Thursday, August 21, 2008

Not The Senior Class Preview

I wanted to bring you the senior class preview I'd promised. But I couldn't bring myself to use last year's pictures as I've done in my early preview last season. So I'm going to wait until school gets started and they put new pics up on the website. So get set for a mostly contemporaneous recitation of what's on my mind. For my St. Cloud readers that means, "I'ma gunna just type whutevurr frum my head". Speaking of Jan Brady State ... I had a brief exchange with Adam Wodon recently (fruits of which are yet to ripen) when I informed him I'd be posting a petition regarding shootouts. Sign the petition here. He was helpful of course and when his reply included the relevant comparative text to illustrate the obsurdity of the "excitement argument" with regard to shootouts ...
"you could have flaming pylons on the ice at all times"
... I simply couldn't pass up the opportunity to reply with ...
"Nah ... they already tried that "flaming pylons on the ice" any year that SCSU makes the NCAAs"
So the answer to the question that came into your mind when I busted SCSU's chops with my mocking translation is ... no. No I don't pass up an opportunity fling some shit at them.

This wouldn't be much of a ramble if I didn't say something about the upcoming season. I know there are at least 2 readers dying for me to come out and say that UAA is going to finish 5th this season. Truth is I doubt you could find any text that I've written on the internet within the last 4 seasons that would have me predicting UAA finishing in 5th place. If predictions were of any use other than to serve as a basis for someone to throw it in your face then I probably wouldn't have stopped from making them. Looking at this blog I think you'll find that I give my best analysis and also go back and review the things I said. It's trite and all to roll in here and give me the big noogie by asking when I'm going to make such a prediction ... but it isn't accurate. Not that I didn't (like dozens of others) make plenty of bad predictions when I participated at the USCHO fan forum. So now onto something actually about the upcoming season. My hopes are to see certain teams fail miserably. I'm not likely to gloat too much on anyone else's failed season but I have to admit that it wouldn't be unpleasant to see a couple or three teams really stink it up this year. But for now I'm just going to give you my general feel for which teams will be better, worse and/or unchanged with regard to last years final standings.
UAA: Better
Colorado College: Better
University of Denver: Unchanged
Michigan Tech: Worse
Minnesota: Better
Minnesota State: Unchanged
Minnesota-Duluth: Unchanged/Better
North Dakota: Worse
St. Cloud: Unchanged
Wisconsin: Better
There are lots of things "they" say about the WCHA. Amongst those are that every year seems to see at least one team do dramatically better than predicted and at least one team do dramatically worse than predicted. The Gophers were the best example of that last year. I have to defer though to the precept of "that's why they play the games" though for 08-09. Who knows who it will be. On the positive end of course I believe UAA will turn out to have the biggest rise in the standings. I wouldn't write (and you probably wouldn't read) here if that weren't the case almost every year.

The last thing on my mind was to write another Letter to Incoming Freshman akin to the one I wrote last year. But the one I wrote last year was pretty good. So I've just copied and pasted it below. Speaking of freshman, this Saturday Neil DeGrasse-Tyson will be givng the Freshman Convocation. Tyson is one of several talking head physicists frequently seen on TV. He host's the PBS Nova program called "NOVA ScienceNow". It's a good show and all. And Neil is great at talking about physics to the general populace. But I can't help wishing I could ask Neil why it is that that he and his peers continue to profess Big Bang physics when it is a falsified theorem. Listen to me now and believe me later when I tell you that some hybrid of the Wave Structure of Matter and Plasma Universe theories will become the Standard Model. Take that prediction to the bank.

Dear Incoming Recruits,
You're about to make a pretty big change in your life. You've chosen to advance your hockey career and get an education at the same time. And you're going to a fairly unique place that's a helluva long way from the rest of the world. There are some things it'll be useful for you to know that might help make it a success.

The Sullivan Arena won't be full. There are lots of reasons for it. The only thing you really need to know though, is that if you help the team win more games it will fill up during the season. And the folks that are there are as passionate as any group of fans you've ever played for. As fans we don't expect you to light up the league your first season. If you do, its a bonus. But we'll appreciate your play whatever the case.

There are 15 forwards on the team meaning 3 guys aren't dressing for each game. There's 9 defensemen. Oops ... 4 players ain't dressing. That doesn't necessarily mean that only freshmen will be sitting. But it's best to be prepared for that possibility, no doubt sitting in the stands will be a new experience for some of you. Coach Shyiak's first two years taught me that he is a coach who gives everyone more than a couple of chances to play throughout the season. This means sitting in the stands is something that has been (more or less) distributed evenly over those two seasons. As with any coach if you show it during practice you'll earn chances to play. And if you produce during those chances you'll stay out of the stands.

Deep in the winter it gets dark here early. Not 5pm dark. Not even 4pm dark. It's like 3:42pm dark at it's worst. It's different but it's not as big a negative as you might expect. The period of those dark days only last about six weeks. The daylight is longer here from March through October in the lower 48. And in the middle of summer it is exactly opposite from the depths of a dark winter. It's a bit of a tradeoff that most people who live here learn to appreciate. Golfing in June and July at 10 or 11 at night with discount twilight greens fees? If you like camping, hiking, hunting, fishing or otherwise recreating in an outdoorsy way then you're coming to probably the best place on the planet to do those things. My advice is for you to take advantage of every opportunity you get to do those things during your Seawolf career. You won't regret it. Fish that other WCHA players are catching near their schools are called bait up here.

