Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Billy Shakespeare I ain't. But I can steal the title to one of his plays. There hasn't been much dreamy about summer in Alaska this year though. By my count there has been exactly 1 day in Anchorage at 70 degrees or better. ONE? No dream there ... it's frankly been a nightmare. It might be light out but the Sun's only significance has been it's brutally obvious absence. None of that stops the world from turning though. The Summer Elite Hockey League provided a good example of that this evening with it's annual All-Star game and skills competition.

The SEHL provides a good summer hockey experience for locally based midget, junior, college and professional players. With only a few exceptions pretty much all the elite players from Anchorage suit it up every Wednesday and Thursday night for some fast paced action on the ice. Here are the rosters from tonight's game:
SBS Studs:
Brandon Dubinsky - New York Rangers
Moises Gutierrez - Texas Wildcatters
Nate Thompson - Providence Bruins
Blair Tassone - UAA Seawolves
Sean Curry - Providence Bruins
Evan Trupp - North Dakota Fighting Sioux
Cam Keith - Alaska Aces
Eric Walsky - Colorado College
Merit Waldrop - UAA Seawolves
JJ Waldrop - Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Damon Whitten - UAA Assistant Coach
Brad Gorham - Ohio State
Graham McManamin - Bemidji State
Tyler Morgan - Alaska Avalanche
Erik Felde - Texas Wildcatters
Corbin Schmidt - Alaska Aces
John DeCaro - Bossier-Shreveport Muddogs
Jeremy Smith - UAA Seawolves
Casey Shade - Trail Smoke Eaters

Miller Brewsers:
Billy Bagron - Texas Wildcatters
Kyle Bailey - Mahoning Valley Phantoms
Brian Bales - UAA Seawolves
Peter Cartwright - UAA Seawolves
Bo Cheesman - Alaska Aces
Kimbi Daniels - Alaska Aces
Jason Ryznar - Lowell Devils
JJ Johnson - Utah Grizzlies
Aris Brimanis - Hanover Scorpions (Germany)
Robb Haider - South High School
Campbell Blair - UAA Assistant Coach
Jack Woglemuth - Wisconsin-Stout
Cody Butcher - Bemidji State
Chad Anderson - Philadelphia Phantoms
William Wrenn - USNDT
Chris Tarkir - UAA Seawolves
Zach Tarkir - Trenton Titans
Steve Summerhayes - Belle Tire AAA midget
Matt Wichorek - Kenai Brown Bears
Gage Christianson - South High School
So that's 1 NHLer (I dunno where Gomer is); 4 AHLers, 9 ECHLers, 10 Division Iers, and 1 Division IIIer. The game of course was very fast paced with zero penalties called. There were few if any muffed plays and to go along with the 12-9 final score were at least 6 pipes. That doesn't begin to compare to an earlier season game that ended up 27-10. It was a bit difficult to follow everyone with having to refer to the rosters to know who was doing what. I didn't see it but I heard Campbell Blair slew-footed Damon Whitten to get his attention; I dunno if Damon noticed Campbell short-shifting himself but I did; that's ok Campbell ... I understand not being fit. They both played on the blueline and were mostly invisible to me. I was watching Brian Bales as much as I could hoping to get an idea of what he will bring to the rink for UAA this fall. It was nice to see some non-Anchoragites spending their summer up here playing hockey; Chad Anderson, Zach Tarkir, Chris Tarkir aren't "from" here but I'm guessing they're Alaska converts. Cool beans. Eric Walsky won the fastest skater competition versus Evan Trupp. Sean Curry had the hardest shot with a 99mph blast. I believe the shootout competition was won by Nate Thompson. All in all it was a pleasure to watch some good hockey and talk with a few hockey friends in the middle of July.

