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Friday, October 30, 2009

Seawolves 1 - Gophers 5

If I'd written this with 4 mintues left in the game it would be substantially different.  But I didn't.  So here it is.  With that preamble I'm sure you'll guess I'm going to talk about the end of the game first.  Chris Crowell comes across and puts a clean hit on Carman.  Turns around and finds himself bum rushed by Seth Hegelson.  And Crowell gets the misconduct?  Helgelson gets nothing but a roughing?

It wasn't the first time during the third period that a 3rd Gopher player bum rushed a Seawolf player after a clean hit.  Just minutes before on a Gopher 5 on 3 power play when the physical stuff started there were two Gopher players that were defacto third men in.  There was a focus all night by the announcers on Gopher players sticking up for each other.  A WCHA review of the last 5 minutes of this game is definitely in order.  Helgeson should be tossed.  And maybe a couple of other Gophers too.  I have no doubt that such a thing won't happen though.

So since it won't, I'm left to hope that some Seawolves decide on Sunday that they're going to show those Minnesota boys how men take care of business.  I'd bet Shyiak warns them against doing so.  I wouldn't if I was the coach.  Lucia encouraged his players in between the 1st and 2nd to goon it up.  I honestly can't think of a reason that the Seawolves shouldn't give them a serious taste of the same thing.  Now for some game recap.

This game wasn't necessarily over when Daniel Naslund passed the puck to Tony Lucia during a Seawolves power play and never had a hope of catching him before he buried a shortie.  Daniel's skating is brutally substandard.  I don't want to ever say something like that.  I can only hope he is in the middle of some growth spurt and still finding his new legs.  Because if he isn't, I'm not sure he should be playing Division 1 hockey.  I'm pretty sure that's the harshest thing I've ever said about a Seawolves players skills.  Sorry Daniel.   I hope he finds a way to overcome it.  He's got a good set of hands.

The game wasn't necessarily over when Wehrs scored on a wrist shot at 14:49 of the 2nd.  Bryce Christianson got a piece of of it.  It was a soft goal.  But being down 3-1 didn't put it out of reach necessarily.  The 4th goal at 16:26 ended the game; I think the play should have been whistled dead before it got scored but whatever I guess.  After it the Seawolves just weren't as interested in playing. 

Refs can miss a call here and there and for most of the night (other than the end of the game) they did an ok job.   Early in the third, once again the Seawolves power play gave up a shortie.  This one though via an assist from the referee.  Tony Lucia clearly hooked Curtis Leinweber just inside the Gopher blueline and rushed up the ice for a 2 on 1 and his second shortie of the night.  From there on out it wasn't really a hockey game.  I had to laugh later listening to the omg carping from Doug and Rug about how a waved off near goal for the Gophers should have been reviewed. 

So anyway, in some sense you could rationalize that it was really a 3-1 loss instead of a 5-1 loss.  Such distinctions really don't matter on fucking bit though.  It was a loss.  I don't know if the day off will be a good thing or not.  Hopefully, it gives the guys time to reflect and redouble their efforts.

I don't think they played badly but the overwhelming focus on defense never gave them much of chance to get anything going up the ice.  I'm not sure what happened to making the other team go 200ft.  It changed to deny them opportunities in the last 75ft?  I don't know.  It was perhaps a lot to hope for the Seawolves to be able to overcome.  The Gophers were hadn't won a game yet this year.  They were damned hungry for it.

That's it; before I say anything else I'll regret saying.  I won't be hosting a chat on Sunday or doing any sort of preview.  I won't be writing tomorrow.  I'll post a recap after the Sunday game.  And after that don't expect anything until Wednesday.  Seriously, I've got plans.  I won't be writing.

Let me again say I'm sorry for screwing up the chat room thing earlier today.  Stuff happens sometimes.

Friday Game Day: Seawolves vs Gophers

Friday October 30th, 2009
Game Time: 4:07 Alaska Standard Time -- 7:07 Central Standard Time
Mariucci Arena -- Minneapolis, Minnesota

Links To Other Articles/Previews
Gopher Website Release w/video interviews

As I mentioned; the Gophers are the most widely covered college hockey team.  The above links all have some interesting information.  Check them out.  

I'll fire up the "chat room" about 15 minutes before game time.  That's all.  See you at game time.  Go Seawolves!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Seawolves and Gophers: The Preview


Each and every weekend in the WCHA is tough.  More often than not it seems the upcoming weekend is more important and often more difficult than the previous.  For the UAA Seawolves hockey team both descriptors apply at the Mariucci this weekend.

Why more important?  Because the Seawolves split with North Dakota.  The accepted mantra for success in the league is "win at home, split on the road".  There are 56 possible points available over the course of the WCHA season.  Allow me to quantify exactly how accurate that mantra is; over the last 10 years the league's regular season champion has gotten 75.7% of those 56 points.  The high was 46 in the 99/00 season and the low was 38 last season.  The closer a team gets to fulfilling the mantra, the higher in the standings they'll finish.  The Seawolves fell below the home part of the mantra last weekend versus UND.  That makes this series more important for the Seawolves.

Why more difficult?  The Gophers aren't ranked.  UND came to Anchorage ranked #2 in the country.  Doesn't it follow that UND is a more difficult opponent?  No.  The polls don't matter.  The Gophers haven't won a game.  As I mentioned Tuesday they'll be highly motivated to drop the leading goose-egg from their record.  Highly.  This weekend their effort is likely to be every bit as high as it would during an NCAA playoff game.  They can't afford to lose at home.  Their next opponent is on the road at their biggest rival; the Badgers in Madison.  There is quite simply a helluva lot on the line for the Gophers this weekend.  That makes this series more difficult for the Seawolves.

