Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Who Are The CC Black Bears?





I just can't feature absurd sports nicknames.  The height of absurdity in sports nicknames for teams in the United States is two-fold; Lions and Tigers.  Tigers?  The closest Tiger to Colorado Springs is 10,000 miles away in Sumatra.  So yes, Detroit has a double-dose of absurdity besides being located in the shittiest of shitty states.  I suppose CC's adoption of Tigers is probably as old as the school.  Back in the old days people were stupid.  Isn't it time that CC come into the 21st century?

Sure, there are other ridiculous names too; Banana Slugs comes to mind.  But at least Banana Slugs has a humorous origin.  The University of California, Santa Cruz held a vote for a new name in order to better reflect some connection between the school and it's region.  That's a worthy proposition in my book.  But being as things are on a college campus, a segment of students managed to popularize Banana Slug and win the vote ... for one primary reason; the male Banana Slug has the largest ratio of penis to body size in the animal kingdom.  And hey, isn't a big part of fandom just a dick measuring contest of sorts?   So with that ... I think Banana Slugs > Tigers for the humor and irony.

Why do I care?  I don't really.  Then why bother mentioning it?  Just to piss on their corn flakes.  I'd personally be embarrassed to support a team with a crappy name too.  And it's fun to see someone turn up to defend the name, they inevitably use some crap argument or just really on the "you suck" argument.  So you'll only see me refer to CC as the Black Bears.  It's a much more appropriate name in that it's reflective of the region and connects the University to it's community in an environmental-cultural way. 

Now more about their ill-named hockey team.  As I mentioned yesterday, CC began the season strongly (against prognostications) going 10-2-1 to start but only 3-6-2 since falling to the Seawolves in OT of the last game between the teams.  There's no cosmic significance to that.  The first half of their schedule was simply against weaker competition than their 2nd half.  If I'm not mistaken they have wins against only two ranked teams; Wisconsin and St. Cloud.

In reviewing their schedule and numbers across the season, I'm left but with one conclusion as to the downward spiral for the Black Bears.  They're a victim of Puck Swami's "WCHA Meat Grinder".  They have had one short break from play (from Dec 12th - Dec 28) since October 3rd.  I know you might be saying, "Hey ... everyone plays lots of games"; but honestly, most teams have had a couple of bye weeks at this point in the season.

They also have 8 freshman with a combined 104 games (only 3 of which have 11 games or less) and 4 sophomore regulars.  CC doesn't have a bye week until the middle of February.  They have had the luxury of playing a majority of their games at home so far: 9 road games versus 13 at home and 2 on neutral ice.

Their freshman goaltender Joe Howe has started 22 of their 24 games.  He has decent numbers with a .911 save percentage and 2.66 goals against average.  It would surprise me if we see junior goaltender Tyler O'Brien this weekend.  Offensively, they are led by two distinctly different styles of forward.  Speedster and talented left-winger Bill Sweat has 11 goals and 12 assists this season and grinder right-wing Mike Testwuide has 13 goals and 4 assists.  Their 3rd leading goal scorer is forward Tyler Johnson with 7.  After that they've got 5 guys that have scored at least 4 goals including the kid from Anchorage who has 6.

On the defensive side, the Black Bears are a mix of experience and talented youngsters.  None of their D at this point have accumulated any numbers which peg them as offensive geniuses but with 12 goals between their top 5 they can't be discounted as threats.

Scott Owens coached teams often pride themselves on playing an up and down, racehorse wide-open style of hockey.  This weekend though, Dave Shyiak should really not be surprised to see the Black Bears break out the neutral zone trap in an attempt to create and capitalize on turnovers.  If he's done his homework, he'll know that the Seawolves haven't employed their own trap as extensively as rubes believe.  He'll know that UAA wants to control the game with possession in the opposition zone and will use whatever methods to get the puck deep as are necessary.

I didn't see the games between the teams in the Springs earlier this year.  But by all accounts, the Seawolves put on a clinic in the 2nd game.  So I seriously doubt that Coach Owens is going to underestimate UAA in any way.

