Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Housekeeping: New Email Addy

I finally got around to getting an email account for this Blog. If you want to email me regarding anything here then click here to go to my Blog Profile or use the very same link to the right to access the profile and you'll find an email link there.

The address is

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Incoming Freshman: Down the Jr. Homestretch

Some of the UAA incoming freshman are done for the season as their teams have bowed out of the playoffs. Others are still active. Below you'll find an entry for each player and the status of their teams. The playoff numbers are all pretty encouraging. Erik Felde, Josh Lunden and defenseman Trevor Hunt have finished their seasons and after 10 games are all 3 among the top 7 BCHL playoff scorers. Kevin Clark and Ken Selby both played well so far in their playoff series in Manitoba. Ryan Berry and Kane Lafranchise are helping Spruce Grove to a nice playoff run into the league semi-finals. And least mentioned here (as he's been out injured since the 13th game of the season) is Paul Crowder who returned to his team for 4 playoff games and contributed nicely.

Erik Felde
The Vernon Vipers lost the Interior Conference Semi-Final (league quarterfinals) 4 games to 1 against Salmon Arm SilverBacks. Vernon had advanced by defeating Spruce Grove in 5 games. In those 10 games Erik scored 11 goals and added 4 assists. 5 of the goals came on the power play. At this point of the playoffs Erik is listed as the #4 playoff scorer for the league and #2 in goals. For the regular season he scored 32 goals and 49 assists in 61 games for #6 in the league.

Erik has really shined this year in BC. He was selected to play in the first ever CJAHL prospects games which showcased the 40 best players in Canada as selected by the CJAHL in conjunction with NHL Scouting. Erik was named Player of The Game for the West team.

Josh Lunden

The Chilliwack Chiefs lost their Mainland Division Final (league quaterfinal) to the Burnaby Express in game 5 of the best of 7 series. The high scoring line of Lunden, Eppich and Butcher wasn't quite enough against what is proving to be one of the betterCanadian Jr. A teams this year.

In any case, Josh continued his great regular season points performance into the playoffs finishing #7 in the league with 3 goals and 12 assists in 10 games. His regular season numbers placed him 5th in the league with 34 goals and 47 assist for 81 points in 56 games. It's worth a mental note to say that Butcher finished second in the league with 101 points and Eppich finished 8th. That's a line with a whole lotta chemistry. I hope Josh was the catalyst that made that line go.

Trevor Hunt
Another player from Chilliwack, Trevor perfromed at a high level in the playoffs. Through the regular season Trevor averaged 1.0 points per game but in 10 playoff games increased that to 1.5 points per game with 6 goals and 9 assists and is #1 among defenseman in the league playoffs.

That sounds suspiciously like leadership to me. Trevor's regular season numbers were 15 goals and 42 assists in 56 games. Those numbers place him at #36 overall and #3 among defensemen in the league. I hope Trevor plays as hard for UAA as it seems like he did for Chilliwack.

Ken Selby

Ken plays for the Dauphin Kings in the MJHL and currently they are tied 3 games apiece in the Addison Division Final (league semi-final) with the OCN Blizzard. The winner faces the Winnipeg South Blues for the league championship. In 12 playoff fames he has scored 5 goals and added 2 assists. Ken was also one of the 40 invitees to the CJAHL prospects game earlier this season and won the fastest skater contest there.

During the regular season Ken scored 36 goals (#7 in the league) and added 30 assists for 66 points in 62 games (#17 in the league). I'm just looking forward to seeing his speed on the big sheet at the Sully.

Kevin Clark

Winnipeg made its way into the MJHL league final series by defeating the Selkirk Steelers in 4 straight games. For the playoffs Kevin has 7 goals and 6 assists in 9 games. For those of us keeping track Kevin is currently 4th with 4.22 penalty minutes per playoff game. Since two of the other leaders are playing for teams that aren't in the playoffs anymore I'd bet Kevin can nail down #1 or #2 in that race. I kid. Kevin brings a lot of heart and talent to UAA.

His penalty minute stats don't bother me that much. He'll have to adapt to an entirely different level of refereeing and enforcement if he wants to contribute to UAA's success. And honestly his penalty minutes in the MJHL playoffs aren't as high as the 5 minutes per game for his regular season. A regular season that saw him score 40 goals with 36 assists in just 50 games. That ranked him 8th in scoring and 4th in goals for the league.

Paul Crowder

I find it interesting that Paul Crowder was injured during the 13th game of the season with 13 points. I still don't know what sort of injury derailed him for the season but I was pleasantly surprised to find his name amongst the playoff scorers in the BCHL. In 5 playoff games with Burnaby he has 4 goals and 4 assists.