With those big challenges how do the Seawolves come away from the John with points?  This weekend I think there are two general keys.  The first is to relax.  All the pressure is on the Gophers.  It's anxiety-ville down there right now; from fans to players to coaches.  They think they've got the pieces in place to get the job done ... but NOBODY is confident about it.  The Seawolves need to maintain the confidence they built/earned in last Saturday's win vs UND.

That brings me to the second key this weekend; memory.  The Seawolves need to simply remember what they did last Saturday.  They need to emulate the state of mind they acheived in that game.  That's the mental memory part.  They also need their bodies to remember exactly what effort they put out.  So if it's not congnitively dissonant to be relaxed while maintaining focus on the memory of the last win then that's what they need to do.

If the Seawolves can relax and remember then winning will just be a matter of executing the specifics.  The 1st specific will be to replicate the effort and execution they acheived in their own zone last Saturday.  Every player will need to be committed defensively.  That means getting to loose pucks first.  It means sacrificing the body to block shots.  It means responsibility in terms of staying with your guy.  Lose your coverage on a talented player and they're likely to make it hurt.  Good goaltending will of course be necessary.  But it can't be argued that if a shot doesn't get to the net it can't go in.  I'm pretty sure Craig Dahl said that once.

The 2nd specific needed this weekend is scoring.  Kevin Clark, Tommy Grant and Josh Lunden are going to make things happen.  They'll get points.  But for the team to get valuable league points other teammates are going to have to contribute as well. The Seawolves need to get on the board first.  Gopher teams have always thrived on the momentum that scoring a goal gives them.  Conversely, they can get frustrated when they don't get on the board.  With the pressure to win this weekend, the Seawolves have to do everything they can to get the first goal.

There are more than a couple of forwards on the roster capable of stepping up and finding the twine.  Craig Parkinson has a very underrated wrist shot and Nick Haddad is looking much more dangerous this season.  Sean Wiles and Jade Portwood have been OH SO CLOSE a number of times each.  The only rookie with a goal so far this season is Alex Gellert.  Bruijsten, Naslund, Spencer await their first.  Could this weekend see one or more of them notch their belt?

I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that Coach Shyiak took Ken Selby on the trip and that he'll play.  He's a senior, his family is from Winnipeg and could easily be at the Mariucci to see him play.  It would make sense that he get an opportunity to play this weekend.  I hope he does.  If so, I'll predict he contributes a goal.

Additionally, Seawolves fans have to know that a goal could come from virtually any blueliner at any time.  If Backstrom is ready to go, he can score.  Trevor Hunt .. yep.  Lafranchise ... of course.  Leinweber ... oh yeah ... he can score.  Captain Jared Tuton can score too but that would be unexpected with his obvious defensive stay-at-home focus.  If Luka Vidmar is healthy he's a threat as well.  And Lee Baldwin ... he has a cannon.

That's a lot of guys that have the potential to step up and contribute some secondary scoring to enhance what Grant, Lunden and Clarkie are sure to provide.

The last key specific I'll focus on for this preview is disciplined play.  The Gopher power play might not be clicking.  But typically, few teams move the puck as well on the power play as the Gophers.  Ensuring they get as few extra-man chances as possible is going to be important.  The Seawolves could be wearing halos this weekend and the Gophers are still going to get some power play chances.  That's the way it goes down there no matter who gets the assignment from Big Shep.

The more the guys can keep it 5-on-5 ... the better.  The Seawolves PK hasn't been horrible at 80% so far.  But that means if you give up 5 power plays that the opponent is likely to score on 1.  And right now UAA is averaging 7 penalties a game.  Keeping that average lower this weekend is necessary.

What else can they do?  Improving the number of shots on goal would be a good thing.  So far this season they've taken an aveage of 22.5 shots per game.  That ain't enough.  More rubber needs to get to the target.  Open shots can't be fired high and wide.  Rebound goals are just as pretty.  They certainly count exactly the same as the ones that hit the high corner.

The power play has had it's bad moments as well as good moments.  Last Saturday Coach Shyiak switched from the umbrella formation he'd been using often over the last couple of years and went with the more classic formation using two defenseman on the points with three forwards down low.  I think they executed much better moving the puck on the power play because of that change.  I expect he did too.  Hopefully, we'll see that again.

Normally on these previews I like to use a screenshot from College Hockey News' "Tale of the Tape" comparison page.  It's not available because once again GCI seems to have dropped that site from it's Domain Name Server.  If you're a GCI customer and you can't see CHN then call GCI and let them know.  Reference trouble ticket #229426, tell them this is the 3rd or 4th time in a month this has happened and ask them WTF ... thanks.  Edit: Thanks to whoever called and got it fixed.  So in leiu of that image ... go ahead and tell me that Minnesota's "M" logo isn't an upsidedown "W". 



Don't forget to visit here for the improved chat feature that I'll be hosting for each game.  Both days I'll have it up and running about 15 minutes or so before the game.  I plan to screen grab the video highlights as well so hopefully if that goes well I should be able to provide them as part of the chat.

Good luck Seawolves.  Beat the upsidedown Dubya's this weekend!  And as always readers ... please share your "keys" to this weekend in the comments section.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Seawolves Highlights Now On YouTube

I've sucked it up big time.  I've taken the time and effort to pirate the necessary software, kype the proper registration codes, capture the video, upload to YouTube and now present them for your viewing pleasure.  As GCI makes the archived streams available, I will now be able to make highlights and post them.  The two videos below show 4 of the 5 goals against Mercyhurst from the Kendall Classic and the lone goal versus Michigan from that tournament.  Here's a link to my YouTube page which is also available in the Multimedia Links section in the sidebar.






At this time, I'm unable to record system audio due to a driver malfunction; so the audio on these is a little wonky sounding.  It's basically just recorded from the speakers on my computer.  It is what it is in that case I guess.  I'd love if somebody with a better faster system were to do this and upload them to YouTube.  USCHO's JimJamesAK has done a couple in the past but hasn't been able to in some time. 

