Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Is Houghton Boring or What?

Some weeks writing here is harder than other weeks. There'd be little or no satisfaction in writing this stuff if I couldn't find some way to make it at least minimally appealing or entertaining. Last week it was easy. Fairbanks is target laden for a smart ass like me. But tiny Ho-tun and a school with a great reputation which is dedicated to engineering and technology is pretty challenging to pick on. I don't even have a negative history with their internet fan base to draw on. I've monitored the USCHO weekly thread for any sign of total stupidity on which to blast them. And on that front? Nada. Too bad UAA isn't playing St. Bob. They're even easier than Fairbanks to rip on. So on to the boring analysis of MTU.

After last weeks sweep of #10 Vermont the WCHA's (real) Huskies may be finding some confidence and a new identity. Both of their goaltenders have played well enough that either can probably be counted on to do well. Defensively the Huskies are led by their one marquee player, senior captain Lars Helminen. Offensively, they're not exactly burning up the stats with a 2 goal/per game average so far this season. Coupled with a success rate of 3 goals per every 100 power plays they'd appear to not be a threat to blow anyone out of the rink. Of course it's early and statistics at this point are not necessarily that revealing. The Huskies will be a tough physical opponent on their own rink this weekend. They're young (14 underclassmen) and not small (12 players over 6ft). I expect there'll be lots of hitting since a physical game is part of UAA's game plan.

For success this weekend the Seawolves will need to do the same things that they've been doing. They'll have to put the puck in the net on the power play. The current 22% rate is very respectable but I believe it can be better. The penalty kill is also important and has been a strength in the first 4 games killing off 88.5% of opponents power plays. There's not much doubt in my mind that Coach Shyiak wants the team to play a strong physical game and that the team uses big hits to key their offensive chances. The forecheck has been strong often bottling opponents up. MTU won't have much chance to score if the Seawolves can keep the puck in the Huskies end all night. The mix of offensive contribution from UAA's upperclassmen (Bourne, Waldrop, Kronschnabel) and the youngsters (Beagle, Crowder, Clark, Lunden) is a strength as well. Transitionally the Seawolves have looked great so far this year with virtually every defenseman on the squad being capable of carrying the puck up the ice for positive benefit. And in their own zone the team has played solid by blocking shots and clogging passing lanes; giving their goalies support by allowing them to see the puck and limiting second chances. Lastly, its evident now that both Nathan Lawson and Jon Olthuis are more than capable of keeping the puck out of the net.

There sure seems to be a lot of chemisty and great attitude on this team. While 4 WCHA points this might seem like a tall order, I fervently believe that it's more than just possible. Wouldn't 4-0-2 look pretty nice? Without being able to watch this game on TV (they don't have such things in that part of Michigan) we'll all gladly listen to the WCHA's best radio man Kurt Haider this weekend.


Anonymous said...

Yeah I was on the USCHO blog as well, and realized that these two teams might be the only two in the WCHA that don't have something against the other one. what is wrong with this situation? I want to say we should start something up but I can't against Mich Tech, over the last few years they are like the only team that let us finish ahead of them.

Donald said...

Yeah ... somethings wrong when a muckraking asshole like me can't find some sort of "angle" to bash an opponent with.

As a last resort I thought about making fun of St. Bob but I changed my mind and will save that for the beginning of January. That'll be a fun time for me ... first I'll get to dog FBX and then turn around the next week and tease the Bobbers.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any uneasy feelings about the start of WCHA play? We sure play a better game of hockey than I've seen in the past oh what? 8-10 years. No quit in us so far, and with the cast of players we are signing on don't look for any in the future. One thing to look for IMHO is the second series of games for the GUV cup. In those 8-10 years I mentioned above everytime we play UA FFFFFF
they have improved their game in the time span and we never have. All that's changing I'm afraid for Fairbanks though. Here's to some success against the Yupers. Mike

Donald said...

After last season I'm uneasy about the team losing confidence. They won 5 games in the first half and then completely fell apart.

I have to believe that was a result of disunity on the squad which by all accounts is completely a thing of the past. There isn't a player on the team that's said anything to the press that didn't include comments about how good the attitude is. So my uneasiness would be that if the team takes a couple of knocks in conference play (and that WILL happen at some point) will they lose confidence or belief in themselves?

I really believe that the potential is there to make this not only a successful season in terms of having a winning record but that it could turn into something special. But it's all about the mindset. I pray they won't lose the proper mindset. Will can defeat skill ... but UAA has more than just willingness this year. They have skill. And will + skill should be a powerful combination.

Jimjamesak said...

Well when the only team you've had at your level is Tech it's hard to hate them. Plus MeanEgirl being cool doesn't hurt.

MeanEgirl said...

I love UAA and their fanbase. I don't think I could ever bring myself to be mean to you guys.

The 9-0 win was way flukey. Should've been much closer than it was. It's just been a completely bizarre night.

Btw, my verifcation word is "cunzt."

Donald said...

lol ... i swear sometimes those words are spooky ...

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