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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

For What It's Worth: 05-06 Awards

Since the regular season is done I thought I'd take a few moments of everyone's time to hand out my awards to the players.

Rookie of the Year:
There's little doubt in my mind that the best freshman player(s) during this season have been Jay Beagle and Billy Smith (I couldn't pick between them so its "kiss yer sister" for this award). As is the case with almost every rookie in the WCHA it took some time for Jay to adapt to the D-1 game but he's shown in the second half of the season that in the future he could become an impact player on the team. I think Billy Smith though hit the ice running and throughout the season showed us all what he is capable of doing over the next three years. He's got quality skills with the puck on his stick and can really wheel about on his skates; in time we should see him become a dependable scorer. I'm heartened by the play of all the freshman. Shane Lovdahl has shown us his rocket of a shot on the Power Play. Mat Robinson really sees the ice well and along with his skating ability could begin next year to put up numbers. His passing is excellent. Adam Corrin contributed nicely on the penalty kill for much of the year with his quick feet and hands. And I think that Matt Jolly may well earn much more ice time next season. When he's been able to crack the lineup he's played with energy and played well enough to create scoring chances.

Most Improved Player:
With Chris Tarkir being the leading scorer as a sophmore it's awfully damn hard to ignore him as most improved but I've been struck throughout the year with the very steady, very solid play of Luke Beaverson. He makes few mistakes in his own zone and under Shyiak this year we've seen a Luke that can find another gear and carry the puck. I've also noticed that he plays with emotion at appropriate times (ie... getting in someones face when necessary). His physical play in the defensive zone has been excellent. Like I said in my last entry; I think we'll see bigger and better things from him in the next couple of years. I hope so 'cause I like yelling "Luuuuuuuke".

Heart And Soul:
This award goes to the player that best personifies the metaphor of "leaving it all out on the ice". By the end of the 03-04 season every UAA fan could easily see that Curtis Glencross was THE heart and soul of UAA's team. When he took the ice often the tenor of a whole game could change and Curtis did that with nothing but his pure will. He is the inspiration for this award and without thought to any other player I have to say that Justin Johnson is fully qualified. How many different ways can I praise JJ for his play? He never quits. He is usually effective (regardless of the situation). He's been one of the great UAA penalty killing forwards in a class alongside ex-players like Brian Kraft. JJ is just so physically intense ... I stand by my comparison of him with Chicago Bears middle-linebacker Mike Singletary.

Most Valuable Player:
If I'd been writing this blog two years ago Curtis Glencross would have gotten this award hands down. Last year I would have probably made it a tie between Nathan Lawson and Martin Stuchlik. This year though the award goes to nobody. Because nobody has been the MVP. This isn't intended as a "slam" to the team. It's just clear in my mind that nobody has stood out. I'm enamored with the play of several guys but the lack of production across the board negates anyone being eligible for MVP. An MVP should have numbers.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Weekend Wrap-Up

So that's how it ends ... again. For the past few years UAA's regular season was puncuated at both ends by a series with UAF. Normally this it'd be the time where we'd come back to UAF taunts of "we've got the cup" with a "who cares about the cup?" in response. This year we got to do that in January though; I'm not sure which would be better. Now we've all got to sit around for two weeks waiting to see whether or not UAA will go out with some style in the WCHA playoffs. I learned this weekend that if Minnesota isn't unbeatable they sure are damn close to it.

