Friday, January 12, 2007

UND vs. UAA: Best Preview Ever

When I said "Worst Preview Ever" there really wasn't much pressure to live up to the billing since I had titled it after I was done with all the rambling. I've read worse previews anyway. Not many ... but enough of them to know that even though I got close; I wasn't quite on the mark. Of course there was lots of quality support in the comments section (from the northern Great Plains ... and I'll stipulate here that residents of that general area of the country certainly ought to know shit when they see it) and that sort of feedback is always heartwarming and reassuring. So of course now I've gone and titled this damn post in advance of writing it. Now I'm all atwitter with anticipation thinking about the lovely feedback this might engender. Not really.

This is an important weekend for both teams as they fight to maintain themselves in a position to get a home ice playoff spot. Both teams are statistically very similar. UAA goes into the Ralph 2-6 in their last 8 games. Both wins were vs. UAF. The last time UAA beat anyone of significance was December 8th in Colorado Springs. UND comes into the series 3-5 in their last 8 games. 2 of those wins came vs. Dartmouth and St. Larry. The last time (last weekend) UND beat anyone of significance was also in Colorado Springs. I should post this link to the tale-of-the-tape at College Hockey News more often. It really is the best graphical statistical compilation and comparison available. The only two real differences are UND's power play and UAA's penalty kill which sort of cancel each other out. Both teams have won 10 games. And UAA's scoring is a bit more diverse. Twin sons of different mothers perhaps?

When the Sioux came to Anchorage back in November we saw a couple of teams that were both willing to mix it up physically as well as play a high tempo "up and down" game. Goaltending was a big factor in that series (lets just say Grieco was "not good") and I'd expect this weekend the outcome could very well come down to goaltending again. That series was the Seawolves best offensive output in a weekend this season. I thought UND's defense that weekend was a bit suspect with them giving up a lot of pucks when they were pressured by UAA. That sort of aggressive forechecking effort will have to be in evidence this weekend for the Seawolves to get some points.

Expect these games to be tight. Expect them to be low-scoring. The Ralph is 15 feet narrower than any rink that UAA has played on all year. The hitting game that UAA has been playing this season should benefit from that. It might be a slight disadvantage in terms of the strategic cycling that UAA uses as there is less ice available when you come off the boards with the puck. UAA's forwards will have to adapt and react more quickly. Hopefully we'll see some creative playmaking from the forwards.

Another possible difference in the games this weekend could be Jonathan Toews who is returning from a glory filled World Jr's tournament as Canada's leading scorer. If he is able to duplicate those performances this weekend it could be bad news. But of course UAA isn't playing the Canadian Jr. National team this weekend and Toews didn't win a gold medal all by himself. A lot of kids seem to come back from playing for their country and turn it up a notch in their league play though so it's definitely something the Seawolves should be aware of this weekend.

As always a quality overall effort will be needed this weekend. The Sioux will be looking for payback for the sweep up here. And don't even think that they aren't just as hungry for points as the Seawolves.

1 comment:

Suze said...

Gutsy job to come back for the tie Wolves!! Way to go.

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