Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sunday Potpourri: Pain in the Neck

My neck was stiff and sore before this weekends series; if it hadn't been it would be now. God knows it must be a pain in the neck for the team too. Another game that they fully deserved to win but came out with the L. Argh. Frustrating to the max. Both games were relatively close I suppose. It was good to see the ADN point out that Friday's game was "non-descript". It was. Not a boring game per se; but there really wasn't any pizazz along the way. Jonny O was solid all night but got nailed with a hard luck freak goal that nobody I've talked to actually saw. That was the "highlight" moment eh? The next 10 minutes of play was flat flat flat as it really seemed to take the air out of the Seawolves tires.

Saturday night's game was a little more up and down but the Seawolves really dominated in terms of scoring chances. They were solid as they could be defensively. Bryce Christianson had a nice outing but faced a season low number of shots. He did get an immediate standing ovation and the biggest crowd response of the weekend for his total robbery of a Nodl shot. Don Adam gave more than a few UAA fans some neck pain with his robbery of a UAA goal when Jared Tuton's skate touched the crease on a goal from Mat Robinson. It was a ridiculous call. No doubt he had Randy Schmidt's "apology" goal from the DU/SCSU series earlier this season in mind when he looked at it. My understanding is that you can be "in the crease" prior to the puck as long as you don't interfere with the goalie. There was clearly no interference with a solid 2-3 feet between Tuton and the SCSU goalie. Then SCSU's 2nd goal on Saturday night came on a blown icing call. That's a lesson to play to the whistle I suppose. It did look like a couple of UAA players expected a whistle. What a pain in the neck eh? Sigh.

Nothing left to do but go out and win the next 4 games right? DU continues to be vulnerable and should be an opportunity for the Seawolves. We all know how UofM's season has gone so there's no reason to think anything other than that series will be a good opportunity for points. 9th place is possible. It's something to shoot for I suppose. I'll be watching upcoming UND and CC games closely as one of them is likely to be hosting UAA for the WCHA playoffs. Where would you rather see the team go for the playoffs? I know the coaching staff will say that it doesn't matter (when the time comes) and of course they'll be right. I'd like for UAA to draw UND personally. Another chance at beating them is appealing and of course I think the Seawolves could accomplish that.

I've said this in the comments section but probably not out here; this Seawolf team is as talented as any team in UAA history. Looking to the next two years I can't see anything other than great improvement. Why? Just look at the roster and you'll see why. Most of the talent I refer to are underclassmen. Clark, Lunden and Crowder are proven producers. McCabe, Parkinson, Grant and Daychief have all grown and chipped in reasonably. Tuton can be a force physically as we've all seen the last two years. Haddad has been solid and will be fully adapted to the college game next season. Wiles has made tremendous strides in his play since early in the season. That's six guys I know can score and two who'll be anxious to prove that they can. And here's a "junior to be" waiting in the wings (Brian Bales) that I believe will be an impact player. So seven potential goal scorers that are all a year older makes me a believer.

The blueliners are the best group of skaters that I've ever seen here and while we lost Luke Beaverson everyone else will be back next season and most of them will be here for another two years at least. Mat Robinson is a stud. Plain and simple. Here's a guy that can (and has) put the team on his back this season. Shane Lovdahl is da man in my book. He can skate. He might not have Robbie's wheels but he can get there. He's a smart player too. Kane Lafranchise is going to awe us in the next three years. I've already been "awed" by him. A healthy Backstrom is another guy who can bring it on the offensive end. Trevor Hunt will be a nice "stay at home" guy over the next couple of years with his strength even if he isn't quite 6ft tall. I'd bet pound for pound he's the strongest player on the team. There's every reason to believe that Bryce and Jonny O will push each other and compete for playing time. There could be a weekend rotation in the future for both of those guys the way it's been looking. They'd be an interesting tandem with Bryce being more "athletic" and Jonny O being "unflappable".

I'd been carrying a debt for quite a while from an Internet bet with "waterlover" from the SCSU fan base. I think we both expected I'd be paying it back down there at some point but he and two friends came up for the series this weekend. I learned a nice lesson. I'm not the kind of person (for whatever reason) that really seeks out fellowship. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy people but I'm also conscious to never step in where I might not necessarily wanted. So I don't invite myself. Just in my nature I guess. In any case, there was no avoiding the situation this weekend and I'm glad for that. Chad, Brock and Mark from SCSU were three really good guys. I enjoyed paying off my bet to Chad (and I think Chad agrees) and getting back to square one. The bets we'd made were years and years old (like 1999, 2000, 2001) but I made sure I never forgot them. And it's never really painful to pay off a bet by buying shitloads of alcohol since the buyer gets to participate as well eh? We had lots of laughs. I had a mild hangover. Job well done. The lesson I learned was to seek out that fellowship a bit more often. So I'll do so in the future. That's three times in the past three years that I've at least partially "hosted" some visiting fans and all three have been great experiences. Thanks to everyone from outside that I've had drinks with and talked hockey.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

See, us SCSU fans aren't all obnoxious servicemen....

