Thursday, December 31, 2009

Alumni Game Roster

UAA's excellent young SID, Dallas Baldwin updated me yesterday with the specific rosters for Saturday's Alumni Game.  So, I thought I'd share it here and give a little preview of the old guys ...

#6 - Jeremy Smith
Last UAA Season - 08-09
Played 17 games in his career at UAA.  My favorite 17 game player ever.  Jeremy was intensity personified.  It'll be fun to see scoot around out there on Saturday.

#9 - Chris Pont
Last UAA Season - 99-00
Scored 22 goals over 4 seasons playing center.  I remember Chris as one of the series of quality forwards the Seawolves have pulled from BC.  He was 3rd in goals on the 2000 team.

#11 - Steve Ludwig
Last UAA Season - 00-01
Played in 80 games at UAA.  Didn't tally a goal here during that career.  Steve was a classic 4 year role player for Dean Talafous.

#12 - Rob Conn
Last UAA Season - 90-91
Rob was a beast in front of the net during his UAA career.  He went on to skate in 30 NHL games and if I'm remembering things correctly was the 1st UAA alum to skate in "The Show".  I remember watching his 1st game with Chicago.  He jumped the boards for his 1st shift and went straight to the front of the opponents net screening the goaltender, a teammate fired the puck and scored using that screen.  He didn't get any point credit for the goal, but he contributed to one on his very 1st shift.  He played 28 games with the Sabres in 95-96 and notched 2 goals.

#13 - Daron Underwood
Last UAA Season - 05-06
Daron had an impressive rookie season on defense at UAA.  He hit everything that moved.  I remember him being a walk-on and I think he was so excited to be playing that he made the best of it.  I used to call him THUnderwood on USCHO.

#14 - Merit Waldrop
Last UAA Season - 07-08
Merit is the all-time best 23 career-goal scorer to play at UAA.  He could puck handle in a phone booth.  Nobody tracks such things but I'd put money on Merit holding the record for doinking it off posts and crossbars in UAA history.

#16 - Todd Bethard
Last UAA Season - 96-97
In 4 years on the blueline Todd put up a real nice 22 goals.  10 of those came during a super-soph year.  Todd was a classic puck moving blueliner.  Smooth skater, always had his head up and was dependable in his own end.

#18 - Matt Jolly
Last UAA Season - 05-06
Matt got in 8 games in his single season at UAA.  I remember lots of Jolly brothers from my days hanging around youth and high school hockey rinks watching my nephew.

#20 - Mike Scott
Last UAA Season - 01-02
38 goals in 4 seasons at UAA surprised me.  I would have thought it was higher.  Mike was a similar player to Rob Conn.  Always managed to get himself in front of the net and was effective there.  Mike played 32 games with Providence in the AHL and had an extensive ECHL career including becoming a fan favorite with the Aces for whom he scored 93 goals in 4 seasons.  He was my daughter's favorite player all four years he was at UAA.  She was 10 when he left.

#21 - Brian Kraft
Last UAA Season - 91-92
Krafty went to NMU for his first year of college hockey and was a teammate of Dave Shyiak.  And gee ... he didn't quite see eye-to-eye with Coach Rick Comely (stunning eh?), so he transferred to UAA.  In his 1st year at UAA he only scored 20 goals (27 in his 2 year career ...).  Put that in your pipe and smoke it Mr. Comely.  Brian was a NEVERSAYDIE hockey player.  All-around good guy, coached my nephew one year ... in Bantams I think.  I remember his career here ended mid-season because of some overage year he played in juniors.

#22 - Jim Dahl
Last UAA Season - 04-05
Jim was a 4 year role playing forward at UAA.  He was always banging someone in the corners.  He netted 6 goals in the 100 games he played.  Another example of one of the many UAA players to make Anchorage his home following his career here.

#23 - Mark Filipenko
Last UAA Season - 99-00
Mark was an undersized puck moving defenseman during the Talafous era, which of course means he was never really given the chance to move the puck.  He always had a quality hip-check waiting for an opponent who thought he'd go wide and had a real heavy shot from the point.  Which of course means that he'd get benched if he used it too much.  In 101 career games he notched 4 goals.

#24 - Gregg Zaprozan
Last UAA Season - 01-02
Gregg was one of our speedsters.  One of the few players we've had from Ontario over the years.  He notched 26 goals in 4 years blowing around WCHA opponents with his speed playing mostly on a line with Mike Scott and fellow waterbug Steve Cygan.  Those guys always seemed to be a threat to score.

#8 - Scott Warner
Scott doesn't actually get to play for the Seawolves until the beginning of next season following his transfer.  This will be a nice chance to see him move around in something other than practice.  He should see LOTS of ice time with all the old guys.

#10 - Brian Bethard
Colorado College Alum.  Brother of Todd Bethard.  His last season with CC was 92-93.  Played Junior hockey with UAA alums Kevin Brown, Trent Pankewicz and Jim Tobin as well as brother Brian.  One notable player from that Powell River junior roster was Brad Bombardir.

#15 - Chris Newans
Chris never played college hockey.  But he has to have one of the all-time most interesting hockey careers playing for (by my count) 21 different teams from 1991 - 2009, including a season in the Quebec Fighting League.  He played in the ECHL, SuHL, SHL, WCHL, IHL, UHL and QSMHL as well as a season of Roller Hockey in Anaheim.

#19 - Ken Selby
If Brush doesn't put Ken on his #1 line for this game then my head will explode.  That's all I'm going to say.  Dare I predict a hat-trick this Saturday for Ken.  Sure ... get a hatty Ken.

#26 - Tyler Currier
At least with Selbs, Warner and Tyler in the Alumni lineup there will be some energy counteracting all those creaky old bones.

#30 - Jon Olthuis
Bet he'd like nothing better than to stone every attempt from his teammates.  How sweet would it be for him to shut them out?  Oh wait a minute ... that wouldn't be sweet at all.  OMG ... I'm seriously conflicted now.

Brush Christiansen - Regg Simon

So ... I must ask this even though they probably don't want me to.  But where is Derek Donald?  Was he perhaps the "last cut" or what?  And Regg?  Um ... come on.  You're only 33...  Chris Newans is 40 ... Robbie Conn is 41 ... Brian Kraft is almost 43?  Maybe Regg didn't want to give Kevin Clark a chance to check him?  Tch Tch Tch ... Regg has got some 'splaining to do if you ask me.

