Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday Potpourri: Cult of Personality

Don't think for a second that Sarah Palin can't come close to rivaling Obama in making whatever that connection is with people which we call "Cult of Personality". She is fully capable of doing so. She is exceedingly personable, naturally disarming, charming and her MILF status is well known. She'll turn it all on and the PUMAs will love her. If this thing wasn't close before, it is now. Dems should fear the Palin. She named her kid Trig Paxson Van Palin in partial homage to the band Van Halen. No shit.

Everyone worrying about her abortion politics can stop. She said in Alaska that she wouldn't let her personal beliefs in that area affect her ability to carry out the law and she didn't. She either recognizes the truth of compromising for the sake of progress or she talks a good game; she ensured insurance coverage for "domestic partners" through her actions (without endorsing it) and she didn't take action when she could have to interfere with pro-choice ruling. I'll credit her for separating personal dogma and governing; that's a step forward in civility. We'll see now whether she backtracks to partisan world or remains true to that ethos. Is she a future VPILF?

Lastly, don't think for a second that her entire attractive persona isn't motivated by a sense of expediency in whatever she does. In other words, I have no doubt she can be capricious if needed in order to satisfy her ambition.

And that's all I got about politics except to say I'm sick and tired of the damned Presidential Election. 18 months of wall to wall TV coverage? As Obama said, "Enough". I could care less who wins.

I'm thinking it's time to retire my tradition of wearing shorts to the hockey games. The main reasoning I'm using is superstition. Ok. So you say superstition has no basis in reason. Whatever. I know a bunch of us fans have our own superstition. Whether it's driving a specific car to the game or a pregame snack or wearing a certain hat in a particular fashion or a lucky pin. I think we should all eliminate or change one of our superstitions. The past record shows that only improvement should come from such a collective change. At worst the math says that the Seawolves will get a slight positive bump from whoever controls the superstition rewards department. Just think of it. I stop wearing shorts and the team makes the NCAA's? I get to take credit. If you want some credit too then dedicate yourself to changing or eliminating one of your superstitions. I better go buy some long pants.

There is still plenty of time for you to stand up and decry the use of shootouts in our game. Sign the petion here. It takes about a minute. I will be making ongoing references to this effort. I honestly don't know how many people will sign. But I plan several spates of "marketing" throughout the season in an attempt to get the word out as widely as possible. If you are likeminded then I hope you can identify one other fan who feels the same way and get them to sign the petition. I noticed that Don Lucia came out publicly against shootouts this past week. He added that he thought most (if not all) other WCHA coaches probably felt the same way. Hopefully they'll add their names to the petition! Whatever small amount of influence this effort can have remains to be seen but without some reasonable number of signatures it stands little chance.

I'll be selectively applying my subjective judgement this season with regard to the comments section here. That means if you make a comment that I deem stupid you can expect it to be gone. If it has a shred of relevance to the topic at hand or took you more than 5 seconds to compose then it'll probably be safe. But I just don't feel like addressing the weenies anymore and so I won't be doing it unless I decide it is more fun to apply a butt-kicking.

Yes. The season is almost upon us. Over the next couple of weeks the primary goal for me is to get the class-by-class previews completed and then to put together a comprehensive season preview. Once the season starts I'll pretty much be posting something nearly every day.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

WCHA 08-09: How I See It

Here is my encapsulated view of the upcoming WCHA season.

Colorado College

This list is in alphabetical order but it almost is a foregone conclusion that CC is the team to beat on paper. The "paper" Tigers return a whopping 15 upperclassmen, the majority of which were key contributors last season when the non-paper Tigers finished first in the league. If Richard Bachman plays anything like he did last year then there isn't much to stop them from finishing there again. This team will have two 1st lines that could threaten on every shift and a 3rd line that will be the equal to many other teams 2nd lines in terms of production. It has defensemen that are relatively proven when it comes to scoring. It's got a couple of "well-papered" incoming freshman that could make reasonable contributions as well. And they play a very disciplined defensive game in front of a very talented young goalie. Other teams will get some wins against this apparent juggernaut but NO other team will be able to plan on it.
Highest Finish: Duh
Lowest Finish: 1st

