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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,
I know I've never written you before. I hadn't thought it was mandatory since there's that whole line "he knows when you've been sleeping, he knows when you're awake; he knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake" in the song about you. But just in case I'm wrong I figured I'd hedge my bets with you.

I'm skipping the snail mail though and just publishing here since I KNOW you visit this blog (I've seen the hits from North Pole). Anyway mah bud ... here's my list. Fill it as best as you can ok? Generic substitutions are allowable as you deem appropriate.
Michigan Tech: A GLI Championship
Minnesota-Duluth: More Connollys
Mankato: A Chinese restaurant that isn't in a strip mall
St. Cloud: A team full of panty-wearing Lady Bing contenders (oh .. they already have that?)
Minnesota: A team full of NHL 1st round hockey/football dual-sport homegrown messiahs
Denver: Damien Goddard hired as new Athletic Director
Colorado College: Adopt Black Bears as new nickname
Wisconsin: To Be Swept
North Dakota: That everything stay exactly as it is within that forlorn state's border ... forever.
UAA: You know ...

Nils Backstrom: Keeps playing exactly the same way
Brian Bales: Less posts
Jeff Carlson: A breakthrough/out
Bryce Christianson: Zen
Kevin Clark: Telepathy so he can literally "get into their heads"
Paul Crowder: Backhand scoring chances by the dozen
Tommy Grant: "Gun" nickname catches on as he maintains scoring pace
Nick Haddad: To be rewarded for his work
Trevor Hunt: A better fishing hat
Kane Lafranchise: Power play points
Curtis Leinweber: 40 mins/game
Shane Lovdahl: A coupla game winning goals down the stretch
Josh Lunden: Power play points
Tyler Moir: Stays in the groove
Jon Olthuis: Wallness
Craig Parkinson: Pork Chops Pork Chops ... Greasy Greasy ... we can beat your team ... Easy Easy
Jade Portwood: Wellness for "Wings"
Mat Robinson: All WCHA team honors
Ken Selby: Plays in every game
Dusan Sidor: Patience
Jeremy Smith: Scores a gwg versus UAF and the crowd chants RUDY RUDY RUDY
Jared Tuton: 5+ hits per game
Luka Vidmar: Zero penalties the rest of the way
Sean Wiles: Finds his scoring touch

And oh yeah ...
MEg: Gets dream job in Anchorage
RWD: More Connollys
All Seawolf Fans: Ecstasy
All Other Fans: Lumps of coal
So that's pretty much all I've got. Drive safe.

Friday, December 19, 2008

3 Years and A Day

Happy 3rd Anniversary to my blog. December 18th, 2005 was my first post. Since then an additional 491 posts have graced this URL with thousands of comments from my brilliant readers. 119,058 hits with 175,065 page views.

I had planned to repost a few things in a self-centered mini-orgy celebration of me. You can thank a particularly acute rhino-virus for nixing that idea. My extreme mucosal state of being simply isn't conducive to all that.

So instead ... a simple thanks to all of you who find this place useful and/or interesting in your college hockey reading. I remember when I first got 50 hits in a day and thought that was cool. Most days so far this season have seen at least 250 hits a day.

This long break for the team has afforded me the opportunity to take a break from nearly daily posting. I've been glad for that as well. I'll slowly get back to that normal regimen but there is still time off to enjoy.

I hope you all enjoy your holiday season. Thanks for being "my" readers.

Monday, December 08, 2008

'92 Joe Giordano Verbals To Seawolves

Back on November 21st we learned that 16 year old Sam Mellor of the Kimberley Dynamiters in the KIJHL had verbally committed to the Seawolves. I had put off making a post about it because I was hoping that I'd receive additional information from the newspaper guy and blogger that writes about the Dynamiters. In absence of that, Sam is a bit of a mystery. I have no vitals (height/weight) as there are none listed on the KIJHL website or the Dynamiters website. He has 7 goals and 12 assists in 27 games. The Dynamiters are 14-11-2 and in last place in the 5 team Eddie Mountain Division.

This past Friday I acquired a bit of information about another verbal commitment from another 16 year old. Joe Giordano (1/29/92 ... 5' 9" 175lbs) from the New England Jr. Falcons of the Eastern Junior Hockey League has verbally committed to the Seawolves. Joe played for Loomis Chaffee Prep last season in the Founders League and had 11 points in 20 games. So far this season he has 2 goals and 3 assists in 22 games playing with and against 88's and 89 birthdates. The Jr. Falcons are 8-13-2 and in 6th in the 7 team Southern Division.

