Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Series Preview: CC at UAA

The Colorado College Black Bears come to the Sully this weekend sitting at #4 in those all-important (sic) polls. I use that opening sarcastic barrage to indicate not only the silliness of CC's nickname but also to impugn anything that a "poll" in November might have to say about reality. The reality is that CC sits in first place in the league after WCHA wins with a record of 8-2-0. The only two league losses they've experienced have been at the hands of the still overrated (just over .500) UND (soon to be named) Zephyr and ultra-rival DU this past weekend. This weekend is the beginning of a long series of games for CC away from home. The Black Bears opened their WCHA season with a solid sweep of the UMTC Inepts before splitting with the aforementioned Zephyr. Then they took all four points from UMD WheezingDogs before sweeping the constipated Badgers. Before the season here's what I said about CC;
I'd have to say that there should be an expectation in Colorado Springs for the 07-08 team to have a helluva good season. The Black Bears return 4 of their top 5 scorers. Their recruiting class for this season may be small but it's all quality. Freshman goalie Richard Bachman might just provide competition for playing time for Drew O'Connell. Tyler Johnson could prove to be the top rookie in the WCHA. UAA fans know that Eric Walsky has mad skills. And Nick Dineen is apparently no slouch. Look for this team to go deep into the NCAA's. You heard it here first.
CC's record to this point certainly doesn't make me question those preseason thoughts. They did get swept at UNH early this season to make their overall record 8-4. It's nice for once to go up against a highly ranked opponent who's fanbase isn't proclaiming them National Champions in November. CC fans still seem to be in "show me" mode and I'd have to agree. While the Black Bears have played some strong hockey they've got more than a few challenges ahead. Their next 8 games are all on the road; after this series they travel to Jan Brady State then go on their holiday break before a tournament back east then they travel to the Kohl Center in Madison for against the Badgers. It's a stretch that they should consider a success if they come through above .500.

The Seawolves have a few things on paper this weekend that could be considered as positives when compared to CC. They've played 12 games and lost 4. UAA has played 10 games and lost 3. The Seawolves are about 10lbs bigger on average and a little over an inch taller. CC is scoring 3.42 goals per game and UAA is at 3.1 per. Their power play is 17% and UAA's is 15.8%; their penalty kill is 90.2% and UAA's is 85.5%. All in all these are statistics that would make you think the teams are fairly evenly matched. CC always has a reputation for speed and playing a wide open style and those two things seem to be true again this year. UAA's reputation for skating and hitting is growing and I haven't seen any opponent out skate them yet. I believe the numbers are to be heeded this weekend. I fully expect to very close exciting high-paced hockey games.

After some difficult losses and tight results in some key games the Seawolves should be ready to come out with a bit of a chip on their shoulder as far as proving their mettle. The win the second night at UMTC is something to build on. Many people put lots of stock into polls to measure a team's potential; so getting 4 points this weekend from the #4 team in the country would be just what the doctor ordered at this point in UAA's season. Only 4 points currently separate UAA (currently in 8th place) from UND at 5th and having two games in hand is a promising sitution. This is UAA's most important series of the season to this point. That's how it is in this league. Each new weekend in this league tends to be more important than the previous weekend.

I reviewed a some UAA games recently and a couple of things became abundantly clear to me. The first is that success in the offensive end was a result of committed play in the defensive end. Whenever players "gave it up" by blocking shots it often created transition chances and opportunities for the Seawolves to cycle the puck deep in the opposition zone. The Seawolf offense essentially started best high in it's own zone. The breakout has been mostly effective but when having to go the whole length of the rink the chances tended to be shorter lived. So for this weekend I believe the Seawolves must focus on disrupting CC's entry to the UAA zone and double up on the commitment aspect by playing the body well and blocking shots. The Seawolves need to dictate the tone and pace of the game this weekend. There are skilled and talented puck handlers on the CC squad and those guys will undoubtedly create some chances through good individual play. Jonny O will have to be sharp and defensemen will have to be Jonny-on-the-spot to limit second chances as well. I expect CC goaltending to be sharp regardless of who plays so UAA shooters will need to bury their chances when they come as well as be responsible when CC regains the puck in their own zone. They transition as well as anyone in D1 with their high quality defensive players. I think this all sounds more obvious than specific (now that I've typed it all out) but, nevertheless it is what I think needs to happen in order to bag those all important 4 points.


Suze said...

Donald, did you watch the Coaches show tonight? Sounds like Luke is not back to 100% and may or may not play this weekend. The team really really needs him on the ice.

Gopher fan in AK said...

If UAA wins one game this weekend then fans could start thinking final five appearance.

I'm looking forward to seeing Tyler Johnson of the Tigers (Cloquet HS). Very fast and a sniper.

annabelle said...

Good luck to the boys this week-end. I believe they will do awesome!!!!

Anonymous said...

CC is the tigers, not the black bears

Donald Dunlop said...


Donald Dunlop said...

The Tigers? That's hilarious. Where'd they come up with such a ridiculous name?

Anonymous said...

You know... that makes me wonder why Detroit has both Lions AND Tigers... what were they thinking? Why not the Spark Plugs and the Carburetors to go along with the Pistons?

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