Don't expect too much from me along these lines.  It's pretty time consumming to do all this with the limitations of my gear.  UND games are not archived as of this time.  But I'll make some sort of highlights from that series after they come online.  This is my first foray into capturing video and editing it; therefore don't be too harsh in your criticism of the quality.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Do Rubes Taste Like Chicken?



This isn't a preview of this weekend's series.  Instead, it's just a semi-organized collection of my thoughts about this year's Minnesota Golden Gophers.  The Gophers are the easiest team in college hockey to research.  There is typically more written about them in Internet venues than any other Division I team.

When the Seawolves face a Mercyhurst, RPI or Robert Morris I've got to do a bit of digging.  I've got to infer what I can from past boxscores and current rosters.  I've got to hope there is some blogger somewhere who knows what he/she is talking about.  But when it comes to the Gophers, that problem doesn't exist.  The plethora of published opinion presents only one limited challenge.

You've just got to separate the wheat from the chaff; the rubes from the knowledgeable.  That effort isn't too difficult in any season.  Here's some examples so you can tell one from the other:

Rubes say stuff like: 
"If it were not for an unassisted tally by Boston University junior forward Joe Pereira with less than three minutes left in regulation, the top three teams in the nation would have fallen victim to major upsets."
"Outscored 13-3, shutout three times, and currently 0-3-1 - at what point does "it's early" become "this team is mediocre at best"?"
"It depends on what happens next weekend. If they struggle against UAA then we can throw in the towel."
"They hardly lost anyone after last season. Shouldn't this mean that MN would be ready to start the season and not look this putrid?"
"As for the the weekend against the seawolves... I'm not too optimistic. I think we're gonna dick around a lot like we have been and I'll be happy to get a win. More likely scenario is we tie twice to a mediocre team."
"I'm predicting sweep. I like what I heard from the coach this week, the game is on big ice, and UAA has only two players who can skate with the entire Gopher squad."
"I also believe there will be a parade of penalties as UAA does a lot of hooking and holding. The rest are big and slow with bookend sieves."

The knowledgeable say stuff like:
"While the Gophers have a heck of a lot of work to do, for the most part its all very correctable stuff. Its all fundamentals."
"If there is one thing I have learned in my years of watching college hockey, it is that the way a team looks at the start of the year is no indication of the way they will look at the end of the year."
"Scoring looks like it will be a challenge, but the D and goaltending should be good, so I don't think they need to be a high-scoring team to do well. While no one appears to be a big goal scorer, look top to bottom at the players on this team and there were a lot of points these players generated in their past."
"I anticipate a hard fought series with UAA."
So I think it's apparent that the rubes outnumber the knowledgeable; note here that the first "rube" comment above was the lead for USCHO's story covering the weekend.  BU beating Michigan, Miami losing once to Michigan State and UND losing one to UAA are by no measure "devasting" events.

The rube/knowledgeable proportion probably holds true for every base of hockey fans at every level (excepting Seawolves fans of course).  So the bigger point here (other than outing rubes) is that even through the fog of massive hand wringing and general bovine excrement that I think I've gotten a good idea about this year's Gopher squad.  I've seen them play; I've read most of the critiques and so ... here's my analysis.

The Gophers haven't come together as a team.  I've always said that managing personalities of all the NHL draft picks is Don Lucia's biggest problem in any year.  In some ways, that challenge is perhaps less for him this season.  The "primadonna" factor isn't what it's been in the past.  They've played two difficult teams so far.  We already know that UND's biggest strength is their ability to draw on their emotions and play at a high level.  They did exactly that to Minnesota.

Denver on the other hand was motivated to play their best all-around games of the year after they hadn't exactly come out of the gate looking like the best college hockey team ever put together.  So, it's meaningless that the Gophers are 0-3-1.  Entirely.  Judging a team by their record and only looking at W's is superficial.  Rubes do that.  People that know the game, look deeper into situations to see the truth.

The truth here is that the Gophers are a talented team.  They've been playing decently in their own end.  They just haven't mustered the offensive troops in the proper formations.  It takes a few games for any coach to see who works together well offensively.  Practice can give him an idea but until there are actual game situations challenging players one can't really know for sure if there is any chemistry between linemates.

Much has been made of the Gopher's lack of power play production.  See above.  Allow another example here.  UAA's power play was the first to score on UND this season.  Prior to scoring Saturday night the Seawolves had been less than sparkling on the PP.  But Coach Shyiak made a key change in the power play setup that probably helped it click.  So, there's every reason to expect that Coach Lucia can make whatever necessary adaptations to help his team's power play to succeed.

My last point here is that inconsistency early in the hockey season is a wide-spread phenomenon.  The effort to teach young players exactly what level of play they need to acheive doesn't happen overnight.  Look to your own life for an example.  Didn't the best lessons you learned come via your failures?  Same thing with hockey players.  A baby has to learn to pick his foot up when there's a rock in his path.  Tripping on the rock and getting a skinned knee brings that home.

The Seawolves will be facing a dangerous, hungry and talented Gopher team this weekend.  Don't begin to allow yourself to think that the Gopher's record or statistics tell a different story.  Don't be a rube.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Ghosts of Halloweens Past



UAA Seawolves hockey home games on past Halloween weekends have typically been the worst attended series of season.  For whatever reason, Halloween partying is a big deal in this town.  Once when querying some friends about some plans that needed to be made in advance they pretentiously told me, "Winter is our busy season, we have lots of important social obligations."  I rolled my eyes hearing it put that way to me.

What they really meant of course was, "Well ... maybe we'll do that with you guys, maybe we won't." Ultimately of course, the plans never emerged.  But there is some truth in it for Anchorage folks.  The summer is for getting out of town and doing all the fishing/camping and other outdoor weekend stuff.  Halloween is typically the first social opportunity for a party.