Both of these players represent a bit of a new trend for the Seawolves program. They are the youngest players to commit to UAA that we've ever seen. 16 year old hockey players verbally committing to colleges isn't a new thing overall ... just new to UAA.

It is an indication that the Seawolf coaching staff recognize that one way to get talented prospects to come to UAA is to get to them before the so-called "big" schools. At this point neither of these kids shows up on any establishment radar as future elite prospects however that doesn't mean they aren't. Honestly, there are only so many independent scouts available to look at a pretty large pool of players and evaluate them. Both of these guys are likely to begin school at UAA in 2011 but also could be 2012 depending on development. I think we can assume that both of them are "talented" players.

Normally, I'd wait to announce a player for Chris Heisenberg to list him. If I've been steered wrong in this case I'd be very very surprised, so I think the risk in making this announcement here is fairly small.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sunday Potpourri: Short and Sweet

There's no Seawolf hockey until next year. I will be here. I will be monitoring news. I will be posting any commentary and/or analysis that occurs to me.

But ... hey it's a break and I'll be having some of that as well. The point is that you shouldn't expect my nearly post per day average that you've seen so far this season. I'll be reposting some things I've written over the last three years in celebration (sic) of that anniversary.

If you see some news in another venue then stop by to see what I think as I'll probably comment.

As to this past weekends games. Just as we shouldn't allow the good results to make us overly optimistic, we shouldn't let one stinker make us lose our faith. There already have been and probably will be more interlopers come here and tell us how the team we love sucks. Ignore the assholes. I will. The season isn't quite half over.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Seawolves vs. Badgers: As It Happens

"Sod it ... It's broken. Oh wait ... I have to switch it on. Buttle? Tuttle?"

Check back at game time and refresh frequently for regular updates as warranted during today's Seawolves game against the Badgers. I'll be watching here with the comforts of home surrounding me, busily typing on my ElectriClerk® and providing commentary, analysis and whatever else occurs to me as the game progresses.

Check back that is if you aren't lucky enough to be at the game or energetic enough to go to the Pepper Mill and join the game watching party there. The UAA Blueliner Booster Club is hosting events there both Friday and Saturday night. There will be door prizes!

Where is the Pepper Mill? On the west side of C Street between 36th and Tudor right next to Sea Galley. But where is Sea Galley? Just east of Alaska USA Credit Union's HQ Bldg. But where the hell is that? Dude ... ask Google or Yahoo or Mapquest or get a Garmin thingy ... a'ight?

5 minutes to 4 ...

Paul Braun has a good voice for hockey. Rob Andringa isn't the worst color guy in history.

I see a couple of pairs of the "flashing/sparkly" sunglasses that our friend Richard introduced into the Seawolf merchandising channel this season as they go to commercial focusing on some UAA fans in the building.

Don Adam reffing a UAA/Wisconsin game? Lots of history there ....
Bryce in net on Friday for UAA. I'd gues that has to do with him being sick last weekend and Jonny getting both starts ...

Puck Drops ...
Backstrom and Wiles both come up with a couple of nice checks ..
And of course UAA gets the 1st penalty call ...
Grant goes in for interference ... Bryce tripped a kid ...
Boom Boom's grandson goes for Boarding to even it up ... Could have been a CFB
4x4 hockey ...

Penalty FEST!!!! Hooray ... now UAA goes for too many men. First PK ...
Nice work by Wiles (Braun calling him Wy-less) and Bales ...
Seawolves called for a RIDICULOUS icing at the end of the PK ...
UAA needs to regroup a little bit after being shorthanded ... they finally clear the zone and push the puck deep into Becky's zone ...

GRANT!!! ... with a major Dinger!! Argh ...
Another good defensive effort from Backstrom on the UDub counterattack ...
Some sort of pause for something ... Braun and Andringa were trying to do their Woog/Mazzacco impression by talking about some useless trivia ....
Ahhh ... it was a review to make sure Grant didn't score.

A Badger draped himself all over Parkinson and hooked him ... UAA Power Play.
No real time in the zone early as they fumble a couple of passes ...
Real close chance in tight for Grant ...
Becky clears ...
Power Play over ...

I'm wondering during this TV time out if anything I'm "listing" here is useful. I'll try it a different way in the 2nd period.

Davies knowingly shoots the puck afte whistled for offsides ... shoulda been a penalty.
Icing on the Badgers? Another ridiculous icing call ... Read the NEW rules buttheads!
Leinweber with a sweet little move for a quality chance off the rush with Clark ...