As always, special teams play is likely to be a factor.  Limiting their chances on the power play by playing disciplined hockey is choice #1 as it's the easiest to control.  They take the 2nd fewest penalties in the league and their power play is clicking at 22% for 2nd best in the league.  It may be that UAA can take advantage of their 8th rated penalty kill.  But I'd think that concentrating on scoring 5 on 5 makes more sense as a strategy.

The Seawolves need to ensure they play the tough physical game they know how to.  UAA has about an 8lb per player average size advantage which while it isn't huge is substantial enough to be able to impose yourself on the other guys.  I haven't harped on using that advantage as much as past seasons but if there was a weekend where physical play could turn the tide, it could be this one.  They're feeling the WCHA grind, they're on their longest road trip of the season, they're not playing their best hockey of the season and they're going up against a physically intimidating team that hasn't played a game in it's own barn in 48 days.  And it's parent's weekend.

In my book, that should spell nothing but bad news for the Black Bears.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Love it! Great review, you're such an awesome writer. Thank you

proud to be a black bear said...

Duluth and Cornell don't count as ranked teams?

Donald Dunlop said...

I tried to note if they were ranked at the time CC played them when doing the research. I certainly could have made a mistake which is why I said "if I'm not mistaken" ...

Duluth was 4-2-1 when CC beat them on November 7th ... I didn't bother to check to see if they were "ranked". But I'd bet they weren't.

In any case, rolling through boxscores, schedules and making comparisons inevitably leads to errors.

And I wouldn't be hanging my hat on beating Cornell at the end of December with their 7 conference wins ... there are 5 teams in the EZAC with at 6 conference wins or more.

Donald Dunlop said...

Anon@135:
Structure-wise, this post isn't very good. I just reread it and wold give myself a C grade if it were submitted in a 200 level English class. And that has nothing to do with misstatements about who CC has played but just in organization etc ... I almost want to go back and edit it ... but I'm lazy.

black bears eat fish! said...

Hang my hat? What win are you hanging onto? I take the black bear shit but I am certain you can call Duluth and Cornell ranked - if Duluth wasn't ranked - they were rank! What makes me happy? We have these game televised in COS this weekend. Also - why hate on a season underdog? CC is an underdog this year - UAA is alway an underdog. Luckily we play in the WCHA were every weekend is fun. We'll see how "cake" Cornell is after UND plays them this weekend. Also - UAA lost to Robert Morris - does that put them in the same boat with Miami??? UAA eeked out an overtime win on Sat... what was the score on Fir?

Donald Dunlop said...

bbef!a,
May I call you bbef!a? Thanks. Playing a team when they are ranked is the common usage. Playing someone in October this is ranked today doesn't mean you played "a ranked team". Okies?

I'm happy you'll get to watch your team this weekend. That is a luxury NEVER accorded to UAA fans when they visit the World Arena. EVER. We watch on B2. Bfucking2! If these games weren't on TV in the Springs you would still be able to watch them for free on a quality internet stream. Instead of paying 7 bucks for some low bandwidth shite with a disturbingly decapitated floating Tiger head interrupting the gameplay whenever some moron leans on a switch.

I "hate on" everyone here. But if I had to pick a reason this year it's very easy. Though I didn't have to hear it during UAA's win in your rink (I couldn't take the B2 floating tiger head shit), your radio guy Ken Landau said, "UAA just stinks" over the air. UAA fans had to pay to hear that shit? Naturally, 45 seconds after that drunken monkey spewed his hate for all to hear ... UAA scored to tie the game and went on to win.

When you watch this weekend take careful note of the excellence of Kurt Haider's call. He'll mention your team's players names when they have the puck versus saying Black Bears clear the zone ... he'll say TestWeed carries it out. He'll call a pretty play a pretty play regardless of who makes it.