Pretty much every other weekend you're going to have a long plane trip. 5 or 6 hours on a plane and probably some bus time as well. No doubt you've been on lots of road trips. You'll go on a couple that have 4 hour time differences. A couple have 3 hour time differences and the others are 2 hours. None of which will be a disadvantage. You'll see some rinks with impressive student support and fanbases that mostly fill their arenas. There's a bit of a "wow factor" visiting a couple of those joints so just try your best to get that out of your system before gametime. Here's a brief rundown:
At the Kohl Center in Madison the large student section dances and sings and chants. Mariucci Arena is so corpie tight-assed and revered spiritually by the fanbase that taking a crap in the public restrooms is frowned upon. The Ralph is glitz, tech and rabid ... that's what happens when a giant ego from a small prairie town builds a marble edifice as his legacy. I hear the fans are "biters". Be glad the glass is between you and them. In Colorado both the rinks present the same challenge. They're more than a mile high and you live at sea level. Best case for your body to completely acclimatize to a big altitude change is 3-4 days. So ... You're gonna be huffing and puffing. Some trips will be more interesting than others. Denver and Minneapolis are big cities with lots of sights and sounds, Denver and CC have mountain vistas, Grand Forks has the whole spectacularly flat thing going for it and Madison has hippies ... then there's the other end of the roadtrip excitement spectrum ... St. Cloud. Hey ... Deal with the little bit of bad in mostly otherwise interesting destinations. It's a relatively small burden.
We hate Fairbanks ergo you hate Fairbanks. OK? Seriously, we never want to lose to them again. You don't either. On board with that? The "Governors Cup" is a big deal to UAF fans and denying them it, is why you're here. Following the the general trend now? Seawolf > Nanook. It's just that simple. Ingrain it on your psyche. Burn it in your memory. Never forget. They hate freedom. We love freedom. Fairbanks bad. UAA good. The ticket is free to get on the "Hate-FBX" bus, so jump on it and stay on it. Comprende? Ok then ... the less said about Fairbanks the better.

We UAA fans look forward to seeing you on the ice. We look forward to the moments when you'll have a chance to be a hero for a night. We look forward to seeing you paste someone to the wall. We'll cheer our asses off when you kill off a penalty in the opponents zone with your forecheck. We'll bow in our unworthiness when you make some magic with the puck. But more than anything else we'll respect your 100% effort in an attempt to entertain us. Thanks in advance for that and for both our sakes ... do all your homework!


Anonymous said...

Just when I think you can't get any more self serving you go out and top yourself.

Anonymous said...

You probably don't like St. Cloud because every time your team goes there they cannot come back with a, like, EVER.

Donald Dunlop said...

Does that mean St. Cloud fans don't like the NCAA Playoffs?

Donald Dunlop said...

Self-serving? The whole exercise of writing what one thinks on the internet (including posting comments on a blog) definitely has some self-serving components. The key anywhere is to try to mix that information with information that also serves the reader.

Jeff said...

Bold prediction in saying that UAA will finish better than they did last year. Maybe a 7-20-9 season? Maybe they'll even keep their losses to under 20? You'd really have to put yourself out onto a limb for that one.

As far as not predicting a top 5 finish for uaa, I do remember you last year saying that your team still had a chance to get a 1st round home WCHA playoff series (which would mean top 5). That was probably the kiss of death for them. I think they went on to win 1 game after that. I probably should have realized that you were talking about a mathematical chance, and not a probable chance.

annabelle said...

Well Jeff, who knows what this season will bring, but I would like to say that I am definitely looking forward to it. I would rather be optomistic than not. Go Seawolves!!!!

Donald Dunlop said...

I'm well aware that last year I discussed whether or not 5th place was a realistic possibility. I did so on September 13th. There was one other post where I further discussed the possibilities and I think it was Nov/Dec timeframe. In any case, neither was a "prediction". Both were open examinations of the question from my perspective as a UAA fan.

As far as your sarcastic comment regarding me putting myself "out on a limb" ... I pretty much say something every post that invites some sort of critique or comment from opposition fans. In fact, I'd put my record of going "out on a limb" up against anyone on the Internet talking about college hockey. Not in terms of my accuracy but certainly in terms of my willingness to step out on that "limb".

I look forward to seeing how often you put yourself "out on a limb" when you start up your blog. Oh wait ... you're not going to start a blog? Why? Because you know you won't like smarmy opposition fans showing up to point their fingers at you when you go "out on a limb"? OH ... I get it.

Kris said...

Donald or anyone,
Do you know where Gustav is playing this year? Apparently Texas is taking a one year hiatus. Wikipedia said that his current team is Topeka so it sounds like he might be playing in Kansas this year but I have not been able to find anything established as I can't find a set roster for Topeka yet.

Jeff said...

You're more than likely right about me starting a blog. It's nothing to do with not wanting, or fearful of "putting myself out onto a limb." I'd probably attribute it more to laziness, lack of follow through, procrastination, and zero motivation to blog. If I did overcome all of the aforementioned, I'd welcome the naysayers. Actually being able to respond and defend my opinions would be one of the top reasons that I'd start a blog.

Maybe I'll start blogging on what a douche the DNC has picked as their Presidential candidate for the upcoming election. Unless of course the DNC realizes before the start of their convention that Obama's chances of winning are becoming smaller as every day passes by, and somehow come up with a way to have Hillery as their candidate. I should clarify though that I am no fan of Hillery either. Actually, both parties could have picked better candidates, but what do you do?

Donald Dunlop said...

Gustav is playing for Topeka. I read a blurb when they added him and the coached talked about him being able to add to their offensive abilities. So even though they don't have their roster up ... he'll be on it.

Kris said...

Thanks Donald, I figured that was probably the case but I guess that I hoped he might try to make it in the USHL again. I see that Bailey is still protected by Tri-City.

444 said...

I fully expect this squad to win 10games or more this year. Baby steps.

Donald Dunlop said...

More ...

Anonymous said...

I predict the UAA to win 8 games this season.

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