense – you’d expect Maini to be the one carrying the load with his fellow leading scorer Adams out – is just not there. Bellarmine has a very good defense, but there has to be something more than this out of the UDM offense.
Other problems: turnovers. The six failed clears obviously encompass that, but 21 turnovers (nine of them unforced) in 37 possessions is really bad. Well over half UDM’s chances with the ball ended with its being taken (or given) away.
Bellarmine had a couple nice performances. Goalie Dillon Ward saved 18 of 22 shots on goal (casual .818 save percentage), an outstanding day. Though many of the attempts were easy saves, he still made them.
Attackmen Lance Robinson and Cameron Gardner potted three goals each, with Robinson also adding an assist. Midfielder Karsen Leung was a catalyst for the Knights’ offense, contributing four total assists.
In the end, the difference between the two teams wasn’t so much about the number of opportunities created (there was a two-shot difference, same with shots on goal), but quality of opportunities created. Bellarmine is proving itself to be a very stout defense, Detroit has proven itself to be a pretty poor offense. No matter what happens on the other end of the field, that’s the tale of the game.
Welp. Now comes the actual conference opener (I got one step ahead of myself when I proclaimed it conference opener time after the Quinnipiac game). UDM heads to Marist Saturday. The Titans split with the Red Foxes last year, losing in the MAAC Championships.
At this point, it’s clear that UDM has gotten significantly worse on offense – the losses of Joel Matthews, Scott Harris, and Tim Lehto will apparently do that to ya – and Marist is a pretty tall task (despite the season split in 2012). Unless things take a dramatic turn for the better on offense, or the defense goes from solid to absolutely lockdown, it could be a loooong season on 6 Mile.