For some bloogers on here to call their attitudes "ridiculous", etc...that's fine. But most of them have probably never been to UND or Wisconsin either. It's all relative...you'd probably be shocked at them.

Anonymous said...

We would die for an active student body up here!! Your idiots made things kind of fun in the ARENA this weekend..People can say what ever they want but we are building here,were Gaining,you just cant see it yet..Congrats for having a sold out building every night in Cloudy Town..We do have alot to learn in regards to every thing related to filling a Rink..And its only half wins and Losses in that regard..

Anonymous said...

The student body is very active at SCSU home games, but the other fans (aka "grown-ups", kids, etc...) also make the National Hockey Center a very fun and intense atmosphere. I've been to many games there and it beats the snot out of the Ralph and Mariucci Arena in terms of fans into the game. That is one thing SCSU has always been able to hang their hat on.
Wisco is far and away the roudiest in the WCHA, though.

Anonymous said...

Really, what I like about the fans at the NHC is that they can also appreciate a good game, when another team plays well. I still get a chill remembering last year's play off game against the Bulldogs. When the game ended after triple overtime at 11:35 p.m., the fans gave the Bulldogs' players a standing ovation when they left the rink. And had their goalie come back on the ice when he got a star of the night nod, he'd seen almost 7,000 people giving him a standing ovation.

Pete, MN

Anonymous said...

Some Day for UAA

annabelle said...

Absolutely.

GO SEAWOLVES!!!!!

Kris said...

Did SCSU cheat??? If not then why do we fully deserve to win??? I am sick of this crap that you and your fellow peoples who seem to think that sentimentality gets a win. It is not true. The fact of the matter is that this team is working hard and staying in games but that it is not finding ways to win games. They are losing not winning and therefore do not deserve a win unless the other team is cheating or the refs are being paid. The fact of the matter is that it does not matter how hard this team works unless they can also find a way to win. I am just sick of this "well at least they deserve to win" crap. They only deserve to win when they score more goals than the other team and they did not do that. WE LOST and have been losing lets not try to sugar coat it anymore.

Anonymous said...

OMG Lighten up.

Donald Dunlop said...

Kris:
If you watched Saturday's game and can't acknowledge that UAA's fate wasn't deserved then I'd encourage you to never read anything I have to say again. When that sort of thing happens (and it has 4 times this year) I'm going to point it out. If and when UAA wins a game that it didn't deserve I'll point that out as well (as I have done in the past).

If you want nothing but the score then go read the ADN. Here you get my perspective and an opportunity to discuss yours. Speaking of which;

In terms of pure reality you are unequivocably correct. But there is this thing called optimism that I try to bring to the discussion. It's a viewpoint and a perspective that is a necessary element as far as I'm concerned. With such strong feelings I'd recommend that you consider starting your own UAA Hockey Fan Blog to provide a counter to my non-reality based musings. I'll link to it.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Pete's comment,
Yes, I wass also at that triple-OT playoff game-three thriller against the 'Dogs. It was an amazing game and the opportunities that both teams had to end it were also amazing. Your right about the fams, as I was one of them...very happy for my team (thanks, NODL) but also appreciative to the Dogs as to the game I just saw. That one will stick with me forever. Thanks for the memory, Pete!
Now, lets get on a roll against Tech and Wisco at home and get home-ice this year too!

Kris said...

Donald, point taken. I actually did not get to watch the games this weekend, first weekend missed in years due to being out of state. I did talk to people who were there though. My point and pet peeve though is people who like to claim moral victories. It seems to be the new thing to help our children's self esteem and has now populated the college rank as well. I don't think that these athletes need self esteem boosters from us. The game is played to win that simple. What you have seemed to make a habit of doing is making excuses for losing. This seems to be a general trend of UAA fans and fans altogether. Either that or you have been ranting about some moot non UAA hockey point. Hence why I have not read the blog as much as I used to. I am merely glancing at the blog to pick up any tidbits rather than actually reading the posts. I have given a tiny morsel of thought to starting a blog but realize that trying to graduate and deciding on graduate schools along with the rest of my life would not allow me to do a satisfactory job at blogging.