So I'm thrilled that the Seawolves are on the road instead of at home this weekend.  I don't want to sit in a grossly underfilled Sullivan Arena knowing that there are adult hockey fans who would rather be dressed up like pirates (pastafarians unite! all hail his noodly appendage!) at some house party rather than supporting the team.  Instead, it appears that the Seawolves will be playing in front of a half-empty Mariucci Arena.

See ... it's the beginning of winter in Minneapolis too.  Gopher hockey fans have their pretentious "important social obligations" too.  Additionally though, the Gopher football team is playing Michigan State on Saturday and as you're probably aware, the whole town's genitals are still tingly with Brett Farve's choice to unretire and play for the Vikings.  They're on TV Sunday versus the Favor's former team the Green Bay Packers at the same time the Seawolves and Gophers drop the puck.

So between the house parties, costume contests at local bars, a Saturday Big 10 football game and a locally compelling NFL matchup, the Gophers might be lucky if they put 12,000 butts in the seats this weekend versus their usual 20,000.  Thank the hockey scheduling gods for all that.  Better them than us.  A big Gopher crowd in the John can spur their team on.  The fewer the better as far as I'm concerned.  Our guys know how to excite empty seats, right?  The quieter they can make whatever fans do show up should benefit them.

And oh yeah (not that you care), the "jump break" feature creates havoc with some unknown bit of html code in my blog template.  So rather than manually dig through html code trying to figure out how to rectify it, I'll have to pass on that for now.  I read that the Google Blogger folks are working on it. The picture above is again thanks to "dude" from UAA's USCHO contingent.  Thank the latest version of Blogger for allowing me to make it bigger than in the past.  Click on it for the full sized version.  It's good quality.  Thanks "dude".

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday Potpourri: All Hockey

A couple of changes to let you know about here on the blog.  Google Blogger's new editor now allows the inclusion of jump breaks.  This means to read the full text of a post that you'll have to click on a "read more" link at the end of the 1st section.  It's a bit of a cleaner look and will help ensure that you don't have to read anything you don't want to read.  Not that you didn't always have that choice.  There'll be less scrolling through my long posts to see what I had to say a few days ago with this feature.  I'll debut this feature in the next post.

The 2nd change is that I've adopted the CoverItLive "Chat Room" instead of the less than fully featured Chatroll program I was using.  The CoverItLive software saves the entire "event".  It makes it easier to embed other media, looks better and I think will help ensure a positive environment for UAA Hockey fans.  I don't think I'll use it during home games however.  I could have internet access at the rink if I wanted to take a laptop.  But I don't want to do that.  At the rink I want to watch the game and cheer for the team versus sitting in the media area and moderating a chat room.

There is an "event reminder" on the top right hand column.  If you want to set a reminder you can enter your email address along with when you want to receive the reminder.

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Zebras are an interesting species. None of the other wildlife in their ecosystems seem to like them. The word is well and truly out within wildlife social culture. Zebras are the very definition of the word pariah. You almost never see them with other wildlife.

Wildebeest shun them. Baboons jeer and turn the noses up at them. Lions hate them so much they hunt and then eat them. Elephants have a natural disinclination toward them. Giraffes look down on them. Hyenas laugh at them of course. The graceful Impala won't be seen with Zebras. Even the smelly Kudu go out of their way to avoid them.

Only the sleazy vile untrustworthy Jackals (yes ... you know who you are) can be seen having a beer with Zebra; Jackals always have ulterior motives. But at least the Zebras do seem to like each other quite a bit.

What's wrong with the Zebras? They sure seem inclined to ingest excessively large volumes of air for long periods. Here's the thing. If they're away from their home range they are skittish as can be. None of the comforts of home and herd are available for them. They're lonely and sad. They have to associate with a couple of local zebras who they really don't trust.

So yeah ... they're just generally miserable about being where they are. Does the league really make them stay at Motel 6? The bigwigs at the Zebra home office decided to make them harder to identify this season. No worries. Here's who they are:
Derek Shepherd #3; Todd Anderson #4; Justin Brown #5; Don Adam #7; Tom Sterns #8; C.J. Beaurline #9; Peter Friesema #10; Tim Walsh #11; Butch Mousseaux #12; Brian Thul #14; Marco Hunt #15; Craig Welker #17; Max Battimo #18; Brad Albers #20; Bill Mason #22; Matt Ulwelling #23; Jon Campion #24; 25 Mike McCreary #25; Jonathan Morrison #27; Scott Bokal #29; Brett Klosowski #31; Brad Shepherd #33.
There is little or no truth to the rumor that numbers also reflect SAT scores. You won't see Sarah Palin walking around with a 416 on her back. Just sayin ...

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Yeah! The Seawolves win last night and now WestHam comes back from being down 2 - nil to tie the overrated, overpaid girls from Arsenal? There is some small measure of justice in the world afterall. A well-deserved penalty shot awarded in the 86th minute sealed the deal.

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There were some interesting results this weekend from around the league. Let's have a look, shall we? First and foremost has to be that the Golden Chosen Minnesota High School All-Star Draft Picks are 0-3-1 after being shutout 3-0 on their home ice and on consecutive nights by DU. Mankato copied UAA ... sort of.

After being pummeled 6-0 by Wisconsin on Friday they decided becoming Chuck Wepner University again might be the ticket to victory and it turns out they were right ... 3-2 for them on Saturday.

The Colorado College (inappropriately named) Tigers don't pay a Black Bear's scat worth of attention to preseason WCHA polls. They're now 3-0-1 in WCHA play; 4-1-1 overall and happily atop the league table after sweeping MTU 4-1 and 8-5.

And in the matchup of the two least compellingly named teams in the league ... the Huskies II from St. Nothingelsetodoville picked up three points at home from the visiting Bulldogs (from their home just across the river from Superior, Wisconsin). Lots of panting and drooling dogs in that mix.

