Thursday, October 22, 2009

Seawolves vs. UND: The Preview

Looking through all the available information I'd have to call this weekends games a pretty decent looking college hockey matchup. Fans on both sides should anticipate two closely played games. UND has 4 significant upperclassmen, 3 quality sophomores and as many as 5 potentially impactful freshman on the roster. UAA's mix tends more toward experience.

I'd peg 7 upperclassmen into the same significant catergory as I put UND's 4. Both of UAA's 2 sophomores are quality and 5 or 6 freshman Seawolves look to be potentially impactful. I think the main difference might be that UND's freshman have contributed to their team's success (2g-10a) and the total output so far for Seawolves rookies is (1g-3a).

As a team the opponent has scored 15 goals in 4 games for a 3.75 average. The Seawolves have 12 goals in 4 games for an even 3 per game average. UND's power play is 24% (6 out of 25) and their penalty kill is 15 out of 15 for 100%. UAA's power play is 15.8% (3 of 19) and the penalty kill is 83.3% (20 of 24).

Going forward I'd give the nod to the Seawolves for their established abilities deep in the opponents zone. The Seawolves NHL sized forwards should be able to establish their possession game as per usual. UND's defenseman are a bit bigger than other teams UAA has faced this season but they're also relatively inexperienced except their two undersized upperclassmen.

We'll likely see no conscious effort from UND to maintain the puck deep in the Seawolves end via a cycle. They'll rely on transition and so far this season that's meant getting the puck on defenseman Chay Genoway's stick who has excellent offensive instincts. One line is capable of some cycling but more often than not offensive intrusions should be be short lived. However, since this is a team that relies on emotional play, if the Seawolves don't clear the puck efficiently they could be made to pay. When the UND forwards sense an opportunity they can swarm.

So the defensive side of the Seawolves game this weekend will have to be spot on to limit the UND opportunities. Perhaps the most important aspect though will be manning up against Genoway when he's on the ice. Seawolves forwards will need awareness for #5 and when possible give the kid another shadow. More than a couple of UAA forwards will need to come off the ice knowing what flavor of gum Chay is chewing to have done the job correctly. The closer the game is the more dangerous that kid seems to get.

As always, breaking the puck out efficiently and smartly is going to be important. The UND forwards will forecheck hard, early and often in order to try to create turnovers. Brains and execution should be the watchwords for Seawolves blueliners. Some of the Seawolves abilities to rush the puck will depend on whether or not Backstrom and/or Hunt are ready to go. Word has been that both wouldn't be returning for this series though. That leaves the transition game in the hands of Curtis Leinweber, Kane Lafranchise and to a lesser extent freshman Lee Baldwin.

Not to say other D-men aren't capable of bringing the puck in an offensive sense. Drew Darwitz seems to be coming along quickly. If Luka Vidmar is healthy he has historically shown that he can contribute going forward. Jared Tuton's calm consistent leadership on the backend is an asset but typically he doesn't move the puck forward with the same flair as Curtis.

There will be some expectation for the Seawolves 1st and 2nd line to produce this weekend. Clark, Haddad and Grant/Lunden, Bruijsten and Naslund will likely be the primary scoring threats. Portwood, Parkinson and Crowell look to be developing some chemistry and have looked dangerous. Craig is getting/taking more shots this season than in the past and he's my pick to click this weekend.

Rookies Mickey Spencer and Alex Gellert along with Sean Wiles are showing some gritty play and have been closer and closer to making significant contributions. They definitely aren't a typical 4th line/energy/checking combo. I don't know if we'll see Ken Selby and/or Tyler Currier in the lineup as Coach Shyiak seems to have settled on the above lineups. However, don't be surprised to see Selby play on any particular night.

UND's coach has apparently indicated that rookie goaltender Aaron Dell will get a start this weekend. Logically, I'd think that would mean he'll play on Friday. Strategically that would make sense. If a rookie got stoned on a Friday you've got the regular guy ready to go on Saturday. However, if the regular guy gets shelled on Friday ... do you come back with the rookie on Saturday? So I'm guessing Dell on Friday night, Eidsness on Saturday.

If all things have been even otherwise in practice then I'd expect Shyiak to rotate Olthuis and Christiansen this weekend. Shyiak gave the nod to Jonny O last Saturday following on his Friday night shutout. I'm guessing though that Bryce plays Friday night against UND. Just a guess. I'm historically shit with guesses regarding which goaltender plays on which night.