Friday night UAA finally played another one of those games where not only did they get a great game from the goalie but gave him some goal support. If John DeCaro hadn't come up big for UAA in the first period it could have easily been 3-0. While UAA did have a few quality chances and some occassional territorial advantages the Gophers had extended tilts in UAA's zone that resulted in multiple quality chances. DeCaro really stood tall playing probably his best period of hockey this season making 39 saves on 43 shots. Overall the team had energy and skated well at both ends of the ice with the #1 team in the country. Thats all good. Saturday night? It was a completely different game. I'd guess the number of odd man rushes given up Friday night was a primary concern for Coach Shyiak and so UAA played very a very conservative "block the lanes" game and hence held UofM to 32 shots. Nothing wrong with that as a strategy but tactically it killed the UAA offense. 10 shots for the game with only 2 or 3 legitimate scoring chances? I heard a number of fans saying that they didn't think the players put much effort into the game but I disagree. I don't have a stat but I saw a helluva lot more shots blocked by UAA players on Saturday than on Friday. That sort of defensive effort (coupled with Minnesota's awesome puck possession game) too often ended with leg weary UAA players struggling to get a shift change and therefore unable to even begin to generate anything at the other end. My conclusion? We played a more uptempo style and lost 4-3. I think the coaching staff has two very different games to look at and that's a good thing.

Other More Random Thoughts:
Jay Beagle deserves a huge mention for his play this weekend. He singlehandedly killed off nearly half a Gopher power play in their end in the corner by himself. It was definitely a nice highlight moment and I hope the players noted the crowd's response to his effort. Though these past few seasons have seen dwindling attendance the core group that regularly attend are very knowledgeable hockey fans and properly respect such an awesome effort. J.J. will always have a good story (knocking an opponent through the glass ... sweet!) to tell about his last game at the Sully in a UAA uniform. He went out with style and the usual 120 percent effort we've ALWAYS seen from him. I'd struggle to remember ANY player in UAA history that worked harder game in and game out than Justin. Maybe he's got a couple more highlights left in him in a couple of weeks? Who knows? He looked real confident handling the puck this weekend; he's so strong on his skates that he's been having more and more scoring chances. I also thought Luke Beaverson played another real strong game Friday night. I assume he was a healthy scratch Saturday so that Underwood could finish out his career on home ice (who played well both nights with some big hits ... WTG Daron!). Luke has really become a mature WCHA quality defenseman in my book this season. If he continues to improve at the rate we've seen this year then we're all in for a real treat the next two years. Lastly I'd be remiss if I didn't say something about the play of Eric Walsky. I've heard and read people begging Eric to shoot the puck and/or labeling him as a puck hog. I just think the guy is such an ingrained set-up player that UAA needs to find a scorer that can establish some sort of rhythm with him. Who? Maybe Tarkir would be a good fit. I've likened Tarkir's style to Curtis Glencross's. Glencross's hard charging style greatly benefitted from Fournier's "set-up" game. Either all that or ... Eric ... take some shots please.

Can we all just agree to agree that the DEFENSE .. stomp stomp .. DEFENSE chant has got to go?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bye Bye Regular Season

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.

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.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

CC Sweeps UAA

I hate saying squirrelly stuff like "UAA has consistently acheived inconsistency this season" because it just sounds trite. But that characteristic sure seemed to be on display again this weekend. In the paper on Saturday Coach Shyiak said that he thought UAA had been the better team on the ice for 2 periods on Friday night. Then on the radio during the post game interview Asst. Coach Kowal described the Saturday game as one of the most lackluster performances of the year. There's now zero doubt in my mind that some greater power has flown over the School and sprayed it with heavy mist of "schizoprenia". UAA is Jekyll and Hyde ... oops another trite phrase. But it's undeniably the case. We've seen it game in and game out win or lose.

Over the last few weeks of this season we're all getting to witness a nice story. Mike Rosett, the walk-on goalie who last played hockey two years ago in a BC Jr. B league has seemingly become the #1 goalie. Since coming on to relieve an injured Lawson, Rosie has become more and more steady. Shyiak said that "he just needed a cup of confidence" and that sure seems to have happened. CC fan's were overwhelmingly complimentary of Rosie's performance saying that Saturday's result could have been a blowout without his stellar play. This is all awesome for the kid. For UAA fans it certainly has to be the feel good story of the season. The shame of it though is that the team hasn't played well enough in front of him to get him that first win.