Next weekend there are only three WCHA series. The Seawolves of course visit the GCMHSASNHLDP's at corpie sit on your hands arena. It's a Friday - Sunday series since some Big Ten football game is going on next door to the John on Saturday. Not enough parking or some such thing. Don't they know about car-pooling and buses in Minneapolis? Aren't football games in the afternoon and hockey games in the evening? The Sunday game starts at 1PM here in Anchorage? Geez ...

Chuck Wepner University heads down to the mile high city to face the annointed ones. And St. Nothingelsetodoville Community College heads up to beautiful downtown Houghton, Michigan to face the team that they stole their nickname from.

UND has a week off to recover from the big bad airplane ride. And Duluth hosts an upstate New York school called Clarkson for a pair.

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In the don't quit your day job category...

An outside free-lance sports writer called UAA Athletic Director Steve Cobb last week to query him about the support that the WCHA provides to UAA for travel.

Just goes to show you that there actually are people who haven't read my blog. Amazing but true. Still though ... October 2009 is now the record holder for most hits in a month here since I started. I remember being thrilled when 25 people a day read what I wrote once a day. It's nice to know that now 50 people are returning 15 times a day to read what I've written.

I'll happily sell this blog to any UAA fan that wants it. Seriously, if you enabled Google Adsense and or some other ad service ... you could make 22 or 23 dollars a month. That's like 44 cents an hour return from about 50 hours a month writing about hockey and other junk.

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Maybe you've seen this. It's like a dozen years old. I hadn't seen it.


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.

Disappointment, Humility and Honesty

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.

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


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It's Always Something in North Dakota


In case you hadn't heard (been in a cave eh?), there was an incident at Uncle Ralphies marbled palace after this past Friday's game versus Minnesota. Here's the way it went down as best I can gather from the various sources.

Two brothers (one on crutches) were walking out of the arena and (as will be since it's North Dakota) there was some minor amount of shit talking going back and forth between opposing fans along the lines of "The Gopher's better bring their 'A' game tomorrow". Apparently, the guy on crutches added something more incendiary to the mix and as the two small groups got closer some sort physical contact occurred.

A quick escalation lead to an apparently Gopher-sweater festooned dude to put his hand on the guy in crutches. Guy in crutches' brother takes offense and the physicality intensifies at which point a UND alumni friend of Gopher sweater guy fires off a massive punch on crutches guy's brother. He guy goes down hard and his cranium is shattered on contact with the pavement, leading to screws, plates and an induced coma at the local hospital. UND alumni punch throwing guy then goes to the hoosgaw.

The Internet then has it's classic series of "God, I hope crutches dude is ok" by all parties. Local paper then does questionable job of properly detailing the incident (quoting the injured parties Dad who wasn't even there) and straight up makes it look like a Gopher fan did the punching. The friends/family of the punch thrower show up in all venues defending what a nice guy punch thrower really is.

It's a shame someone was seriously injured, but by all accounts he's going to be fine. Apparently, there was no discernable brain injuries associated with his broken crown. I say it's a shame because the humor the of "It was a Gopher fan" ... "Wrong! It was a UND fan" pissing contest surrounding the event was classic.

My take? Who the hell cares if it was a Gopher fan or a UND fan or a UND alumni who may or may not be a Gopher fan. Let's focus on the site of the incident. That's what matters. Slightly muted versions of this crap happen every week at that forlorn and accursed joint. Why? Because, UND fans think they have an NHL franchise. They've so overpumped themselves with self-importance regarding their program that serious goading, intense shit-talking and physical confrontations happen there as frequently as any sporting venue. There's a word for it ... Hooliganism.

How many black eyes does this particular college hockey program have to get before they clean up their act? I understand that the only cops that attend hockey games at the Ralph is the school's police department. Beer is available throughout the arena. I understand there is a shit-load of underage drinking. I haven't been to the place, but I can only imagine the crowd is something like WWE meets MMA meets ECHL. There are few good options for those of you thinking about attending a game at the Ralph as an opposition fan.
1. Change your plans and don't go. Nobody will care if you don't go. They won't lose any money cos the joint is pretty much always sold out. But instead of quietly not going. Send a letter to UND and the Arena and explain why you aren't going. If enough people were to do so then you'd think that things would eventually get cleaned up.

2. Go. But sit on your hands and keep your mouth shut. This is what the locals want you to do. It's why the hooliganism and intimidation exists. The last thing the UND fanbase wants is to hear opposition fans cheer for thier team. This option will almost certainly allow you to get out of the place unscathed.

3. Go. And don't allow any amount of intimidation and/or hooliganism dissuade you from reasonably cheering from your team. Be prepared though to defend yourself. Don't turn your back on any UND fans. Get out of the arena first and walk backward to your vehicle.

4. Go. Be every bit as obnoxious and irritating as the shit-talking hooligans. And when the inevitable physical confrontation starts (history says it will). Get off the first real punch. Seriously. End it early. Knock the fucker out. If you don't then he's likely to do so to you (history says so) you're wrong. Just make sure you have these guys number in your pocket.

Make sure nobody associated with you makes any statements regarding the incident to the press. Don't talk to the cops until your lawyer shows up. After he gets you out of the pokey, file a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the arena, UND and the city of Grand Forks. Don't include whoever you punched. It's not their fault that all those entities enabled them to be an asshole. And being an asshole isn't against the law anyway.
Their price for being an asshole is the shiner you gave them. Be satisfied with that.
I recommend option #4 only to those of you with stalwart constitutions. The shit storm surrounding such a series of events would likely be draining. But the fact they sell so much beer and have such lax security in place would make this an easy case for a good lawyer. A good lawyer could also obfuscate the facts of the events well enough to get you out of whatever criminal charges might come or at minimum have the charges reduced substantially.

