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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Potpourri: "Fall" Edition

In case you missed it, the ADN reported yesterday that Jared Tuton will be out for up to 10 weeks with a broken leg he suffered during a "fall" three weeks ago. It seems that he wrenched his knee at the same time but apparently xrays showed no ligament damage. Good news and bad news. Bad news that Jared won't be on the ice; but good news it wasn't season ending. Out of difficulty though may an opportunity arise. In this case, the situation presents a chance for any one of several players to step up. In Jared's first two seasons he's pretty much been a fixture. Not because he puts the puck in the net but because he does everything else so well. Every team in the league deals with some sort of injury to a key player during the year. I'm heartened that Jared's occurred before the first practice because I know he'll be back (sooner rather than later) and when he comes back, I know exactly what sort of positive play he'll bring to the ice. And while he's out I'll be interested to see who steps up and what dynamics they might bring to the team. Silver lining right?

SNL had a little skit last night in which they lampooned Alaska by showing all the reasons that people wouldn't want to come here. It was a bit dumb. The fascination by non-Alaskans with Polar Bears always makes me shake my head. Polar Bears exist over a range that would make it the tenth largest state; but in that large area there are probably less than 25,000 people. So ... way less than .5 percent of the 49th least populous state has ANY chance to come across a polar bear in their day to day life. So uh... jokes about getting eaten by a polar bear are just beyond dumb. As you regular readers here know it's the grizzers that ya gotta worry about. Pretty much every city/town/conglomeration/berg is located in an established grizzly/brown bear habitat. If you know someone that is working on their own Alaska-based lampoon/skit make sure you steer them away for the polar bear references. At least I didn't hear a penguin reference though it wouldn't have surprised me.

The USNDT team is playing in the NAHL showcase this weekend and though they've got a couple of highly touted players I wouldn't say they're likely to present much of a challenge to the Seawolves. Past development teams have surprised a Division 1 opponent or two but this early in the season such a thing is unlikely. I expect Coach Shyiak to use this first game to evaluate his players and practice offensive and defensive systems. I hope all three goalies get to play one period. I've been following the showcase via boxscore and wrap-ups and I noticed the Alaska Avalanche look to be perhaps much improved this season. Of note are the contributions by the Alaska kids on the team. Good luck to the Avs this season; if you prove you can put a highly competitive team on the ice with Alaskan kids then the pain of the last few years will have been worth it. I am seeing a couple of pretty nice talent years for Southcentral Alaska as I look around the various junior leagues and I'm expecting to see lots of committments to D1 teams.

As for UAA's 09-10 class. Gustav Bengtson is off to what I'd call a bit of a slow start. He's played in 3 of Topeka's first 4 games and has tallied 2 assists. The Roadrunners are 4-0 and outscored their opponents 20-5. There is an alleged condition purported to sometimes arise when a younger hockey player commits to a D1 school. It is said that it can actually lead to a stalling of development because the player "relaxes" as he knows the next step in his career is assured. I'd prefer to see Gustav use his last year of Junior hockey to show that he can grow into quality D1 player.

Matthew Bailey's Tri-Cities Storm lost their opening exhibition game to the Omaha Lancers by a score of 6-4. Bailey's name didn't turn up on the boxscore. The only write up was on the Lancers website (get it together Tri-Cities!!). For Bailey this season is one for him to take that first step up from the Manitoba league in terms of competitiveness. Much like the WCHA, only the top players really make any impact in the USHL in their first season. Matt has the benefit of being a junior veteran even if it is just his first year in the league. Hopefully, as the season progresses Matt will become a key player for Tri-Cities.

Down in the "B", Mickey Spencer has one assist in Cowichan's first 4 games. I'd think that Cowichan's coaching staff will be hoping that Mickey develops as a team leader throughout this season. I'd anticipate he'll be among the top scorers on the team by year's end. In terms of future performance for UAA I certainly hope that Mickey finds a sustained scoring touch this season. His scoring last year was streaky. It also seemed dropped off after his committment to the Seawolves so perhaps a snippet of relaxation was involved. If he can score goals consistently throughout the entire season then his final year (before coming to UAA) will have been a success.

It's difficult to say whether one or two more players will be added to next year's incoming roster. I could see rationale for adding 3 for a total of 5 but that's unlikely to happen.


Anonymous said...

It's the "Tri-City" Storm not the Tri-Cities Storm...maybe you should get it together.

Anonymous said...

The Alaska Avalanche are much improved this year and will benefit from rebuilding and playing all those young players last season. It was unfortunate that many hockey people said you couldn't build a competitive team with Alaskans but early prognosis looks like the product is better on the ice and the Alaskans are leading the way. Good luck to all the NAHL alaskan teams.

Donald Dunlop said...

Thanks. I'll make sure to get it right in the future.

Anonymous said...

It's good to see that some of the talented local high school players are playing for the Av's now. Playing for the Avalanche gives these kids the chance to play juniors and still stay at home to play high school hockey and finish school at the same time. I think in the future more and more kids will elect to stay at home and play juniors until they graduate from high school. Then they'll be ready to move on to other leagues. It's a great option...

Anonymous said...

Anyone know the name of the Anchorage goalie that transfered to Cloquet High School in northeastern Minnesota?

Anonymous said...

The Alaska Midget teams also played well at the Minne Prospects Tourney especially the 16 AAA All stars who beat defending National Champions Little Caesars made it to the final four and should have beat Team Illinois the eventual tourney Champ...Scouts were drooling over several of the Alaskans...Both the Avalanche and Kenai are much improved over last year and played very well..the only Alaskan team that embarrassed themselves was Fairbanks ... The 18 USA Team is terrible and you just got to wonder who is making those selections and what were they thinking on some of those guys. The Avalanche killed them so UAA should put a beating on them...

Donald Dunlop said...

To be fair, the Avs beat the U-17 team. They didn't play the U-18's. I don't know the 17/18 rosters well enough to determine if they moved players between the squads?

In any case, some Avalanche players did well enough to be invited to play for the USNDT versus UAA on Thursday. Pichler, Young and Currier will wear the USA sweater for this one game. I'll take a closer look at that in my next post.

Congrats to all the Alaska Midget teams. Wow ... there are a lot more U-16/U-18 teams than "back in the day".

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