As Burnaby progresses I'll watch his numbers but their website is useless and I find no releases or other information indicating when he came back from the injury. 8 points in 5 playoff games is sweet though.

Ryan Berry

Defenseman Ryan Berry and the Spruce Grove Saints are currently tied 1 game apeice in an AJHL league semi-final series with the Camrose Kodiaks. They swept both of their earlier series 3-0 and 4-0. Ryan has 5 goals and 3 assists in 9 playoff games including the games only goal in their first game on Saturday. In 59 regular season games he scored 9 goals with 21 assists.

Jon Olthuis

Jon played all 10 of the Vernon Vipers playoff games and had a 2.81 GAA with .908 save percentage and is currently ranked #2. For the regular season he finished #8 in the league with 2.68 and .905. Very consistent numbers. Jon played 2893 minutes which placed him second in that category. 48 games played tells me he is durable and consistent. Jon is 6'3" at 187lbs. I don't really have much of an idea about why sort of goalie Jon is but at 6'3" I'd guess he's more like Dryden than Hasek? We'll see.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Dear Evan Trupp

Dear What?
While I wait a bit longer for the junior playoffs to progress before giving a comprehensive report on the incoming recruits (and they've all been performing fabulously btw); I thought I'd take a moment (or two or three) to advocate that Evan Trupp come play at UAA this coming season. Evan is verbally committed to begin his College Hockey career in 2007 at North Dakota. I understand that some people might think it is out of line for me to suggest such a thing in this forum. Comments are free.

Why Should He Play at UAA?
There is a big upside for UAA if Evan were to choose to come back; but what is the upside for Evan? He already has an agreement with a perennial national powerhouse. Going to UND means that 3 out of 4 years he'll be playing on a team that will likely have legitimate chances to win National Championships. Everyone wants to play on a winner don't they? I dunno ... maybe TURNING the hometown team into a winner could be equally gratifying for a kid? Maybe? Ok maybe not ... so the potential "glory" probably can't really match up to UND.

The first upside for Evan in choosing to come to UAA is that he'll be playing College Hockey this October instead of 18 months from now. There's really no doubt that Evan is ready for D-1 now. I can't think of any argument that would convince me he "needed" to stay another year in the BCHL or perhaps play in the USHL for another year. He clearly doesn't. Look at his rookie numbers in BC. There are more than just a few players his age coming into D-1 next year. The second upside for Evan in coming to UAA would be that he'd be on the ice as a freshman. Not for 15 games or 21 games or whatever ... he'd be on the ice in every game (will he at UND in 07?). I'm of the opinion that a year of competition in the WCHA is better for developing a players skills than staying in juniors. As with any kid playing hockey at any level no doubt that Evan would like to play in the NHL one day. Will he really get the development in juniors that will benefit him along those lines? I don't think so. Did I say he's ready for D-1 now?

Think Luke Beaverson is sorry that he spent his sophmore year at UAA instead of his freshman at UND (after they told him to play a third year of juniors under their reasoning that he needed another year to be ready)? Sure UND is on a run to another possible final four appearance this year; Luke could have been a part of that. But everything I've ever heard or read tells me that Luke loves UAA and has never looked back on his decision to come play hockey here. In my book he should get consideration next year for Captain.

Won't a player get better exposure at a school like UND vs. UAA? This is an old argument who's age doesn't make it wise in most cases (especially when it comes to a talented player). Evan will be drafted this summer by an NHL team. Wherever he plays his future employers will be watching. And all you have to do is look to Curtis Glencross to see that an undrafted player can get plenty of recognition by performing well against WCHA competition regardless of the team you play for.

Breaking a Committment is WRONG!
It is true that verbal commitments are almost always honored by school and player. Essentially the commitment is a simple verbal agreement between the player and the school. Unlike the LOI a recruit signs the verbal can (and more importantly has) be rescinded by either party. Is it "morally wrong" to rescind a verbal; didn't they "shake" on it (metaphorically speaking)? No, it has nothing to do with morals. Schools back out of verbal comittments frequently enough (for whatever reason) that a player rescinding is far from anything new much less be somehow morally wrong. It's not the old west where the handshake was a mans bond and all that "cowboy hoohaw". D-1 hockey programs don't look at it that way. Players shouldn't either. Both UND and Wisconsin wouldn't take Evan in 06. Why? Because it didn't fit into their plans. Going to play hockey at a perennial powerhouse doesn't come without a price. In Evan's case that price is that he's going to have to do it on THEIR schedule. Not his. So the verbal commitment is not much more than an agreement of convenience? Yep.

