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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

UAA Hockey Fan Blog Awards: 07-08

Rookie of the Year
Kane Lafranchise
The 07-08 Seawolf freshman class hit the ice with some vigor this season. Winston Daychief was named WCHA Rookie of the Week for the third weekend in October. By that time 4 Seawolf freshman had already bagged their first collegiate goal. Craig Parkinson, Tommy Grant, Brad McCabe and Winston all had respectable numbers in their first year. On a team that only managed 81 goals those 4 guys contributed 23. Pretty nice. Parkinson and McCabe both finished the season with 7 each. Overall, I think those are pretty promising numbers but I'm naming Kane the ROY because of his overall solid play in both ends of the ice. Kane's offensive potential became apparent in the 2nd half of the season as he gained confidence and adapted fully to the college game. Kane was the 3rd leading scoring defenseman (but tied for 1st in goals scored) on the team with 3 goals and 5 assists but most of those points came in the 2nd half. I'm big time jazzed about the skills he brings to the blueline. His smooth skating and heads up play impress the hell out of me; And his attention to his defensive responsibilities are second to none.

Most Improved Player
Sean Wiles
There simply was no bigger change in a player from the beginning of the season to the end than what I saw from Sean Wiles. He went from a guy I wasn't initially sure could skate with D1 players to someone that I confused with Paul Crowder. I'm not sure exactly what Sean's offensive potential might be but I can't deny the huge difference in his apparent abilities from early to late. I also believe that Jon Olthuis qualifies for a mention here. I suspect that if you broke his season in two and calculated his save percentage that you'd find a substantial positive difference. I considered Shane Lovdahl here because I really think his skating abilities are undersold by the coaching staff. He also showed some nice flair puck-handling deep in the offensive end. Ken Selby also came to mind simply because when he finally got into the lineup he produced. I sure hope we see more of him next season.

Heart and Soul
Mat Robinson/Kevin Clark
For one reason and one reason only these two guys share my Heart and Soul award this year. Because these guys both seemed to me to "want it" more whenever they were on the ice. Mat layed on many many punishing hits this year. He never hesitated to carry the puck up when necessary and always did so with vigor. I could see from my balcony seat that Kevin wanted to make something happen every shift he took. Whether he was instigating or playmaking he simply gave it his all on every shift. He is perhaps the most talented stick handler on the team and made so many many pretty passes. Let me be clear here though ... just about everyone on the team came to mind when deciding this award. I loved Chris Tarkir's effort all season. I think Jared Tuton did everything the coaching staff asked him to do. He's got to be a coaches dream player eh? I think Luke Beaverson sacrificed his offensive game in order to lead the team and I think he was a great Captain. Merit Waldrop would have been deserving of this award as well. Peter Cartwright was another player that let it all hang out all season and could have garnered this. And of course Blair Tassone shouldn't be left out of consideration. I called him this years Justin Johnson in my Senior Tribute and I'll stand by that. He hit somebody on every shift and brought so much energy. I considered naming the "team" as Heart and Soul winners. But that seemed like a bit of a cop out ... so congrats to Kevin and Mat for being just marginally more intense and standing out in my mind.

Most Valuable Player
Josh Lunden
Josh scored twice as many goals as any other Seawolf. It's always easy to name the leading scorer as an MVP and that's the case with Josh this season. If that was all that he brought to the party it would be enough. But Josh brought more than just goal scoring. His physical game was always evident and he was a leader on the ice. Paul Crowder got consideration here both because he was the 2nd leading scorer but also because I think he was perhaps the smartest penalty killer on the team. I can't say I didn't think of Kevin Clark here as well for the reasons I mentioned above. I'm thrilled that all three of these guys will be in Seawolf sweaters for the next two years. They are leaders as sophomores already so as juniors and seniors we should expect more excellence from them.


Suze said...

Nice write up Donald! I agree with all of your award winners! definitely a lot of talent and it will be good to see these guys on the ice next season.

Anonymous said...

Good choices.

Will said...

Well done as usual. I sure hope the young guys will all be back next year. Another year of experience and will expect big things from everyone you mentioned. As for the seniors, we wish them well as they move on to whatever is next for them.

Anonymous said...

The grand forks longtime sportswriter is pushing for the WCHA to kiss UAA goodbye and bring BSU into the Seawolves position.

Donald Dunlop said...

I will likely be publishing something with regard to that stupidity later today. I have exchanged emails with Virg and expect another reply forthwith.

Anonymous said...

That UND writer is a complete jackass. As a DU fan I will say UAA deserves to stay in the WCHA just as much as anyone. What a ridiculous column.

Suze said...

