DU comes to town this weekend having experienced a mixed bag of success and failure in the last few weeks. After two tremendously brutal losses in their own tournament to Princeton and Ferris State (yeah ... worse even than losing to Mankato) the Pios split with the St. Cloud St. Fantasies at Magness in Denver and finished up last weekend with an ultra-rare sweep of Wisconsin in BADger land. Unfortunately the 3 in the "w" column came over the last three games.
The Pioneers logo is without a doubt the most heinously ridiculous looking mess in all of NCAA sports. And NCAA officials let them win the NC twice with that logo? I used to think it looked like a jelly doughnut. But not so much to me now .. instead it looks to me like that nursery rhyme with the "4 and 20 blackbirds baked in a pie". I guess that's why they kept the Pie-n-ear name when they changed the logo. Pie is WAY better than cake which is why they probably aren't called the Bundt's (maybe they should be though?). Seriously though ... a black bird coming out of a cherry pie for a team called Pioneers? Or is it a boomerang? If it is a doughnut then I want to know what the hell took a bite out of it?... Chupacabra?
It's been a frequent object of folly and some derision amongst opposition fan bases at USCHO. It's gotten so bad in fact, that the DU fan base there tries to ignore the official school logo and have resurrected the Disney character called "Boone". I bet they're sick of explaining how the school was being sensitive to its female athletes (Pioneettes wasn't working for the chicks) so they had to make the change ...yada yada yada. So what I'm sayin here is that you should ask any DU fan you know or come across about this. Not so you can get the real story; but just so they have to tell it again. We hate DU don't we?
Now about the series. Nothing new this weekend for UAA. The team should know by this point that a fast start is key to success but that you also ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO play the full 60 minutes. What struck me when these teams met earlier in the season was that after getting beaten 5-3 in the first game that there was an apparently palpable feeling throughout the whole UAA team of "we can beat these guys". They did exactly that the next night with one of their better efforts of the season. UAA has to stay out of bad penalty trouble but still play an aggressive checking game. There are hints in recent performances that the power play could contribute to the bottom line this weekend for UAA. Having Shane Lovdahl's cannon back on the point is very useful against goalies that don't always control their rebounds. Pouncing on those rebounds this weekend could very well be the difference. Defensively UAA has to continue its overall excellent play. At this point in the season I give a solid B to the defensive effort of the team (and if I remember right I said D+ to C- at about the halfway point).
Nathan Lawson was named WCHA Co-Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against MTU. Injuries effected his early season; banked with being in net in front of some brutally ugly non-efforts by the skaters in front of him it's starting to truly look like "The Law" is "back on the books" for good. If Nathan can consistently make those sorts of performances (and he IS talented enough to do so) then UAA could make some sort of run through the end of the season. Ok Ok ... and a few other "ifs" would have to be in evidence as well. But it could happen. It could.
I managed to see parts of both games on MTU webcast since GCI's webcast for UAA was completely MIA. I didn't see any evidence that the games were broadcast at all on channel 88. Obviously a feed was available. What the malfunction was this time is anyone's guess and I'm so fed-up with them that to comment any further would just give me a migraine. Wanna guess? Feel free to post your theories in the comments section.
Lastly, there's a couple of USCHO dorks (I mean DU fans) road tripping up here this weekend. I doubt they'll be ballsy enough to wear toga's. In any case, should I not find them first they can find me in the smoking area between the first and second period of Saturday's game. I won't be there Friday. If they'd like to avail themselves of the offer I'll be happy to shuttle them to establishments of the variety I've read they're interested in visiting (as I am somewhat familiar with such places). I do warn them here and now that I'm a $16 an hour guy living a $22 an hour lifestyle and it ain't payday weekend. And oh yeah ... Boone's ridin in the trunk.