In any case, this looks to be a fun event.  I'll be dragging my 48 year old butt down there to see the kids put up some ugly number on the old guys.  Referees for the game are Dennis Sorenson and Merit Waldrop Sr.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Back to the Grind

I have escaped from the clutches of the FKSC-AB (Free Ken Selby Committee-Anchorage Branch).  At least they treated me well.  I'm still not sure how they hacked my blog and posted that picture.  But I assure you that I'll make every effort to keep such things from happening in the future.

Seriously though, I needed the holiday break.  I stayed away (not even moderating comments) purposely to get my mind off college hockey.  The issues that surround our beloved program and writing about them do get to be mentally cumbersome.  I don't mean for UAA Seawolves Hockey to become personally all-encompassing but it does get that way.  As a fan, when aspects of the sport actually manage to invade your dreams; it's a sign you should take a step back.  Now let's all get back into the grind eh?

This Saturday the Seawolves will be hosting an game versus a team made up of alumni.  Here's the text of the release announcing the contest:
The Alaska Anchorage hockey team will compete against alumni members on Jan. 2 at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex. The contest is scheduled to commence at 5 p.m. AST and is free to the public. The doors will open at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday. Although there is no admission for attendance, donations to the UAA hockey alumni fund are welcomed and will benefit future UAA scholarships. All current Seawolves will participate in the game, with a few suiting up on the alumni squad. The Seawolves won't return to the Sullivan Arena until Jan. 22-23 against Colorado College.
Cool beans.  I'll make every effort to get there.  It's free.  I'm not sure exactly which alums will be playing but there's enough of them around that it should be pretty entertaining.  It says that some players will suit up for the alumni team.  Don't you think that the coaches ought to dress for the alumni squad?  I do.  I have to imagine that Regg Simon will do so.  At least I hope he will.  But I wanna see Dave and Campbell out there too!  It's been a while since we've seen the team play live and it's going to be a while before we see them again.  So, git your butts out there and fill the joint up.

The guys travel to Denver for a big series next week versus the Pios.  There's lots of interesting potential things to talk about with regard to that series.  Even without all distractions which the last series provides the games will be very very interesting.  There's some urgency for the Seawolves to come out of the gate quickly in the 2nd half.  Last years relative success on the ice (not the boxscore but the game play) versus DU and this season's split tell me to expect a couple of barn burners.  I'm excited already to watch them.

I'm going to turn comment moderation back to off.  With it on there was a barrage of Viagra spam that I had to wade through. In addition, I'm certain you guys don't really want to wait hours to see your comment published.  Quite rightly.  It's not as much of a conversation if there is some big delay and it's not like I can't continue to delete the trolling BS.  I'll just have to do it after the fact instead of beforehand.

I'll have a Sunday Potpourri this weekend and will return to the regular spate of posts (previews, disdain, bitching, ranting, recaps etc) next week.

That's it for today.  I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas.  I hope you all enjoy your New Year's Eve celebrations (I plan to) and I wish everyone the best of everything in 2010.  2010?  Time sure moves faster with each advancing year of age.  Wow.  2010 it is then.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Seawolves Recruit Updates: Midseason 09/10

The December break is always a good time to take a comprehensive look at UAA's future hockey players.  The last post I made about all these guys back at the end of September can be found here.  Since that time I've closely followed all these guys.  I can't say I've looked at every boxscore and read every game recap but I've come pretty damn close.

There's some variability with regard to success for each of these guys so far this season but on the whole they are shaping up to be one of the better overall sets of recruits the Seawolves have listed.

I usually try to follow an alaphabetical format with these updates but I'll reverse it this time in the name of egalitarianism.


Quinn Sproule
6ft - 195lb; May 5, 1990
Defenseman - Okotoks Oilers
In 2008/09 Quinn led Oilers defenseman in scoring with 12 goals and 19 assists in 59 games.  So far this season in 36 games he has 5 goals and 8 assists.  That's a slight dropoff in overall points but Quinn is still the leading goal scorer from the blueline.  Okotoks is currently 2nd in the AJHL's weaker Southern Division with 43 points which would put them in a tie for 5th place overall in the 16 team league.  In my early season update I "bet" that Quinn would reach the 20 goal mark this season.  Obviously, that was overly optimistic.

Normally, you'd like to see some statistical progression from earlier seasons.  Quinn will have done well if he picks up his scoring and matches his nice numbers from last year.  He's another versatile player, having played forward as a midget and converting the backend in his first season with Okotoks.  He opened this season with 3 goals in the 1st 4 games and then suffered through the next 25 games without putting the puck in the net.  In his last 7 games, Quinn has notched 2 goals and 2 assists so it appears his drought is over.  Here's a link to the best profile-style article I could find on Quinn; "versatility" and "team-player" are the two descriptors of note with regard to him.


Wes McLeod
6ft 2in - 185lbs; September 30, 1990
Defenseman - Prince George Spruce Kings
The best place to start with talking about Wes is to link you to yesterday's extensive profile on the BCHL website.  It's tells you much more about Wes than I could possibly cover here.  He talks about wanting to get to the show as well as his continuing development when he gets to UAA.  It's a good article, so go read it.

Wes is in this 3rd season with Prince George and in just 30 games so far this year has already surpassed his numbers last year in 58 games.  In 07/08 he managed 3g-11a in 58 games.  In 08/09 he tallied 6 goals with 24 assists over the 58 game schedule.  This year he has 8 goals and 23 assists for a very nice 1 point per game average from the blueline.

Wes has received some nice perks last year and this.  He competed for Canada West in the recent World Jr. A Challenge tournament and was named to the 6 player all-tournament team.  Earlier this week he was named to the Interior Conference starting lineup for the upcoming BCHL All-Star Game.

Wes will hit the ice at UAA with as good a resume as any current/past Seawolves blueliner.  He is an elite level prospect.


Sam Mellor
5ft 10in - 175lbs; November 13th, 1992
Forward - Trail Smoke Eaters
As excited as I am to see Wes McLeod hit the ice for UAA, I'm beside myself with regard to Sam Mellor's future at UAA.  In his BCHL rookie season Sam couldn't be classified any other way other than to say he is tearing it up.  He has 18 goals and 17 assists in 36 games.  He is the 4th leading scorer amongst all rookies and the three guys ahead of him are basically a year older.  He is the 3rd leading scorer overall on his team and currently sits #21 in goals and at #32 in overall points on the league's leading scorer table.

