Saturday, February 23, 2008

On the Fan Experience

One of the important things I've always strived for on this blog is to relate my experiences as a fan in the hope that it rings a bell of truth with other fans. Certainly I want to be a promoter of my team; a cheerleader of sorts. I want to find the positive things and give them focus. I want to show my "love" for the players and their efforts. I hope I do those last three things at other times and over the next two weeks I'll do some more of that as the season winds down. I'll have what I consider the most important post of each season with my Senior Tribute and I'll give out the UAA Fan Blog Season Awards to those individuals that I think deserve the recognition; for whatever that's worth. But tonight in addition to analyzing the loss to DU I will spend a couple of minutes detailing exactly what it feels like to be a Seawolf hockey fan.

The Seawolves played a better game tonight but a 2 goal differential was still the result. The hitting game was good. Overall, I thought there game was more of a skating up and down style than the Friday night game. I liked seeing that. I thought the defensemen did a better job carrying the puck up the ice as well tonight. While last night I characterized the difference as opportunism by DU off of over-committed aggressive efforts on the power play by UAA, tonight I'd credit the difference to more effective overall team play by DU in all three zones. Every Pio player did their job no matter what it was and no matter where it was. The Seawolves were straight up outplayed. They weren't badly outplayed. It could have been a one goal game but the discipline that DU showed means I don't think there was anyway UAA could have come out with a win. The Seawolves have lost a number of games this year that they otherwise could have or should have won. Tonight wasn't one of them. Jonny O had a good outing but what looked like a miscommunication between him and the defenseman on a 2-1 DU break lead to the final goal. Both Jonny O and the defenseman (I don't remember who it was and frankly it doesn't matter) were "looking" pass and Matt Glasser did a good job to sell pass before ripping it through Jonny O's pads five hole. The D-man didn't commit strongly to the possible pass and that indecision lead to Olthuis' own indecision and late reaction. None of that is a criticism; just an observation. As has been the case over the last dozen or so games the Seawolves couldn't find the back of the net. No excuses. The guys who'd normally be expected to lead with their goal production have been mostly absent from the boxscores the last few weekends. That's reality. I've got no solutions. Hopefully before the next series and the WCHA playoffs the coaching staff and the players themselves will find a solution.

Since the Seawolves inclusion in the WCHA we fans have seen year after year of finishes in the bottom half of the league. One year saw some noise made as Curtis Glencross, Chris Fournier, Chris King and Martin Stuchlik carried the team on their backs to a WCHA playoff victory against Wisconsin and a Final Five win over Colorado College. Other than that season it has been mostly disappointment in terms of league success. Every season has been a series of ups and downs (as it is for most any fan of any team) with the end result being the bottom of the roller coaster instead of the pinnacle. Tonight I feel that as much as I ever have. I sell optimism here every season. I've proclaimed every year on the Internet that this season would be the breakout year. More often than not this point in the year brings out those fans from other teams (who I've taunted and ridiculed ... with due cause mostly) to shit on the team. I'm well aware of my attitude and certainly don't believe I have anyone other than myself to blame for attracting that crowd. I'm not complaining here about it; I just want to say ... bust my chops. Don't bust this teams chops with your grave stomping ways. I'm still proud to be a Seawolf fan. I'd rather cheer for them than any hockey team playing at any level anywhere in the world. I'll live and die with them. So go ahead and leave your shitty comments. Just don't direct them at the team. Tell me what a boob I am for my proclamations of Seawolf domination. But don't you dare for second try to demean the efforts of this team that always plays with heart and pride from one of the two most difficult places in college hockey to be successful. It ain't a cake walk for UAA or UAF to succeed in Division 1 simply because of geography and it ain't easy to be a fan of either program. When UAA does it'll be sweeter for us UAA fans than it is for ANY of you other fans of other teams (except possibly UAF). Believe it.


Neil said...

Nice post to your blog. It is tough being a Seawolf fan (yes Suze, I AM A FAN). Every fall we hope and dream big. With the exception of a couple of opening round wins a WCHA Final Five appearance, it has been quite a dry spell. Each year we seem to get a bit better, but than so does everyone else. One of these years the hope and excitement of previous freshman classes will all Seniors, we will have depth at all positions, we will be able to score, play D and have a goalie that can flatout stonewall an opponent. When will that be? Next year, the year after? Who knows, it is that sweet dream that keeps the true UAA fan so positive that even the harshest critics can't damper our optimism.

terloc said...

Thank goodness UAA gets to play UAF. The chances of beating one team three out of four are better than needing to beat nine teams three out of four---against UMD and MTU UAA was successful. MNTC remnains in the air.

The time will come when it all fits together and our time supporting the team will pay off more positively. Actually, win or loose it pays off now. I enjoy the entire season. I look forward to the season start each year. It would be nicer if we were on the long end of the score but the games and effort and talent of the team are still really appreciated. One or two additional goals per game this year and fewer softies for the opponents would have made a big difference.

Sioux_Me in GF said...

We can bitch about your "focus" all we want here in Sioux Country, but we could use a little more Donald Dunlop in much of our fan base far too frequently. Your insights are often spot on -- although we are all a little too sensitive when it comes to our teams proper. My limited exposure to UAA's 2007-08 campaign (UMtc, Denver, UND live & via radio, et al.) shows a team far better than its record. Coach S. is on the right track -- must be that North Dakota work ethic from his formative years! I just hope to hell WE don't play you in the play-offs this year!

Suze said...

Neil, I never said you weren't a fan, those are your words. All I ask is that you be positive like Donald, and don't shit on the team as you've done in the past.

jjack said...

I would rather finish last in the WCHA than first in the CHA. Obviously it would be great to finish in the top half of the league, but the Seawolves have proven that they belong on the same sheet of ice as some of the best teams in college hockey.

Donald Dunlop said...

I agree with you. Part of the reason that UAA is better than any CHA team is that we are in the WCHA and hence get better recruits just because of that. In any case, things are looking good for the next couple of years. I hope we make some noise if for no other reason than to shut up the detractors.

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