It's been a relatively quiet off-season from a Seawolves perspective. Since my last post, UAA added three recruits for this coming season. Left winger Jade Portwood (6'2" 197lbs; 14g-26a in 60 games) from the Brooks Bandits in the AJHL and left winger August Aiken (5'8" 165lbs; 17g-29a in 59 games) from the Trail Smokeeaters in the BCHL will be joining the team along with existing recruits Tyler Moir and Curtis Leinweber. The third addition is goaltender Dusan Sidor from the NAHL Alaska Avalance to replace the departing Aaron Mayo. In other recruit news it looks like 09 recruit Gustav Bengtson will be joining the NAHL's Topeka Roadrunners for this season as the Texas Tornado are taking a one year hiatus. 2010 recruit Matthew Bailey from Neepawa in the MJHL had an outstanding tryout camp with Sioux Falls of the USHL but it seems they weren't able to add him due to that league's import restrictions (2 per team). Apparently though, his performance at Sioux Falls camp impressed the GM at Tri-Cities; Bailey turned up on their 25 player protected list last week. 09 recruit Mickey Spencer appears to be on track for another season in Cowichan Valley. Of course I'll have regular updates on all three of these guys as the 08 season progresses. I'm curious to see if perhaps Matthew Bailey can perform well enough in the USHL to accelerate coming to UAA in 09; of course it's early to project that and I suppose it's just me being hopeful that he puts craploads of pucks in the net this season.

The only other issue worthy of comment is the lack of inclusion of a new hockey arena in UAA plan for upgrading their facilities. While there is no doubt that the existing facilities for UAA programs are in dire need of replacement, the fact that hockey got left out of the current plans is very disappointing. Ever see the movie "Defending Your Life"?

In it Albert Brooks plays a man who died and must defend his decisions during a trial of sorts before he can move onto the next level. In one scene you see Brooks talking with his wife and pumping himself up to demand a good wage from a new potential employer. Over and over he practices saying, "I cannot take this job for less than 60,000 dollars a year". The next day during the interview the employer offers him the job at 35,000 dollars a year and without hesitation Brooks says, "I'll take it." The prosecutor at his trial uses this event to portray Brooks as fearful. But Brooks explains that that it wasn't fear. He added that the guy had a smell and the smell said 35,000 dollars. It was a weak rationalization. Brooks character was clearly fearful to stand up for himself and demand more.

That's the UAA Arena planning committee in a nutshell if you ask me. The year before last they asked for money for their "dream" arena configuration. A joined facility that included separate arenas for basketball and hockey. But having that get turned down scared the planning committee. And rather than stand up for themselves, they settled for something they knew they could get; I guess they smelled something. I'm not happy that the hockey program bears the cost of that fear. Congrats to all the other sports programs. I honestly hope the new facilities are wonderful for them but the hockey team got the short stick in the ass on this one. We'll see what happens. Scuttlebutt says that perhaps there is something in the works. I don't subscribe to rumors and I'm not impressed with glad-handing reassurances that all will be well.

It is vital that as the hockey program progresses that a serious effort arise to build a hockey arena on campus. It is really difficult at this point to imagine how that might happen. One version in my mind has the Seawolves making some serious noise nationally (NCAA playoffs) and ultimately getting rewarded for that performance with a new rink. Another wait and see I guess. The team will have 17 upperclassmen in 2009 and if there was ever a time when they had a chance to make that kind of noise it will be then. Patience is of course always a great virtue. I guess it's up to us fans to try our best to be as patient as we can.

See ya in a month or so when I begin the previews. I'll have profiles of each class. I'll give my best shot at predicting how the other teams in the league look also. By my count it's only 70 days until the first exhibition game versus the U-18 team in Wasilla on September 25th.

54 comments:

Suze said...

Thanks for posting this summer Donald, we miss ya. That was fun last night, and I was impressed with Bales. He sure likes to camp out in front of the net, I like that.

I guess the weather has been better north of you. I know we've had at least 7 days of over 70 degree weather. I even remember it hitting 80 one day at our home.

Overall, the summer weather has been unremarkable, but at least we have a reason to look forward to winter!! HOCKEY.

Anonymous said...

The hockey program will not be getting a new facility. The Recreation center that got funding of 15 million is for the student population first and foremost. That is a small percentage of what it will take to build this building. The hockey team needs to make some major in roads to getting support. They even had to cancel the Seawolf hockey camp this summer because of weak interest. The athletic program talked largely and put out pictures of a building to get a small percentage of people excited to do the grunt work and then left them hanging with a rec. center. Shameful.

MeanEgirl said...