Sam is currently listed as coming to UAA after the 10/11 season.  But don't be surprised if the Seawolves manage to bring him in next season.  It's perhaps a bit of a push.  He'll only be 17 when the season starts but if he's able to accelerate his high school work and qualify he'd certainly be a worthwhile addition to the roster in 10/11.  With a great rookie season comes some measure of vulnerability for a kid like Sam to move over the the WHL versus persuing his education here at UAA.

Make no mistake about it.  Sam is an elite level prospect as well.  His committment to UAA will not keep WHL teams from approaching him.  It concerns me greatly that unless he and his parents value the education route that he could be a risk to go to the Dub.  I follow Sam closely through Shawn Mullin's Smoke Eater blog who does an outstanding job covering them.


Rob Gunderson
6ft - 186lbs; April 1st, 1990
Goaltender - Brooks Bandits
Rob will come to Anchorage into a great situation for a freshman D1 goaltender.  Next season, Bryce Christianson will be the default #1 netminder and there'll be no pressure on Rob to carry the team.  No doubt Dusan Sidor will do everything in his power to challenge Rob for the #2 spot but  it can be assumed that Rob will be default choice.  During the 08/09 season with Brooks, Rob led the league in games won with 26 and only 8 losses with 3 ties in 39 starts.  This season his more modest results are 12 wins and 9 losses in 24 games.  His current save percentage is .909 compared to .921 in 08/09.

Brooks sits at 9th overall in the AJHL.  Rob has 24 of the team's 35 starts.  His save percentage places him at 9th overall in the league while facing the 8th highest number of shots.  Ryan was invited to the Canada West Jr. A Challenge camp but ultimately didn't make the cut.  His winning percentage on an overall lower tier squad is a positive indicator for future performance.  When asked which athlete outside of hockey for his Brooks biography, Rob answered, "Tiger Woods".  I wonder if he'd answer that question differently these days?  In any case, Rob looks to be well positioned to be the Seawolves #1 netminder for probably a couple of season's depending on who else comes down the recruiting pipeline after his arrival here.


Matthew Friese
5ft 10in - 170lbs; April 17th, 1992
Forward - Alaska Avalanche
Matthew is listed as either arriving next season or the season after.  In his first season playing Junior A hockey as a 16 year old he scored 4 goals and had 4 assists in 34 total games.  Of all the Jr. A leagues the NAHL is perhaps the most difficult to succeed as a younger player.  It is filled with 3rd and 4th year 20 year olds and is overall a very physical circuit.  This season in 29 games he has 7 goals and 10 assists with a +/- of +8.

Matthew is one of the few very promising younger players to come from Wasilla.  He has a great deal of experience playing against older competition that could serve him well if he is accelerated to come in next season.  If he and UAA's staff decide on another year of Jr. hockey he could possibly benefit from playing in another league such as the BCHL prior to coming in.  The offensive nature of that league would allow him to experience something other than the tough grind that the NAHL always seems to be.  I hear varying evaluations of Matthew's talent that overall lead me to believe that he could have similar potential to local players like Merit Waldrop and/or Eric Walsky.


Brett Cameron
6ft 2in - 195lbs; May 11th, 1990
Forward - Spruce Grove Saints
Brett is a classic big power winger that we're all used to seeing come to the UAA program.  He is in his 3rd year with Spruce Grove and has shown a nice steady progression in his numbers.  In 07/08 he tallied 18g-23a in 58 games, last season he popped in 28 goals and added 39 assists in 55 games.  So far this year he has 7 goals and 10 assists in 21 games.  Why just 21 games?  Brett suffered a concussion near the middle of October that kept him out of action until late November.

The Saints are the top team in the AJHL this season and ranked as one of the best teams in Canada.  They have lost only 3 games in regular time and have 30 wins.  Brett is highly regarded and it seems like Spruce Grove was very careful with his return which is a good sign whenever concussive injuries are involved.  Prior to the injury Brett was living up to his billing and was staying near the top of the leading scorers table.  It will be interesting to watch how he returns to form as Spruce Grove chases a probable RBC bid.


Gustav Bengtson
5ft 10in - 185lbs; August 31, 1989
Forward; Sollentuna HC
After two difficult years playing for 4 different teams in the USHL and NAHL, Gustav returned to Sweden this season after UAA's staff pushed his initial committment from this season to next.  Gustav is a great example of how a foreign player can unfortunately be marginalized by coaches with more provincial attitudes.  He showed much promise in his major midget AAA season in Utah which garnered hims the UAA offer.  A promising preseason in the USHL turned sour when Gustav found himself unable to crack a talented Cedar Rapids lineup.  He prospered in the 2nd half of that season with Texas in the NAHL only to see that team suspend it's operations for a year.  In Topeka the next season he found himself once again facing a provincially minded coach with a deep roster.  He played the 2nd half of last season just down the road with Kenai River.

His return home this season could be viewed as a nuturing move for him.  Being at home after two difficult years on the road seems to be suiting him well.  In 16 games so far this season he has scored 9 goals and added 9 assists for Sollentuna in Sweden.  Here's what his current coach Stefan Holm had to say about him;
"Gustav has all the tools a player at the highest level needs. His best qualities is his tremendous skating, stickhandling and not least his great commitment to hockey both on and off the ice. He has a fast and hard shot and can play physical.
Our fans loves his great intense offensive play where he is very hard to stop a lot of the times when he goes to the net.
Gustav plays a lot of powerplay where he is skilled with the puck with his good hands. I use him also some in penalty kill even though I rather save his energy to the offense."

Gustav should be an excellent addition to a UAA lineup that looks to be trending to something other than just size.  His maturity and well-travelled experiences should give him an excellent attitude when he hits the ice next year and help him become a contributor in his first year.  A big thanks here to my source in Sweden who's help has been invaluable tracking Gustav's development.