University of Denver
There is one big question and a few smaller questions that will need to be answered affirmatively for DU to see the most success this season. The big question is directly between the pipes in their end of the ice. Can Marc Cheverie take the reins? How well he answers that question will likely be proportional to DU's success. One small question is Joe Colborne and how he'll do his first (only?) year. It's a small question because DU can still have success if he only produces like an average freshman. Denver's offense should be more than adequate to put the team in the top half of the standings. Depth on defense hasn't been a strength in the past couple of years. This year should see some improvement with a couple of players who should come more into their own this season. Chris Butler will probably get tagged with the "prototype WCHA defenseman" label. He pretty much does everything any WCHA coach would want you to do. Look for a career year in scoring from him.
Highest Finish: 3rd
Lowest Finish: 7th

Michigan Tech
The original Huskies return 14 upperclassmen from last season. My expectations for them last season were much higher than what they acheived. I based that on the large class of upperclassmen. Come to figure out that it isn't just a big class size that determines production. And in those terms MTU doesn't appear to bring much back. Their highest returning goal scorer put only 5 pucks in the net last year. There are legitimate questions about goaltender Rob Nolan's ability to do the job for the full season though I think he'll be much more of an asset than a problem. Jamie Russell will get them playing a disciplined defensive game in relatively short order. They'll be a tough team to play against but more often than not MTU opponents will find enough cracks to come out on top. They've got a fairly large freshman class coming in and perhaps one of those kids will be a diamond in the rough. Maybe a new role will mean someone in the upperclass steps up big time? Who knows? Realistically though without some big unexpected (even dramatic) offensive production from somewhere this can only be considered a rebuilding year.
Highest Finish: 7th
Lowest Finish: 10th

I can only imagine that Don Lucia would characterize the last two seasons as frustrating. When things out of your direct control go badly for you it is frustrating. There don't appear to be any looming surprises this year for tDon. The last two years should have taught the core of his team the meaning of teamwork. Having seen the majority of the last quarter of the regular season and almost all of the Gophers postseason games I think they began to play like a team. There's got to still be some defensive concerns but tLucia and company should get this young defense squared away fairly quickly. Part of that puzzle will be to ensure that Anderson and Fischer show leadership and stability as examples. None of that is too much to hope for. Scoring looks to come first from Ryan Stoa. Maybe Mike Carmen steps it up to the next level? Much the rest will come via committee. A freshman forward or two are likely show up on scoresheets with GWG's and Rookies of the Week and such. No discernable problem exists with Kangas in the net. The "gopher five-hole" may even be a thing of the past. Whether he can maintain that level of play in virtually every game this season is the only unanswered question? And he may very well be called on to play in nearly every game. Definitely a better year in twinkietown than the last two though.
Highest Finish: 2nd
Lowest Finish: 5th

Minnesota St, Mankato
Halitosisville could have easily become the new name for the city of Mankato at the end of last season. Their team played over their heads all year long and they were left with nothing but a bad taste in their mouth. Will the Jutting mind games (bequeathed to Jutting by his sister Craig Dahl) convince his squad to play the same way again this season? I'd expect most of their returning forwards to put more pucks in the net this year. Will that be enough? Will the goaltending be as good? Jutting has a fairly big core back from a team that was every bit the Gophers equals in their playoff series last year. Nevertheless, unproven isn't a word that I can dismiss easily. Perhaps it's better to say that it is just yet to be known.
Highest Finish: 3rd
Lowest Finish: 7th

Minnesota Duluth
Ah. tUMD. Many many questions to answer down near the Iron Range this year. Scott Sandelin can be fairly labeled as someone who has failed to get the most out of the talent in front of him. He's got one of the better classes of incoming freshman in the league hitting the ice this year. He's got a talented (and perhaps a wee bit flaky) netminder. His blueline crew is perhaps underwhelming in it's transition skills but this team will have a surprising amount of skill up front. In some ways I see this team as a recipe waiting to be put together properly. I've seen little evidence in the past that Sandelin can handle much more than boiling eggs. So I think this year he really needs to prove that he can take a diverse set of ingredients and come up with something tasty. There should be enough maturity returning to provide some stability.
Highest Finish: 5th
Lowest Finish: 9th

