Wednesday, September 27, 2006

USNDT vs. UAA Preview

The U.S. National Development Team (USNDT) comes to town for two games at the Sully this weekend. This Friday night they play UAF and Saturday they face UAA. It'll be the first chance to see the "new look" Seawolves in a competitive situation. What? Competitive? Am I high or what? It's just an exhibition game. I'm fairly certain that the UAA coaching staff is approaching this game as nothing other than a chance to shake out lineups, evaluate their players and tune their "systems". However, there is no doubt in my mind that the players won't be taking any shifts off. I played sports. I was involved in "exhibition" games. I didn't play any different than any other game. So what does that mean to a fan? It means that you can ignore the end result and focus instead on being glad to see the kids on the ice playing the game. That's what this weekend is all about. It's the first chance to see the 9 new players. Unless you've been to a practice that is. I took a trip to the sports center yesterday to watch practice. I was still unable to positively identify enough players (the whole helmet numbers thing) to make many definitive statements about much. The one thing I will mention is that Beagle, Clark and Waldrop look like the #1 line to me.

In case you don't know already the U-18 NDT is the premier development team for USA Hockey. Some of the best U.S. born 1989 players are on this team. USA Hockey maintains this elite team as a development step for World Jr's and ultimately the National Team. The team plays a regular NAHL schedule as well as facing a variety of NCAA D-I and D-III teams throughout the year. They recently won the NAHL Showcase last week in Minnesota going 4-0 with total of 25 goals for and 4 against. They faced two other NAHL teams last Friday and Saturday and won both of those games (6-4 and 2-1); so they come to Anchorage undefeated. Their roster is filled with "future stars" according to "established media outlets". Only a few of their players aren't already committed to D-1 schools with most generally choosing the top programs. Both UAF and UAA will be facing a more difficult test than the Canadian U's that are traditionally the usual preseason opponent.

It's a first this weekend for UAF. They'll be playing their first home game at the Sully. Since the USNDTer's probably weren't thrilled with travelling to both Anchorage and Squarebanks in one weekend; someone accomodated them and worked out this arrangement. Don't be surprised if a similar arrangement occurs next year up north and UAA plays it's first home game in UAF's arena. That's just speculation of course but what else can a "blowhard" like me do.

Lastly, I had plans for better content this week but my status as a non-"established media outlet" (i.e... Blowhard) killed that. Hopefully, my resultant nonplussed attitude (which stem's from a very shortsighted label applied to me by the UAA Athletic Department) won't affect too much of the content here. More on all that hoohaw at some point in the future.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

No way, did they seriously 'dis you? And they let "Hack Job" Doyle Woody have the access that he does. Jeez, Heaven Forbid that someone say something positive about UAA hockey, it might not be objective enough. Maybe you should start writing a column for The Press or another small newspaper and get some "real credentials", so that you can get access to the Team.
-dude

Chris said...

Let me try this again with proofreading.

In case anyone is interested in who to watch for from the NTDP, Mike Hoeffel and James van Riemsdyk are potential first round draft picks in the NHL draft next summer. Jimmy Hayes(the big Hayes, not the little Hayes), will probably go in the first round of the draft two years from now.

All of their defenseman are varying degrees of awesome. There isn't really anybody with the pro potential of an Erik or Jack Johnson, but I was very impressed with them as a unit.

Anonymous said...

I sure hope UAA doesn't lose to a bunch of 16 and 17 year olds. That would not be a good start to this year. These kids are the best of our country but still in high school. If UAA can't beat the U-18 team look out when they start WCHA action.

Suze said...

It will be interesting to see how UAA and UAF play against the U-18 team, who has already played several games and are undefeated.

If the U-18 team loses to UAF, they will come out harder against UAA the next night. Should be fun games to watch, win or lose.

Donald said...

Dude,
More to come later on that topic.

Anonymous said...

The wicked witch of UAA says win or lose it should be a great game to watch. There will be major issues if the Seawolves don't beat this team. These kids are not in College yet. Will not be a good sign for WCHA action if there is a lost to the U-18 team.

Donald said...

If UAA or UAF loses to these kids it's no great shame. There'll be some crap given around the internet to UAA supporters. But the facts are that this is an exhibition game and a coaches game-plan for such an event is different than when playing for WCHA points.

Anonymous said...

Good Luck to UAA vs. a glorified Midget AAA team. This might be just what the doctor ordered to get back that winning feeling. BTW - that feeling was last felt Jan 6/06. Keep that 15 game winless streak going!

Donald said...

Anon @ 5:56 from the UAF campus (and I use the term "campus" very liberally):
The team that calls themselves "Alaska" (the one from your horrid little berg) is also playing the same Midget AAA team this weekend so an attempt to demean UAA's opponent (as some sort of disrespect to UAA) is patently ridiculous. Try to hold your water from the "muddy"banks of the Chena for a few weeks until these two rivals actually play against one another. I know it's difficult when there is shit else to do up there.

Anonymous said...

Talked to J. Bourne before class today. he is totally psyched about getting the season on. he also could not stop talking about how good the freshman are this year. looks like a few transfers might be wishing they gave a little bit more patience to Dave. yeah and i unfortunately did spend quite a bit of time in squarebanks this summer and there is nothing to do!!! And Donald thanks for sticking up for me on the western blog i had to vent after i was all glee after talking to J Bourne and then hear cheap shot after cheap shot about our boys so I vented.

Donald said...

LOL.

I'll pretty much always have any UAA's fan's back. For whatever reason bashing UAA because two people gave them some love on a stupid preseason poll is all the rage this week. WCH's blog wasn't the only place I found those sorts of comments. Nor was it the only place I corrected people's misconceptions.

Anonymous said...

There definitely seems to be a LOT of energy surrounding the hockey players and the coaches. It's been a while since there was this kind of comraderie among the players.

The Wicked Witch has spoken.

Anonymous said...

Probably since this program won 4 Playoff games in two years. Let's see if this team can start with 1.

Suze said...

anonymous is showing his/her ignorance. This U-18 team is much more than a bunch of 17 year olds. They are the best of the best, very elite. According to the Fairbanks Miner, "Seventeen players in the NHL Entry Draft in June came from the program, with six chosen in the first round, including No. 1 overall pick, Erik Johnson, who was selected by the St. Louis Blues."

"Twenty-three of its 41 individual games involve NCAA Division I programs."

They wouldn't be playing that many Division I programs if they weren't capable of beating them. In fact, last January the U of Michigan played the U-18 team (and Michigan was #9 in the country at the time), and only one by one goal, 4-3.

Donald said...

Suze:
Anon @ 5:56 ... Because Anon @ 9:10, 1:31 and 4:04 rock!

Anonymous said...

Suze can say what she wants about how good this u-18 program is. You cannot start the season losing to a bunch of high school kids. If you lose to this team what are you going to do against the WCHA which recruits most of these players and the WCHA teams are years older. Losing would be a bad start to the season.

Anonymous said...

so how bout that glorified AAA midget team that just handed it to uaf!!! I laugh at the person sitting at squarebanks campus trying to act cool!!!

Ready for Sat!!!!

Anonymous said...

anon: I was at the game tonight, and watched the AAA midgets take a 5-0 lead over the Nanooks. Yup, the Nanooks finally managed to score late in the 3rd period, but it was too little too late. I guess that new rule about not icing the puck has put a crimp in the Nanooks style - after all, icing the puck is what they do the best.

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