When reading Shyiak's comments in the ADN about Saturday's game I was reminded of earlier in the season when Shyiak was saying the team was really "x" number of wins better than their record. I certainly don't disagree but now instead of being dismayed by the cause I think I have some sort of partial explanation. It's the Coach. Actually it's the Ex-Coach/New Coach dynamics that are a big part of the reason. Our current batch of upperclassmen had only ever played D1 hockey for John Hill. By no means am I saying anything negative about those senior and junior players because their expectations at the end of last season had to be that they'd be coming back to the same situation with the same coach. I really thought that the team would get a nice "bump" from the change much like what happened when Talafous left and Hill came in. The difference here though is there were very few players I suspect that "liked" Talafous and ANY coach coming in would have had that sort of positive effect. But there's little doubt in my mind now that there were more than a couple kids that genuinely liked playing for Hill. And no matter how great a relationship Shyiak has with his team (and everything I hear is good) there is still going to effects from the change that can't be expected. This is just the way things work I guess. There isn't much to do for it except to wait for Dave Shyiak to get his players into his system.

Next weekend bring the Gophers to town for the last regular season games of the year. It's a weekend to pay tribute to Seniors and it's Parent's Weekend. I'll have a couple more entries in the next few days.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Goin to "The Springs"

Does a town in Colorado really have to be named "Colorado" Springs?

Having started this entry twice then deleting the incomplete crappy stuff I'd written has taught me something. This series is pretty straightforward. CC needs a sweep. That's the primary factor that will affect these games in my almost never humble opinion. They certainly should be motivated to play. They have a lot at stake. To lose a game against UAA will almost certainly cause a drop in their currently comfortable RPI Ranking of #5. Though CC barely has a .500 WCHA record and is in 5th place; their out of conference record is nearly spotless having beaten quality opponents like Maine, Michigan, Michigan State, and BU while splitting with Ohio State and losing once to UMass. But in their last 8 WCHA games they've only managed 2 wins.

Missing this weekend from the CC lineup will be Senior Aaron Slattengen who was dismissed from the team and school for unspecified academic related reasons. The relevance here though is that Slattengren had scored 10 goals so far this season. I doubt the CC team is biting their fingernails in a fit of "oh no what are we gonna do?" anxiety; so any sort of after effects of the dismissal likely will not be evident. It's not a HUGE loss offensively as Slattengren was tied for 4th on the team in goals. No doubt he was someone that could contribute offensively and as a Senior was probably a leader but CC is laden with 14 other upperclassmen to fill whatever leadership void his departure creates. What does all that mean to UAA? Nothing that I can think of since the whole thing is likely to have almost zero effect for this weekend.

UAA's Press Release for this series lists Nathan Lawson and Ales Parez as out for the weekend. Shea Hamilton was not listed. He wasn't listed as injured for the last series at SCSU but he didn't play either night that I saw. So was he in the doghouse? Will he play this weekend? I hate to speculate here but "if" Shyiak had Shea sitting then I hope it worked and Hams comes out and puts on a goal scoring clinic. "If" Shyiak didn't sit him then I hope that someone will (please) be more careful on the weekly release. It's possible I suppose that Hamilton played and I missed it due to the incredibly piss poor SCSU broadcast team: Who were too busy pumping up their miniscule puds with overreaching fantasies of SCSU greatness to actually say a UAA players name. There seems to be a crapload of people getting paid in WCHA cities to announce hockey professionally that could benefit from listening just once to Kurt Haider. Apparently these SCSU turds are too lazy to do a half an hours homework before a game and learn the other teams names and numbers? You rule Kurt.

So what does UAA have to do this weekend to get points? They'll have to get some of the infamous "puck-luck". Is there really any point in saying they'll have to play the full 60 minutes. Isn't it redundant to say they'll have to be responsible in their end which means give the goaltender support by blocking shots. Should I repeat what I've said in every other preview? I do think that having nothing to play for should be UAA's biggest asset this weekend. If the guys just give it a good effort this weekend (for prides sake) and enjoys the fact that they're playing D-1 hockey on the road in the WCHA then I'll be satisfied.

