Saturday, December 15, 2007

Jekyll and Hyde Saturday Night

For the fist six or seven minutes of tonights hockey game I saw a Seawolf hockey team that looked like world-beaters. The absolute fury with which they went after the Pioneers was breathtaking. It was 6 or 7 minutes of some of the most dominating hockey I've ever seen a Seawolf squad muster. They were flying; they were buzzing; they were banging and it resulted in chance after chance. But with 2 goals in their pocket something happened. The Seawolves dropped into a 1-1-3 conservative set and all the offensive air went out of their sails. With about 11 minutes left in the period the shots showed UAA 8 - DU 0. But slowly and steadily as UAA abandoned their furious forechecking (and the Pioneers didn't panic) the momentum began to shift. Toward the end of the 1st the Seawolves again started playing with emotion but none of thier efforts proved fruitful. The last 8 or 9 minutes of the period was just a small hint of what was to come. Shots at the end of the period? 8-6 for UAA.

I heard Kurt Haider say during the post game radio broadcast that some "imposters came out of the Seawolf locker room" after the 1st intermission. And inn a stunning turnaround the Pioneers scored 4 goals in just over 8 minutes. The first at 4:09; then next at 7:11; then at 9:26 and 12:32. Every good chance they got, they finished. At times in their own end the Seawolves looked like they were chickens running around with their heads cut off. DU found players open that should have been covered and they converted. The defensive effort was a nightmare. Jonny O got hung out to dry. All credit at this point to Coach Shyiak though; right after the 4th goal, he called a timeout to rally the troops. It seemed to help a bit. At least DU didn't score again in the period anyway. Unlike DU, when UAA had chances they blew them though. I counted at least three 2 on 1 breaks without registering a shot. Shots in the 2nd? DU 12 - UAA 9.

So to start the third there was at least some small measure of hope that the Seawolves could turn it around somehow and get back into the game. And 55 seconds into the period they got their opportunity with the first power play of the game for either team, when Chris Butler tripped Winston Daychief after getting beaten down low. For a fan it was one of those moments when you rub your hands together and grit you teeth a bit in some determined hope. Then then power play produced a bit of chance and you hope that "this is the moment". Down 4-2 early in the 3rd it is exactly the sort of time when your team would deeply benefit from a goal. But then the headless chicken thing suddenly reappears. Jonny O went behind the net to handle a puck and didn't see the forecheck, a miscommunication with the defenseman and the next thing you know the Pios are chucking the puck into an empty net. It was a balloon popping moment. The game was definitely over.

No doubt Coach Shyiak was frustrated with his efforts to get the team focused. With 13:49 remaining in the game he pulled Jonny O and put six skaters on the ice. All credit to him for doing so. At that point there was nothing else that was going to force the team to play harder. And for 35 seconds or so it looked like the team might respond positively. On the first shift they generated a scoring chance and forced a face-off in the DU end. Then fate intervened. On a play that Mat Robinson would handle 999 out of 1000 times at the blueline, he fumbled the puck and Tyler Ruegsegger simply had to skate it down into the empty net to wrap up the scoring for the night. The next 12 minutes was nothing other than two teams going through the motions. There were moments here and there where Seawolves put out some reasonable efforts but they never mounted another serious scoring threat.

Analyzing losses is tiresome when your heart is so involved wanting to see a victory. Nothing I've written above was pleasant to think about much less write about. The Seawolves put together a great effort on Friday only to be sadly denied. That happens. It sucks but as a fan you can learn to accept those kinds of losses. But then we witness this Jekyll and Hyde performance tonight? What's that about? They play with as much confidence as I've ever seen and then play with loads of obvious self-doubt in the same game? It wouldn't be fair to not credit the Pios for finishing their chances all weekend. They did exactly that. That's my honest reaction for now. I'll be back tomorrow with the regular Sunday Potpourri; let's all hope I feel less confused and disappointed by then.


ZamboniMan said...

The defense was very soft, but i have to say that this weekend was marred by bad goaltending as well. 10 goals on 30 shots does not cut it in D1 hockey. A goalie isnt always at fault for a loss like friday nights, but sometimes you need your goalie to steal you a game and make those one or two spectacular saves on the odd man breaks. Tonight i could see any amount of confidence he had in his game go out the window. After almost every goal he was lingering for a long time without getting back up. He made a few mental errors as well. It wasnt all his fault but he is just not the caliber of goalie it takes to get it done and get the Ws in this league.

Shyiak should have put Mayo in after giving up the empty netter. I am glad he put him in at all.

D Tuttle said...

If only they could have stopped the game at the 5 minute mark...Ah yes...the ever famous...if only! Unfortunately Seawolf fans this is what we are going to have to deal with for probably the next season or so. Not because we don't have the talent or the guns to win but because we don't know how to win big games yet. Regardless of what anyone thinks, winning games at this level it takes more than just takes a mindset, and a know how. UAA does not have that know how yet. Don't get me wrong, they are learning quickly and these games will only be part of the learning process, but unil they learn how to win it is going to be frustrating! Be patient, they are on the right path under Dave Shyiak and the coaching staff they have in place. We have one of the best groups of coaches in the country, unfortunately it takes time and John Hill..(no comment) didn't exactly leave the cuppboard stocked before he bailed for a guarantee! Congrats to Jared Tuton on his first career goal...I told him it was coming!!!!!!! Watch the coaches show!

David said...

