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2014 Final Four Preview Duke vs Denver

Duke is coming into this game straight off a beat down of Hopkins 19-11, although the game was closer than the final score. Hopkins clawed back after the half and kept within 2-3 goals through the start of the 4th quarter. It wasn’t until later in the 4th quarter, Duke scored 5 goals in about 5 and a half minutes to finally break the Jays backs. How did Hopkins stay in the game? The Duke defense/goalies. Hopkins has been susceptible to aggressive defenses all year with a high ratio of turnovers being caused by opponents. Duke was only able to force 5 turnovers from Hopkins…and in net, I have never seen more suckage before in my life. Combined, Kyle Turri and Luke Aaron had 11 goals against and 4 saves. That is a save percentage of 26.7%. I wonder if Vesa Toskala gave a celebrity coaching lesson.

Duke still won due to their sheer firepower. Matheis, Wolf, and Dionne on attack combined for 12 goals, and could have had more but Dionne was injured and taken out of the game. Duke’s attack owed a lot of their goals to movement and initiation by Midfielder Myles Jones who ended up with 3G/4A.

On the year, the Blue Devils are led by Jordan Wolf with 59G/33A; Deemer Class with 33G/27A; Myles Jones with 33G/24A; Josh Dionne with 49G/7A, Chrisitan Walsh with 20G/22A; Case Matheis with 23G/18A; and Kyle Keeenan with 19G/9A.
Kyle Keenan will play a bigger factor, as Duke lost Josh Dionne to an injury. From a numbers point of view, there are still many viable offensive weapons to choose from. As far as leadership goes, yes, Duke losses a leader on the field, but again, there are many on that team just lined up to lead the Blue Devils. One of which is Myles Jones. Myles Jones has been stepping up his game of late. Against Hopkins, on national coverage, he posted a 7 point performance (3G/4A). Myles is Godzilla. A 6 foot 4, 240 pound giant just crushing anyone who opposes him. He is generating offense not only with his shooting, but also with off ball movement and initiating and generating assists.
On Special teams, Duke is doing a good job on both sides of the field. Man-Up, Duke has converted 39% of their opportunities, while on Man-Down, their opponents convert 33%.
One of the stand out stats and if you’ve watched them, you’ll understand. Ground Balls. They have snagged 648 to opponents 489. They hustle and get after every opportunity for possession. Between these added possessions, and their ability at face-offs, these generated possessions help fuel the offense and worry less about their black holes.
In net, Kyle Turri started the season before quickly losing the starting job to Luke Aaron. Turri has a save percentage of 45% on the year. Aaron has it slightly better at 52%, however, he has been in a slump recently posting stats below 50% in 4 of the last 6 games.

Denver isn’t going to blow you away with sickeningly over offensive numbers. Denver isn’t going to wow you with flash. Denver just does it.
The Pioneers also have many players that contribute. Last week against Drexel, instead of Berg, Noble, or Miller, it was Erik Adamson who shined scoring 6 goals and 1 assist on 7 shots. You can hardly get a more perfect game. The Pios’ Man-Up group performed great converting 4 of 8 opportunities. Their defense played tight, and as part of their two-goalie approach, each shared time. Jamie Faus was at 50% (3Saves, 3 Goals Against), and Ryan LaPlante was stellar at 73% (8 Saves, 3 Goals Against). Not much else to take away from this game, as Denver did what they had to and were expected to do.

On the year, Denver has a bunch of sharp shooters (Oh Canada! ).
Wes Berg (42G/18A) and Jack Bobzien (39G/21A) are tied for points. Zach Miller (35G/16A), Erik Adamson (38G/9A), and Jeremy Noble (12G/31A) round out the rest of the top 5. Of note, all but Noble are scoring on 35% of their shots. Miller has 35 goals on 66 shots (53%!!!!). With all of these snipers, it is surprising to see that their Man-Up unit is only at 39% on the year.
In between the lines, Denver is only winning 47% of their Face Offs, and is only marginally better on Gbs than opponents (494-434).
In net, Denver uses a 2-goalie approach. Usually no matter what, they split time evenly. On the year, LaPlante has a save percentage of 58% while Fause is at 55%. Both good numbers, but at this point of the season if LaPlante starts and is at near 60%…I would not switch at the half just to switch.

These two teams have met already early in the season (February 15th). Duke ended up with a 14-10 win. In the game, Duke had the advantage in shots (41 to 30) and GBs (32 to 21). Of note, Denver struggled on clearing (9 of 14), while their defense held Dionne to 1A. In cage for Duke it was Turri with 1 Save/4GA and Aaron with 9Saves/6GA. For Denver, Faus had 6Saves/8GA, and LaPlante had 7Saves/6GA.

So what are the keys to THIS game?
1) No Dionne – For Duke, how will Kyle step up, and will Myles take over leadership? For Denver, how does this affect match-ups? I think this adjusts coverage duties, and at least on close D they breath a little easier.
2) Myles – He is CRUSHING it, and Denver NEEDS to stop him. How…I wish I knew.
3) Goalie play. For Duke…well lets just see if they can save more than 4 shots from the Denver snipers (MUCH better than Hopkins attack). For Denver…IF LaPlante starts and is putting up good numbers, coach Tierney needs to buck his own system and stick with the hot hand.
4) Possession Possession Possession. Duke can score easily, yet they get scored on a lot. So for Duke possession is critical. That is why it helps so much to have a good FO man, and players that show a ton of hustle and GB ability. For Denver, they too have snipers that can score at will. But they might want to think about trying to control things more to keep the ball out of Duke’s hands…keep the total number of possessions low.

This game should be exciting for all young attackmen and offensive middies watching, and the goalies/poles may want to cringe. This should be a high scoring game, that really could go either way.

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