JUST what the league needs, ANOTHER team from Minnesota in the WCHA. Like they don't all have a huge locational advantage already. Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely right...a huge locational advantage. The more the merrier. Say what you want about the "exception" teams get by coming to Alaska, all it would take is for the NCAA to change the rule, to allow all teams to add a game or two, and that little perk is moot. UAA needs to show more as far as being competitive in this league (we've barely had a sniff of fifth place) and it needs to show commitment from the administration. Surely you've seen the drooling over the hoops programs by Cobb and company (winning cures all, eh?)
Will we EVER get a new arena? Not anytime soon. This state is overflowing with oil money, and still the university has to scrap for even seeding money for an arena.
Bemidji is a threat...maybe more so Nebraska-Omaha. Then UAA can join Air Force, Alabama-Huntsville and the others. Then UAA will have a much better shot at the NCAA's, even though attracting lesser talent. Yup, back to the glory days of the 80's and 90's when we were beating up on Chicago State, St. Olaf and Hamline.
UAA better take it's Division 1 hockey team and treat it like a D-1 team, or it's disappear.

Anonymous said...

UAA is competitive in this league. Did you not watch the games all season?? Game for game the team held their own. They are one player short of being in the top of the league. Only one player on average has made a difference on the other teams. Every one of the UAA boys belongs in the wcha.

Anonymous said...

Keep telling yourself that.

Jeff said...

bemidji state doesnt deserve to be in the wcha. Especially since the team cant even win the cha title. If they replaced uaa, they would definitely be a last place team.

Donald Dunlop said...

UAA's lack of success in the last 3 years has ABSOLUTELY NO BEARING on its standing as a quality member of the conference.

It has been an EXCEEDINGLY GOOD partner to the other members of the league.

Any of this PURE FANTASY about their league standing because they finished last is RIDICULOUS and comes from people who really just haven't thought it through or are just petty fucking trolls.

End of argument.

Anonymous said...

No Donald, we're not talking lack of success the last three about lack of success for the past 11 or 12! Other than one brief flirtation with fifth place during the Talafous years and one final five appearance, UAA has been dismal. League officials have taken notice of the lack of people showing up to watch at the Sullivan Arena...what a dead arena. Shyiak and crew need to come up with 2 TJ Oshies and a Richard Bachman, then we'll talk about improvement. Hell, Minnesota and their 15 NHL draft picks finished in the bottom five this year.
Exceedingly good member? Why, because we pay our dues each year and pick up a few airline tix? Give me a break.
Your green and gold sunglasses are distorting your view.
Your homerism rivals Woog and Mazzacco.

Donald Dunlop said...

Your imaginings that "league officials" have taken notice is utter BS. Who? What "league officials"?

Do you think ANY "league official" has anything to do with it? Bruce McLeod is the works for the A.D.s ... Do you imagine that the AD's work for these supposed "league officials"? What a crock.

What other AD is concerned with attendance at UAA? None. Nobody. Not a single AD at another school is concerned with UAA's attendance.

We UAA fans and/or other league fans can certainly be free to talk about UAA's lack of success. It's a valid topic with some clear reasons why it hasn't happened. That's a fair discussion. But imagining that somehow because UAA has finished in the basement means that the power structure of the WCHA (the Athletic Directors at each school) have concerns is just ridiculous.

If anything the AD's at other schools are happy that their program has better odds at another win when playing UAA.

Man ... some of you people need to exercise a little bit of critical thinking instead of accusing me of being a homer (which I admittedly AM anyway) as some sort of insult. Pretend you're an AD at University of St. MinnWiscoColo ... what do you want out of your opponents? You want a win.

Anonymous said...

You want a win from a competetive team. If UND, UMNtc, CC, Denver, etc. where looking for just wins then they would be looking for another conference. They want quality wins every game from teams under consideration. And if you think otherwise you are a moron.

Anonymous said...

anon at 2:07 What the hell is a quality win?? A win is a win. A lucky bounce, a great save etc.... all factor in to a win. A team does not care how they win, they just want to win. As UAA was tied with CC last week-end, I'm sure CC was thinking, "God, I hope we win but too bad it will not be a quality win if we do because it's UAA." Yep, pretty sure that's what the coaches said to the boys right before O.T. just in case the boys were not already thinking that. You can outshoot and outplay a team and still lose, so is that a quality loss?? Who's the moron??

Anonymous said...

A quality win is a win against a team under consideration. Which I havent seen UAA in that category for a long time. If teams dont have hard schedules it will bite them in the ass. And the only time quality and loss is in a sentence its a UAA fan talking about it

Anonymous said...

Unless your team is DU, then well, the 2nd place team is the first loser. Join the club.

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