Friday, February 26, 2010

Seawolves Now 8-1-2 In Last 11 Versus UAF

The UAF Nanooks won their first game versus the UAA Seawolves in 4 years, 1 month and 27 days tonight.  They improved their record over that 11 game span to 1-8-2.  Whoever said, "You can't win 'em all" was right.  It had to happen sometime.  

Didn't look that way early on as UAA jumped out to a 2-0 lead playing a strong checking and fast skating game.  The Seawolves capitalized first on a 5 on 3 power play at 9:39 as Josh Lunden banged in a loose puck at the side of the net.  Then exactly one minute later Tommy Grant rifled a shot from inside the circle that Scott Green(eggsand)ham never sniffed.  About a minute and a half later though UAF cut the deficit to one with a power play goal of their own.  Three minutes and ten seconds later they tied the game.  Then took the lead for good just one minute and twenty-five seconds later.  End of the first 3-2.

The game was far from decided at that point.  With 5:57 gone in the 2nd frame Luka Vidmar was forced to pull down a UAF player during a 2 on 1 breakaway and the referees awarded a penalty shot.  4-2 for UAF at that point.  The Seawolves though put together chance after chance throughout the 2nd period outshooting UAF 10-4 but could only find the net once at 8:02 when during a rush Curtis Leinweber deftly slid the puck to a perfectly positioned Kevin Clark at the top of the slot.  Kevin made no mistake with it ripping a wrister to the top right corner.  Game still on at 4-3.  

The Seawolves continued to flurry throughout the period.  But when Tyler Currier was checked into Scott Greenham by a UAF player and did everything he could possibly do to avoid contact (including grabbing the crossbar with both hands) the referees called him for a contact to the head penalty.  A defensive breakdown by the Seawolves during the PK left a wide open UAF player with an easy goal to make it 5-3.  The game still wasn't over at that point.

Just :48 seconds into the 3rd Kevin Clark tallied his 2nd of the night and 19th goal of the season with a great tip on the backside off a Luka Vidmar shot.  5-4 at that point and definitely a tightly contested game.  The Seawolves continued their strong play through the next 14 minutes until another brutal defensive breakdown led to a UAF player standing alone 8 feet out, a nice pass and an easy finish made it 6-4 at 15:02 of the 3rd.  Inattention, lack of focus and nearly zero intensity following the ensuing faceoff though ended the game just :12 seconds later.

UAF was entirely and completely opportunistic in the win.  With less than 20 shots on the night they bagged 7 goals.  Bryce Christianson hadn't played since before the Xmas break but I thought he played fine.  I certainly wouldn't credit him with giving up soft goals.  Perhaps he could have been sharper on one or two.  I've no doubt he'd like to replay the penalty shot goal.  But anytime you have defensive lapses against a team that thrives on opportunism you're more often than not going to get burned.  And for me, that was the story of the game. 

It isn't that the backchecking was bad all night.  But when the errors came, credit to UAF for finishing those chances.  It was far from the most responsible defensive game for the Seawolves.  There was quality focus and lots of scoring chances going forward, but too often in their own end backchecking forwards simply failed to pick up their man.  

I'd have to add that more than a few good offensive chances for the Seawolves resulted in pucks shot wide.  If you don't put the puck on the net it ain't gonna go in.  Still though, I'm not unhappy with the efforts going forward.  There were lots of nice rushes from the D and passing was mostly crisp and intelligent.  If the guys can replicate that effort tomorrow night while not breaking down defensively then they'll come out with a split in this series.

A win by the Seawolves tomorrow night will create a shootout for the possession of the Governor's Cup.  I believe 3 of UAF's 8 Governor's Cups have come as a result of a split series with them winning shootouts to decide it.  None of UAA's Cups have come via that method.  With the CCHA using that entirely bogus method to break ties in it's league the odds would certainly seem to be in their favor at this point to win back the cup for the first time since the 05-06 season.  The Seawolves though just have to concern themselves with getting the win.  We've seen more than a few great efforts on Saturday nights throughout this season from the Seawolves.  I'm guessing we'll see another one tomorrow night.

21 comments:

Alaskana said...

Since tomorrow is Saturday, we have every right to be the opportunists this time around. Let's cash in on that Saturday night magic...

Oh., and great round-up as usual.

Anonymous said...

Why are shootouts so "bogus"? The NHL uses them, and fans like them. The WCHA will go to shootouts, just wait and see.

Jimjamesak said...

Any goalie that gives up 7 goals on less than 20 shots didn't play fine, in fact that's absolutely horrible. A 65% save percentage? 65%!!! He wasn't playing for a reason and he showed why. Keep away from the net for good.

Donald Dunlop said...

