Yesterday I gave you the reasons "Why" ... Today is the "How". On the Indian sub-continent when they needed to hunt down and kill a rogue tiger they employed elephants to help. The elephants size and strength was intimidating enough to keep the tigers at bay long enough for someone to crank off a head shot and turn out the lights on the miserable bugger. It is an apt metaphor for the Seawolves this weekend.
UAA is on average more than 10 pounds heavier than CC. UAA is #2 in height; CC is #40. UAA is #5 in weight; CC is #50. I have pointed out the size differences between UAA and their opponent in pretty much every series I've preview this season. I can't say that the Seawolves have used that size difference to it's best advantage over the course of the season. If there was an opportunity to bang the hell out of an opponent it is this weekend. CC is little. The Seawolves are big. I'm over-simplifying the difference perhaps but don't sell it short. Effectively utilizing their advantage in size and strength is the first of the several keys to victory this weekend. UAA has to hit in open ice, along the boards, in the corners and even in the hallways if necessary.
I believe the second key to victory is to play the best defensive games of the year. The Seawolves have improved their defensive play dramatically this season. The goals against total this season is the lowest in almost a decade. Shots given up per game are also dramatically down. CC's primary strength this season has been it's defensive strategy. First they trap a lot in order to disrupt the oppositions transition game. Second they pack it tightly in their own zone shutting down passing and shooting lanes then rely on their own excellent transition game to move the puck up the ice. This leads me to one conclusion. The Seawolves have to extensively employ the trap this weekend. When CC gains control of the puck in their end the Seawolves need to get into trapping position and deny the transition. When the puck makes it into the UAA end they Seawolves need to play the game defensively like they already know how to do. Blocking passing and shooting lanes and packing it in tightly is nothing new for the Seawolf squad. Defensively they've been good all season. So more of the same is necessary. The new thing will be the trapping. Trapping is pretty simple as long as forwards take that role seriously and drop back to the high zone or blueline quickly. When given a taste of their own medicine CC has struggled. Three of their four games against Wisconsin were close and they only managed a split against Mankato's high zone zone trap. Likewise when faced with MTU's trap they ended up with a split as well. They beat everyone else in the WCHA that didn't trap them.
The third key for the Seawolves is the most difficult one to accomplish. We all know that burying the puck hasn't been a strength for this years team. We've witnessed many many ties and many one goal games all of which were clearly the result of the Seawolves inability to convert. There is no useful suggestion which I can offer that will make the puck go into the net more often. So as the coaching staff has acknowledged and preached the team is just going to have to stay determined and keep at it.
If UAA can be effective in these three critical areas then Seawolf fans should expect low scoring very tightly played hockey games this weekend. That's how I see it. Beating CC shouldn't be some deeply complex mysterious thing. Hit them hard, early and often. Use their primary strategy against them. And dig deep to find the back of the net. That's what it will take. Get caught up in an up and down pond hockey game and the Seawolves will probably get burned.