The key to home ice advantage for the Seawolves is to get the crowd into the game early. There'd be no reason to expect anything but a solid emotionally driven effort from the Seawolves coming out of the gate on Friday. It's the first WCHA series of the year. It's at home. Everything about that says they'll be pumped up to play and highly focused.

The last time UND was on the ice at the Sully the Seawolves took a couple of tough losses. No doubt they'll remember those two nights and be motivated to rectify them. All the talk coming out of the Seawolves program (not just here on this blog) is that the 09/10 edition is perhaps the best Seawolves team on paper since Shyiak took the helm. This weekend is the real first opportunity to prove that theory. UND is rated/ranked highly in any/every poll.

They are a legitimate top quality opponent by every traditional measuring stick. They got 9 NHL draft picks. Last Friday night they skated circles around a team with 10 NHL draft picks. This weekend is not only the 1st serious test of the Seawolves. It's likely to be the biggest test they face all season. I hope the fact that it comes so early is in the Seawolves favor.

Predictions: Friday UAA 4 - UND 2; Saturday UAA 2 - UND 0


Anonymous said...

4 significant upperclassmen for UND? I count 7. you must define "significant" differently than i do. (purely based on stats?)

I guess I will just agree to disagree. :)

Donald Dunlop said...

A UND fan would naturally think nearly all of their upperclassmen are significant. Big surprise.

But yes ...

Darcy Zajac is insignificant.
Brent Davidson is insignificant.
Jake Marto and Evan Trupp are .5 insignificant each.
Derek Lapoint is insignificant.

That equals 4 significant upperclassmen.

And I actually undercounted UAA's significant upperclassmen. I probably should have said 11. But I left off the goaltenders and underrated a couple of other guys. I was sandbagging.

Anonymous said...

You think UAA will sweep. BIG SURPRISE.

Zajac is an assistant captain, therefore he's significant. I also counted Genoway, VandeVelde, Marto, LaPoint, Malone and Trupp as significant b/c most of them play in all situations and log a lot of ice time. And that's how I define significance to a team. I appreciate the little things, but not everyone does. But that's okay.

Carry on

Donald Dunlop said...

I guess those are examples of the biased nature of fandom. Who woulda thunk?

Suze said...

To the Seawolves, I only have three words:


That's all.

Donald Dunlop said...

An excellent and beautifully simple strategy and observation.

Nathan said...

You somehow forgot to highlight the goals against category when running through the team stats. Personally, I think Olthuis and Christianson are both pretty solid goaltenders, so the subpar sv% tells me that either they have both taken a step back in their play to start this season, or UAA's team defense has not been great. Not having seen the team play, I can only speculate.

I would guess that both teams will go as their upperclassmen go this weekend, so I think you are right on to look for which upperclassmen on each team can be a significant contributor to their squad's success. However, I find your analysis of "significant" upperclassmen on each side conveniently unspecific at best, and laughable at worst. To say Zajac is an insignificant player when he had more points than all but three returning seawolves last year, and then in the same breath say that there are at least 3 and probably 7 "more significant" players on UAA's roster is suspect. None of the rest of your analysis can be taken seriously with an error as glaring as that.

Paint me with your "must be a dumb UND fan" brush if you want, but I'd really like to see your explanation for what makes an upperclassman significant. I'm guessing you won't oblige me since you probably just pulled the numbers out of the air anyway.

In the end, your analysis of the series seems shortsighted to me. I can't see a team with shaky goaltending/defense that is missing two key defensemen beating UND, a team that has been clicking on special teams and is playing very solid defense. Sioux sweep - 4-1, 5-2.

Donald Dunlop said...

Darcy Zajac -- 16 goals in 3 years on a team with 76 wins over the last three years. 8 of those goals came in his freshman year. Insignificant isn't an unfair characterization of him even if he did pot a couple so far this season.

I didn't count UAA's captain as significant. So why would I give consideration to some random UND assistant captain? I didn't count an upperclassmen for UAA that has potted a couple either.

What is a significant player on one team isn't necessarily a significant player on another team. Significant is a word that requires that context. I thought I provided it.

I didn't make any direct comparisons between "significant" players on each team. I went through the rosters and applied my judgements as to the # of upperclassmen that each team has that I'd consider significant.

