Saturday, October 24, 2009

Seawolves 2 - UND 1: A Character Win

The Seawolves gutted out a character based win tonight. For really the first time this season we UAA fans saw the team play near or to it's full potential. They met expectations. I'd expect they all looked at themselves in the mirror this afternoon.

As quick as I was to criticize Coach Shyiak last night let me first give him some credit tonight. No doubt some of my criticism of Shyiak last night was out of fan frustration. I know some people weren't happy about reading it. All I can say is take a look again at the very last line of that post. Tonight, he started by changing the line combinations. Kevin Clark centered Josh Lunden and Tommy Grant. I think it proved to be a key change.

Whenever those three guys were on the ice they made things happen. They created turnovers. They applied the same sort of forward going pressure that we saw from UND last night. They were monsters in the neutral zone. They straight up outplayed whoever was on the ice against them. I also think Clarkie is a natural center versus playing on the wing.

So many of the good things that happened tonight started in the defensive zone. The coaching staff is to be congratulated for making the defensive adaptation as well. Shyiak also engaged the referees more intensely and more often that last night. I think that has two effects. It sets a tone for his players and it can help keep the referees honest. Let's face it ... these guys don't like being told on a Monday or Tuesday that they're going to Anchorage for the weekend. They don't get to hang out after the games with their friends of families like they do in so many other of the close to home located WCHA cities.

All four lines forward lines played well. All the defenseman played well. Good on every player tonight. They all deserve credit. I think Shyiak was more cognizant of matching up lines as well. I think UND did tire a bit as the weekend progressed due to the physcial game that the Seawolves played. It's noteworthy that UAA players finished their checks more often tonight.

The other key difference tonight was that Seawolves players were getting to the puck in their own zone before UND players. The 2nd and 3rd chances that UND was able to capitalize on Friday night were virtually non-existant tonight. Credit for that goes to everyone. Not only were the defensemen more effective in manning up but forwards were more committed to backchecking, blocking shots and pouncing on loose pucks. The entire team played a completely different game in their own zone. They were very responsible. They all kept their feet moving.

I also think that from early in the game that Bryce Christianson made a difference. His abilities handling the puck are important and I think they set him apart from Jonny O. No knock on Olthuis there ... I love the guy. I think he played well last night. But there is a clear difference between him and Bryce with regard to playing the puck outside the crease. Early in the game, Bryce put several quality clearances onto forwards sticks at the opponents blueline that kept UND honest. That ability is a difference maker. If all things are equal when Jonny O and Bryce are in the crease then I think Bryce's stick work outside the crease should earn him the #1 spot. Rotations are fine and I don't have an issue with them philosophically. And that's enough armchair coaching from me. Right?

It was a quality team win that should buoy the confidence of every player. UND applied lots of pressure at various times of the game. They worked hard in UAA's zone and were able to have some similar possession type opportunities to the ones they cashed in on last night. But determined backchecking and (as I already said) responsible play kept them from finding the extra chances tonight that they would have otherwise turned into goals.

The intensity and quickness to the puck belonged more to the Seawolves tonight. Again ... that was opposite of last night. It was a solid win. The dramatic differences between last nights performance and this one should be engraved in every Seawolf player's mind. It's a lesson both body and mind need to remember. A very tough road series coming up against a winless Gopher team at the John awaits and so hopefully the freshness of this weekend's experiences will be a factor in the effort the guys apply.

UND certainly made it interesting in the last two minutes after pulling their goalie. They hemmed the Seawolves in, somebody in green and gold lost or broke their stick and the whole shift got stuck out there for a fairly long time. It made the last minute of so pretty intense. Props to the crowd for having the team's back tonight. They made noise at all the right times.

The referee's in this league just can't keep from trying to involve themselves in the game. Josh Lunden lifted a guys stick, stole the puck and gets called for hooking? Puhlease ... Curtis Leinweber gives a totally clean check while challenging for the puck along the halfboards and gets whistled for cross-checking? Then the Mike Prpich/Rylan Kaip goon replacement Ben Blood interferes, cross checks and then mugs Kevin Clark with the referee staring at it the whole time? Clarkie gets called for a dive? There's no doubt he goaded the idiot Blood into hacking him. At minimum Blood should have gotten 4 mins for the three offenses he committed if Clark had to go off for that. The linesman have no idea how to apply the icing rules and their judgement for offsides is brutal. It was no surprise to anyone sitting in my area that UND got the two late 3rd power play chances. Unlike last night ... the Seawolves were able to overcome. The penalty kill was solid all night.

A good WCHA win. It's better to have 2 points than none. Getting road points at Minnesota will be as big a challenge as playing the #2 ranked team this weekend. It never really gets any easier in the WCHA. DU swept the Gophers shutting them out twice at the Mariucci this weekend. They'll be here in two weeks.

Here's tonight's boxscore. And thanks to USCHO's "dude" for the Jade Portwood picture.


Anonymous said...

Having not gone to the game tonight, I am just finishing watching the game on tape delay. Now that is the kind of game that we Seawolve fans expect to see from our team. Back checking, forechecking, finishing checks, hustling to the puck, digging it out of the boards. I guess this is what frustrates me so much, knowing what we are capable of and than seeing a game like Friday night. Somehow we need to bottle a little of this play for each and every night the rest of the season.

Anonymous said...