Matt Bailey
6ft 1in - 191lbs; April 5th, 1991
Forward - Sioux Falls Stampede
Matt has the 11th highest point total in the USHL so far this season.  In 22 games he has 8 goals and 15 assists with a stellar +10 rating.  He is the 3rd leading scorer on the Stampede who currently have the 3rd highest point total in that 14 team league.  Matt was named the USHL Offensive Player of the Week on November 2nd after registering 2 goals and 3 assists in games versus Lincoln and Sioux City.  In his rookie season with struggling Tri-City Matthew suffered from some of the same provincial attitudes as Gustav Bengtson.  In Junior hockey, the kids with nearby parents get more consideration.  Players who's parents are distantly located can sometimes be screwed.  Nevertheless, Matt managed 10 goals and 14 assists on that forlorn 08/09 Tri-City team.

Matt was a Canada West U-17 selectee.  In his 1st season of Jr. A hockey (as a 16 year old) he scored 13 goals and added 15 assists for the Neepawa Natives in the MJHL.  I greatly look forward to Matt's arrival here at UAA.  By all accounts he has the necessary tools to become a solid offensive contributor.  It may be a slight stretch to call him an elite level player but he will be as fine an addition to the UAA lineup as we've seen in the last decade.  He'll come here with good size as a 19 year old and I anticipate he'll have an excellent career.


Scott Allen
6ft 3in - 190lbs; July 6th, 1990
Forward - Spruce Grove Saints
Scott can be viewed in much the same mold as teammate Brett Cameron.  He is a classic big power winger.  He is in his 2nd full season with Spruce Grove and so far this season in 35 games has scored 17 goals and added 21 assists.  In 08/09 with the Saints he notched 15g-15a in 49 games.  In 8 games in 07/08 he scored 4 goals.  His current 1.1 points per game is a real nice scoring pace and good enough to put him at 3rd overall on the squad but tied for the lead in goals.

Scott is listed as coming to UAA in 2011 versus this coming season.  If he isn't accelerated, then look for him to become one of the leading scorers in the AJHL next season.  Spruce Grove is a powerhouse and looking at their roster I'd have to imagine they'll be serious contenders next year as well.


At the end of this season the Seawolves lose 6 skaters and one goalie (Backstrom, Clark, Hunt, Lunden, Olthuis, Selby and Tuton). With committment years being somewhat fluid lately, I'm guessing we'll see an addition or two for next year at some point.  Unless, I specified otherwise the above players are scheduled to come in next season.  Typically, the UAA program is very tight lipped about recruits and adhere to the letter of the NCAA laws with regard to information releases.  There has been no fall LOI signup release from the University this season and I don't anticipate one.

Let's just say there were no surprises from the most recent signing period.  I do know the staff is busy as always recruiting; I know Coach Shyiak was out on a trip last week for example and that a recent staff trip included Saskacthewan.  There were a couple of anticipated AJHL prospects that went south on them in the last couple of months but there are many quality uncommitted players available in a number of leagues.  I anticipate the next new names we'll see will come out after the spring signing period unless of course the always excellent Chris Heisenberg lists someone.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mid-Season Report Cards

Here I go again.  It's time to give out my mid-season grades for whatever they're worth ... and believe me, I don't think what I think is the last word on this.  That's why there's a comments section.  No doubt there'll be some disagreement with my grades.  This is a completely and entirely subjective exercise.  There is no objectivity in it at all.  This is how "I" would grade everyone at this point.

Past grades don't come into it and neither does the team's record; they are an indication of how happy I am with regard to each individual player's performance; comparing a rookie's grade to a senior's grade is a mistake ... I am not comparing players here ... they are grades without consideration to others and based on my belief of their potential.  Here we go ... in alphabetical order and by position:

Mitch Bruijsten: C
Mitch's grade here is a result of the overselling of him as a prospect before he got here.  I really expected to see more skills and higher performance from him based on what I'd read.  I wouldn't say he's looked out of place but instead he rarely has made an impactful play.  He's been consistently average.  That isn't a bad thing for a rookie.  He's been an average rookie so far.  To raise his grade he needs to find a way to assert himself during 5 on 5 play.  For now, I'll assume that he is still "coming up to speed" with the level of play.  I sense that he is playing hard and deserves credit for those efforts whether or not they've produced results.  His skating isn't bad, his hands don't seem to be bad but more often than not he seems to be a step off of the play.

Kevin Clark: A-
Kevin's production should earn him an A+.  He's leading the team in goal scoring.  He is a dynamic player with the best hands, feet and hockey sense on the team.  He is without a doubt the best hockey player on the roster.  He only gets an A- because I've sensed a couple of times that he was disinterested and because his backchecking hasn't been all it could be.  I'm not concerned at all with any penalties he's taken because in every instance he was trying to help the team.  His emotional play is usually a bonus but it can swing to a low ebb and that isn't good.  With only half a season remaining in his career here at UAA, I think Kevin just needs to find a way to keep his enthusiasm on the high end and make sure he takes care of his man on the defensive end.  I also think he may from time to time grip the stick a little tightly in the offensive end.  My recommendation for him would be to relish the 2nd half of his last season here.  Enjoy every moment of it and the goals will come.

Chris Crowell: B+
It hasn't taken Chris long to come up to speed with the college game.  I figured his maturity would be an asset before the season began and it has been for him.  He not only looks comfortable against WCHA competition, he looks competitive.  He's yet to score but I'm not concerned about that in the least.  He's filling an important role and his line has often been one of the most effective lines on the ice in terms of controlling the play.  He's got good hockey sense and his strength allows him to assert himself in the corners against ANY WCHA player.  He takes backchecking seriously.  If I were to guess, I'd peg him as future Captain material.  He might not score double digits in goals during any single season of his WCHA career but I'd project the same sort of success for him as a Jared Tuton ... or dare I say a Justin Johnson?

Tyler Currier: B
(Provisional Grade) Tyler gets an A+ for his first regular season shift in D1 hockey.  He must have laid the body on at least 5 guys in his first shift.  His energetic, enthusiastic play has continued in each of the 5 games he's played so far.  It's a small enough sample for me to be hesitant to criticize any areas of his game.  I like what I've seen.  I think he's earned extra chances to play.  I hope he scores his first goal on home ice because I want to see how happy that makes him and his hometown cheering section.