North Dakota
The "future" Zephyrs (my suggestion for replacing the Sioux name which is under a deadline to be changed) this season have the exact same question to answer as Denver. Goaltending. Goaltending. Goaltending. Lammy played in pretty much every game they played last season. Every goaltender they have on the roster this year didn't. Last year I pegged goaltending as the big question in Grand Forks and Lammy proved me right. They rode that kid to the end and he held up. The "future" Zephyrs weren't an especially talent team last year (but they did have talent). They weren't disciplined. Sometimes they even looked like they were having a chinese fire drill. But then Lammy would come through and they'd respond with inspired play. They were opportunistic. This year they look young with 15 underclassmen. If North Dakota ever does rebuild as opposed to the usual reload then this is likely to be such a year.
Highest Finish: 4th
Lowest Finish: 8th

St. Cloud
It all about scoring goals this year for the OtherHuskies. With at least one preseason poll putting them at #2 in the nation it seems this season is one which they only must embrace to succeed. Goaltending will be fine (serviceable at least and good at best). The defense isn't flashy but there's enough speed throughout the lineup to cover the ice as quick or quicker than most of their competition. Personally, I'm not putting any money on them to win an NCAA game this year but they sure ought to get there to give it a try. That's something I guess. At least that's what all the conventional wisdom is saying about St. Cloud this year. We'll see.
Highest Finish: 2nd
Lowest Finish: 6th

The WCHA is a defense first league. Playoff hockey every night. The Badgers execute a disciplined defensive effort more efficiently than any other WCHA team. It's become their trademark under Mike Eaves and they'll be sticking to that again this year. They're also absolutely stacked with talented blueliners. Mostly it won't matter how many goals the Badgers score. The key will be how few goals their opponents score. Bill Howard or not the goaltending will be steady enough to handle the few quality chances that other teams will be able to generate.
Highest Finish: 3rd
Lowest Finish: 7th

The Seawolves
The big question for the Seawolves will be whether they can maintain consistency througout the length of the schedule. For two straight years the team has struggled to find a win in the second half of the season. There is a solid core of talented upperclassmen who are virtually all threats in the offensive end. A large group of sophomore forwards all of which will likely increase their decent freshman numbers. College Hockey News picked Craig Parkinson as a "Player to Know"; nothing wrong with that choice per se but I would have went with Brad McCabe who I think might have more potential goals in him. The goaltending situation is healthy. Jonny O's game should be lifted by having serious competition for playing time and Bryce just may be the kind of kid who can stand on his head and change a game singlehandedly. UAA's transition game made huge improvements over the last 3 years. With the talent now on the blueline that part of the game should finally be in UAA's favor most nights.
Highest Finish: 4th
Lowest Finish: 8th

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The 08-09 Schedule

I've copied this seasons schedule at the bottom of this post. It's useful to look at the matchups and changes from past years. Home games are in CAPS and Conference games have an asterisk.

The major change (that some Seawolf fans aren't going to like) is that UAA and UAF play only twice this year in a home and home series at the end of February. The 4 games per year to contest the Governors Cup are a thing of the past. Dropping two games against our instate rival opens up the schedule for two non-conference games against a larger diversity of opponent. This has the potential to improve the "Out-Of-Conference" component when calculating PWR for NCAA playoff participation. It is an important and necessary step. Every year it seems that some team in the WCHA misses out on the NCAA's due to PWR calculations and often the key factor is their record in non-conference games and the strength of those opponents. This situation also makes those two games very very important. Both teams always contested the four games with vigor; but with only two games for the trophy, I expect even more intensity.

This move also allowed the other big change to the schedule from past seasons. UAA and UAF are hosting their tournaments cooperatively. The "Kendall Classic" comes first on October 10th and 11th. The following weekend the Seawolves will travel north for the "Brice Alaska Goal Rush" in Fairbanks. Both tournaments use a fixed schedule format. In Anchorage UAA and UAF will both play Connecticut and Northeastern. In Fairbanks they'll both face Maine and Mercyhurst. From an attendance perspective this should be a boon for both programs. Typically (no matter who attends) any tournament games that don't include the home team are marginally attended. I watched a great RMU/BU game last season with probably no more than 1000 other people in the rink. I can imagine that plenty of Seawolf fans will show up to watch Northeastern beat UAF. Conversely, UAF fans will likely show up in droves to see UAA play Maine. Of course there are UAF fans that live in Anchorage and UAA fans that live in Fairbanks as well. I congratulate Forrest Karr and Steve Cobb for this scheduling agreement. It's a good idea and should prove to be valuable for both teams over time.