So that's a whole lotta nuthin in the end when the facts are that CC needs a sweep and UAA has only pride to play for.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Last of My Hopes

I'm not totally hopeless even though the season is pretty much in the toilet. Here's what I hope for the rest of the season:

I hope everyone in the Senior class gets to skate as many shifts as they want. Parez (if he can get back from the injury), Gilchrist, McMann, J.J. and Underwood have ALL earned the right to finish out the season playing the game for the school where they've spent the last four years.

I hope John DeCaro isn't soo busy enjoying his new family that he doesn't get the opportunity to cherish his last few games and I hope he plays every minute of the remaining regular season.

I hope Shyiak changes the lines around as much as he'd like.

I hope he sends Luke Beaverson out as a Center on the Power Play.

I hope Adam Corrin can move out of the neck and neck points race he has going with Nathan Lawson (both 0g-1a).

I hope Lawson can return for the playoffs.

I hope EVERYONE that follows UAA hockey turns up at the Sully for the last series to send the Seniors off with a well-earned ovation.

(For whatever its worth at this point) I'll supply some sort of CC/UAA preview in the next couple of days.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Off-Week All Around

I took a week off. What was there to say after St. Cloud handed UAA their asses? Other than Mike Rosett playing solid for 5 periods there was nary a highlight. There's one road series left (CC) and one home series (Gophers) then it's off to the home rink of this years McNaughton Cup winner for the playoffs and barring any ridiculously heroic effort from the team, that'll be the end of the season. The most positive thing that the Seawolves will likely accomplish during the remainder of the season is to be a thorn in the side of somebody's PWR ranking because our's is so low. And there's very little real satisfaction in that.

I caught some flack from the SCSU fan base for revealing that their coach was playing the trap. Apparently some numbnuts with his nancy-panties in a bunch even emailed Motzko asking if it was true. His response? Whaddya think he said? "Sure we play the trap"? LOL. No. He said "We don't play the trap. I'd quit hockey before I play the trap." Yeah ok. Whatever coach. Motzko is going to deny it fully because playing the trap has such a negative connotation. Mike Eaves calls it playing "positional defense". Motzko's PR experience has prior to now been watching Lucia talk. If tDonnie doesn't like the question he deflects and/or denies.

Lemme be very clear here. First: I know exactly what a trap is; I was a Devils fan until I quit watching the NHL in 01 and Dean Talafous used the trap at UAA for a couple of seasons; so I have plenty of experience watching that scheme. Second: I don't write things that I haven't considered carefully. I watched the GCI archived UAA/SCSU games. I could easily watch them again and provide timestamps for evidence but I won't because I was/am right. Playing a trap isn't necessarily some all encompassing defensive scheme that you'll see a team use for the entire game. It is a defensive method that comes into play depending on the circumstances of the game. Anyone that takes the time to look at SCSU tape will find them lined up in a neutral-zone trap whenever the score is close and the opposition has the puck behind their own net prior to breaking out. Watch where the puck goes and see how the SCSU forwards stationed at the other teams blueline react to the puck. Watch where the single forechecking SCSU forward goes and how the SCSU defensive pairing reacts. Once you watch several similar breakouts you too will be able to spot a trap at work. It isn't difficult. You won't see this in every breakout situation as there are other dynamics of the game that affect a teams ability to set up. Nuff said.

Isn't Bob something you do for apples? Or something you do to a Boxer's tail?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Seawolves vs. Huskies Preview

What can we expect to see this weekend? Better yet can we expect to see anything on TV this weekend or will we be relegated to an aural experience only? There’s been no positive indication either in the local paper or on the GCI website or in the schools weekly press release. So that’s the first question I don’t have an answer to.