Alex Gellert: B-
Alex is progressing in his development and adaptation to the college game.  He's got good wheels and seems to have good hands,  I have a lot of positive sense about his game particularly during more free-wheeling play.  He's got good sense with the puck on his stick and has been more than close on several rushes this season to scoring.  I think with time we'll see him become highly effective on faceoffs which is something (for some reason) that UAA has traditionally not done well.  That will be welcome.  His game isn't in the corners but with UAA's game plan he need's to do so more than he otherwise might.  He's coming along in that area.  Strength is always an asset along the boards so I hope he can add that to his skill set as the year progresses.

Tommy Grant: B+
I'd give Tommy an A but for the fact that he's only got 4 goals and quite frankly ... putting the puck in the back of the net is one of his strengths.  Tommy leads the team in points overall and his speed is a big contributor to the 10 assists in his bag.  Tommy's physical play is excellent as well.  He's never shy about going into any situation with his body.  If I'm not mistaken he leads the team in shots attempted by a fair margin so as long as he doesn't "tighten up" we should see him nab quite a few more goals.  He's had a tendency in the past to be a little streaky with his goal scoring and my memory tells me those streaks have largely come during 2nd halves of seasons.  Going forward I'd tell Tommy to trust his wheels and continue to challenge defenders with it.

Nick Haddad: A+
Don't take my next sentence wrongly.  Nick doesn't have the best skillset on the team.  But he seemingly does have the most desire.  His penalty killing efforts alone would be enough for me to give him a solid A grade.  But he's combined that with the same sort of never say die play on a regular shift regardless of which line he's played on.  Every player on the team could learn a lesson from Nick's on-ice leadership and example.  It isn't just that he never quits on a play.  But instead, that every time he doesn't quit on a play he seems to make something impactful happen.  His forechecking is unsurpassed. And to offset my second sentence, let me say that there is nothing substandard about any of Nick's skills.  He skates well and has reasonable hands.

Curtis Leinweber: B+
Curtis is a dynamic player with the ability to create a scoring chance at seeminly any moment.  I'm only giving him a B+ here because I see so much more potential.  Perhaps, some of that potential has been limited by his shuffling between the wing and the blueline?  Curtis has great wheels, great hands and great hockey sense.  All the tools he needs to contribute at a higher level than we're seeing.  I don't blame Curtis for not scoring more.  But if given the opportunity to focus more on adding to his production, I think he will improve his numbers substantially.

Josh Lunden: B+
Josh has missed 6 games this season due to injury.  Yet, he has the 3rd highest goal total on the roster.  Josh has no major weaknesses in his game.  As with some other guys, I'm only giving Josh a B+ because I believe there is more in him than we've seen so far this season.  Part of that is being hampered by the injuries.  If those get enough time to heal over the break then perhaps Josh can make the 2nd half of his last season here one of the best of his career.  If he can, then he'll be a big part of any success the team can make in the 2nd half.  I always see a lot of pride in Josh's game when he's on the ice.  He never backs down to anyone and always drives hard to the net.

Daniel Naslund: C+
Daniel gets a + added to his C grade because of his hands.  If he didn't have a real good set of hands I'd have to put him in the lower end of the C spectrum.  He absolutely needs to work on his skating.  He needs to turn his feet over more quickly.  Perhaps it's a matter of leg strength or he's lagging because of a growth spurt, I can't know.  He does have a good presence on the ice and his size is an asset when the play isn't free-wheeling.  If Daniel can find a way this year to make his positive attributes valuable then he should continue to see power play time.  I think Shyiak is giving him every chance possible to succeed.  With the amount of ice time he is getting, the team needs him to contribute.

Craig Parkinson: B+
Craig once gave himself less than enough credit in an ADN interview when he commented that all his goals had come from within a couple of feet of the goal.  Here's the thing.  A whole lot of goals in college hockey come from that area.  And so sure, most of Craig's goals have come from there.  But more than a couple of Craig's goals have come on really sweet shots during his career.  In fact, 2 of his 4 goals this year looked like sniper shots.  Craig should shoot the puck whenever the chance presents itself.  This season he has been mostly centering the 4th line.  Whoever his linemates have been the line has filled it energy role nicely.  Last weekend, his line was the best line on the ice both nights.  Even after Nick Haddad was moved off it on Saturday night.  Craig has good soft hands and can handle the puck well.  I specifically watched his speed this past weekend (in anticipation of writing these grades) to reassure myself that he had good speed and he does.  And he does whatever he has to do to win a key face-off!

Jade Portwood: B-
Jade is a big good skating power winger that honestly doesn't score as much as he probably can.  He is one of the Seawolves best players along the boards and in the corners using his size to excellent effect.  But not as often as possible he has shown some quality ability to handle the puck in close quarters.  Jade is exactly the sort of player needed to compete well using the Shyaik game plan.  He is strong, can protect the puck with his body and isn't easy to move off the puck.  As the opportunities occur, if he can transition off the boards more effectively toward the net he'll find himself with more scoring opportunities and more goals.  In either case, the work he provides in the Shyiak system is quality.

Ken Selby: A+
Ken has earned this grade by being a guy that whenever called upon to play (very infrequently) has done what is asked of him.  He played defense up in Fairbanks when the blueliners were shorthanded.  He has good hands and speed.  He obviously is a good team player.  I hope he has the highest level of respect from his teammates.  He certainly has earned it in my book.  I honestly believe that he deserves to play in EVERY remaining game of his senior season.  Anything less than that is unfair.  I'm not afraid to say that Ken has better skills than a couple of rookies who have seen extensive ice time and I'd argue that face to face with the coaching staff if such an unlikely event were to ever present itself.  Free Ken Selby.

Mickey Spencer: B
4 weeks into the season I wasn't overly impressed with Mickey's play.  But during the last 6 weeks he has seemed to really find his stride.  If there was a rookie I'd predict to have a stellar 2nd half it would be him.  I wouldn't quite say that he's earned not being called a rookie but he's close.  Some guys take a full year to come up to speed in this league.  But Mickey seems to have found some confidence.  I'd go so far as to say that in a couple of games he deserved "star" recognition.  He's got good wheels and hands and is finding the sense to be in the right place at the right time.  As that continues to develop he should increase his production.  His single goal so far isn't indicative of his potential.  Go out and nab 7 or 8 more Mickey.  You're capable.