The long history of hooliganism and intimidation is however strongly on your side. See ... you had no choice but to defend yourself. The history of hooliganism and intimidation dictates that you'd do so. It's by no means a slam dunk to multimillions. But for the right person in the right situation ... it could be a bonanza of cash.

So which option would you choose? Did I leave one out? This comments section will be dedicated to answering those questions. If my account of the specific events is somehow flawed then I apologize. I'm restating what I've read in a wide series of previous accounts that I've read.

I'm not interested and won't tolerate comments that aren't related to the options that opposition fans have with regard to attending "Fighting" Sioux hockey at the Ralph. I don't care about the parties involved. Bad unjust shit happens to people all over this country everyday. Whether crutches dude or his brother or punch throwing dude or his friend are at fault don't matter to me. Your opinion on what is the best option for visiting fans is my interest.

Free Hockey! Seawolves Promotions

Want some free tickets to any regular season Seawolves hockey game at the Sullivan? All you have to do is follow some simple clothing rules.

On Friday nights, wear Green & Gold to the game and get up to two complimentary general admission tickets for kids 12 & under.

On Saturday nights, wear a hockey jersey and get up to two complimentary general admission tickets for kids 12 & under.

Both promotions can only be nabbed by going to the student desk inside the NW entrance of the arena. That's the door with the geometric sculpture "thingy". Click the flyers for larger versions:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

UAA Seawolves Hockey Team Facts



The UAA Seawolves are so powerful that ...

Black Holes are pulled toward them ...

They tie their skate laces with their toes ...

Everytime they hit Brett Hextall in 2009, his dad Ron gives up a goal in 1991 ...

Dave Hakstol uses solar eclipse viewing methods when coaching against them ...

Oosiks disintegrate in their presence ...

They go up Niagara Falls in barrels ...

Redwood decking sprouts new leaves whenever they walk on them ...

All the urinals at the Wells Fargo Center have to be Stainless Steel or they'd break ...

All WCHA fight songs played backward start with "Shout it off the Chugach Mountains ..."

Whenever they lift weights in the gym, penguins in Antartica start flying ...

Solar Coronal Mass Ejections are known as "Seawolves Fireworks" by physicists ...

Mazzacco's rug has to be super-glued or it will run away in their presence ...

They don't depend on formulas to do physics, physics formulas depend on them ...

The Sumatra Tsunami in 2004 was the result of two players pissing in Cook Inlet ...

Using with a bowling ball, they can split an arrow like Robin Hood ...

They can bowl a perfect game with a ping pong ball ...

Thunder is the result of them appluading the lightning ...

They put Humpty Dumpty back together again in 11 seconds flat ...

Shoemaker Levy-9 was the winning throw from the annual Seawolf Rock Skipping Contest ...

They don't get frostbite, the frost gets Seawolfbite ...

When they want an egg, they crack open a chicken ...


Go Seawolves!

Tuesday Is Trash Day



I hate taking out the trash. At my house, they come on Tuesday. I'd be lying if I told you that I'm conscientious about dragging my minimal heaps down to the curb every Tuesday. I've conveniently forgotten to do it more often than I care to admit. I'm a flawed human. My saving grace (er .. I mean rationalization) is that I honestly don't create a lot of trash. So if I get it done every other Tuesday I still don't exceed the bag limit and don't get charged extra.

A fan-related sports blog ought to adhere to and propagate a certain level of trash-talking. I feel pretty good about how much I've done that over the years. The team I've written about here during that time hasn't exactly torn it up. No championships of any kind. Some goals reached but others not. No worries for me. I've established a bit of a reputation for being able to hold up my end even when the team hasn't succeeded to the level we'd all like to see. Some fans would probably like to see me tone it down; be more laid-back versus in-your-face. Even casually regular readers though recognize that such a thing is unlikely to happen here.

I never "know" that the Seawolves hockey team will defeat it's opponent on any given weekend. But I sure think they will; I believe they will. Yes. Every weekend that UAA plays I think they're going to win. This coming weekend is no exception. Many of us witnessed a spectacularly good performance last Friday night by UND versus the Gophers. UND players skated circles around the Gophers. As I said yesterday the Gophers got PWND; totally and utterly outclassed. And now it seems, even UAA fans think that's going to happen to the Seawolves this weekend. Not me. The Gophers put together a helluva good effort on Saturday and if you watched the last five minutes of the game you could easily conclude that Rodentia could have (or even should have) won that game versus limping home with only 1 point on the weekend.

Now ... finally ... the reason I'm writing this. I realize it's only Tuesday evening (5:17pm here now) but I've yet to detect any positive indication from the Seawolves fanbase on the internet that UAA could/would or will open the WCHA season with some W's. Let me show you what's been said ... (names witheld to protect the guilty); it kinda sickens me. Remember ... these are UAA fans.
I'll be happy with a split with the amount of D-men UAA will be missing.

I don't expect the games to be close at all this weekend. NoDak could be like sharks in a feeding frenzy if we aren't careful.

...Sioux sweep, UAA Freshmen get a look at WCHA team play...it's fast take everyone's word for it...

Yeah we've taken far too many penalties this year and it's killing us. Between that and missing our top 3 d-men I don't think we got a chance.
Here's what one (non-psychotic UND fan said):
UAA hasn't played all that well so far, but they will be amped up to begin WCHA play, and seem to always play us tough, especially up in AK.
What pucking flanet am I on? I find more positive indications for the Seawolves chances this weekend from UND fans than from UAA fans?

And finally ... out of 40 (or so) picks by college hockey fans all over (including at least 4 Seawolves fans) the number of folks picking UAA to win just one game this weekend? Two. And one of them is a Minnesota-Duluth fan. Pick 'em ... is a little weekly prognostication contest. People want to get those all important bragging rights that they guessed the outcome of games more accurately than others. Woohooo ... what? So you're psychic? Is that what people are hoping to claim by winning some pick em? I've participated in Pick 'ems. I've NEVER been so concerned about my psychic standing in such a contest that I'd pick against my team.