In the mean time I hope that you will not be offended and maybe will join in a little with being critical of the team when it should be criticized. This team has drastically underperformed. It has not done what it should have done and found ways to win and until it can do that at a better level then it should be criticized. I am not saying don't point out the good things the team does and be a stick in the mud, but we did blow a lead in the third. We gave up a game that we should have won. Just start trying to call it what it is, a loss. Too many people including yourself have allowed 'reality' as you put it to be clouded with this 'optimism' about what is really nothing more than a team that hasn't been able to pull wins out that it should and therefore does not deserve to win. Sorry I am probably ranting again. I will go back to my dark cave of being agitated by silly things.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the flowers to the anonymous poster who attended that memorable game too.

You know, UAA fans, it's been pointed out in the St. Cloud media that this weekend could have taken another turn had it not been for the lucky bouncer that the Huskies got on their records on Friday. I didn't see the game, so can't say anything about who deserved what or not, but I can tell by my own experience that hard work pays off. Maybe not always right away, but some day it will.

Don Lyons, the St. Cloud radio announcer, gave your team a lot of praise saying what skilled young players you have and what a great game the freshman goalie played on Saturday (forgive me for not knowing names and being too lazy to look them up right now, cause I'm dead tired). Your team has potential and the time will come. Hang in there!!

I don't know if it is of any consolation, but the Huskies (and yes, I'm a Husky fan) had a total of seven goals disallowed this season, some of them had major impacts on the games they were unfortunate parts of. It's frustrating to watch these things, but just think about how much more frustrating it must be for the players...

Pete from MN

Donald Dunlop said...

Kris:
I might make a habit of bashing opposition fans when they come here with their jersey popping but when a legitimate UAA fans shows up to lend their perspective (regardless of it's specifics) then I want them to feel welcome. Hence, please come back and provide your thoughts as they occur. Other fans have to earn any respect they get here by commenting positively. UAA fans get that respect automatically (at least that's my intention).

Anonymous said...

there was alot of conversation on the recording of shots against for UAA all weekend with a pretty heated conversation between a booster with a long beard and a WCHA official who was extremly Defensive in the Blueliners room on Sat..It seems alot of fans in the stands were highly questioning the shots on Goals for St Cloud..There was absolutely several more shots than recorded.. in all my years of attending Hockey games I have never heard of shots being brought up as an issue but 11 shots on Goal was absolutely a farce and when fans in the stands are commenting on it..and Boosters are complaining its a real issue and one that could effect careers now and in the future.It wasnt just one or two it was more like 7+..I mean St Cloud had 2 shots in the 2nd ..with there powerplay.....Cmon....Its unexcusable as it completly taints the reality of the game..THe shots were 3 to 2 UAA no way in hell 3 to 1.. NO way in Hell was there 11 shots against for UAA...

Anonymous said...

The ADN s comment about St Cloud having only 3 scoring opportunities is a Classic..Obviously he was the one counting shots ..My call is the reporter showed up half Drunk midway thru the third..then wrote his article after he topped off his twelvepack of tallboys. More negative shit from those assholes..Nice headline Dickweed.. Same ol what..yeah shitty reporting..thats whats the same..CLOWN

szzz said...

On several occasions this season the Seawolves have "outplayed" their opponent only to loose the game. Maybe it is time to mix up our offensive game plan a bit! These kids are playing their hearts out and doing everything that is asked of them by the coaching staff only to see the losses mount. It seems to me, the team has executed the systems devised by the coach but still isn’t able to generate enough offense to win games. Maybe the coaches should do their part and come up with an offensive system that works more effectively for this team.

Every team knows (from playing against UAA and watching tape) that the Seawolves are going to try to get the puck in deep and "cycle" it while waiting for a scoring chance. In my opinion, this looks remarkably similar to the game plan employed during the "Dark Days of Dean" – kick the puck along the end-boards behind the net until it gets stolen and headed the other direction... Looks good for time of possession but hasn’t in either case translated to goal scoring. Opponents know there's not much harm in seeing the Seawolves "cycle" the puck as long as all three forwards are behind the goal line - with nobody going to the net.

This is likely the most talented team fielded by the Seawolves in years but instead of harnessing that skill to find seams in the defense and make pinpoint passes to create scoring chances, they are relying on a game plan very similar to the one used by Talafous when he thought the team didn’t have talent...