Robbie rocked Jake Gardiners world with a huge open ice hit in Jeremy Mylymok style!

Sweet pass wide off the boards to Wiles for another clean scoring chance. Another penalty on UAA. Of course ... the Seawolves are outplaying the Badgers and Don Adam is reffing. The fans come alive a bit after Becky hits the pipe on the PP.

End of 1. 0-0 ... Shots 8-4 in favor of UAA. Definitely a good period for the 'Wolves. They outchanced Bucky. Feet were moving well. Passing was crisp and smart. The hitting game was definitely in evidence. Shyiak should have nothing but positivity and encouragement in the locker room. No adjustments to be made that I can see. The penalties were what they were. Typical weak calls ... the last one on Haddad was marginal but he shouldn't have been reaching with his stick.

Paul Braun has a weird dysfunction with names ending in -les. Instead of "Bay-ulls" it's "Bay-less" .. same goes for Wiles. Is that some sort of Wisconsin cultural affectation?

The hit from Mat Robinson on Jake Gardiner was the hit of the year so far. Gardiner was busy checking his laces while carrying the puck. Robbie saw it and absolutely leveled him.
Mat Robinson - (senior) - 5'10" and 181lbs ...
Jake Gardiner (frosh)- 6'2" ... only 181? Yikes ...
Welcome to the WCHA rookie! Be interesting to see if he comes back on the ice. It was a classic Scott Stevens-style knockout hit.

2nd Period:
About a minute left on the Wisco powerplay. Seawolves use solid positioning to keep the Badgers wide for the remaining time.
Back to 5 on 5 hockey.
Bryce makes a save ...
Bucky managing some puck possession in UAA's zone. That was their first even strength pressure and they get another scoring chance that Bryce turns away but leaves sitting precariously.
Penalty on UAA, tripping as Haddad REACHES out with the stick again.
Too much time in the UAA zone costs the Seawolves ...
UW 1 - UAA 0 ...
Tally by Boom Booms grandson ...

UAA pressures nicely following the goal.
Seawolves not doing a great job getting the puck out of the zone so far this period. Finally, the 4th line gets switched out and Grant manufactures a chance. Then Crowder in cleanly but saved by Connelly.

Good pressure by Clark, Lunden and Haddad as the Seawolves get their cycle game going in the Badger zone. Penalty against the Bagers to even the calls out.

OH CRAP!!! Good chance in tight. Another Badger going to box. 5 on 3 now ... Make it happen boys!!!

Crowder swing and a miss at the backdoor. Good possession and good work but nothing to show for it.
Quick whistle helps Bucky ...
Penalties killed. Kohl responds ...

Lets hope not cashing in there doesn't hurt the effort. Badgers could have some momentum after that kill. Seawolves just need to keep focused and they'll get the goal they deserve.

Moir going for an elbow.
Seawolves clear after the face-off.
Wisconsin misses on a back door chance.
Bryce with a solid save on a shot from the point and then UAA clears.
Six minutes left in the period (Jeez ... fast period?)
Badgers clear it themselves ...
Penalty killed for UAA ...

Now Bales out with Lunden and Clark. Shyiak is using a rotation to get Bales more ice-time. Now Haddad comes back out for Bales and gets whistled for taking down Patrick Johnson. Another Badger power play.

Another goal. This time no Seawolf managed to rotate down to cover and they bang home a relatively easy one. About 2 and a half minutes left in the period.

Fuck. 3-0. I didn't see it since I was typing. Christianson looks to have been screened on the shot from the blueline.

Geoffrion hurt. Hard to see what happened on the replay.

I'm not going to continue the live updates as I miss too much action. Tuton and Johnson draw 10 minute misconducts for their post whistle discussion.

Good pressure for the Seawolves in the last minute and a half. Period over.

UAA certainly needs to redouble it's efforts in the 3rd. They can't worry about anything but focusing on getting the first goal. They deserve one. The Badgers obviously won that period. UAA's failure to score on the 5 on 3 (which was a longggg one) looms large.

Don't bother refreshing til after the game. I'm getting in the recliner to see if the Seawolves can muster a comeback in the 3rd. It certainly isn't out of the question but they'll have to stay completely out of the box to make it happen.

Game Over: UW 3 - UAA 2
It's a bit disappointing of course to lose a game where you clearly outchanced your opponent. The Seawolves had a big lead in shots as well as chances. I think you can point to the Seawolves inability to find the net on the long 5 on 3 advantage in the 2nd period. Get a goal there and it would have tied the game. But instead the Badgers get the next two.