I always believe my team is going to win. Always. In 1994, in 1999, in 2000, in 2005 etc I've believed (see .. I'm not saying hoped here); I believed they would win. I wouldn't have plunked down good money to go see a team I believed would lose. Even when Talafous was here running the team into the dirt I believed they'd win ... when I stopped believing that I didn't go to the rink until they fired Talafous.

I wouldn't have started a blog, written 645 posts and been some sort of cheerleader if I thought the team would lose. BE A FAN. Nobody cares if you win or lose the Pick 'Em except you.

Big news here. The Seawolves are going to win this weekend. My message to those Seawolves fans that think otherwise? Get your head screwed on straight damnit. I mean it. Don't come up to me this weekend and say hi and expect me to engage with you in any way shape or form if you've picked against them or expressed no hope for victory. I'll shun you just as sure as an Amish parent shuns their child making the wrong choice after Rumspringer. Get your head screwed on straight. That's right. I'm not here to make friends. If you don't like me calling you out ... tough titties. I'm not the one picking against the team I support.

What harm is there for you in expressing something positive and/or believing the team is going to win? Are you afraid your credibility will suffer? Credibility? Be serious ... you're posting about a college hockey team on internet forums and blogs etc and you want credibility? What's that worth? Not a pucking flug nickle. BE A FAN. Talk some trash. Show some unreasonable confidence in the team you support. What does it cost you? Nothing. If they play the games and it doesn't go well, you move onto the next week and start again. Who cucking fares if some bucking flowhard from Fumbucked, Minnesota says ... "Ha Ha ... you're dumb; you picked your team to beat blah blah blah last week." So wucking fhat?

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Weekend Past, The Week Ahead

Monday is far enough away from the upcoming weekend to make anticipation of it less than intense. The weekend that just passed is close enough for any commentary to still be fresh. So ..what happened in the WCHA this past weekend? Lots ...

The Bulldogs of Duluth hosted the Mankato Landcows. They weren't nice hosts sweeping the Landcows 5-2 on Friday and 3-2 on Saturday. By all accounts neither team played their best hockey. It's early for them too. My educated guess and limited reading regarding the series tells me it was likely a bit sloppy at times but still as gritty and tough as most WCHA games tend to be. Duluth can't be annointed with any crowns based on beating Mankato twice. But things look promising so far across the river from Superior, Wisconsin. The Bulldogs visit the Huskies II in St. Nothingelsetodoville this weekend.

Continuing with the bovine theme ... DU went to Cowlumbus to face Ohio State. They split the unusually scheduled Thursday/Friday series by winning 2-0 on Thursday and losing 4-0 on Friday night. Two questions come out of the weekend. The first is where is all the offense that DU is alleged to have? The second is how long before Joe Colborne returns from what sounds like a serious finger break. He had to have surgery and will probably have more surgery. Ouch. Fingers are important hockey tools. As someone who's had a broken finger and other finger injuries I can attest that getting over one isn't simple. DU still has shitloads of scoring though ... right? Funny how there's little if any talk about DU's defense so far. Don't count on questions about their defense staying in the background for long. If their GAA goes up slightly the questions will come. Denver goes to the John for a couple versus the Gophers next.

Speaking of the Gophers. They got PWND 4-0 this past Friday night against UAA's next opponent. The Sioux were literally flying all over the ice. I saw enough portions of Friday's game to be impressed with the Sioux's play. They always have an intense rivalry with their big brothers from the east. I have to give much of the credit for that performance to emotion. First WCHA series at home versus the evil empire? You know the players were up for it and the rabidity of their fans certainly infected them. tDon responded by "grounding" his team to their hotel. The Gophers responded to that punishment with a solid effort Saturday night and earned a 3-3 tie. I'm unsure how much of a differnce the Mariucci crowd can make in a series but I wouldn't want to be Denver limping into Minneapolis this coming weekend.

St. Cloud hosted an up and coming ECAC Union team for a series. On Friday night, the Bluffskies had the game mostly in hand 3-1 before giving up two late goals for a 3-3 tie. On Saturday they managed to not fuck up the 3-1 lead and sent Union home without an official win. From what I saw though, Union probably considered the tie a victory. The Bulldogs aren't from Schenectedy NY and will likely present a bigger challenge this weekend. 1-2-1 to open the season isn't making anyone in St. Nothingelsetodoville happy.

WCHA basement-projected Colorado College had a real nice weekend in Madtown. They took 3 of 4 valuable points from the upper echelon-projected Badgers. I saw small bits and pieces of the games. The action was WCHA-tight anytime I watched. Scotty Owens should be proud of his team's effort. Badger fans aren't in a tizzy since they've got an NHL backline to depend on and CC only scored four goals on the weekend. Offensive questions may rear their head in Buckyland but Scotty Owens is generally underrated for his defensive coaching. It'd be hard to say anything definitive about either of these teams based on the weekend. The Badgers go west to Mankato this coming weekend.

I'll have the first North Dakota related preview post tomorrow. The Fighting Sioux Sports Network will be carrying the UAA feed for North Dakota fans this weekend. I'm not sure if that means that their announcers will be here in Anchorage or they'll just use Kurt's always excellent call. I hope that the UAA student camera operators resist the allure of the zoom button this weekend for the sake of North Dakota fans watching. Ok really it's just so that I don't have to hear UND fans bitch and moan about the camera work. I know the students are learning and I'm honestly thrilled to have the coverage we have on TV. I have nothing but respect for the effort that UAA's Journalism and Public Communications department makes. But zooming in with the camera for a hockey game results in missing some of the play. The game is too fast and the puck is too small.

