It's early in the season. It's early in the season. It's early in the season. Hmmmm ... I thought that would help. But it doesn't. I couldn't be more bummed out. Of course, I asked for it. Was/is anyone out there more upbeat and optimistic than me? If you were ... I feel bad for you because you must surely feel lower than me tonight.
I'm certainly not the only UAA fan that has supported the guys since almost the beginning. So I don't want to come across here as some uniquely disappointed fan. I do however think that I've publicly expressed that confidence in a unique way. I called out other Seawolves fans earlier in the week for not being positive. I've insulted and degraded the geography of this weekends opponent nearly without mercy. I fully deserve and expect the wrath and gloating of every UND fan that I pissed off this past week.
I dogged the quality of their program and one could even reasonably say that I was unreasonable in doing so. Truth is ... I was and am sick and fucking tired about hearing how fucking great they are. Success breeds success and those fuckers have had more than their share of it. And their incessant overwhelming crowing is disgusting. So I stuck my neck out and expressed my hopes in terms that were at perhaps unrealistic. Damn me for loving my guys. Damn every local player that chooses other programs over their hometown program. You suck. You slapped Anchorage in the face with your choice. I couldn't like you any less than I do.
Being a Seawolves fan is by no means a cake walk. The team plays in a conference with some of the best teams in college hockey. This first weekend of play is merely the first of a 4 weekends that will be nothing but difficult and challenging. Let's face it, the school we're supporting isn't exactly in a position to attract the talent that more than a few of the other conference foes can. It's always been THE challenge. But for one season out of the past 20 or so, I've been there. Talafous' last season I stayed home. So yeah... wah wah wah waaah waaaaaah. What about tonight?
I don't know what to say. The 1st period was a nightmare. I thought the refereeing was atrocious. I went into the intermission wondering what the hell my team bad to do to get a break. The third UND goal came on a clear offsides play that the linesman missed. The guys had to kill a 5 on 3 that was total bullshit. Jared Tuton didn't "hold" anybody. He stepped around a guy. He didn't hold him. I was proud that the team responded to the crowds exhortations at the end of the 5 on 3 and put some decent pressure on the opponent. I was happy that the sparse crowd of 3112 made so much noise at that point.
The 2nd period began decently, the Seawolves couldn't overcome the good puck pressure that UND applied during two early penalty kills. It looked a bit like that had given up? They didn't believe they could come back? Then came the ugliest bullshit call of the night. Josh Lunden in no fucking way tripped anyone. But he got called for it. During the delay a pissed off Kevin Clark took 2nd penalty for hooking. I can relate emotionally to that. The guy was trying to get something started. He was playing his heart out and frankly the hooking call on him could or should have perhaps gotten a diving call on the UND player as well. I'll admit I didn't see the hooking call on Bruijsten at 11:11. The ensuing UND power play made it 4-0.
I don't want to pretend anything here. The Seawolves weren't finding a way to apply any sort of offensive pressure. They got all of 4 shots in the 2nd period. The refs graciously called a couple of typical WCHA "even-it-up" calls but by that point the guys were nothing other than disheartened. And then I noticed something that really pissed me off. It's been bothering me more than anything else all night.
Coach Shyiak benched Kevin Clark. I didn't notice it until Kevin served Craig Parkinson's CFB penalty for hitting somebody too hard. I suppose the benching was a response to his "dumb" penalty. I said it to Jared Tuton's brother inbetween periods and I'll say here it her now. He was playing with emotion. He was trying to make something happen. And god bless him for it. But it was at that point that it occurred to me ... Coach Shyiak just didn't care about trying to win the game. With around 25 minutes left in the game he'd given up. Why else would you bench the emotional leader of the team? I can't imagine there was a single player on the bench that blamed Kevin for taking the penalty he took. I doubt any one of his teammates was thinking to themselves "Damnit, Kevin ... why did you do that?"
There is a valid coaching debate about whether or not such a benching is reasonable. I want to give Coach Shyiak the benefit of the doubt here. But I can't. That's why I started a "Let Clark Play" chant at every quiet break during the 3rd period. Now four years into the Shyiak era and tonight confirmed my suspicion that Dave Shyiak lacks some passion. He didn't get on the refs in the 1st period. In my opinion, he should have; thats when the game was decided and the referees played no small measure in deciding it. And then down 3-0 and then 4-0 he benches the most talented player on his squad? Yes ... a team must overcome these "bad calls" to succeed. But, I want to see the coach of the team I support stand up for them.
After the game, Dave said he was disappointed in the upperclassmen. He said they didn't compete. Well Dave, Kevin Clark was competing. Josh Lunden was busting his ass. There was nothing I can be critical about regarding Tommy Grant's play. Craig Parkinson got screwed on a bullshit call. There's four of your most skilled upperclassmen. Was there something more that Nick Haddad could have done? No. Did Sean Wiles dog it? No. Was Jared Tuton somehow responsible? No. They all were trying. You weren't. It appears to this fan, that you were the one that gave up just over halfway into the game.
Let me say here, that UND's first three goals came off of 2nd and third chances. And absolutely yes ... the guys have to clear those chances when the goaltender gives up big rebounds. They didn't. All night long the UND players were a bit quicker onto the loose pucks. They challenged successfully for all too many loose pucks. All were situations that you'd expect to see the Seawolves come up with 50% of the time. But instead, the UND players came up with them 90% of the time. Credit to UND for that sort of puck pressure. They deserved the win. Could the Seawolves have overcome the bad calls? I don't know for sure. But I do know it wasn't going to happen when the coach didn't give them any reason to.
His apathetic attitude after the game was disturbing to me. "This is what happens when ..." he said. Well, I sure hope teaching the team a lesson early in the season is worth more than a victory. I'm ok with saying he didn't want to win last night. I honestly believe that was the case.
Congratulations to UND. They definitely put a number on the Gophers last Friday night and this Friday they exceeded that.
Lastly, I don't know if the referee wearing #29 was Tim Walsh or Scott Bokal. Whichever one of them is the guy that was continuously toweling off his sweaty shaved head during the 1:00 minute "official" timeouts needs to be sanctioned for his calls tonight. He was worse than Don Adam. He was worse than Todd Anderson. I hope his sweaty ass never comes to Anchorage again. Get a fucking headband dude or at least a helmet with some damned slots for cooling. And who the fuck ever heard of a referee that wears a half visor? WTF is that? You're sweating it up big time and you have a visor? No wonder you couldn't see your ass if it was in front of your face. And oh yeah ... Sivulich ... Glines ... move the hell away from Anchorage you blind useless twats.
Regardless of everything I've said above. UND was the better team tonight. I guess I'll go tomorrow night and see if the guys I love can make a better showing. I guess I'll go and see if the coach of the team I love will be a help or a hinderance to that effort.
Peace. My apologies to all. G'night.