Sean Wiles: A+
Sean gets the A+ because he is exceeding his potential.  Saying that may actually be a bit unfair to him.  I don't mean to undermine his potential.  Perhaps it would be better to say that I underestimated his potential.  He is obviously brimming with confidence and that's a great thing.  He believes that he can make things happen and he's been making that come true. Even as happy as I was to see him take beg strides developmentally last year, I wouldn't have predicted the additional strides he's taken this season.  Quite honestly, at times he's been dominant, seeminly able to do exactly what he wanted.  If there is one player on the team that Daniel Naslund can look to for development examples it is Sean Wiles.  Going forward Sean just needs to continue to tap into whatever motivation it is that allows him to step up his game the way we've been seeing.  If he can consistently play at that level then his production potential is nearly unlimited.


Nils Backstrom: B+
Since his arrival here Nils has been a solid defensive resource.  He has and continues to be excellent in his own end.  There seem to be fewer opportunities this season for Nils to go forward and utilize the offensive talents he does have.  With that consideration, he has performed his responsibilities well.  I haven't seen any major defensive errors that led to an opposition goal.  He hasn't been perfect.  He could improve his contributions if he can find a way to assert himself as a leader.  He doesn't get an A grade only because I think he can be more dominant on the ice than we've seen.  I like when we see obvious emotional play from Nils and I'd bet there's more of that to come.  He doesn't seem like the kind of guy to miss out of the enjoyment there is to be had in the 2nd half of his last season here; after all his grin from under his mask has always been noticeable ... even from the balcony where I sit.  I hope he does find joy.

Lee Baldwin: B
I had high expectations for Lee and think he's lived up to a great deal of those.  He is physical, skates well and has an excellent shot.  He has had a couple of defensive lapses and made a couple of rookie errors.  A couple of times the opposition has taken advantage of those and scored.  Lee needs to develop more consistency in his play from night to night.  He has excellent tools and when he adds that consistency piece to the puzzle he'll be as good a WCHA defenseman as anyone.  In time, he should become an important piece of the power play puzzle.  I say he isn't a rookie anymore and I came damn close to a B+ for him.

Drew Darwitz: B-
I really like Drew's steady progression so far this season.  Early on he made some classic rookie-style errors but he's seemed to learn his lesson from every mistake he's made.  In most of his action lately he's looked more confident and played mostly error free hockey.  There is some potential in him that I'd compare favorably to Trevor Hunt.  He's strong for his size, he keeps his head up and seems to see the ice well.  His wheels are acceptable and his passing is crisp and accurate.  There don't seem to be any flies landing on him if you get my drift.  With continued patient development Drew should grow into a solid regular defensive asset on the blueline.

Trevor Hunt: A-
Trevor is smart smart smart smart with the puck on his stick.  He doesn't get an A here only because of a couple of lapses in defensive focus that the oppostion took advantage of.  He carries the puck up the ice like a classic center.  He uses his body well in the open ice and has a good sense of when to dish a pass.  I like what I see enough to believe that there is still untapped offensive potential in this senior.  In the last half season of his career here at UAA, I'd bet we see him create more offensive chances.  Go ahead and carry the puck Trevor.  You'll make things happen.

Kane Lafranchise: A
There are few if any weaknesses in Kane's game that I can discern.  He hits like a train.  He's got plenty of wheels.  His shot doesn't lack any power.  He is defensively responsible.  His sense of where to be on the ice doesn't fail him.  He should have lots of confidence because everything he does, he does well.  Maybe he can stretch himself and acheive more by adding to the offensive production.  If he does, great.  If he doesn't, that's too bad but it doesn't detract from his otherwise excellent play.

Jared Tuton: B
Being the Captain of a team can sometimes be a difficult thing.  There are responsibilities that come with the position that can take away from a players focus on his own development.  Jared is the ultimate coach's player.  He has been that way since day one.  Regardless of the role he's been asked to play he's fulfilled it with verve.  I personally think he is a more effective player on the forward line.  He certainly is not a liability in any manner on defense.  But the energy and forechecking prowess he's shown in the past as a forward were more valuable than the steady solid defensive effort he gives.  I wouldn't mind another Nick Haddad-style player up front.  And that's exactly what Jared was in the past as a forward. 

Luka Vidmar: B
Luka has a solid .5 points per game this season.  He has actually only appeared in 10 games but has 1 goal and 4 assists in his bag.  Luka is solid at both ends of the ice.  His skating is excellent and none of his other skills are substandard.  He is capable of solid physical play.  His recent offensive play has impressed me as he seems to be able to find openings to fire the puck through from the blueline.  As the 2nd half of the season progresses if he can turn that into points more often then he could find himself with more power play responsibilities.  Defensively, I'd encourage him to be more focused when the play isn't necessarily intense.  Mistakes during those times generally aren't killers but they aren't helpful either.


Bryce Christianson/Jon Olthuis: B-
I'm rating and commenting this two guys together because in my eyes they've both done their jobs.  I consider that they're numbers are nearly all a result of mistakes by the guys in front of them.  The other percentages not accounted for by overall poor team play come from some soft goals that both have given up.  I like Bryce's abilities handling the puck outside the crease.  I like Jonny O's unflappable style.  Bryce is a bit more athletic than Jonny and Jonny stands up a bit better than Bryce.  Either one or both are capable of winning if the team in front of them plays to it's full potential. 

Dusan Sidor: A+
Dusan gets an A+ because he wasn't expected to play at all.  But when he did, he performed admirably in a game that was well out of hand.  Giving him anything less than full marks would be unfair in my book.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Sunday Potpourri: Care, Don't Care and Care Less

Tough weekend for the guys.  Friday was a nightmare of a game.  Coach called it weird.  No argument from me there.  Let me apologize here for being careless and forgetting to put up the chatroom on Saturday night.  I know there are more than a few regulars that enjoy it.  It was nothing more than forgetfulness on my part.

I thought the team played well enough on Saturday night.  But once again, they simply seemed unable to score.  I don't know if there is a lot anyone can do about that.  On more than a few occassions I could sense that one player or another wanted more than anything to score a goal.  It seemed that the majority of those scoring chances went high or wide though.  Man, that was tough to watch.  I'm sure it was tougher on the guy who shot it wide.

But overall, they skated well.  They mostly outplayed SCSU in my view.  SCSU's goalie came up with a couple of big saves.  I thought Bryce and Jonny O played about equally as well on each night.  So, unfortunately for those hoping that one or the other would take the reins that doesn't appear to be likely anytime soon.

