Too early to look forward? Not for me. While Saturday night's win was worth some enthusiasm, some point(s) on Friday night would have made a big difference. The task this weeked sounds simple. Figure out how to play on Friday like you played on Saturday and then play that way on Saturday. But as with anything else, it isn't simple. First, you have to accept that there was some component on Friday night that you can correct. Generally, we tend to think of that as some variation of the effort from the players.
Here's what I think. UAA didn't lose on Friday because it tried to little. They lost because they tried too much. They seemed a little tight to start the game I thought. Maybe overly-amped up for a game at home in front of a friendly crowd. The passing was stiff and clunky from where I sat. Over the next 10 minutes of the game, there was a lot of individual play. The ol' "I just do it myself" mindset encroached.
Then with 1 second to go in the period CC takes a penalty and the guys have the whole period break to find the determination to score. And all that tightness becomes apparent during the power play and so the Seawolves pressed harder, then when a really really quick guy jumped on one of the tight passes. The virtually the same exact situation happens for a shortie at the beginning of the third.
So there it is ... I'm thinking the guys were just wound up too tight. Maybe the key this week is to govern the excitement a bit and be professional in your overall approach to the game at hand.
Winning at home in the WCHA = Success. So with only 4 home games remaining (Duluth comes up for the last weekend of WCHA action), what has been learned must be applied. There isn't a player on the ice for UAA this weekend that didn't learn more than one lesson. The coaching staff saw some examples of good things from the players that can be reinforced and repeated. All of that needs to be defined, quantified, reinforced and locked into mental and physical memories. So now onto the forward looking portion of our show ...
The Battle for 7th -
The Gophers are 1 point ahead of the Seawolves and have played two fewer games. A series sweep would put UAA ahead of Minnesota by three points. With the Gophers having two more games to play that isn't a particularly comfortable lead. Certainly nothing for anyone to hang their hat on. St. Cloud and Mankato are road trips that UAA will be taking and road trip points are always difficult to come by in this league.
A UAA sweep would also help toward a somewhat thin, but possible chance for home ice. And the flip side Gopher sweep would give them a bit more reasonable chance at hosting a playoff series.
The "Fucking Hate" Factor -
Last time these two teams played wasn't pretty. I think everything that happen can be tracked to the Leddy incident and Jordan Schroeder losing an edge. The Leddy hit happens ... between periods tDon rallies the guys with a something like a "not in our barn" reference and just a couple of minutes into the next period Schroeder loses an edge with a Seawolves player challenging for the puck. It was dust-up-city regularly from there.
I don't think some events from a couple of months ago will really be in the forefront of many players. There's too much reason to focus on the task at hand to look back into the past. Both coaching staffs will be reiterating that to their teams this coming week. Any dust-ups that do occur will have their own natural causes but I think that's when the past rises to intensify things.
I think that's enough to make this series compelling on some level. If the Seawolves can govern their adrenaline levels slightly then I think we'll see two hockey games that look much more like this past Saturday night than Friday.