Monday, February 20, 2006

My Thanks to Seniors

This weekend's series vs. the Gophers is the last two times UAA fans will see the Senior class skate at the Sully. John DeCaro, Justin Johnson, Spence Gilchrist, Brent McMann, Ales Parez, and Daron Underwood comprise that class. Unfortunately it looks as if Ales Parez won't be on his skates due to his injured shoulder. Each one of these players has contributed something worthwhile during their 4 year careers at UAA.

Daron Underwood (#13) D
Daron's contribution to the scoring line was never as important as his physical play on the blueline. Often the 7th or 8th man on the defensive roster Daron shined as a freshman making the most of his chance to play by delivering huge hits consistently enough to warrant nicknames like THUnderwood, and Undertaker. The physical play we saw from Daron as a freshman wasn't as frequently noticed during his sophmore and junior seasons but he did provide a solid steady defensive presence on the blueline whenever he was asked to play. Thanks Daron. Best of luck with all your efforts in the future be they hockey-related or not. You'll be missed.

Spence Gilchrist (#11) D
Spence is another defenseman for UAA that has toiled with less than a spotlight shining on him. His 8 assists this season added to career totals of 2 goals and 14 assists boost his total points at UAA to 24. As a Senior Spence is seeing a fair amount of Power Play time for the first time in his career. His experience and leadership have been important assets for UAA this season.

John DeCaro (#1) G
John began his career at Ferris St. before transferring to UAA. Since arriving he has primarily been a backup to Nathan Lawson but has a few tremendous highlights that any D-1 goaltender would like on his resume. Without a doubt his 108 saves in the Minnesota series will long be remembered not only by UAA fans but by Gopher fans as well. He was basically a wall that weekend as UAA stole 3 out of 4 points. I'll also remember him skating onto the ice in Nathan Lawson gear (jersey included with tape across the numbers) to back up walk-on Mike Rosett after Lawson went down with a knee injury. The birth of his first baby in Anchorage will always give him ties here and I hope he is one of the many former UAA players that choose to make Anchorage their home and contribute to youth hockey as coaches. Best of luck Johnny D with any and all your future efforts. We'll miss you.

Brent McMann (#94) F
Many UAA fans thought and hoped that Brent would score a few more goals during his career at UAA. If there ever was a kid that was truly snakebit then Brent would come close to being that kid. He's hit an awful lot of iron and been robbed by goalies standing on their heads more than any UAA player that I can ever remember. In his sophmore and junior seasons Brent grew into a very effective penalty killer alongside Justin Johnson. Ice time though this year hasn't been as frequent for Brent but whenever he's played he's often been one of the better players on the ice through his effort. We'll miss you Brent. Thank you very much and of course much success in your future.

Ales Parez (#10) F
Ales is the last of the Czech players to finish their career at UAA. In years to come when I think of Ales I'll imagine him behind the net distributing the puck. Whether on the power play or full strength Ales was always at his most effective south of the goal line. Ales has always played hard and I've always been struck by the side of his play where he gets in an opponents face. Ales's struggles with injuries have limited his production but I'll always remember him as a very talented player. As with everyone that stays in school for 4 years and gives their best on the ice representing the school Ales should be thanked graciously. I hope this snippet suffices and wish Ales nothing but good luck in the future.

Justin Johnson (#49)
J.J. will be sorely missed. His unending energy and punishing physical play might not be missed by opponents but UAA fans will miss J.J. In my estimation he is exactly what every UAA player should look to as a role model. I'm glad that this season he has had a couple of very nice highlight-style games/goals to add to the innumerable contributions over the last four years that come from a guy that simply doesn't have an off switch. He plays hard from the first second of the game to the last and always plays with Seawolf pride. He is the embodiment of what a UAA hockey player ought to be. J.J. is "The Man". I'll be brushing aside a tear or two this weekend.

Hundreds of other D-1 players toil in near total anonymity getting little or no scholarship money but showing up for practice and standing ready to play whenever asked by their coaches. Without kids like these making personal committments to their teams (without any chance at glory) and donating their blood and sweat to the effort; D-1 hockey would be lessened in my eyes.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very nice

I hope fans of every hockey team take time to recognise their players like this.

Good job

Anonymous said...

Ditto on the very nice...

These young men do an incredible job of balancing the demands of school and the most demanding travel schedule of any college team in North America. They represent the school with pride and class.

Hats off to the seniors. Thanks for everything.

Donald said...

And I'm very appreciative for the kudos. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Not in the 18 years I've seen these kids come and go, have I read such a moving tribute. Finally someone knows HOW to say it! Thanks DTP!

Thanks Seniors! You will be missed, as each and every one of you always are, you're all special in so many ways!

Go Seawolves
GatorGirl

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your kind words...the paragraph you wrote about my son brought me to tears...and by the way I was in tears when my son left the ice on Saturday. A couple of the Blueliners told me they would try to find you for me last night at the game so I could thank you in person--but I guess they could not locate you.

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