You're a Big Homer and You Suck!
Yes I'm a big UAA Hockey fan. That'd be the reason I started this blog. And obviously as a fan of UAA I see the upside for UAA. Yep. I plead guilty. UAA would definitely be a better team with a kid like Evan. He would be a piece of the puzzle. Along with Eric Walsky, Billy Smith, Merit Waldrop and Erik Felde he could form that core of high end local kids that is a necessity for UAA to build toward success in this league. I'd be a fool of a fan if I didn't advocate that he change his mind; especially when I see plenty of upside in it for Evan. Of course if there are specific educational opportunities at UND that aren't available at UAA; then by all means he should stick to his commitment. I'll stipulate that there may be other unknowable reason's for his choice that render this entire entry moot. If so, oops. I got it off my chest anyway.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Seawolf Hall of Fame: Who Should Be Next?

Between now and April 14th the University is accepting nominations for induction into the Seawolf Hall of Fame class for 2006. UAA's athletic department began the Hall of Fame in 2001 and Dennis Sorenson was inducted. In '02 Brush Christiansen and Mike Peluso were added; '03 was Dean Larson's turn along with booster Chuck Homan; '04 saw Paul "The Wall" Krake added to the list and last year Pete McEnaney was the latest hockey player inducted.

So who do you think deserves a nomination? A number of names come to my mind. Jeff Batters? Brian Kraft? Tim Molle? Dean Trboyevich? Paul Williams? Derek Donald? Rob Conn? Anyone else that comes to my mind doesn't meet the 10 year criteria. Based on the qualifications they've listed just about any of those guys could be added. I can't say that adding any of those guys would disappointment me in any sort of way. But when I read they were accepting nominations the first name that came to my mind was Batters. Jeff seemed to be working his way into the lineup with the St. Louis Blues when he unfortunately passed away in a car accident. Jeff was a punishing hitter with a wicked shot from the point. He had good wheels and always played with tons of enthusiasm.

Who do you think should be next?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Recruit Update: Junior league playoffs

Erik Felde, Josh Lunden, Trevor Hunt, Kevin Clark, Ken Selby, Ryan Berry and Kane Lafranchise are all contributing nicely early in the playoffs for their respective teams. Here's the latest ...

Since Josh and Trevor both play for Chilliwack I'll start with them. Chilliwack defeated Powell River tonight (Wednesday) to win their first round 7 game series 4-1. Their second round series starts this weekend vs. Burnaby. Trevor is currently 11th in playoff scoring league-wide among all players with 2g-6a and is second among defensemen. Josh is 15th in the playoffs with 1g-6a. Josh finished the regular season with 81 points (34g-47a) in 56 games for 5th overall in the league. Trevor finished as the 3rd leading scorer among defensemen and 36th overall with 57 points (15g-42a) in 56 games.

Erik Felde finished 6th in scoring right behind Josh with 81 points (32g-49a) in 61 games. Vernon has also advanced to the second round with a 4 games to 1 series win over Prince George on Wednesday evening. Erik's playoff numbers so far are 8 points (6g-2a) in 5 games.

Kevin Clark and the Winnipeg South Blues advanced to the second round of the MJHL playoffs with a 4-1 series win over the Winkler Flyers. For the regular season Kevin finished 8th in scoring with 76 points (40g-36a) in 50 games(4th in goals). Even though I urged him along in his battle for the penalty minutes title he sadly finished only 6th in the league with 250 minutes. I'm sure he tried hard and that's what matters.

Ken Selby and the Dauphin Kings advanced to the second round with a 3-0 victory in game six earlier this evening over the Portage Terriers. Ken has 3 goals in 6 playoff games. For the regular season he finished with 66 points (36g-30a) in 62 games.

Ryan Berry, Kane Lafranchise and the Spruce Grove Saints have advanced to the third round after SWEEPING both the Fort Saskatchewan Traders in a first round best of five and the Drayton Valley Thunder in a second round best of seven series. For the season Ryan finished as the leading defensive scorer on the team with 30 points (9g-21a) in 59 games. Kane was second among defensemen on the team with 20 points (7g-13a) in 60 games. For the playoffs Ryan has 7 points (4g-3a) in 7 games and Kane has 5 points (1g-4a) in 7 games.

Pretty good stuff.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Ryan Berry (Spruce Grove/AJHL) Commits to UAA

According to Chris Heisenberg's Recruit list Ryan Berry from Spruce Grove in the Alberta Junior Hockey League has committed to UAA. He is a 6ft 182lb veteran defenseman with decent offensive numbers. His bio on the Spruce Grove site says he's good at both ends but what that means really is anyone's guess. He's in his third year in juniors ('85). There is no announcement from Spruce Grove. They're just starting a second round playoff series with Drayton Valley. Spruce Grove is where Kane Lafranchise (the kid coming in 07) also plays.