Yes, it's me again...and why would a member of the media respond to a fan blog when technically "I shouldn't"! Well...just because. I was probably as frustrated as the normal fan was this weekend watching the games because I know we are capable of so much more. Even though I do commentary with Kurt during the games I get frustrated just like he does watching debacles like tonight take place! You may have noted when Peter Mannino took a "Hasek like" flop during the third period I commented on it...I had a DU player sitting next to me giggling like a school girl because I called him out on it! I want the 'Wolves to win probably more than anyone, but I am also going to call the games and do the coaches show like I see it. I am compelled to bring it out if the team looks like shit, because that is my job. I am still a student...for now...but I am also a member of the working media, so I am going to be as unbiased as I can while still maintaining my fanhood! ;-) If you have any questions give me a shout! Just don't ask me to bring up questions on the coaches show. That isn't a fan forum. No offense, but I am completely avoiding that! BTW, Matt Gordon is doing well, I talked to him after the game tonight. he can't fly home until Tuesday when doctors have cleared him, but his spirits are high and he is meeting with more Doctors in BC and will hopefully know more about his future when he gets back.

dggoddard said...

Nice article Donald and interesting comments by David.

Good luck the rest of the season with the Blog and the team. :-)

Anonymous said...

Thankfully we have had many many good periods of hockey. It could be a lot worse. Although the points don't reflect how well we're doing, the fact is, we are doing well. Many close games. The last one got away on us, but I think the players who struggled on friday continued to do so on saturday and that cost us in the last two periods of the game. Too bad. The new year will hopefully bring a group of guys ready to tackle the second half of the season with the same enthusiasm and skill they definitely have shown us already. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

Anonymous said...

In Response to zamboniman - Its very difficult to pin a loss like either Friday or Saturday night on the goaltender. Friday the offence didn't convert on several glorious chances that would have won the game. Saturday night the team (defense especially) fell apart and left the goalie out to dry.

That being said, I think we are now feeling the heat for not having a tested backup goalie. Johnny O is a good goaltender but he is young and shouldn't be playing every game. He went from playing in just a few games last season as backup to being the "main man" and now the "only man" after the loss of Gordon. I think Johhny O's stepped up in a big way so far this season, though he hasn't yet "stolen a game" he's made most of the save that should be made to keep the team in each game.

I think "O" can be an excellent WCHA goalie but it would be much easier to groom him if we had another goalie to share the burden. This is the time in the season when you find most programs splitting the goaltending responsibilities each weekend. We unfortunately don't have that option. Fortunately, after Lawson's untimely departure Olthius has stepped up as well as he has, but I really wish we had another keeper to split the duties with him. Not many teams in the nation have a sophomore goalie that is playing every single game.
We need some help...


PDMinAK said...

Personally I think that if we win or tie game three in Squarebanks (we better win it!) Mayo should get the start in game four just for the experience...

The best thing about last night was the linesman using the squeegee on the ice again. But this time, with the music playing in the arena it looked like he was dancing with it. I totally wish I would've had a video camera with me... that is definitely youtube-able stuff. At least I was laughing my ass off. I'm glad there weren't many people around me for that. I think these 60-hour work weeks are starting to get to me.

Anonymous said...


I totally agree. With Olthuis the only goalie with experience, he has got to be feeling a LOT of pressure, and that starts to weigh on your concentration.

Lawson bailed, yes, but he never played up to his potential. He also passed the puck to the other team who scored into an empty net. He never stopped a breakaway.

And to reply to zamboniman, Olthuis DID stop a breakaway scoring attempt. The fact is, the D didn't show up, and the goalie shouldn't be expected to bail out their mistakes every time. Goalies have an off night just like the rest of the players do. That's why it is so essential that UAA get another goalie on board this second half.

Hopefully Bryce will do the right thing and join the team. I can see him getting a fair shot at playing if he does. Jonnie-O has been steady but not outstanding.

Anonymous said...

Lawson basically screwed his team by waffling about his decision to stay for his senior year or go "pro".

The coaching staff finally had to give him a deadline, and by that time the best goalies had been recruited. They were very fortunate to get a goalie the caliber of Gordon, then this freak accident happens.

Mayo was a third string goalie for his highschool team, with little playing time.

UAA has got to get another goalie on board.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised nobody here question's the coach's decision to pull the goalie with 13 minutes left? What the hell is going on here? Coach Shyiak sounds like he's gone off the deep end and nobody here seems to be able to figure that out. Take off your rose colored glasses. Something is not right here.

Donald Dunlop said...

The team was doing nothing at that point that would have indicated they had any chance of rallying. I could see that from the balcony. Shyiak could certainly see it from the bench. Pulling the goalie at that point in that sort of game sure isn't unprecedented in the hockey world. It wasn't as if he was trying to hand the game to DU. He was trying to rally them. If Robbie had held that puck and UAA had forced another chance or two (or even gotten a goal) then the outcome of the game could have changed. Doing nothing would have been wrong ... and I've questioned that in the past. So I give him a pat on the back for the tactic.

Suze said...

Gwoz pulled his goalie for nearly half a period, years ago in Anchorage. His team had no defense so he pulled the goalie. I think UAA got a few ENG's during that game.

I'll never forget that game. I can't say it worked for him any better than it did Shyiak.

It's so easy to be an arm chair coach.

Anonymous said...

Let's put that game behind us and hopefully 2008 will never bring a game like that again. You are so right Suze that it's easy to be an armchair critic. Everything failed in that game. Simple as that.

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