Heyyyy Donald... Just wanted to let you know that I'll be up again this season for the Tech series. We'll have to go out for food or something. This time, I'm bringing friends, and no that dipshit Dustin.

Donald Dunlop said...

Awwwww ... poor Dustin. God bless him.

Anonymous said...

ummmmm donald, isn't cody butcher headed to UAF?

Donald Dunlop said...

Yes, Cody Butcher is a Nanook. This is a Seawolves blog. Good luck to him for being a member of an inferior team.

Anonymous said...

Fairbanks has more players from Anchorage than Anchorage does, how does that happen?

Donald Dunlop said...

Your trolling doesn't deserve an explanation. UAA has never historically held onto a large share of locally produced talent. It was the case when Brush was Coach and has been so with every single coach following him. I guess the UAF ought to be happy ... it keeps them from having to promise full boats to 16 year olds that way.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous on July 19 said:

"The hockey program will not be getting a new facility. The Recreation center that got funding of 15 million is for the student population first and foremost. That is a small percentage of what it will take to build this building.""

Recreation Center?
Small amount to build the place?

...huh?

From everything I've read.. the $15 million will be used for planning the new basketball (etc.) arena; not for building it.

Or at least that's what I've read..

As far as putting the new hockey arena on hold, I seriously think that until there's some major outcry from the community, they'll keep placing it on the backburner and put other projects ahead of it.

Dr. Cobb obviously REALLY wants a basketball arena and after the season both teams had last year, the desire accelerated.

He went from boasting about a new arena which included hockey, to saying he's working with the muni to fix up the Sully and will deal with a new UAA arena "in a better location" (whatever that means?) in the near future.

Until there's public outcry that addresses the need, they'll be sketching out plans for their incredible new basketball arena while the hockey arena is put on ice..

larissa

Anonymous said...

Bales,lovedahl,Bryce,and Smith Carry the Anchorage Torch.Keep it burnin Boys.

Anonymous said...

Channel 2 news just said that Whitten is going back to Michigan, I think they said he is going to be director of operations? Anyone else hear this?

Will said...

I talked to someone that works in the athletic department and they confirmed that Whitten is in fact leaving for the job in Michigan. The information is also on UAA website.

Donald Dunlop said...

I view it as a nice progression for Whitten and an opportunity for the Seawolves. Whitten steps into a role with a hockey program that doesn't include responsibilities like driving on dark 2 lane roads in the middle of winter in the middle of nowhere to see a kid play hockey. For UAA it is a chance to possibly find a good evaluator of talent that is perhaps tied to the local community. I don't have any names in mind but I've got to imagine someone with the right qualities exists in the Anchorage hockey community.

Anonymous said...

Damon is a class act.the guys on the team loved him and will be sorely missed. Both him and Campbell have made significant progress working with alot of Alaskas top youth players this summer. Thats so important for the program. Best of luck.

Anonymous said...

big rumor that Reg Simon may be the new assistant coach? Isnt that a pay cut from St Louis? Seems like a risky move for him.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Guy Perron and Grant Stranbrook are possibly leaving Maine for other opportunities. Could Campbell Blair have a chance to go back to Maine as the lead Assistant Coach? He is a graduate and was on staff there.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to see Damon leave, he was a class act. As for the possibilities of Campbell leaving to go back to Maine...about as good as the state of Alaska ending PFD payments.

Anonymous said...

Rumor mill says Dean Larson or Corey Millen coud also be in the hunt. Really couldnt go wrong with either both Class acts.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it will be Kraft that will join the payroll instead of being an unpaid volunteer coach.

Donald Dunlop said...

Lots of interesting speculation. How about a couple of more names ...

Dennis Sorenson ...
Rob Larkey ...

Donald Dunlop said...

As to Campbell Blair to Maine?

That program looks to be a bit of a mess at the moment. I'm of the opinion that Tim Whitehead doesn't exactly have wide support amongst the fanbase. I doubt that I'd accept a job as an assistant coach with him doing the hiring since Whitehead quite honestly might not be a long term guy.

Anonymous said...

if Sorenson joined there would be a Lynch Mob starting with the Alumni

Donald Dunlop said...