Let me assure you ... that any WCHA team's ranking or placement has anything to do with whatever derision I heap upon them. And I've got to say here, that CC got no heap this week from me. Is there some disrespectful entertainment for UAA fans in this post? Yep. But in a comparative sense I went easy on you guys. Go back and read what I wrote before last season's meeting. I think it was titled "something afoul in the springs". That's an example of some trashing. Or check virtually any other preview I've written this (or any other) season for a comparison. I've no doubt you'll find more derision in 90% of them than I've dished here.

Finally, I did nothing to pump UAA's tires in this post. I didn't proclaim any accomplishments or successes that they've had in comparison to CC. I might do so after the Seawolves wax the Black Bear's collective asses this weekend. But I haven't do so to this point.

On Monday, I predict you'll be wishing your team had someone blogging about them. And then it will occur to you that you wish it was me. That's ok ... lots of other fans wish I was writing about their team. Most of them probably live in North Dakota.

Seawolves smell like bait - bear bait that is! said...

You can call me whatever you like. Okies?

I would agree that you never get to watch UAA on TV at the CSWA. That’s a shame. I don’t know of a game at CSWA televised this season. Bye the way, we don’t have good feeds either. Bfucking2 isn’t worth the 7 bucks. I go with radio. So fart (not a joke), the only CC series I have seen on TV was their early bouts in Madison.

Agreed - you do hate on everyone. I actually found the Tech dog pee stuff hilarious…
I don’t think Landau is a bad announcer. You’re wrong on that. However, his statement was questionable and in my opinion incorrect. I understand the fact that you will never forgive him. I think he played in the EZAC anyway… But - Landau calls it pretty fair. Until he say’s “he put it top shelf where grandma keeps the peanut butter.” I’m sick of hearing that shit – it gets old.

I hope (and I’m confident as you would be in my shoes) that no black bear ass will get waxed this weekend. We hope to wax your ass!!! GO BLACK BEARS… wait… I mean GO TIGERS!!!

We actually have good blogs… The local newspaper (www.gazette.com) and http://www.gocctigers.blogspot.com/ Several times a day (knowing they haven’t been updated in the last 30mins) I check them while at work.

Other good news less than 24 hours to face off.

Donald Dunlop said...

LOL ... you're a good sport.

-30- said...

Wolves are feeling pretty good about themselves and the injuries from blocking Denver shots two weeks ago are healing. (Now that was a weekend of hockey!) Mich Tech was just a stop on the long way home.

Da Bears, well, they've been reading those early season clips about their chances this year. And sooner or later freshmen backstops begin to play like freshmen backstops. (Reality has a way of settling in.)


Wolves hunt in packs, and tonight they should be flying in front of the 3,000 faithful. Black bears? They're a long way from their den and best be looking over their shoulder--in more ways than one.

Alaskana said...

OT, but did anyone check out the latest and(dare I say it) hilarious UAF Nanooks promo video for this year?

True, true, the seawolves (in one for or another) always get destroyed in the video, but seeing a pissed off, fighter jet flying polar bear destroy everything in its path is pure WIN. If you haven't seen it, check it out here.

Just giving credit where credit is due. :) Now back to your regularly scheduled blogging...

Anonymous said...

I thought UAA had the lead in the CC series in the Springs, and CC tied it up late? Then UAA got the game winning goal in OT

puck swami said...

CC was nearly the Trout....

In the late 19th century, the CC Trustees (many of them resettled East Coasters) made the decision to nickname CC the Tiger in homage to Princeton University's tiger emblem.

Nearly a hundred years after in 1994, a group of CC students began a campaign to change the mascot from the tiger to the greenback cutthroat trout, the Colorado state fish. When the subject came to a vote, the tiger won by a narrow margin: 468 for, 423 against.

Donald Dunlop said...

Anon,
My game tying reference with regard to Landau was when UAA tied it up at 1 each. I should have made that clearer.

Donald Dunlop said...

Swami,
Nice info. Thanks. By the way ... email me sometime so I have your address. K? Thanks.

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