Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Junior Class

Luke Beaverson, Merit Waldrop, Chris Tarkir, Blair Tassone, Peter Cartwright and Nathan Lawson make up the junior class for the Seawolves this season. These six players must also find a way this season to turn their experience and leadership on the ice into an asset for the team. This blogger agrees with Don Lucia when he pointed out that the WCHA is an upperclassman's league. But there are knowns and unknowns with this part of UAA's upper two classes.

I know Nathan Lawson is the most talented goalie in the WCHA. But will injuries hamper his performance? Last year was an up and down year. Word is that he worked out and played much more hockey this offseason than last. I'd tend to think that would mean less groin problems this season. Nathan didn't get a lot of help from UAA's offense last year and that showed in his win/loss percentage. But his save percentage was not remarkably different from his stellar freshman year. What I'm trying to say is that I think the kid can play better than he played last year but that in no way does he bear any more than 1/25th of the blame for the near nightmare we experienced. He is capable though of carrying this team and if he can stand on his head a few times (especially early in the season) while the offense finds it's footing then UAA could climb out of the basement.

I know Merit Waldrop will score more goals this year than he did last season. I just don't know how many more. 5 goals as a rookie; 7 goals last year ... equals how many this season. I wish there was a formula. Statistically, I'd guess that 10 or 11 would be the number we might normally "expect". But it's not what I expect. I expect nothing less than 15 goals from Merit this season. Why do I say that? Because he is talented enough to produce 20+. He has some speed, lots of grit and great hands. His puckhandling skills are top of the line; he has a wickedly accurate wrist shot and his experience in the league will allow him to maximize his potential this season.

Chris Tarkir comes back as the teams leading returning goal scorer. His 8 goals last year led the team and his 14 points ranked him second overall. There is every indication that Chris should be among the top in points again this season. He is very strong on his skates and I'd define him as a prototypical D-1 power forward. His strength allows him to fill a playmaking role from the boards as well as to get into scoring position in the slot. As a freshman I was reminded of Curtis Glencross when I watched Chris play. He is the sort of player that always seems to be accelerating into the offensive zone and I always like a guy that is hard-charging. 15 goals isn't out of his reach but he'll have to find a playmaker to skate with in order for that to come true.

Over his first two years Luke Beaverson has grown into a fully capable WCHA defenseman. In his first year Luke provided fans with big hits and generally good position defensive play. He was very steady for a rookie and as the year concluded he was beginning to play with good confidence. Over the course of his sophmore year Luke continued that development and added a surprising ability to carry the puck up ice as well. There are a couple of other guys in the WCHA at 6'5" that can skate better than Luke. But only a couple. I anticipate that he will continue his growth though his junior year and perhaps end up Captain in 07-08. I don't see him putting up big points (though he could be a power play asset) but his stay at home defensive play will be very important for the success of the team.

Peter Cartwright and Blair Tassone both spent almost all their ice time in their first two seasons skating on the 4th line. Both are capable enough players to create a scoring chance on their own from time to time. But even with their returning experience they're likely to find themselves competing for playing time even as juniors. It's possible for either or both of these guys to step up and make a quality contribution but more likely they'll continue to fill the important roles they've already filled. Guys like Peter and Blair are important to success. Injuries are invetible and having experienced capable players is necessary. Neither of these guys should be overlooked.

This junior class will have to carry their fair share of the load this coming season. Will they? I think they're capable of doing exactly that and possibly more. And after last season's unfortunate offensive implosion that'll be good news.


Anonymous said...

When I was commenting on your last entry I completely forgot about Chris Tarkir. This kid shows flashes of someone when that can get to the net and do the dirty things to score goals. Than he disapears for stretches of time. Show up consistantly Chris and you can score 25+ pts this year. He has the size and enough speed to be this kind of guy for the Wolves.

Donald said...

Tarkir is a legitimate scorer. He and Waldrop should defintely be two of the biggest offensive contributors this year.

Anonymous said...

are you going to be writing about the sophomore and freshman classes?? if so when do you think they will be out...

Donald said...

I should finish the sophmore article by the end of this week and a freshman preview the week after that. The next few weeks at work look to be a bit busy but I'm sure I'll fit it in.

Suze said...

Nice job Drop The Puck, as always.

Just wanted to add that last year UAA had way too many games when they were outshot 2 to 1. UAA really didn't have a good defensive coach, but Campbell Blair should change things quite a bit.

Anonymous said...

Being outshot just isn't about your defense, it's about your offense being able to control the puck and have some sustained scoring oppportunities. Having the talent to control and manage the puck is something UAA has lacked. I just hope that we have gained more talent we lost this coming season, and we see more puck control from this bunch of guys. Otherwise I'd look at being outshot by the 2-1 margin more often than not.

Rabib said...

Lawson the most talented goalie in the WCHA?
Do the names Elliott and Goepfert mean anything to you?

Donald said...

In the interest of simplicity:



Rabib said...

Gee...such a shocking response from a severe troll boy.

Donald said...

Fuck off.

The word verification string for this post was "hmbdyke"

You can't make shit that like up.

Rabib said...

Another gay joke? My my my, such originality. Whatever will I do against the likes of a masterful toad sucking troll like you.

Donald said...

How about not visiting and commenting here? That'd be a good start.

"severe troll boy"??
"toad sucking troll"??

Go buy a copy of "Adjectives For Dummies".

Anonymous said...

We shall soon see Steve Cobb out as A.D. at UAA.

Anonymous said...

Cobb out? Give me a break, I may not truely like some of the things he has done, but who (of the powers that be) has deemed him not worthy of being AD anymore?
Talk about trolls, you come on DTP's blog, anonymously, don't state who you are, and stir up all of this crap. Go away, stay away, and keep your stupid unsubstaniated comments to yourself.

Donald said...

The anon-person that keeps making the Cobb comments is from Anchorage.

I'll have the sophmore class post on here late tonight.

Can I suggest some other places for you to go on the Internet? It's a pretty big place and has lots of cool stuff. is a cool place for space cadets.

Rabib said...

Its a free country there DTP, so I can read and comment on this blog if I see fit to. It's not my fault your head is so far up your own ass you'd need a window in your chest to see where you are going.

Donald said...

Rabid and Drooling,
You asked two questions. You got two answers. Then you come back and with your out of context adjectives in a miserably conceived and ill-advised attempt to insult me?

I suggested you stop visting and commenting here. It was a reasonably polite suggestion considering how rude and obnoxious I can be.

Choices always have consequences.

Rabib said...

And your comment on Goepfert meaning nothing to you was nothing more than your lame attempt at taking a shot at SCSU which has become so tired and so predictable that it borders on the writing of most broadcast sit-coms.

What exactly can you do that I haven't already seen you do and fail miserably at? You have no ammo, you have nothing that you can say or do that is going to mean anything so go ahead and try anything. I'll be glad to what crap you come up with this time. And I'll be equally glad to see you finally banned from USCHO by the end of this season.

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