I think it's a done deal. So we just have to wait for the announcement.

Donald Dunlop said...

Not that I know who's been chosen. Because frankly, I have no idea.

Anonymous said...

I really hope it's not Krafty or Larson. Both are great guys, and are dear to all Seawolf fans. But we need someone with coaching experience, and Dean has that but he walked out on his team.

If he thinks there were a lot of politics in juniors, he's not ready for college, in my opinion.

We don't need another Morris & Kowal situation.

Anonymous said...

Im for Larkey

Anonymous said...

I love it a Morris,Kowal Situation.?? What tha hells that

Anonymous said...

I say Knuckles Newans

Anonymous said...

okay Donald its august now, your off season is over. It's time for your WCHA preview. U predicting a 20 win season again?

Donald Dunlop said...

To be fair to Dean Larson ... there was a dispute between ownership and the coaches (Lars and Millen) ... ownership was pressuring them to make the squad all alaskan (and win). Lars and Millen just wanted to put the best team on the ice they could.

The thing that ownership failed to realize is that putting together that sort of roster is difficult in the extreme. Note that Jeremiah Dargis (a valley kid) had to beg to be traded this offseason so that he could hopefully get a D1 offer.

Lars and Millen would have done just fine out there had the ownership just kept out of it.

Anon@1010:
There won't likely be a full blown official WCHA preview until September. No point in writing something when a key player or two might not show up for one team or another. Until school has started anything can happen.

That said, there is EVERY reason to expect that the Seawolves should be quite improved. For the first time in a VERY long time the team will have a substantial number of upperclassmen. 4 of the top 5 top scorers (or 11 of the top 15 if you prefer) return. 6 of the 7 regular playing defensemen return (4 upperclassmen ... 2 seniors/2 juniors and 2 sophomores). 24 goals from freshman return for their sophomore year. There is every reason to expect that Brian Bales will turn out to be an excellent transfer who will produce at the same level as the rest of the junior class. All that said the #1 question the team will have to answer is whether it can score more goals.

Once I scour all the other teams stats and returners then I'll be better able to assess and guess how much the squad will improve. I think every other team in the league had significant early losses that UAA hasn't had.

I'll have the first real post of the year in a couplathree weeks ...

Anonymous said...

I am wondering if we are going to see yet another prediction of UAA finishing in the top 5 of the WCHA.

Donald Dunlop said...

Anon@651:
If you were only marginally more dense then you'd likely rival a neutron star.

Anonymous said...

It's a done deal, Regg Simon is the new assistant coach. This is a great addition to the coaching roster. Hit the road Regg, we need 2010 recruits. He has his thumb on all the young talent at the Midget and Junior level.

Donald Dunlop said...

I certainly won't object if Regg is the hire they've made. He has excellent coaching credentials and a former Seawolf captain should always be welcome. He obviously should have a large network of contacts in the USHL and it's feeder leagues.

I did speak with Jane Pallister briefly yesterday and asked for an estimate of when we might hear about the newly hired assistant and she essentially said (and I'm paraphrasing here) that there were some things to finalize and the hope was they'd be able to make an announcement by the end of the week.

For now, the St. Louis Bandits website has no announcement of Regg departing. So I'd rank the proclamation above as "rumor". It may very well turn out to be the case. I just can't confirm it.

Anonymous said...

I Think the biggest concern with bringing Reg aboard is unlike Damon he has not been a very approchable guy in past Coaching stints. So now you could have 3 very hard nosed guys dealing with players with fragile confidences with no one to confide in which Is going to be Major issue right from the get go. If he can gain the players trust and relate along with being the bridge the players need in the Seawolf situation then it will work. The players on this team all need to have confidence instilled from day one and need to have some since of individual security and feel good about themselves to overcome all of the negatives from so many close losses,bad bounces and misfortunes this group has had as a team. I think the Chemistry could be an issue all around but am hoping thats not the case.

Suze said...

I certainly don't think of coach Blair as being "hard nosed". He's very approachable.

I think Reggie will have that passion that we need on the bench.

