What will UAA fans see on TV this weekend from the DU team? On Friday, there is one thing we won't see; George Gwozdecky behind the bench. George got booted from DU's game versus UND on Saturday in the 2nd period. He took a little stroll across the ice which enraged the normally enraged fans in Susiedom and for which they unsuccessfully called for his head. Late on Tuesday though DU handed George a one-game suspension because he admitted to using a headset to communicate to his team after getting booted.
It was all perhaps one of George's finest strategic moves to motivate his team. The Pios have straight up been playing like shit. Denver hasn't played worth a crap since losing Tyler Bozak to injury. As the head coach, George knows shit hockey when he sees it. And after getting pummelled 8-3 the night before, Saturday wasn't going to pass without George teaching his team a lesson. UAA fans might remember when George once pulled his goalie against the Seawolves at the Sully with like 8 minutes to go in the 3rd period when he was down by 4 goals ... he sent a message to his team. What George did this past weekend was exactly the same thing. I'm not sure exactly how the Pios will play this weekend while their coach sits for "taking one for the team" ... but I'll bet it won't be like shit. Gwoz did what he did to set a tone for his team's stretch run.
Conventional thinking would say that this weekend is a near perfect setup for DU to start that stretch run. They have the 9th place team coming to their rink. The sodbusters will be properly motivated to put out 100 percent effort. DU's stats are telling. They have 9 guys that have scored 5 or more goals. That means every line has been scoring. For comparisons sake, UAA has 5 guys with 5 or more goals.
As I see it, there is one primary advantage that UAA has going into this series. The Seawolves are bigger and DU plays on a rink that is 15ft narrower than the Sully. On the whole the Seawolves are about 7lbs heavier than DU. That may not sound like much but from heaviest to lightest NCAA team the difference is about 12lbs. UAA is 2nd heaviest and DU is 39th. UAA's cycle game is made for this situation. A smaller rink with a smaller opponent? This just screams for UAA's physical game to be dialed up a notch. In Palinese that would be "Hit baby Hit". A good ol' clean hard-hitting western-Canadian butt-whooping style is called for here.
I don't mean to overlook the other important things this weekend. Fewer penalties must be taken. Amping up the physical game and taking fewer penalties aren't mutually exclusive as long as you play that physical game smartly. A more physical tone should mean more oppotunities and of course the Seawolves need to turn those chances into goals. The one thing I do think very strongly for this weekend is that the Seawolves absolutely have to dictate the play.
UAA's top two lines MUST produce this weekend for the Seawolves to come home with points. Grant, Crowder, Bales, Lunden and Clark's names will need to appear in goals and assist columns of the boxscores. MUST ... see how I made that all caps to emphasize it? In order to begin it's own stretch run the Seawolf leaders MUST lead. The one game (so far) success of the "WHiP Line" (Wiles, Haddad, Parkison) MUST be repeated this weekend as well. They MUST be the engine that makes the amped up physical game plan work. They need to gain the DU zone and focus on possession ... which they can accomplish with their size. I'm assuming here that Coach Shyiak is going to go with the same lineup as Saturday night versus MTU.
Yes. Goaltending has to be sharp.