Friday, UAA didn't even come to play against d-3 opposition. It was not good, UND played well and took it to the team. Someone sure kick started their collective butts though. Saturday, totally different team chemistry. I love J.O. but it's time to give Bryce the reins and let him lose them. Better athletism, better positioning, and way better puck handling. And I mean, he's gotta have terrible losing streak to lose the job. Michigan was a fluke. Agree, officitiating on Friday was a sham, for both teams. Sat, refs seemed to let the teams play.

UAA Fan in Florida(not anymore.)

dggoddard said...

Great win. Congrats. :-)

Anonymous said...

Great win. Nothing so sweet as watching teams who believe they have some sort of entitlement to winning come out on the short end of the stick. To see ND whine after every call was worth the price of admission. How sweet! This Wolf win will be a reference point for the whole season. Back on the bandwagon everyone. And further to the idiot who yesterday wrote only one Wolf could play in ND--who the hell would want to play for such prima donnas with the childish jersies? We're the Fighting Sioux. How quaint. -30-

Mike said...

2nd rate...whatever you think ...they don't ask how, they ask how many

Anonymous said...

2nd rate BS. Thanks Donald for letting us have a chug of that und whine. mirrors Trupp crying at the ref. Great win!!!!!

Anonymous said...

once the freshman get used to the wcha, clarkie, lunden and grant will show them how to finish off the top five teams.
Und has no where near the talent of past years, toews younger brother is only there because of Johnanthan, and same with zajac, hextall daddy went there. You do not win with 2n hand alumane family plaeyers. This will be only one of many und loses this year.
Genoway was stopped by our top line all nite long, und keep looking over there shoulder when they were near the boards.
great win for uaa, bring on the gophers. Another team of drafted players like und, with no place to go.
Seawolves are going for fifth place and home ice advantage, than the final five. They have the upperclassman plus the defense once backstrom and hunt are healthy.
great goaltending yesterday.
All the best on your trip to minni.
Split the weekend or sweep.

alaskana said...

Anon @ 10:09AM: "By January the pups will be battling Michigan Tech for 10th place in the WCHA."

We'll hold you to that comment. And I feel you'll be proven wrong. :)

Ted said...

While there is bitterness in their tone I have to respect the ND fans who logged on after the loss.

Way to go Seawolves. I hope that victory tasted so sweet you are addicted to it and jonesing for more.

vizoroo said...

Great win for the Seawolves!

Take it to the gophs, they deserve it(almost as much as the sioux)

Anonymous said...

It does not matter where hextall played this team is no where near rated number 2 in the country.
Past successes mean nothing this year. Uaa has been building a strong program under the last four years with shyiak, he recruited the seniors and juniors. The freshman will fit in just find. I hope the freshman enjoy there weekend in Minni.
Clarkie always does well in Minni.
Can't wait to see the polls this week. Uaa moving up und moving down, get used to it und.

Anonymous said...

clark and grant are tied for 10 th in wcha scoring. With lunden on there line this could be one of the top lines in the whca. Thought naslund had one of his best games so far. If we can get two lines clicking and get our defense healthy. Fifth spot is not out of the question. Hope the players understood the importance of beating und. It put our program on the map. Future success will require discipline and hard work.
Lunden, clark, tuton and backstrom will provide the leadership needed. Clark and lunden could join the 100 pt club for uaa this year.
Congrats to all the players.
Have a good road trip to Minnesota..

Anonymous said...

To UND fans, put that in your Trup...I mean pipe and smoke it.

Anonymous said...

Fan, we already have the defense needed to go to the final 5. One of them got the winning goal last nite. Good win Seawolves!

Donald Dunlop said...


Don't want your comment deleted? Then ....

Add something substantive to the discussion. Crowing is not substance.

This blog is intended for any and all purposes that suit UAA Fans. Comments from other fans are certainly welcome and even encouraged. But I don't care if anyone who isn't a UAA fan gets a chance to express themselves here and that in particular applies to UND fans.

Why? Because of the excessive creepiness that has occurred here over the past week or so.

So give yourself a name ... any kind of name. You don't have to register anywhere. You don't have to give up your precious anonymity.

Non-Crowing substance and a name are pretty much all you need to not get deleted if you're a UND fan.

Indeterminate anonymous comments will be remain depending on my judgement and if they're only intended to degrade me personally you can pretty much guarantee they'll be deleted.

Don't like it? My phone number and email address are on the right hand side of the page.

That's my "pair" ... skippy.

Cant live with any of that? You can act any way you want at the REA. But you can't do so here anymore.

Anonymous said...

When they gave the last year to Christianson we were a different team. he steals games and is the only player that with his puck handling ability that can neutralizes the forechecks of teams. Minnesota didnt score a goal last weekend and can be beat. Good luck

Janney said...

Exciting game! Amazing win!

Anonymous said...

Just finished watching parts of the game on my DVR. UAA could easily have been up 3-0. Clarkie passed the puck to Grant who had a wide open net to shoot at, and UND hooked Grant right across his midsection sending him sprawling.

I remember seeing Grant go flying during the game, but didn't see the hook until I watched it on TV. Incredible that the ref didn't call it.

Anonymous said...

According to gossip from the team, ND didn't want to play as game 2 wore on. The reason? They got tired of being hit by Mack trucks. Skill with no grit is dick.

Anonymous said...

Uaa has tough players and skilled players, great combination for a winning team.

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