The next change is the mid-season break over the holidays. In the past I've wondered what effect the holiday break may or may not have had on the teams second half performance. The last two seasons saw dramatically worse results in the second half and both of those seasons included a shorter break for the players. I think the longer break this year (from Dec 7th thru Jan 9th) will be one of the factors that improves the second half record. The players will have to ensure that they get some workouts in during the break so that they don't lose any intensity from the first half. They'll have to be responsible; and that is always a concept for the players at this level that must be adhered to closely. But I think the chance to spend quality time with their friends and families at home is important.

This season the unbalanced conference schedule means that we won't see the Gophers or Pioneers at the Sullivan and the team won't have to travel to Colorado Springs (woohoo! no crappy webcast with the disturbing floating Tiger head!) or the National Concrete Center in St. Cloud. From the looks of things (i.e... how the WCHA will likely shake out) it's a pretty favorable schedule for the Seawolves. The longest road trip will be the first road trip of the year to Houghton on Oct 31/Nov 1 to face MTU. After all that, it's pretty standard stuff.
Thu, Sep 25 U.S. NATIONAL UNDER-18 TEAM Wasilla, Alaska 7:07 pm
Sat, Oct 04 UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA Wasilla, Alaska 7:07 pm
Fri, Oct 10 Northeastern vs Alaska Fairbanks at SULLIVAN ARENA 5:07 pm
Sat, Oct 11 Connecticut vs Alaska Fairbanks at SULLIVAN ARENA 4:07 pm
Fri, Oct 17 Maine at Fairbanks, Alaska 4:35 pm
Sat, Oct 18 Mercyhurst at Fairbanks, Alaska 4:35 pm
Fri, Oct 31 Michigan Tech * at Houghton, Mich. 3:07 pm
Sat, Nov 01 Michigan Tech * at Houghton, Mich. 3:37 pm
Fri, Nov 14 North Dakota * at Grand Forks, N.D. 4:37 pm
Sat, Nov 15 North Dakota * at Grand Forks, N.D. 4:07 pm
Fri, Dec 05 Wisconsin * at Madison, Wis. 4:07 pm
Sat, Dec 06 Wisconsin * at Madison, Wis. 4:07 pm
Fri, Jan 16 Minnesota State * at Mankato, Minn. 4:37 pm
Sat, Jan 17 Minnesota State * at Mankato, Minn. 4:07 pm
Fri, Jan 30 Denver * at Denver, Colo. 5:37 pm
Sat, Jan 31 Denver * at Denver, Colo. 5:07 pm
Fri, Feb 13 Minnesota * at Minneapolis, Minn. 4:07 pm
Sat, Feb 14 Minnesota * at Minneapolis, Minn. 4:07 pm
Fri, Feb 27 Alaska Fairbanks at Fairbanks, Alaska 7:05 p.m.
Fri, Mar 06 Minnesota Duluth * at Duluth, Minn. 4:07 pm
Sat, Mar 07 Minnesota Duluth * at Duluth, Minn. 4:07 pm

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday Potpourri: Seawolves To Bite Back

For those unfamiliar readers this has been a damned interesting year for human/wildlife interaction in the city of Anchorage. This past Friday while cruising down Gambell St. (just past the Sullivan Arena and perhaps the more famous Cal Worthington Ford dealership) a man hit an 800lb, 13 year old Grizzly Bear with his truck. The collision gravely injured the bear but that didn't stop him from snarling and threatening the driver until a couple of minutes or so later when police arrived on the scene. They righteously terminated the poor suffering Yogi.