A real good third period by the Seawolves but they fall short. A really ticky-tack penalty on Clark with about 2:35 left in the game caused a situation where the Seawolves weren't ever able to pull the goalie for a last chance flurry. Clark lifted a Badger's stick (um .. LEGAL play) yet gets called for hooking? Shitty call. During the penalty kill UAA had a couple of real nice rushes though resulting in their final two scoring chances of the game. It's a shame they couldn't make one of those count. Credit to Connelly for stepping way out and cutting off Josh Lunden's angle which eliminated him from getting off a quality shot. Paul Crowder had a fairly clean break shorthanded as well but couldn't find Connelly's five hole.

The boys should be proud of their effort. Overall they played well. No reason to really blame anyone for the loss ... the Seawolves had enough chances even if they got nailed with a couple of ticky tack penalties.

I'd would imagine that Boom Boom's descendant will miss some time as he looked pretty bad going off the ice. I wouldn't expect to see Jake Gardiner tomorrow night either as he was described by a Badger assistant as having his bell rung.

I see no reason that the Seawolves couldn't come out tomorrow night and pick up 2 points. They should be confident that they can. A little scrum at the end sent a bit of a message that UAA isn't going to back down tomorrow night. I'd say the Badgers paid the price tonight in injuries for their win. Let's hope that Saturday night they come away bruised and used and beaten.

Lastly, I won't be doing the "Live Blogging" thing again ... for selfish reasons.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A Badger Vivisectional

Fear not. I'm not going to continue to sing the praises of serial killer Eddy Gein here. But a dissection of the Badgers is necessary. No need to be squeamish, there will be no blood.

The first thing to look at is the hide of a Badger. For the sake of this metaphoric pre-game autopsy I'll say that the goaltender is the hide. The integumentary system of any mammal primarily serves to keep the beast waterproof and warm. Badger goaltending has typically done this job very well. For a couple of decades or so Badger goaltending coach Bill Howard was known for breaking down a young goalie and building him back up. A couple of them over time sure seemed to be unbeatable. But Howard is gone. Badger fans are relatively split about Shane Connelly's abilities. He is 6-5-2 this season. Backup Scott Gudmandson is 1-2 in his only appearances. I'm going to go out on a bit of limb and predict that Gudmandson gets a start this weekend. Both guys aren't big. Connelly is 5ft 9in; Gudmanson is 5ft 10in.

If Eaves looks at one statistic I think he'll realize why the Badgers went winless in their first seven and have only one loss in their last nine. Shots on goal. In the first 7 games they gave up 266 shots for a 38/game average. In the next 9 games they gave up 234 shots for a 26/game average. I'd say that team defense has been a big factor in both their early losing streak and their current winning streak. Team defense is best related to the muscular system of the Badger. It's obviously the first thing we see when we tear back the skin. Eaves coached teams have used team defense for every success they've ever had. The fact that it took this years team 7 games to figure out that everybody has backcheck is a bit surprising to me. But hey ... they figured it out. The Seawolves better not be expecting to put 40 shots on net either night.

The next thing you'll see on the autopsy table is the guts. The heart, liver, lungs, stomach and intestines. All the stuff that really makes the animal go. This season Blake Geoffrion looks like the heart. His goals have helped spur an offense that hitherto had come from the lungs; defenseman Jamie McBain and Brendan Smith. McBain and Smith are still the leading scorers. They can thank the Badger power-play for that. 6 of their combined 7 goals have come on the PP. 5 of Geoffrion's 7 goals have come on the PP. 3 of Tom Gorowsky's 5 tallies have come on the PP. Noticing a trend here? The Badgers have scored 31 non-power play goals out of their total of 50. Their scoring is relatively balanced with 13 guys who have 2 or more goals.

Perhaps the most critical system in any living being is the gastrointestinal system. Without the ability to intake food, process it and excrete the waste a thing can't live. Mike Eaves does that job for the Badgers. He gobbles up as many recruits as he can by promising them the world. He gets them in his gut and keeps some of them there. And then he craps out the rest. Yes. I'm saying that along with being the mouthpiece and digestion ... that Mike Eaves is the anus. One might perhaps argue that he is the brains. But I think that is insulting since a Badger brain typically is smaller in proportion to body mass than most other mammals. They aren't the brightest bulbs in the mammalian kingdom ya know? Eaves and real Badgers have something in common. They both have historically short tempers.

