Tomorrow night I thought we'd see a semi-boring exhibition game. I would have expected the Seawolf players and staff to not really care about the end result. That may still be the case but an announcement yesterday by the Alaska Avalanche will put a damned interesting spin on what would otherwise be semi-boring. Alex Young, Kyle Pichler and Tyler Currier impressed the USNDT coaching staff enough during the just completed NAHL Showcase in Blaine, Mn to be invited to fill out their somewhat short roster for this Thursday's game versus UAA.
Cool beans eh? What a great opportunity for these three kids! Jeremiah Bartz in the Valley Frontiersman reported on Monday that the USNDT had extended the offer. The only quotes from a player in the story are from Alex Young. He expresses that playing at UAA in the future is a goal for him. He sounds genuinely excited and I'll definitely be pulling for all three of these guys to have a great game. By every measure on paper this Thursday's game is UAA's. Division 1 teams are typically 2-3 years older on average than the USNDT team. That's a lot of maturity for even very talented 18 year olds to overcome. From time to time the USNDT pulls off a nice upset over a D1 team. I'm fairly comfortable saying that mostly happens when the D1 team makes a substantially lackluster effort. Regardless of the effort on UAA's part Thursday night, if any of these three guys (or their play as a line) has an impact on the game result then I'll be thrilled for them. I can't be happier that they're getting the chance. Make the best of it fellas.
Now don't for a second think that I really want the USNDTers to win. I'd also love to see local boys and DU recruits goalie Adam Murray and defenseman William Wrenn "PWND" by the Seawolves all night long. Sorry local guys, but you're going to play at a rival school I'm not digging that, you might not quite be snail slime in my book but I ain't about to cheer for ya either. Last year UAA put a 9 on the USNDT goaltender(s). I'm hoping for a 10 this year.
On Sunday, I wrote a short paragraph espousing the idea that the Seawolves staff look closely at the local talent base. I advocated that when they look at a local kid that wants to play here that they give him more weight. I wish I'd left the whole paragraph in. I didn't because the idea is a bit provincial and I didn't want to come off sounding like a rube. But what the hell? The fact that USNDT decided to include 3 of the 6 best other local kids to the roster makes my idea a bit less than strictly provincial. A local player with aspirations to play for the local university team is never a bad thing to have on a team regardless of the players evaluated potential. A kid like that has a crapload of built-in motivation. The list of local Anchorage (and Alaska) based talent in the past tells the story; Derek Donald, Paul Williams, Todd Bethard, David Vallieres, Jack Kowal, Matt Shasby, Chris Fournier, Lee Green, Justin Johnson and Chris King all make my point. NONE of these guys were scouted to be NHL material; and those scouting reports proved true since none of these guys were able to break into the NHL. But ALL of them made significant contributions to the Seawolf team partly because they were playing for their hometown team.
There's been a ton of other decent players that I loved seeing in Seawolf uniforms. I wouldn't include Jace Digel on my above list but I loved every shift that kid took in a Seawolf sweater. He never failed to NAIL someone during his shift. So I say the time to start grabbing more local guys is upon us. Pichler, Currier and Young aren't the only local guys that are looking to D1 as the next step in their careers. Let's get more than our fair share of the best local kids in the next couple of years eh ... even if they just end up being a role player.