Michigan Tech was idle. They go to Colorado Springs this weekend. The infamous floating tiger head on B2 network will be making Houghton heads explode this weekend. Watching a game on B2 from CC absolutely sucks. B2 uses the arena camera which is intended for the folks in the World Arena scoreboard video. For future reference ... if you can deal with just a radio call when UAA goes to the Springs then I recommend not paying B2 to watch the floating tiger head during EVERY single stoppage. It's nightmare inducing.

On a wholly unrelated sidenote ... I just saw a TV commercial with a nurse named Slaughter. If I'm in the hospital and a nurse named Slaughter is assigned to my case ... ?? Yikes. I wouldn't go to a dentist named Payne or a doctor named Hertz or use a surgeon named Butcher. I definitely wouldn't want a nurse called Slaughter ... unless ... Ok .. all this is just a vehicle for the picture below. I guess she could be named Slaughter and I'd be ok with her being my nurse.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday Potpourri: Dear North Dakota

This week is minimally special for me here at the UAA Hockey Fan Blog. Over the first couple of weeks of the 09/10 college hockey season, I've taken several little shots to demean the state in which you live. Some of you are just unfortunate enough to live within the borders of the state but are probably otherwise fine people. But the fact is that some demarcation is required to limit my insulting behavior. That happens to be the borders of your state. You don't see me dogging any assholes that live across the river in Moorhead right?

So by default; unless you're a Native American, if you live in North Dakota then you're going to get lumped in, stereotyped and/or disrespected by me this coming week. Aboriginal peoples are exempt because you and your neighbors have historically shit on them more than enough. Haven't you?

It's not going to be personal or anything. I'm not going to show up on your blog, facebook or twitter page and post your individual criminal history. I really have no idea about your personal character. You could be a fine upstanding buddist-temple-going moral equivalent to Jesus. I don't know. You could be a baby raper that graduated from SCSU. But in either case, this week you may feel personally derided by something I say here.

Of course, you shouldn't take it personally. You should consider the milieux of the college hockey blog world and allow that to moderate your anger. But you won't. You live in a craphole of a state and part of the result of that geographic misfortune is that the rest of the world quite properly views you as unreasonable and ignorant. And that judgement by the rest of us has colored you. It is shit that has stuck.

Your best recourse would be to leave the state as so many of your fellow citizens choose to do year in and year out. Or blame it on those NoDak Ex-Pats that populate the series of tubes. Folks that have some connection to UND from California to Maine pop up on this series of tubes with all manner of crowing and lame shit-talking. They make those of you courageous enough to live in North Dakota look bad with all that. It's a shame.

Look anywhere on the Internet and you'll see what I mean. YouTube is loaded with videos making fun or your state. There are all sorts of webpages dedicated to the same effort. I know the classic answer is "We like it just fine here." That's just completely WOW to me. Nobody really even tries to defend the harsh criticism ... I guess nobody can. As brilliant and articulate as I am, I'd have a helluva hard time defending North Dakota. Perhaps since you "like it just fine" there, then you won't really be offended by anything I say? Good on those of you who feel that way. I bet you were born in South Dakota.

Your state has been defined as crap by our culture long before I found it funny to bash. Since it's impossible to retaliate against my geographic region (that means Alaska RuLEz!), I expect some of you will come here and try to lay down some smack on me personally. I guess all I can say is give it your best. I have plenty of confidence and a vocabulary that's extensive enough to make you look foolish. My publicly available transgressions against society have already been documented here so don't waste your time creeping through government databases in some attempt to "expose" me. Some other stalker beat you to that.

And yeah ... there'll be plenty of hockey talk. I even plan to examine the team you all love; I'll closely and carefully analyze their potential.

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It's early in the season Seawolves fans. A day after the bitter disappointment of losing to RMU and a bit of reflection means that I'm not so down about it as I was. 3 separate 5 on 3 penalty kills are hard to overcome. I'm not happy that so much time was spent in the penalty box. I guess the referee's were just getting their jollies? Doesn't matter. Nobody purposely committed a penalty. Every Seawolves player wanted to win that game. They've all got to be just as bummed that they lost. Hopefully, they've all put it behind them. This coming weekend conference play starts and our boys are facing a daunting series of opponents.

First UND at home, then Minnesota at the John, then Denver comes to town before the Seawolves head out to Madison. It's as difficult a 4 week schedule as any team in college hockey faces. A loss to RMU can't be dwelled upon. Everyone needs to have their heads screwed on straight and be as physically prepared as they can be. Veterans need to set the tone in practice. No bullshitting around. If any freshman on this UAA team thinks the next four weeks are going to be anything like the last four then they're fooling themselves. The competitive nature of WCHA games is a solid step above what they've seen so far.

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The worst commercials on TV are The Ladders commercials. It's fine and dandy that a service for exceptionally qualified people exists so they can be matched up with companies looking for exceptionally qualified workers. But since the majority of us aren't exceptionally qualified then what's the point of making us out to be mini-Godzilla's with impotent fire spitting capabilities?

Hopefully, exceptionally qualified people don't actually need some pretentious fucking employment service to place them in an exceptional job and that fucking company goes out of business. Do you think the people that work for The Ladders are exceptionally qualified? I doubt it. I wonder how they like working for a company that disrespects them? The Ladders certainly doesn't have an exceptionally qualified Advertising/PR company doing their TV commercials.

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Chris Collinsworth is an unabashed ultra-putz.



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Curtis Glencross isn't. 3 goals and 1 assist in 8 games with a team leading +/- of +6.



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In case you haven't seen it. And gawd only knows how you couldn't have ... this 9 year old did this during some sort of promotional shootout contest before a Bruins game last week.



I've got questions ... what did the next kid do to follow that tough act? Would you want to be the next kid to shoot in that contest? Are that goalies friends in 4th grade teasing him incessantly on the playground now? Why don't these kids that we see on these videos ever seem to grow up to be big time players? And is true that Red Berenson already made him a partial scholarship offer?