It was good to see them open things up a bit on Saturday. The game was fun to watch and they created numerous scoring chances - even though UAA was only able to bury one. Sure if you "open it up" you are likely going to give up a few more goals - but you should score a few more as well. Personally, I've seen enough games this year where the Seawolves only score one goal! Beyond simple wins and losses, a big part of getting butts in the seats is the excitement of the game. We have seen some close hockey games this season but many haven't been very exciting. Most fans would much rather watch a game that ends 5-4 than a game that ends 1-0 or 2-1…

The bottom line is you're not going to win many games when you only score one or two goals. My quick check found 21 goals for UAA in 12 WCHA home games this year. Not even 2 goals per game average on their home rink! I think this team is certainly capable of much more offense. It’s up to the coaching staff to figure out a system to get it out of them!

Anonymous said...

Toughest Coaching job in Div 1..Alaska Anchorage period..still if Lake Superior St can when a National Championship then.....Its a crime to compare anybody to TalliMonster..

Anonymous said...

I agree about the cycling game, it's getting a bit old. Mankato was stronger on the boards and totally dominated because of it. Still, UAA continued to use a game plan that didn't work.

Cycling the puck is all well and good, but when you see an open guy at the point, why not pass it up? They are too predictable.

As far as players feeling frustrated, I'm sure they are - just as the fans are. I felt so sorry for them skating out to a half empty arena, until I realized it's mostly the teams fault that the fans are either staying home or going to an Aces game.

Start cashing in on some of those scoring opportunities and win some games and the fans will come. It's up to them, we can't do it for them.

Anonymous said...

if u all want to see a real team win check out the uaa men's baskeball team. Thursday and saturday @ 7:00. GO SEAWOLVES

Donald Dunlop said...

I disagree that it's the teams fault that fans don't show up.

If so few people in this town have so little pride in their hometown school as to show up and support them that is zero reflection on the product on the ice. The truth is that UAA would beat the Aces. It's too bad the insipid bandwagon sports fan in this town doesn't realize that. Winning is all that matters. More people show up for cage fighting and/or gay ass wrestling. And in a hockey town that is truly pathetic. In fact it is worse than pathetic. It is embarrassing.

I've spent too many years on the Internet talking about what a good hockey town Anchorage is. I was foolish for doing so. While there is plenty of hockey here I can't begin to guess why support for the Seawolves is absent. I usually blame it on peoples bandwagon natures but it could just as easily be that parents of the thousands of youth players in this town are simply to self-absorbed to see past their greedy SUV-driving noses. It's sickening really.

There is hockey played at a level that is frankly just below the level of the NHL here and only 3,000 people a weekend are seeing it. Pitiful. Shame on the people of Anchorage. They obviously know nothing about the game.

There's also obviously no student pride on that campus either. Part of that is the nature of the school and being screwed by the Fairbanks based UA regents for years but a bigger part must be in the environment on campus. All those kids sitting in the dorms on Friday and Saturday nights? Maybe the on campus arena is what is needed but I'm not so sure whatever apathy the insipid student-body at UAA has will be fixed by that.

Maybe the faculty just sucks. Do they have any pride in the school or are they just collecting paychecks and pensions? If they had some pride they'd almost certainly be able to transfer that to the students wouldn't they? It's pathetic. Yeah ... I said it already.

It isn't the teams fault. I'd venture to guess every student-athlete at that school has some amount of pride ... well ... maybe not the skiers but the rest of them must eh?

Does the Athletic Department need something new? Perhaps someone with a sense of how to build community spirit instead of just making babies? Steve Cobb really ought to look into energizing the people under him who's job it should be to market the premier sports program. Light some damn fires under some peoples asses eh Dr. Cobb? Find the funding for another position or two and hire somebody with some passion who'll find ways to improve attendance!

Suze said...

I agree that the Athletic Dept needs some passion, but it starts at the top!! There is much work that needs to be done, and hiring a PR person would pay off if the Sully was full!

They also need to find some way to mend fences with the ADN. Their coverage is just making fans want to stay home.

Donald Dunlop said...

Suze:
It's clear from my interaction with ADN's most senior Editor last year that they've made an editorial decision regarding UAA's placement on their sports pages. Unless it is a "big story" the program isn't going to get more coverage. No "fence mending" could do anything about that I fear.

But yeah ... I could get on board with the Associate Athletic Director in charge of External Affairs actually doing SOMETHING. McDiffett has worked there forever and has had that title for several years now. Yet I see NO evidence of any "External Affairing" other than special ticket deals. Does the guy have any passion? With his family situation I seriously doubt he has much time over and above the 37.5 hour work week.

Anonymous said...

Tim McDiffett is more passionate about UAA athletics than u will ever be, he has put his heart into that program.

Donald Dunlop said...