Humans 2, Grizzlies 0 -- because earlier in the week the ADF&G offed a sow that was the probable culprit in several close calls and two hardcore maulings on a trail in Bi-Centennial Park called Rover's Run. The first notice came when a 15 year old female mountain biker was torn from her bike in the early AM during a 24 hour endurance race. She spent quite a while in Intensive Care and is apparently doing better. Following that incident UAA Seawolf cross-country runner Auston Ellis outran (and outfoxed) perhaps the same marauding grizzly in the park. Then just a couple of weeks ago a woman with her dog was mauled at about the same place (she got out of the hospital last week). In both instances the victim was believed to have come between the sow and her cubs. The Fish and Game fellas were able to trap one of the offending sows progeny (which is now incarcerated at the Alaska Zoo before being shipped off to Indiana for a lifetime of gawking) but last I heard the other Boo Boo was still at large. The local paper and the city are all atwitter (<--- a link to ALL the "bear stories" in the Anchorage Daily News) with the ongoing drama. It's a lot of grizzly action which frankly is not necessarily the usual thing in the middle of this town. I dunno why those bears don't learn that we humans have opposable thumbs; and opposable thumbs can't be defeated.

With the word out that it's time to deal with this ongoing bear threat the UAA Seawolves hockey team will be conducting an unofficial and unannounced team building exercise in Bi-Centennial Park next Sunday August 31st at 8:00 PM. Word is that all drills will be conducted in full gear.

The strategy will be to put the 3 goalies on point immediately followed by the freshman class; with defensemen on the flanks and the forwards in the center. Head Coach Dave Shyiak explained,
"We wanted to give our goalies some experience with taking the fight to the enemy. During the season we'll be depending on these guys to keep the puck out of the net. So, it's defend defend defend for them. This will be the ultimate change of pace."
He added, "Obviously, we'll use last years leg pads." Associate Head Coach Campbell Blair added,
"By putting our fleet footed defensemen on the flank we can assure that an Ursus insurgency from any angle can be efficiently deflected. I'd dare any grizzly to bring a full charge toward any of our D guys. They're all just too quick and deadly with their sticks. And with some solid backchecking from the forwards that bear won't stand a chance."
Newly hired Assistant Coach Regg Simon has been quietly scouting the Rover's Run area for the last week and will continue to map out any grizzly movements so the team has the best opportunity to find a worthy encounter. Simon explained, "I've spent more time in the woods at twilight than I have at the rink since I got here but hey, I sure do see the benefit of this exercise." In his time coaching in the USHL Coach Simon became a renowned snipe spotter throughout Iowa. "I have the experience and the tools to help make this an excellent team building exercise. I know I can spot em a big one."

Several players (all freshman of course) seemed to question the sanity of this team building exercise but refused to go on the record for this story. But the majority of the players are reportedly psyched for it. Paul Crowder said,
"There was this 4 year vet when I played my first year of juniors and he showed me a wicked move to butt-end someone in the jaw. I'd never use it in a game so I'm looking forward to trying it out on the bear."
Jared Tuton added with a laugh,
"In Canada, bears stay in the woods. If it's up to us to send these bears back to the woods with their tails between their legs then we'll damn sure do it (psst ... don't tell my dad I said 'damn')."
Kevin Clark seemed especially keen on the idea,
"I hope I can line one up with a nice solid tree. Boarding? You think you've seen boarding before? That bear has a big surprise coming! I'll definitely be leaving my feet!"
FWIW, my money is on Jeremy Smith and Trevor Hunt combining for the first kill. After the meeting announcing the exercise, they both sat quietly with big evil grins on their faces. Mat Robinson and Kane Lafranchise talked about their plan to to make a supply of sharpened rocks which they could drop and then use their slap shots to impale the bear at 90mph. "I'm looking for that headshot," explained Robinson, "Boom! I'm pretty certain I can nail one right between the eyes!" Lafranchise followed up almost boastfully, "If that sucker opens his (or her) mouth for one of those intimidating growls, I'll plug that gullet with this here 3 ounces of rock!"

An unnamed player explained poignantly,
"We've got to protect our cross country running team. They don't have the benefit of using a stick in their sport. Since we do then it's only right that we go out after the bear that tried to eat one of them skinny dudes."
When questioned about the need for this specific team building event Athletic Director Steve Cobb said,
"We got a saying back home; if grasshoppers carried .45's then birds wouldn't mess with 'em. We're doing a service for the community. We'll teach them danged bears on which side o' the holler they're meant to tread."
He walked away adding,
"That might be a bigger cud than I can chew but these guys are all young men. I'm even sure there's a coupla Dan'l Boone's in thar. I just hope they remember that Alaska Department of Fish and Game regulations say that they must salvage the skull and hide."
As I understand it, the salvaging of the skull and hide will be a sort of initiation for the freshmen. So um ... good luck to the Seawolf hockey team. I look forward to seeing the survivors at the annual blueliner picnic in September.