Anonymous said...

anon 5:54

What are these guys, in kindergarten? Gimme a break, if they are such big primadonna's than we are in trouble. I personally think we don't need a repeat of Talafous style of coaching, but to tell us how they must all be pampered and soothed and massaged is ridiculous. Either you are a winner or you are not. Either you are confident or you are not. They are college hockey players not peewees.

Anonymous said...

Theres no knock on the coaches for being hard nosed.Its not a bad thing. The issue being pointed out is how the new chemistry will play out amongst the team and bottom line in the win loss column. Pampered,Smoothed,Kicked,Punched its about pushing buttons to get your team to perform at the highest level possible with the most favorable result. Coaching in the year 2008 is not your either a winner or not when almost every game is decided by inches. In the WCHA its Firepower,Cohesion,Attitude and Coaching. The dialog in this blog is great because at least the following here cares.

Donald Dunlop said...

It would be my hope that EVERY coach in the program is approachable by the players. That said whether or not UAA's staff meets that goal is quite honestly a mystery to me. Such things only become obvious to fans when something goes drastically wrong i.e... the Fairbanks situation last year. With no spate of departures under Shyiak I'll guess everything is fine.

As to the issue of confidence I agree with anon5:54 about the importance of staff being responsible for positive confidence during adversity. The team suffered a lot of close losses last year but they seemed to keep their heads up and play for each other. Hopefully, over the next couple of years the maturity factor will be something that will help them gain and keep confidence.

There is no doubt in my mind that believing is a big key to winning in team sports. It is a circular process ... the more games a team wins the more confident they get. The more confident they are the more games they can win. So managing a winning attitude is very important. And to do that the staff has to relate closely to it's players.

Yes. They are big boys. Yes, they don't need coddling. But that said, they do need a pat on the back. I expect professional athletes to be almost exclusively self-motivated. I don't expect the same from NCAA D1 players. It's beneficial if an individual has that sort of self-confidence and motivation. But there are guys on any team that can benefit from positive reinforcement.

Anonymous said...

D.D, I think that nailed it..Reg Simon is a top notch guy..UAA is a huge challange and I believe you have enough ability and personel to Challange for a top Six placing provided everything goes right... Its going to definitely be under the Microscope on how the Coaching can make some sort of difference this year and hopefully we will win some Games with there efforts and tactics..

Donald Dunlop said...

The St. Louis Bandits have announced a new head coach. I'd say that means (barring anything strange) that Regg Simon is the new UAA assistant.

Suze said...

Canadiens GM Bob Gainey announced Wednesday the signing of free-agent defenseman Chad Anderson to a one-year, two-way contract (2008-09). As per club policy, financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Anderson, 26, spent the 2007-08 season with the AHL’s Philadelphia Phantoms. In 55 regular-season games, the 6-foot-4, 217-pound blueliner amassed 13 points (two goals, 11 assists), served 35 penalty minutes and finished second on the team with a plus-11 rating.

Congrats Chad!!

Donald Dunlop said...

Way to go Suze ...

You had this info and posted it before Doyle Woody and before the UAA website!

Suze said...

Actually, a family that Chad lived with back in Juniors emailed it to me, so I can't take any credit!

Anonymous said...

Woody's a stiff - He is spoon fed everything he writes.

Anonymous said...

Woodys a stiff..thats a good one

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know when the parent's week-end is this season- we would like to book some flights????Thanks

Donald Dunlop said...

Regg Simon signing is official. The school has an announcement up.

I'm sorry that I don't know when the parents weekend is. Perhaps someone from the Blueliners will stop by and answer that.

Suze said...

I haven't seen a single thing from the Blueliners all summer. Kinda odd. Isn't the picnic usually in September Donald?

Donald Dunlop said...

The blueliners usually put stuff out during the offseason?

Last years picnic was September 11th.

Suze said...

When Richard was the president he did. We'd get newsletters focusing on "where are they now" and other trivia.

Anonymous said...

We were told the parent's weekend will be Feb. 20 and 21, 2009.

Anonymous said...

Hey Donald, what's your view on the CCHA allowing shootouts? do u see the WCHA allowing them anytime soon?

Matt

Donald Dunlop said...

Matt,
I don't like shootouts. Check back tomorrow for a post on that very issue.

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