So this will be it for another season. UAA takes the ice against the "dreaded" Gophers this weekend then will likely head off to visit those very same Gophers in two weeks. Couldn't ask for a better situation for two weeks from now. UAA will have just played the Gophers and then have a full week to analyze and cogitate on a way to beat what is probably the most talented D-1 hockey team in the country? There are some learning opportunities that could turn into some sort of advantage in the future playoff series. But of course this weekend is a whole nuther story isn't it? The Gophers (14-1-1 in their last 16) are seriously rolling (they just dismantled a fairly decent DU team last weekend) and UAA's primary motivation will be that it's Parent's/Senior's Weekend. What can UAA do? Nothing; seriously. I'll get to that.
The Gophers virtually have it all; the freshman phenom (Kessel); the pure sniper (Potulny); the talented-skater never-say-die on-ice-leader goal-assisting/scorer (Irmen); the steady (enough) been thru it before goaltender (Briggs); the hard-charging Glencross-like power forward (Chucko); the agile-skating offensively minded defensemen (Goligoski and Hagemo); the Senior leadership (Guyer and Harrington); and a project of Wayne Gretzky's (Blake Wheeler) as well as a cast of other talented players. UAA got a pretty nasty dose of all those "headliners" early in the season when the Gophers put a 9 - 0 PASTING on the Seawolves. Yes Yes ... UAA played a respectable game the next night before surrending a two-goal lead in the third.
My main point (this is where I "get to" the nothing part) in all this apparent fit of "dysfunctional gopher-love" is that UAA's only goal this weekend as a team should be to learn what it would take to beat the Gophers in the playoffs. Don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating mailing-in this weekends games. By all means ... the team should play as damned hard as they can. I assume they all will be doing exactly that since their Mom's and Pop's will be in the stands. Kid's do play harder in front of their parents don't they? I mean I'm assuming that they'd like to make a couple of people that have done so much for them proud. Is a guilt-trip motivating? It would have been from my mom. So UAA parents should know they have my permission to motivate their respecitive kids in whatever manner gets the best result. Anyway ... things happen and who knows?? A win could happen. But winning isn't as important as learning this weekend. Study hard coaches ... finals are coming in two weeks and you're getting a look at the test in advance.
The weekly release hasn't come out yet but I'll venture a guess that we won't see either Nathan Lawson or Ales Parez this weekend. I'm waiting to hear how Billy Smith is after the knee to knee contact at CC last weekend. It shouldn't surprise any of us to see Mike Rosett in net this weekend but I'd just about bet on a Saturday start for John DeCaro. He's earned that much respect I'd say. As for UAA's chances I'm prepared to enjoy as many "moments" as the team is capable of providing (hey ... just watching Eric Walsky skating circles around teams is fun even if nothing comes of it). Mad Phat Props to Adam Corrin who I failed to notice broke the points race tie he'd been in with Nathan Lawson. Adam assisted on Eric Walsky's 3rd period goal against CC last Friday night. Since I'd dissed (in jest) him about it in an earlier post I thought I'd be remiss to not aknowledge the accomplishment (is Mad Phat Props an ok "acknowledgement"?).
In any case, I think showing up and making an honest playoff series (i.e. not getting BLOWN OUT) out of it in Minneapolis is more important than any regular season game/series. UAA can do so if they learn the right things from this weekend.