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!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What I Did On Your Summer Vacation

Nothing worth noting. I took that picture and the one I used in my July post. This one is at 3:40 A.M. on June 26th. I could do that because I got a snazzy new Fuji Digital Camera for my birthday. I'm hoping I can use it to take a decent hockey picture or two that I can post here. I doubt we'll see any visual eloquence from a lens that I'm behind but I'll give it my best. This offseason I think I may have forced myself a bit in terms of not writing. It wasn't that I was jonesing to hit the keyboard but instead it wasn't like I stopped following the usual trickle of information. So I wasn't taking a break from the college hockey world per se ... just from mouthing off regularly in it.

You may have noticed I made a post Monday night announcing my petition regarding shootouts. Sign the petition here. I started it because I am genuinely concerned about the effect having shootouts will have on the game. Sign the petition here. I will be referring to it often during the season. Sign the petition here. I will dedicate a space on the right hand column to the effort. Sign the petition here. I invite a discussion of the issue in the comments section of that post. Sign the petition here. In addition to the emailing it to all the D1 Athletic Directors, I will send the final numbers to the NCAA Rules Committee members. Sign the petition here. If you are one of the wayward few who think that shootouts are needed. Then don't sign the petition here.

Since I'm starting off a new season then I thought it'd be useful to set some expectations for you the readers.

Don't read here if:
You can't deal with being grossed out by at least one picture a year.
You don't understand the internal processes of "fandom".
You don't enjoy the occasionally well-placed elite-level expletives.
You think the team you cheer for is unbeatable. They aren't.
You are looking for some faux-journalistic BS from an ass. There is no faux-journalism here.
You are a child molestor. Really, go read SCSU blogs or something. Just don't read here.
You can't take me busting SCSU's chops regularly for whatever reason I can come up with.
You are really dumb and prone to making dumb comments. I will eat your babies alive.
You think George Bush is keen. Really, what I said to the child molesters. Go away.

Please read here if:
You like truth and love and sincerity and trustworthiness and ... clean toilets.
You know that Dick Cheney should be in jail.
You understand the definition of the word irreverence.
You like puppies.
You have half enough brains to recognize a full brain when you see it.

That's right. My brain is full. And I plan to use it this season to provide you with the best analysis available of the Seawolves. You can expect something every Sunday with my regular Potpourri post (the only regular Sunday post in the college hockey web world). I'll have a couple of previews most weeks and game recaps and analysis for every game. I'll share my understanding and my opinions regularly. Welcome to 08-09: Just like 07-08 only different. My next post will be a preview of this years returning Senior class.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Petition Regarding Shootouts

I have created the online petition (linked below) in an effort to communicate the idea that bringing the shootout into Division I hockey is opposed by a substantial number of college hockey fans. I will run this petition until the end of the regular season. At that time I will forward the results to the 58 Athletic Directors. I hope you will sign it. Your email address will not be displayed to other signers at any time.

The petition states:
We the undersigned believe that the introduction of shootouts as a method to determine the winners of NCAA Division I hockey games is an affront to the integrity of the sport.

We say:
A 65 minute sporting contest which ends in a tie is a valid result. It means that neither team deserved to win and neither team deserved to lose. Introducing a measure which utilizes a minor (albeit exciting) aspect of the competition directly threatens the integrity of the game we love. A one-on-one contest between a shooter and a goaltender is an event in the normal play of a game which occurs infrequently enough to make it wholly unrepresentative of the game. Using such an infrequent event as a representation of the whole contest is pure folly.

We must therefore decry its inclusion in our game.

We ask:
That those entrusted to nurture our favorite sport through their administration give exceptional consideration (in light of our beliefs) when deciding the future of this potential change to the game we love.

Sign The Petition

As a fan I think this is the only reasonable chance to effect the process that "officially" starts with the use of shootouts by the CCHA this season to calculate the standings. I personally believe that the inclusion of shootouts is all but inevitable however, I think the effort to be heard is incumbent upon we the fans. The people making the decisions cannot fail to least consider the issue while knowing our concerns. And to know our concerns we must communicate it. I hope this method serves that purpose.