I've seen reasonable portions of UND's games this season. Darcy Zajac did NOTHING in any game I was watching. The puck jumps off Evan Trupps stick more than it stays on it and he has less goals than Zajac. Marto has lesser stats than Zajac by 50%. Again ... this is on a team that has 76 wins over the last three years. And then there's the guy that has hardly played. That equals 4 to me.

The Seawolves played two grossly subpar games out of 4 this year. Focusing on that serves no purpose since my audience is UAA readers. UAA fans know what happened in those games. Making any sort of issue regarding it only encourages less observant people than you to come here and crow or pick apart things I've said. Why would I want to do that?

How many times do I have to say on this blog that I'm not a fucking journalist, don't want to be a fucking journalist and have no plans to pretend to be a fucking journalist.

My biased nature and history is well-documented. I'm sorry that this is apparently your first exposure to it. But I write for people that are regular readers and prefer that I focus on positive things. See ... it is a "FAN" blog. Where I share my opinion, beliefs and hopes regarding the program that UAA fans come here to read about.

If you want to read someone pretending to be a journalist writing about more than one team while poorly masking his biases then go read Western College Hockey blog. I'm at least up front about it.

I can certainly criticize your view of UND. They've played 4 games. Two against a traditionally bottom end Hockey East team ... one against an uninspired sleepwalking Gopher team and one against a Gopher team that played it's best game of the year.

UND wasn't the better team on the ice last Saturday night (which you didn't imply). The Gophers outplayed UND ... sometimes the boxscore doesn't reveal such things.

So UND doesn't have any sort of slam dunk claims to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. Of course, that doesn't stop anyone from that part of the country from crowing.

Your assessment is no less biased than mine. The difference here is that you likely think it isn't. And you likely haven't seen the Seawolves play more than 10 games over the last 3 years I'd guess. I've seen UND play at least 40 games over that period.

Your 6 goal differential over two games pegs you as every bit my equal in terms of bias. Delude yourself otherwise as you choose.

Donald Dunlop said...

UND crowing fools:

Add something substantive. Don't use ANY CAPS BULLSHIT (it defines you as a crowing jersey popper and I have no tolerance for that). And figure out some way to differentiate yourself from generic "anonymous" or risk your comment getting deleted.

Dirty said...

Zajac has one assist in 10 career games against UAA so perhaps he won't be much of a factor on the score sheet. By Donald's definition he's probably right that Darcy isn't a significant upperclassman.

Marto has zero points and zero penalty minutes in the two Friday games this year. He has one goal, one assist and one minor penalty in both Saturday games this year. He played both games in Anchorage last year. Once against zero points and zero penalty minutes on Friday. Then on Saturday he had a goal and two assists. Using Donald's definition, Marto won't be much of a factor on Friday but will be a big factor on Saturday.

Suze said...

A shout out to Doyle Woody for mentioning the UAA promo's on his blog. Thanks Doyle!!

Donald Dunlop said...

It's such an amazingly minor matter really to focus on. One man's trash is another man's treasure and all that.

By the way ... out of the 23 comments I've deleted from North Dakotan's so far this week yours was the only one that was marginal and I perhaps could have left in place ... I really did hope (and stupidly imagine) that the comments in the previous post would adhere to the guidelines I noted. I did make the corrections you noted however before deleting yours.

I've got some fool from Jamestown on here right now spamming the comments section. He or she has been here for more than 30 mintues at this point and I've deleted all seven of the stupidity he's posted.


Donald Dunlop said...

24 deleted - 8 from Jamestown, ND.

alaskana said...

I think Donald's right. I feel it will be a UAA sweep. And no I don't think UND is handicapped by the long trip. Yes, it's a heck of a trip, but they've been here since Wednesday and should be ready to play their best by Friday. I think I've heard that excuse used several times in the past when UND has lost up here.

Donald Dunlop said...


Obsessive behavior can be a sign of several possible personality disorders and/or mental illness.

Get some help. Spending almost an hour here spamming this site with bullshit is obsessive.

siouxfanlostondonaldsblog said...

UAA always plays UND tough at home and I'm expecting a helluva good series this weekend and am glad I get to watch it on tv, hopefully missing two Dmen wont handicap AA to much because I hate to see injuries effect teams records. I want a sweep but I'll say split with UAA's bigger bodies working the cycle one night and putting some goals home..UND Friday UAA Saturday

Anonymous said...