All that makes the Badgers less than mysterious to me. If the Seawolves do a good job of staying out of the box their chances will be better. The Seawolves game plan shouldn't be a mystery to anyone at this point. The Shyiak "system" is all about puck possession and forechecking in the opponent's zone and a committed effort on the backcheck. The Seawolves are giving up an average of 22.7 shots per game. That is a testament to the excellent job of blocking shots by the team. They'll need the same effort this weekend. Keep the Badgers off the power play, keep the shots against total to the season average and the team should come away with a nice share of the points available. They'll need to keep the same effort as we've seen most of the season. They'll need a solid transition game. Olthuis and Christianson will have to continue to be sharp. Guys who haven't been scoring will need to contribute offensively. Guys who have been scoring will need to continue to score. Look for at least one shorthanded Seawolf goal this weekend.

College Hockey News has done the Seawolves a favor this week. They named the Badger as their Team of the Week. St. Cloud was their Team of the Week last week and promptly went out and got pounded 5-1 by UMD. WCHA teams typically don't fare well after receiving this alleged honor. There seems to be a bit of the Sports Illustrated cover jinx at work. I remember after UAA was named Team of the Week. The Seawolves were swept in their next series. It's an intangible that I don't really believe in however, I do also have a completely illogical superstitious side. I guess we'll see if there is anything to it.

Monday, December 01, 2008

On Wisconsin

Every region has it's ugliness, foibles and stupidity. Wisconsin certainly is not immune from that rule. Hunters so desperate for a deer sometimes end up shooting at each other for encroaching on their spot. It seems that whenever one hears about some twisted perv raping a road-killed deer that it takes place in Wisconsin. I have no doubt there are a couple of roadkill raping pervs in Michigan and Minnesota but they just don't get caught at the same rate as the roadkill raping pervs in Wisconsin.

My favorite serial killer was born and raised in Wisconsin. Ed Gein. Eddy only took the rap for two offings. But he was the inspiration for many many real and fictional serial murderers. Gein probably murdered his brother first in 1944. But it wasn't until his dear mommy bit the dust that Eddy freely engaged in his hobby of stealing dead bodies to make keepsakes. When he finally got nabbed the first thing the cops found in his shed was a decapitated victim hung upside down with her body dressed out as you would a deer. Then cops searched his house and found the good stuff. Human skulls mounted on his bed posts. Skin lampshades and upholstery. Skulls used as bowls. A windowshade pull made from human lips. A belt made from women's nipples. A box of preserved vulvas. I know Jeff Dahmer is probably your favorite Wisconsin serial killer but he seems mundane to me when compared with Eddy Gein.

Dean Talafous never murdered anyone. He nearly destroyed the UAA hockey program. But at least he didn't kill anyone (that I know of). Deano was once a big time hero on the ice for the Badgers. He scored some real important goal for them when I was 11 years old. He went onto a 9 year long NHL career amassing 163 penalty minutes in nearly 500 games as one of the all-time great wusses in the NHL. As near as I could figure the guy had 2 fights in his NHL career. That's one less than Gretzky isn't it? Perhaps this little rant about Tally is unfair here since he wasn't actually a Wisconsinite. He was born in Duluth a whopping 2 miles from the Wisconsin border so that's close enough for me. My original screen name on USCHO's fan forum was "AnyoneButTalafousNow" back in 1999. Stupid me. A year and half later when UAA showed Talafous the door we ended up with John Hill who was ultimately worse than "Anyone".

In 1990, I had an extended stay in Wisconsin while getting certified to repair Digital Equipment Corporation VAX computers. You can't make a U-turn in Wisconsin. How queer is that? No U-turns? I took some classmates out to lunch one day and made just such a turn. 3 Wisonsinite heads exploded. I think there's a correlation between the no U-turn laws and the number of serial killers in the state. I'm sure of it. I can't say that I have many other lasting memories of the place. Oh yeah ... I had my first visits to Sbarro and Chick-Fil-A ...woohoo.

During the trip I did manage to get to see an NHL preseason game between Chicago and Vancouver at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee. Mike Peluso was trying out for the Keenan coached Blackhawks, so it was cool to see him playing. I'm not a Mike Keenan fan but I imagine Peluso is since I think it was under Keenan that he learned the value of working harder than anyone else. And it was exactly that character trait that led to Peluso's nice NHL career where he eclipsed Dean Talafous' 2 fight mark (1951 penalty minutes in 458 NHL games). I never saw Talafous get emotional at the Sully; I once heard Mike Peluso tell an AFA player that he'd shove his stick up the AF players ass and turn him into a popsicle. At the end of the game he fought three of them at the same time. Big Mike wasn't from Wisconsin.