Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The 08-09 Freshman Class

A freshman's job in the WCHA is too adapt. A new player has to first adapt to the hectic routine that is common for all 1st year college students. Then the player has to learn how best to integrate playing hockey into that routine. Then the player can hit the ice and learn how to adapt to the faster game. Anyone expecting really big things out of a freshman in the WCHA is going to be disappointed 99 percent of the time. So we fans have to be patient. That said, there is still much to like in the three skaters and one goalie described below.

Curtis was the leading scorer amongst defensemen in the AJHL last season. Yes. I know he is listed @ #25 and as a forward. According to the UAA web bio on Curtis he played "the majority of the season" on defense. My fan forum perusing enlightened me to Okotoks defensive style last year and I'd read that at some point Curtis was playing forward. It's difficult to say exactly how many additional points came when he was playing forward instead of defense without going to a boxscore of everygame (and I ain't going to do that). So since he is coming here to play defense and played the majority of last seasons games at defense, then I'm proclaiming him the highest/leading scoring defensemen for the 07-08 AJHL season. Does that get your attention? A kid doesn't accomplish that without a great set of wheels, a heads up style and a great sense of the "game" around him. Interesting to note here that one-time recruit prospect Adam Henderson (who picked Michigan State over UAA) finished 8 points lower than Curtis on the leading scorers table. And he played forward all year. Curtis could be a real real real nice find. The last kid called Curtis we had from Alberta turned out that way. Here's hoping that lightning strikes twice eh?

Tyler Moir was much more than just a top ten scorer in the AJHL last season (8th on the overall scoring table), he was a top ten penalty minute leader as well! That's a good thing. It shows me that along with having good size (6'1" 205lbs) he plays with some attitude. The coaching staff will be emphasizing ways to utilize that attitude positively while eliminating the penalty minutes. Tyler won't be the first kid to come to UAA with lots of penalty minutes on his resume'. He won't be the last. Tyler's last coach told me in an email that he was a prototypical power forward. I think when we look through the UAA lineup that we see more than just a couple of those sorts of guys in a Seawolf jersey. You have to have an effective cycling game as part of the repetoire in the WCHA and guys like Tyler turn that crank. If Tyler can manage as nice a freshman season as several of last years then he'll have been effective. If he excels then it's a bonus.

In the recent tradition (it's beyond a trend now) of large framed good skating forwards Jade comes to UAA from the AJHL as well. He played for Curtis Glencross's old team, the Brook Bandits. Jade scored a moderate amount last season (14g-26a in 60 games) finishing wth the 4th highest point total on his team. He's 6'3" 200lbs. He was named the team's MVP for the playoffs; which only lasted for the 3 games it took for Tyler Moir's team to sweep them. Jade doesn't have big stats preceding him. I don't find any written talent analysis of his play on the internet. Regardless of any hype or lack of hype, Jade will have the same set of challenges to meet in as the other freshmen. And as with them we'll have to patiently sit back and watch their development.

Dusan Sidor
Recruiting skaters and recruiting goaltenders are two different things in terms of timing. A school needs a new defenseman or two and a forward or two every year. But a team doesn't need a goalie every year. Because of that timing is everything. Both for the school and the player the timing needs to match. Dusan Sidor thought he'd made a good step verbally committing to a D-III school last season until a few days later when UAA called. He quickly rescinded even though he was probably going from solid playing time to what must only be a "no promises" situation. Good for him. That tells me he's confident enough to believe that he can impress the staff with his practice play and earn playing time. In a rotation with two guys in front of you that's a gutsy move to make. I don't see Sidor as a kid with no ambition happy to sit on a WCHA D-1 bench for 2 years. His dad is a former goalie and goalie coach. He came to the U.S. to develop as a player and by all accounts was capable of some outstanding play from time to time up in Wasilla. Hard to know if he'll get any ice time that isn't a result of filling in for an injury his first year. But who knows ... maybe NOBODY will score on him in the first two weeks of practice. I'd bet he'd get a start that way though.


Suze said...

Great break down Donald! I was looking forward to your analysis of the incoming freshman, and you didn't disappoint! Thank you.

Did you make it to the picnic tonight?

Donald Dunlop said...

I was unable to make it to the picnic so hopefully someone who went and reads this will give us the rundown ...

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