The games is played on the ice.
We will have plenty of time to analysis the game once it is over.
Und is not the powerhouse from past years. The players know it from und but will play there best. Uaa is a up and coming team, and will prove that tonite.
Looking forward to the game.
Let's not personally attack und players, most of them are riding on the coatails of past players.

puckdangler said...

The Youtube video is hilarious. "Do you realize how fucking cold it is up there?" North Dakota is a desolate land for sure. "At least they have hockey." Funny stuff.

Fri: UAA 4 UND 2 Sat: UAA 2 UND 2

Brian said...

"Obsessive behavior can be a sign of several possible personality disorders and/or mental illness."

So can spending your time deleting useless comments on a blog. :)

Suze said...

Brian, I venture much more time was spent in writing those comments than deleting them. :)

Donald Dunlop said...

When I'm at home ... the computer is on. When the computer is on ... my browser is running. When my browser is running ... the first tab is my blog.

I may or may not be an obsessive person. But keeping my place free of that sort of litter isn't an example of it.

Anonymous said...

Donald, it's not whether you are biased or unbiased that I question. Nor do I question whether you are a journalist or not. What I do seriously question is your knowledge of the game. Your analysis of the game is very pedestrian. I do appreciate your blog for its entertainment value but have to say your ranting and raving about North Dakota is a bit too much.

Donald Dunlop said...

It's not your ability to criticize someone else's knowledge of game that I question. Rather it is your insistence on coming back to this blog time and time again to leave ridiculous comments that I must question.

You write just like Goon.

Anonymous said...

We are playing the supposely the no 2 team in college hockey, why can we not fill the sully.
I do not think this team deserves a rating of no 2, but uaa has a good chance of knocking off this team tonite. Let's hope clark, lunden and grant, have one of there best games of the season. Let's play them tough along the boards. Play physical and take no prisoners. Keep the shots from far out, and control the penalties the best we can.
Going to be a great game.
Great way to start the wcha season.

Let's fill the sully.
Go seawolves.


Dirty said...

UND is ranked #2 because they are one of the few teams who have managed to not lose in the first couple weeks of the season. Given the way polls work, losing means you drop and since teams all around UND lost, they dropped and by default the Sioux moved up. If UND does not deserve the #2 ranking, who does?

Anonymous said...

Fri. UND 8-1, Sat. UND 5-2. This from a Gophers fan living in Anchorage. Go Souix!

Donald Dunlop said...

Goon!! Quit pretending to be a Gopher fan. You're disrespecting the program you claim to follow.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Mankato fan. I live in Fargo. I plaid hockey for 22 years. I now the game. And I now that UND will sweap this weekend.

ND 13 - AA 0 on Friday
ND 19 - AA 1 on Saturday

The nanoooks get the goal on Saturday when Travis Zajac shots it into his own goal.

Anonymous said...

I'm out of state, trying to get the UAA game on It says to download a plug-in, which is a dead link. I already have Realplayer. Anyone else having problems with getting video for the games, or the archived games?

Ted said...

Anonymous at 2:28

You are clearly not what you claim. If you played the game for 22 years you would know what you wrote is lunacy. Also, how does one "now the game'? If you were a college hockey fan you would know that UND is not playing the Nannooks this weekend, so how would they score on you.

Go grind someone up in the wood chipper you moron.

Donald Dunlop said...

Or that Travis Zajac plays in the NHL? It gets weirder and weirder and weirder here every time the Seawolves play UND.

If you're a Seawolves fan email and I'll try to help you. If you're a UND fan ... don't bother.

Mike said...

Let's go d some good back checks...good goalkeeping...above stay out of the box

Anonymous said...

Denver 2 Minnesota 0 with 3 minutes left

Anonymous said...

Let's kick the little bison II's butts!

Anonymous said...

Sioux made that 1st period look easy.3-0 good guys.

Anonymous said...

4-0 good guys.Nobody in the stands.Must be the seal clubbing opener eh.

Anonymous said...

clark had 1 penalty tonite, and we it him half a game, shyiak is nuts. I am sure clark will be on the first plane out and turn pro like beagle, lawson and crowder.
Und plays there top five players, we roll 4 lines like a1 hockey.
This team needs a coach it is becoming more evident each game, his remark at the end of the game blaming the upperclassman. Put them out together, no he spreads them around, and he has no game plan.