This is a pretty interesting addition. I hadn't expected to see any new players added for 06. We're losing 5 skaters (Johnson, Parez, McMann, Underwood, Gilchrist ... 3f/2d) and we're bringing in 7 skaters (Felde, Clark, Selby, Lunden, Hunt, Crowder, Berry ... 4f/3d).

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Mid-Week Blahs

So it's been about a week since I've written anything. There sure hasn't seemed to be a lot to say. The regular season is over and the only hope to continue playing hockey is to win 2 games out of 3 against the #1 team in the country who went 4-0 against UAA this year with a collective score of 21-6. Of course anything is possible. That's what they say. But the last time anything like an upset of the proportions we're imagining here was 1992 when Jamie Ram stopped 9,999,999 out of 10,000,000 shots in a now legendary WCHA performance. Thats the reality of the task at hand.

Two weeks ago I indicated that the only imperative for this squad should be that they don't fly all the way to M/StP just to "mail it in". The coaching staff has had the time now to decide on and implement a strategy. It's up to the players to fulfill that plan and get the respect of their opponents. UAA doesn't have to win to do that. They just have to go out and gut it out for at least 120 minutes. If everyone skates hard I think most UAA fans will have some measure of satisfaction regardless of the result. I'm sure all this sounds like I've thrown in the towel. Come on though ... don't begin to think that I won't be sitting in front of the TV as a game starts believing that UAA can win no matter who they're playing. I'm just trying to have expectations that are reasonable.

But if I can indulge my fan side for a moment I'd tell the team that it's a two game season. I'd tell them that indeed anything can happen. I'd tell them that if they come out and surprise a an opponent in the first game of a three game series that all they have to do is win one game of the remaining two to advance. I'd think of every single metaphor for and example of great sports upsets. I'd pull Knute Rockne out of my ass. I'd remind them at every turn that Seawolf Pride is best exemplified by playing with true character.

I had this whole idea for an entry about USCHO and the pattern of interactions that UAA fans see there every week. I never found the time this week though to do the research so instead of a fully-fledged quality entry about the stupidity that abounds in some fans, I'm just gonna give you a couple of snippets from this week. Click on the links to read the thread at USCHO for the broader context.

From the WCHA First Round Predictions thread:

Originally Posted by wihockeyguy
UAA @ UMN - why bother making the trip from Alaska, I just cant see them getting a single win

I'll tell you right now that UAA won't just "mail it in" against UofM this weekend. Exactly the same as they didn't "mail it in" in the last two times UAA played your precious bucky. Paint Thinner RULEZ!

Then from the Seawolf/Gopher Game thread:

Originally Posted by Brenthoven
Back to the topic (I guess?): I think Hill is swell, and he did the right thing in joining a winning program.

He is swell. Here's three swell things that happened during his tenure at UAA.
A season with ONE win.
14 Underclassmen not returning ... of those:
1 left to play pro - Glencross
2 left because they couldn't hack school
2 just weren't very good
2 were booted from the team
7 left for "unspecified" reasons

Isn't that more of a "trough" than a "swell"?

Then a genius from DU said:

Originally Posted by Chris
Man, and y'all bitched all through the "Tallywhacker" regime as well...when ya gonna realize that UAA won't go any further than when Talafous was the coach, good grief... Sorry to say, but the woofs will always be a 3rd tier product in the WCHA.

Do you have so much audacity that you needed to say that? I suppose Randy's continuous taunting of you must have reached a nerve and your testosterone has gotten the better of you. Obviously you're not a long time DU fan who remember the times that weren't quite so fruitful for your beloved squad. BTW .... I'm glad to know what a gracious "sport" you are for future reference. For now why don't you take your "randymayed" sorry arse back to the DU thread for some more mutual circle-jerking about possibly making the NCAA's. Riding an Alaskan to the NCAA's isn't anything new in Colorado. Be glad that Carle is a committed student and will be back next year (otherwise DU'd finish behind UAA next year) and crawl back into your rat-hole. You obviously know not of what you speak (oops ... "speak" I meant ... spew from your festering pie-hole). A truly committed coach (unlike Hill) and one that knows something about hockey and coaching (unlike Talawuss) will no doubt have success at UAA. Certainly it will take some time to become a consistent upper-crust team but don't be surprised in coming years (with Shyiak as coach) when you find your overrated Pie-in-Ears looking up at UAA in the standings.

A Minnesota fan responded to the Hill post with:
Originally Posted by Maxwell He also brought you the only trip you'll ever have to the Final Five.

Only? Ever? You've gone so far beyond ludicrous that your about to drown in the preposterous ocean. Coattails Johnny (aka Shoe-Shine Boy) is safely tucked away deep inside the Lucia-burrow. It's good there. I hope he stays for a long time.