The second question I can’t fully answer yet is whether or not Coach Shyiak will be prepared for the Trap employed by SCSU? The “Eaves-variation” (once known as the TalafousTrap) has found another home in the WCHA and coupled with a highly motivated (rumor has him leaving SCSU after this season for a professional contract) season-long performance from goalie Bobby Goepfert the Huskies have begun to make noise in the league. They could begin to make even more league noise if they sweep UAA this weekend. Coach Motzko must therefore be applauded by the home fans for co-opting the Badgers defensive scheme and making it work pretty well in low rent central Minisoduh. The rest of us though think the trap is boring.

The third question I can’t answer this week is ... Will UAA’s efforts to get some WCHA points be fruitful? Will there be a full effort both nights? Will the same UAA team show up both nights? Will everyone give 60 minutes of effort? Will the wheels come off the bus entirely? Ok .. so that was five questions that I couldn’t answer … (though only a small percentage of the total unknowns regarding how UAA will play).

Goalie Bobby Goepfert is having an eye-popping season coming up with game saving efforts nearly every weekend. When St. Cloud visited UAA earlier this year he stood on his head after the Huskies got three FREAK goals from sniper-extraordinaire Konrad Reeder (whose nine goals in his senior season surpasses by two the number of goals he scored in his first three years). Last weekend again Goepfert made more than a few game preserving saves as the Huskies completed their first-ever sweep of UND at either of Ralph’s arenas. Their team is reminiscent of the 98-99 Talafous coached UAA team which used Talafous’s Right-Wing Lock (TRAP) coupled with an awesome season from goalie Gregg Naumenko to have some success. The Huskies have two players that have proven to be consistent goal scorers this seaon. Sophomore Andrew Gordon and Senior Joe Jensen have 12 and 13 goals respectively. The next two leading goal scorers both scored half of their goals in a single series and while they might be threats; they are equally likely to not be a threats (Reeder and Kronik). In my book this makes the Huskies a two line team (though there's little doubt that the whole team plays hard every weekend). If Shyiak can have any luck matching lines it is likely that both games this weekend will be low scoring.

The key to success for UAA this weekend will be the ability to get in front of Goepfert and muck it up down low and around the crease. SCSU won’t have the same success controlling the puck against UAA as DU did last weekend and this should lead to more opportunities counter-attacking which UAA will must finish this weekend. The number of pucks put just wide last Saturday night against DU is a symptom of “gripping the stick too tightly”. Goepfert is good enough that missing the net to make him look better isn't necessary this weekend. There isn’t any pressure this weekend. So hopefully the kids will relax some. Nathan Lawson is out for 3 to 6 weeks with a stasKnee injury. Ales Parez has a shoulder injury that will keep him out for 3 – 6 weeks as well. There really can’t be much of an expectation to win and therefore zero pressure. The guys should concentrate on having fun this weekend. Look up into the crowd and count mullets between shifts. I've seen it suggested by some other UAA fans that Shyiak give Mike Rosett another turn between the pipes. I'm all for that. Maybe just maybe the team will play harder in front of him. The Huskies aren't really a big physical team either so we might expect an emphasis on UAA players finishing their checks this weekend.

One question I can answer: Will there be stupidly monkey-drunk heaps of Huskie-fans at the NHC this weekend? Of course there will be; activity choices are lacking in that part of the world this time of year, if you don’t have a snowmachine then all you can do is drink. That’s a quality Saturday evening in many a dilapidated Stearns country trailer-park. I don’t think anyone in the world (including St. Cloud) would really want it any other way. I’m not being mean here. It takes a wide variety of people and types to make the world what it is; and personally I’m always happy to know where certain “types” are located.

And oh yeah … VIVA Le Satin Polaris Jacquet ...

And oh yeah again ... They call them "snowmobiles" down there. Isn't that a HOOT! It's crazy-world in central minisoduh ... I'm serious.