Other 9 place finish

Anonymous said...

No defense tonite, no power play, why not clark, lunden and grant on powerplay, watch und with gregoire, and vandelvelde, and trupp and genoway. They are on for 10 minutes a period. The swede is no where to be seen on our team.
Sitting clark was stupid, top point man, lead the team in power play pts last year. This is like the curfew issure garabage last year, und will go and get trunk tonite, and still beat us. Treat our players like men, not children.

Anonymous said...

clark was on for one goal against tonite and only had 1 penalty and only three this year. He sits his top goal scorer out in the box for parkinson nailing a player from behind. I think shyiak is losing it. Und must think our coach is a joke. Just keep rolling the lines dave, and we will 10th not 9th.
taking at shot at the upperclassman was real class.
that will impress your team and the fans. You are the coach, play your key players in key situations lke und. The experiment with big slow moving uaa players does not work in the wcha or the nhl anymore.

Anonymous said...

Cobb time to start looking for a new head coach, to blame the loss of the game on your upperclass man after the game no class.
Let's putting a system in place like und where players skate and control the puck. Playing along the boards and dumping the puck in the wcha is a joke.
NOt sure what shyiak is trying to accomplish but it looks like a repeat of last year all over.

Anonymous said...

Kevin clark has 3 goals and 2 assists in 5 game. 9th place in scoring in the wcha. Maybe we should trade him to minnesto or minnesota state who were also blanked tonite. I am sure schroder for minnesota who has 1 point was benched for not scoring five goals a game. This coach should phone to see if we can get 3 6ft 4 players and make a trade, that way we can slide to 10 place.
Dave you were a joke tonite.

clarkie will go on to play pro somewhere next year, you will have him well rested and healthy for the future.
His teamates will be pissed off when they start getting treated the same way.

Anonymous said...

Where was the pressure from the forwards?? Not til the 3rd did they maintain any pressure in the Sioux end. 5-0. No shots. No goals. No wins. Jonny was screened on 2 of their pp goals. Time to shift some players up and around. Punish and sit the ones that are hazardous out there. They sat Clark, but shit, a couple of more should have sat.These coaches do have the tendency to suck the life out of some players. Same old story.

Anonymous said...

Hope you liked your view from row one upper level center ice (player bench side) of that ass kicking!

alaskana said...

I was there tonight, and personally I don't think the blame should be put on either the coach or any of the players. All I saw was an all around sluggish performance on the Seawolves end, with plenty of missed passes and not real attempts to score. The Sioux were the superior team tonight, and anyone who says otherwise is delusional. (And I am a Seawolves fan, by the way).

With that being said, tomorrow could be an entirely different story. The Seawolves *could* kick some major a$$. I still have much faith in them. The WCHA didn't allow them in the league for nothing, and they will prove themselves yet.

As for what they could do different? Place Bryce as goalie, (not that Johnny O is bad, but you gotta shuffle things up when things aren't working) and play Clark some more. I wish our two top D guys weren't out, but I still think the Wolves can find a way to get along without them.

Good Luck, Seawolves!

Anonymous said...

I'd have to call this weekends games a pretty decent looking college hockey matchup. Fans on both sides should anticipate two closely played games.......

The key to home ice advantage for the Seawolves is to get the crowd into the game early.......

Going forward I'd give the nod to the Seawolves for their established abilities deep in the opponents zone. The Seawolves NHL sized forwards should be able to establish their possession game as per usual. .....

Maybe tomorrow eh?

alaskana said...

PS. I still think the Seawolves will be able to use size to their advantage this season. Unfortunately, it is apparently not so effective against a quick and nimble team like the Fighting Sioux.

Just my opinion, of course. Now where's my beer? :)

Anonymous said...

Suckage in a Big Way

puckdangler said...

One game does not make a season. I believe in you Seawolves. Don't get downhearted, every team gets beat. The best teams rise up after defeat. Bring UAA fans a North Dakotan beat down this Sat. GO UAA!!!

Donald Dunlop said...

I hope you enjoyed figuring out where I sit and wondering how I enjoyed it.

Alaskana said...

Anon @1039: Stalk much? ;)

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