There's not a lot to analyze about Saturday night apart from the inability to get the puck into the back of the net.  The refereeing was an issue but ultimately the team is going to have to learn to accept that and deal with it.  Shyiak too.  It's useful I suppose to point out that it seems like the WCHA is turning into the Women's Checkless Hockey Association (as our friend Richard has so accurately named it).  But that sort of comment isn't going to make an impact this year.

Maybe it will make someone in charge consider how things are being called in future seasons.  But for now, the zebras have their marching orders and are going to continue to do exactly the same sort of job we've seen them do.  The three penalties UAA got tagged with in the last 8 minutes Saturday were a big problem.  If you ask me, the refs suddenly started calling shit they'd let go for the preceeding 2 1/2 periods.  I liked that even though we were shorthanded for most of that last 8 minutes that we substantially outchanced SCSU.  That was a promising sign.

With the long break now upon us, you can anticipate a couple of things from me in the next week or so.  I'll give a mid-season report card of sorts on each player.  And after that I'll provide a full blown update on all the prospects playing in juniors.  Other than those two things I don't have anything extensive planned.  Of course, if something occurs to me then I'll probably write.  At this point I don't anticipate even doing any of these Sunday Potpourri entries.

It's only halfway through the season.  And while things don't look promising for some of the levels of success we hoped to see, such things aren't necessarily ruled out yet.  Nothing in the WCHA is won before March.  So if they guys can get things hitting on all cylinders then perhaps they can delight us all.


I care a great deal about the current Seawolves record.  I don't care what the program, staff and/or players have to do to fix it.  I couldn't care less if people that only seem to want to shit on the Seawolves get any opportunity to express themselves here.  So I turned on comment moderation.  Most everyone that comments frequently here are known to me on some level.  I care deeply that those of you who do comment regularly continue to do so.  I don't care if that means fans from other teams never get a chance to do so.  And I couldn't possibly care less what they think about that.  When it comes right down to it, this is MY blog.

I started it because I cared that the local media was doing a shit job of covering the program I follow.  I cared that prospects have some source other than ADN to gauge what sort of program they were considering.  I cared that distantly located families of existing players have an idea of what was going on with their sons/brothers/nephews other than said players saying "It's all good" during their Sunday call home.

I don't care if some other local alleged know-it-all gets a chance to express themselves here.  They can start up a blog, put 4 years of effort into it and build their own readership.  And I couldn't care less if such people think I'm an asshole for having that view.  And believe this, I don't care if I have to stop blogging if that's what it takes to not have to deal with some of the jerk offs that seem to feel they have some sort of right to comment here.  I"m shitty like that.  Don't underestimate the gratification that spite can give someone like me.

I could care less if they think this blog is the United States of America, because it isn't.  It exists as at my whim.  If that means I seem like an arrogant fuck to you, I couldn't care less.  I don't claim and have never claimed to be the end-all, be-all, know-it-all of all things UAA Seawolves Hockey.  But you will get MY honest views about what went on during a game.  You will get MY take.  And yes, MY views/takes will always lean toward the most positive and/or optimistic side of things.  And if you don't appreciate them or agree with them ... well um ... change the channel.

I'm not going to shit on the one program of the one sport that I follow of which I consider myself a fan.  I'm not a fan of the Dallas Cowboys anymore.  I'm not a fan of the NJ Devils anymore.  I'm not a fan of the Houston Astros anymore.  I'm not a fan of Notre Dame or Creighton basketball anymore.  I don't follow or cheer for the Cornhuskers or Texas Tech Red Raiders anymore.  I'm not an MLS fan.  I don't cheer for anyone in the EPL.

I couldn't tell  you who won the Super Bowl last year.  Seriously.  I don't know.  I'm not a sports fan anymore ... I used to be.  But I'm not anymore, because I could care less what a bunch of spoiled overpaid athletes are doing on teams owned by greedy millionaires.  My UAA Seawolves fandom is precious to me.  I care about it deeply because it is the last sport I follow.

So ... comment here.  You're free to express a different viewpoint.  But if it smells to me like your motivated by nothing other than a desire to shit on the program, I'm pretty unlikely to publish it.  Thanks for your attention.  Maybe you couldn't care less.  That's fine too.  Because I don't care that much about whether you care; I'm pretty much an uncompromising prick.


The propensity for stupidity is exponentially increasing in this country day by day.  The other day I heard an idiot on some radio program (I think it was NPR) explaining how in his early 20's he almost died because his health care didn't cover him properly.  It all went on for quite some time with all these namby pamby liberals patting themselves on the back for their erudite observations.  At the end of the program the host asked about the details of this persons near death experience with health care.  He explained that he had a bad dose of periodontal disease which would have lead to heart attacks and cancer if he hadn't been able to get his insurance to pay for fixing it.  Sigh.

Everywhere I turn it seems that people use their fear as the basis for many of their important decisions. Quit being so fucking scared of everything people.  You're just getting used by others as a result of it.  For example, the fucking Taliban isn't Al-Queda.  They're a bunch of stupid nutbags that want to enforce ridiculous laws within their country.  They made the mistake of letting Al-Queda campout in Afghanistan and paid the price of getting most of their leadership killed because of it.  But if the U.S. left Afghanistan tomorrow we wouldn't be in any more danger from terrorism than we already are.

The attacks of Septermber 11th, 2001 were planned in Germany ... not Afghanistan. Ok? Quit deciding shit based on fear.  It's a crying shame that the alleged purveyor of change didn't have to balls of a real leader and instead just pandered to the fear merchants.  Get the regular Army and Marines out of that shithole and let them be with their families.  Send in the super-secret badass killer assassin ninjas to kill Bin Laden.  That's all you need to do.  A bunch of redneck Alabama boys with shotty's could probably get the job done ya know? Yeah ... that's an oversimplification but ...

The Large Hadron Collider isn't going to create a black hole and suck the Earth into it.  They've been colliding protons into other protons for decades.  Now they're just going to do it at higher speeds.  Ok?  Not a biggee.  Global climate change may cause a crapload of changes over the next 100 years but it isn't going to render life extinct.  We humans are here because we are masters of adaptation.  We'll figure it out.  Sure, quit drinking bottled water, buy an electic car and put some solar panels up.  All good stuff.  But quit fucking running around screaming like a little girl and waving your arms about frenetically.  Start exercising your common sense eh?