Lets face it ... he has NINE kids. I have to assume he is a dedicated loving father. I don't doubt his "passion". I doubt his effectiveness.

A look at UAA's attendance numbers is all it takes to point a finger at the Athletic Department. 39 Division 1 teams put a higher percentage of butts in seats than does UAA. I've always been of the opinion that a winning program will put more butts in seats but that doesn't mean that in a city of 300,000 people that UAA couldn't at least reach the 2/3 full point on a regular basis when it is playing in the premier D1 conference against teams that regularly put 6K -12K in their arenas.

I'd hope McDiffett's "passion" can be seen in attendance numbers at some point. Where are the co-marketing agreements with the Aces (i.e... show an Aces ticket at the door and get in for 5 bucks) and promotions to Aces fans? UAA doesn't have one. Where is a scheduling agreement with ASHAA hockey games so that people don't have to choose between going to their favorite high school hockey game and UAA game? Where are the advertisements in the ADN or even the Anchorage Press for promotions and/or events? How many times has Tim walked through the dorms on a Thursday night personally challenging and/or energizing students to get to the Friday/Saturday games? How many times has Tim sent anyone to do something like that? How many times has he manned a table at an Aces game to help convince those hockey fans to come to a UAA game. How many letters to the editor or Compass pieces has he submitted to cajole Anchorage sports fans to come back to the UAA games? Any of those three situations just mentioned could be handled by someone with "passion" but they'd also need the "time".

I just don't see how his "passion" has translated to any butts in seats.

And comparing his "passion" as a result of his professional employment to my "passion" as an uncompensated loudmouth blogging fan is apples and oranges. He may have put his heart into the program but he's been well enough compensated to raise a regiment.

Anonymous said...

Thers no question we have huge marketing issues..A top notch Marketing sales person would pay for himself..The hockey program needs to be ran like a minor pro franchise in the regard of the mentality of its a business..I mean we gave away free tickets last week end and had argueably the worst crouds of the season..especially friday night...Here are just a few ideas that wouldnt cost much but would make an immediate difference..Hire students on a commission basis to sell tickets..Donate 25percent to groups out of gross sales start with the Frats and Sororities and like campus based groups..have a liason to the youth leagues use them as a fund raiser hell up the percentage to 50per the first time..Better light shows..intermissions better use of the jumble tron... Have a band every night .. use high schools if you need to..But heres the best one..Go to every WCHA RINK and school and steal/use one idea that we currently dont do for every facet of the game..Its business what works and is good there probally will work here..I support Donald in regards that were really last in almost every off ice issue..and winning will bring you 4500 per night but being the best in regards to every facet of running a sport franchise (which it is) will bring you to 6000per night hmmm lets run the numbers at just a attainable increase of a 1000 fans x 7 dollers = 7000 per game x 16 hm games ==112,000 dollers that would more than pay for 2 fulltime Hockey Marketing guys...IT TAKES MONEY TO MAKE MONEY...You cant put this on Tim..This is a move by Dr Cobb to hire the best Possible guy with the most experience and run this team welll.........like the ACES...

Neil said...

My big beef is all of the potential "Corporate Dollars" out there that aren't being tapped. We have a ton of Billion Dollar Companies loitering around Alaska trying to Polish their image. How many have ponied up to help UAA? One, Wells Fargo, that's it. Why aren't we leveraging them for some dough the might help get a new sports facility on campus? You can forget about politicians, unless it is building a road in their neighborhood or a adding five more layers of government bureaucracy they aren't interested. Cobb may be nice, McDiffett may be passionate, but both may need to go to get some life into the Sports Program at UAA

Anonymous said...

Regarding the comment on shots on goal, UAA needs somebody who knows what they are doing!!!!!

The Wisconsin series sticks out in my mind. UAA shot the puck into Connelleys chest, and they gave the shot to the Badgers???? At least 4 or 5 shots were not recorded for UAA. It's been this way for several years now, and it needs to be addressed.

Donald Dunlop said...

Yes. Shot counting at the UAA rink is quite possibly the worst in the nation. I tend to only notice when they don't count obvious shots for the Seawolves. But typically I'd estimate they undercount those UAA shots by at least 10 percent.

The league goes cheap when it comes to games in Anchorage. Both linesmen in every UAA series are Anchorage residents. That saves the league at least one plane ticket. If you notice during the games at other venues the linesmen you'll see at Duluth and Denver or Mankato are the same guys. They don't depend on locals like they do here.

McLeod and Shepherd have made a mess of the officiating at the highest levels so it isn't surprising that the minor officials aren't competent either.

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