Monday, September 08, 2008

The 08-09 Sophomore Class

The largest class in the Seawolf program this season is the sophomores. 10 players; a combined 224 games amongst 8 regular skaters last season. These guys are mostly all not rookies anymore. They've earned their stripes. And as sophomores they'll each need to step up their individual play and production for the team's success.

Jeff's eligibility didn't begin until the beginning of the 2nd semester. He played just one game. I remember liking what I saw. As an All-NAHL 1st team defenseman he comes with a nice resume of junior accomplishments (15g-24a in 59 games). He was 4th in the league scoring among that league's defenders. Jeff's freshman year certainly didn't provide much in terms of on-ice experience. No doubt he isn't a freshman off the ice but there'll be a period of games for him this season when still is a freshman on the ice. How long that is likely to last is difficult to guess. I hope that Jeff can "come up to speed" relatively quickly. It looks and seems like he will grow into a contributor with time.

Bryce showed more than a couple of flashes of excellence during his limited play over the 2nd half last season. He is definitely more athletic than most 6'2" goalies. I was surprised by the quickness of both his upper and lower body. Bryce will provide a needed element of competition for the starting goaltender spot. I wouldn't be surprised to see that competition go deep into the season. It is a situation that has the potential to make both guys play better when it's their chance.

I'm not quite sure what I should expect from Winston this season. Well at least in terms of scoring that's accurate. But in terms of effort and commitment on the ice I know exactly what to expect. One-hundred percent effort. That was Winston last year. He bagged a couple of important goals along the way. He finishes his checks. He turns well from the boards toward the net. He's strong on his feet. He's got good hands and vision. He plays with intensity. Winston had outgrown the rookie label before he was injured late in the season. I hope he can find more ways as a sophomore to get himself on the board. His contribution is needed.

When I think about Tommy I think about a quick release i.e... a Brett Hull shot. Ok. That might be a bit of an exaggeration but at least the concept is there. Whether Tommy can pull the trigger quickly isn't the question. He can. Like every other forward in the sophomore class he is going to have to find a way to do that more. More shots = more goals. And more goals are needed. Tommy has the size and wheels that Coach Shyiak likes up front. He should be able to use that size to gain the space he needs to throw the puck on the net.

Nick is a big solid kid with a good pair of wheels. He looks strong and hits hard. He played in 26 games last year. Of forwards that played in more than 50% of the games he was the only one though that didn't find the back of the net. He averaged less than one shot per game. If Nick is to find similar ice time this coming season I'd think he needs to find the net or become a strong role player for a checking line and/or a penalty killer. Another big body (6'2" 200lbs) charging hard into the other teams zone is always a useful asset.

Kane is an important part of an improved transition game for this years team. He has an outstanding ability to find the crease for a pinpoint pass. When the pass isn't available or he simply sees an opportunity, Kane is very adept at carrying the puck himself. Toward the end of his freshman season I could see that he was no longer a rookie. He showed he could assert himself during a game and make potentially game changing plays. He is a valuable part of the power play and logs time on the penalty kill as well. His vision from the back is a critical component to building and executing an effective attack. Improving the puck movement from the back to the front has been an ongoing project since Campbell Blair came on board. And each year we have seen improvement. This season it may be Mat Robinson's defense to lead but next year Kane will be the big dog. I feel better (even inspired) with both Mat and Kane in the lineup.

As with the aforementioned Grant and Daychief, Brad McCabe's production this year will be a direct link to whatever success the team has. Brad is goal scorer first. While he is going to have more than a few occasions where he contributes an assist, the majority of his impact is going to be Brad putting the puck on and in the net. Another player with that "Brett Hull-style" quick release Brad should become more of a threat as the season goes along and he finds his areas. Can he double his goal total from last year? I hope so. I don't think it's unreasonable to hope for 12 or 13 goals from Brad. Anything more will be icing on the cake. Brad was 2nd on the team last year in penalties.

Inside College Hockey was right. Craig is definitely a player to watch in the Seawolves lineup this year. Craig had 7 goals on 45 shots. He remarked in his INCH profile that all of his goals come from the doorstep. Stay on the damn doorstep then Craig ... eh? Stay there all season and bang the biscuit in. Just as with Brad McCabe, the number of times Craig lights the lamp is going to be a key factor in UAA's success.

Luka is a convert. In his last year of juniors Luka started skating on the blueline. Last season I could see steady growth in his effectiveness. Luka brings a more good skating to the blueline. He played in 30 games last season and was another freshman who lost his rookie label earlier rather than later during the season. Luka took an occasional bad penalty in his own end last season. It certainly wasn't any sort of trend but he'll need to stay focused in his own end first this season to eliminate that.

My book on Sean would be themed with surprise. As I mentioned I had doubts when I saw him skate in preseason as to whether he could crack the lineup. But as he got his chances, Sean showed enough intensity and effort to earn additional chances. When those next chances came he doubled-down and got the job done; picking up 4 assists along the way. One of his assets is his long reach. With the new depth in the Seawolf forward lineup Sean is likely to find himself battling for a spot. It'll be a crucial year for him in terms of development. If he can earn enough playing time and find a way to add to the bottom line then I think he'll gain confidence and we'll see a solid 4 year player who contributes something important along the way.


Anonymous said...

Purely an off-subject comment here, but I noticed a former Seawolf is now a vice president in marketing with Reebok-CCM. Could be the type of person needed in the AD position one day when Cobb steps aside. Just a thought.

Ex-Seawolf Thornborough Hired by Reebok-CCM

Congrats to former UAA Seawolves winger Glen Thornborough, who after eight years in the ECHL front office has been hired by Reebok-CCM, which manufactures hockey equipment and apparel.

Thornborough, 36, will be vice president of sports marketing for Reebok-CCM. For the past three seasons, he has been the ECHL's senior vice president of marketing/business development. And for five seasons before that, he was the league's vice president of marketing and sales.

Thornborough, who graduated from UAA (he played there from 1992-96), later earned a executive MBA from Saint Joseph's University. He played a couple of years of pro hockey before getting into the business side of the game.

Donald Dunlop said...

He's building a nice resume. Your question makes me wonder if most AD's are Masters or Doctorates of Education?

I'd think every AD's #1 goal has to be to graduate as many kids as is possible.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the graduation being the number one goal of any AD.
Looking across the board at a few AD bios at various schools you do see a lot of marketing and fundraising backgrounds. This is an area that perhaps UAA is lacking. Not to take anything away from Cobb and the accomplishments he's achieved during his tenure, but this is another area in the future UAA could address with an AD of such background.

Anonymous said...

Thornborough would be the best thing to happend to UAA athletics. Cobb, hurry up and retire. We need new energy, someone who values education and has his thumb on the pulse of sports in a world areana. I guess you would have to convince Thornborough to take the job as having coffee with Crosby and Ovechikan whenever he feels like it would be difficult to give up.

Anonymous said...

AWESOME! And a chance to bitch about Cobb some more. Cobb needs to get on the next plane ASAP. AN utter disgrace to the program. HEY STEVE! WHERE IS OUR NEW HOCKEY ARENA???? Friggin' Jack-off.

Anonymous said...

It is tough to defend Cobb..real tough

Anonymous said...

Off topic I suppose, I didn't take time to look elsewhere on your site but GCI cable channel 134

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