And now for the entertainment portion of our show ...

Friday, December 04, 2009

If Can Win Played They Tonight Hcokey

Apparently, medicine nobody took dyslexia for this night.  Drop from the puck, seemed it that green and gold nobody passed could make kind any of.  Team and coach then refereeing into their head got and (which shit honestly was doubt without a) and over game was early.  Teams neither possibly could about brag their play, was as the worst game overall seen have I for in recent memory.

Period 1st was SCSU every in which imaginable way, UAA as gived chances after chances after chances them to.  Sure for, a while in once a Seawolf two or player tried looked to be.  But never sort any of went their way bounces; moreso but they behind every pass went to teammate the every.  Passes if went to front of player not caught.  If as was it drunk was everyone.

2nd period of through halfway, three Seawolves players actually did some things right.  Haddad, Crowell and Portwood were the first line of the night to put anything together in any sort of reasonable way.  They even scored a fluke goal.  Of course, it was taken away by the refs.  And infected the SCSU players too by plays disjointed ugly and.  Shots just look at boxscore in.  World crazy seemed to be it. 

Have I can all say this about.  Deserves more no any.  Yourselves discuss amongst.  Yes and shit were referees the.  Patience end at a is nearly my.  And I've got a fucking headache now.  What a piss poor crowd too.  Ridiculous and embarassing for hockey fans in this town that they can't come out and support their college team.  Pathetic.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Seawolves and SCSU: MacGyvering a Preview

It's hard to get started on this stuff sometimes.  I was looking back at some earlier weeks and noticed lots of enthusiasm and daily posts and creative opposition bashing and ... and did I say enthusiasm ... I've got no excuses for not providing a couple of articles this week.  So you're stuck with just this one.  To be honest, I started something yesterday and then just stared at the screen.  I guess I lost my muse?  Has anyone seen my muse?  It wasn't the greatest muse but it was mine.  I need a new muse?  Oh well ... I'll just use this paper clip, tape and chewing gum I found on my desk.

The St. Cloud Huskies should have to give up their man cards (if they ever had any).  Why?  Nothing specific.  I just find them to be soft.  The one "tough" thing I've heard of seen any of them do in the last couple of years was this stupidity by Aaron Marvin.  Um ... Aaron; I've seen faster movement from a constipated hippo, so when someone blows past you (18 times a game) you've got to learn to accept it buddy.  Don't follow them down the ice mumbling to yourself ... hoping that they stop somewhere so that you can hit them.  Deal with the lead in boots.  And quit listening to Garrett Roe when he calls you a bender.  He's the bender.  You're just slow ... but your ankles are mostly straight.  Acceptance of your limitations is important in life son.  I'm just sayin ...

I really shouldn't embed this.  Oh yes I should.  Watch the whole thing.  Really.  Don't bail from it because it's one of the stupidest things you've ever seen.  It has 58 views as of now.  That's about 50 more than it should, but hey ... even these two doofii (plural of doofus?) probably have mothers that watched it a couple of dozen times each.

Stupifying eh? Do I really need to point out that these buffoons will never get a job doing this.  This is an example of St. Cloud's broadcast/communication department?  I can't really blame 20-something dorks from Stearns County for being dorks.  It comes with the territory.  But I know there has to be a faculty editor/advisor hanging around there somewhere.  Post production at least?  That's truly some F- work there.  You two pudknockers better get your shit together and do good on your final.  The "Lasch-inator" ... really?  Really?  And with a ridiculous Ahrnold impression too?  Here's a hint morons ... hockey players typically just throw a "Y" onto the end of name when coming up with a nickname.  So this week when you're putting together you next lame coverage just go with something like "Laschy was completely owned by Clarky in both games."  K?

This weekend is likely to be all about goaltending.  So far this season Bob "Britannia Jeans" Motzko has been rotating his goaltender assignments between freshman Mike Lee and Dan Dunn.  Dunn however is hurt and so this weekend the rookie will see all the action.  Lee was forecast by some SCSU fans to be the next greatest thing since sliced bread.  So far, he's shown some potential, has reasonable stats but overall is 2-4-2.  I'm guessing that we'll see Jonny O both nights this weekend unless Bryce's reported knee bruise was really superficial.

The main point I wanted to make about goaltending though is that neither the Seawolves or the Huskies have exactly been tearing it up offensively.  They are 7th and 8th in league scoring @ 2.5 and 2.3 respectively.  So if either goaltender can limit the other team to 2 goals on either night they could find themselves with a win.  I'd also like to think that there will be some pressure on the SCSU freshman goalie.  He knows there is no real fallback if he has a bad outing.  I assume the Huskies have a 3rd string goaltender.  I don't know his name.  I bet lots of St. Cloud fans don't know his name.  So everything is on Lee's freshman shoulders this weekend.  The last frosh goalie up here facing that situation was Adam Murray.  Likewise, if Jonny O has to go both nights there's a bit of pressure on him.  In the who's likely to handle pressure better ... I'll take Olthuis over any freshman.

Yes ... I'm going to say it again.  Wait for it ... This weekend is the most important series of the season so far.  The Seawolves really need the four points.  Really ... need ... four ... points.  They don't play another game after this weekend until January.  4 points is a virtual necessity.  There are 28 WCHA league games in a season.  This weekend the Seawolves play #13 and #14.  You can't really think much about or plan or perhaps even hope for home ice if you go into the break with less than 12 points.  Don't get me wrong.  Even 12 points at the halfway point will require the team to pick it up substantially in the 2nd half in order to get home ice.

So um ... yeah.  4 points is real important.  The good news is that Luka Vidmar doesn't have a season ending knee injury.  Josh Lunden's shoulder was MRI'd this week but there aren't any reported results.  So he won't be playing this weekend.  I feel like its redundant to point out that the guys have more than a couple of good self-referential examples to teach them exactly what sort of effort is needed this weekend.  The losing on Friday crap has to end.  Whatever has kept the team from putting the sort of effort out that we've seen on so many Saturday's this season has to be a thing of the past.  Pretend tomorrow is Saturday night if that's what it takes.

I'll try to make sure I have a relatively decent Game Day Section on Friday with whatever previews I can find and all the usual stuff.  I will also put up the low rent chatroom up before I head out to the game.