JJ:
Sorry my friend. You're wrong on two counts. First, he was hung out to dry by his teammates lack of good back-checking. Second, his performance(s) had absolutely nothing to do with why he hadn't been playing. 5 of those goals tonight were simply not his fault. They were the direct result of blown missed assignments.

Anon@1:40
I have written extensively here about why I think shootouts are bogus. The length of comment here would simply not be long enough for me to detail the multitude of reasons that shootout are bogus. If you desire a better answer, use the "search" function and you'll find what I have said.

Suze said...

JJ,

Olthuis stats are hardly more impressive.

Anonymous said...

When your teams goalies have a save percentage of .860, you know your chances of winning many games are limited. These guys may be really nice guys but collegiate level goaltending? Maybe in Div III.

akhockeyfanatic said...

All I can say to each Seawolf player is head up, chin up, take your tail out from between your legs and beat those f'ckers tonight. I'm thinking 5-0 sounds pretty sweet. It's Saturday night. Show them who the real team is.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me or do the lines in the games seem to be jumbled and inconsistent? I feel like the boys are feeling forced to play together rather than naturally flowing and creating plays from instinct.

Perhaps last night was part of our curse.

Come on seawolves!! You can do it!!!

Anonymous said...

Keep up the offense tonight boys!! Keep shooting, rushing and moving that puck. The boys have been playing with more
confidence and that is making for some great scoring opportunites which they will capitalize on tonite. Many times I'm hoping.
I understand why Shyiak played Bryce but I am hoping Jonny is in tonite. He seems to communicate better with his teammates. One of Bryce's strengths was his puck handling skills, but last night he struggled with that. Understandable as a lot of pressure with this series.
All 6 players on the ice have to do their jobs to win tonite. A team effort, with no penalties.
GO SEAWOLVES!!!! !

Jeff said...

I think shyiak put bryce in because of his success against the nookies last season. I agree with DD that he was left out to dry by his teammates, but I think Johnny O will probably get the start tonight. Shootouts are bogus in college hockey but i'd rather have that be the tie breaker for the cup than it being goal differential. we would be totally screwed if the only way we could win the cup was by outscoring uaf by 3 or more goals tonight.

akmillers said...

Sorry guys...I can't remember a time when the Seawolves were so weak in net. Over the last 15 years, solid goaltending has been the lone bright spot for the wolves. Now... they have a great team and mediocre to poor goaltending. I don't know what/who we're recruiting for the future...but in order for them to compete in this league solid goaltending is a MUST! Yes..Johny-O and Bryce have had their great moments but inconsistency is bringing this team down. The confidence solid goaltending brings to a team is undeniable. Solid goaltending allows all players to gamble and take chances...knowing if they mess up G has them covered. Our boys are now playing with the notion, in the back of their minds, that one mistake will lead to another biscuit in their net. Imagine what this team could accomplish if they could free their mind and take the gambles needed to knock off teams in the WCHA.

Alaskana said...

Great comment, akmillers. I think your assesment regarding the connection between good goaltending and overall offensive confidence was spot on. Let's hope that our goalies find their own confidence in the few remaining games.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree akmillers. Our last "good" goalie was Lawson, and we only saw one stellar season from him, his freshman year. After that he got worse and his save percentage was in the 80's his junior year as well. Not as low as what we have now, but not up to his capabilities.

Losing Matt Gordon really threw a monkey wrench into the mix, but that was a freak accident. Let's hope Gunderson is a stud, that Bryce has a fantastic senior year, and that the coaching staff can snag that USHL goalie who has yet to commit to any team.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree. You do need confidence in your linemates as well as your goalie. Some lines are really clicking well. I do want to see the Seawolves d-men keep rushing with the puck. That is creating awesome scoring chances. I think with Jonny there is a level of confidence there between him and his teammates. Perhaps he'll play tonite. If not, good luck Bryce. Good luck Seawolves!

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting we have had only one Goalie alltime with a save pct over 90 percent in his Career. One. Lawson at 906 pct. 30 years and one guy. Where are all these great Seawolve Goalies from the past.Thats right below 900. Interesting.

Alaskana said...

I'd really like to see Sidor play... if only to see how he does.

Anonymous said...

Good idea.

Suze said...

That is true for CAREER saves, but season saves are a different story.

You can't just look at one player, but the whole picture. From 2003-2006 they had goalies with .902, .906, .908, .914 and .921. Those goalies were Reiter, DeCaro, Lawson, and King. Kinger posted the program best .921 in 03-04.

Naumenko has second best with .920 back in 1999. Even "Paul the Wall" Krake, who took UAA to the NCAA's, only had a season average of .883. Brush had amazing defense back then.

It is definitely a team effort, and Naumenko did well because of the defense minded Talafous team in front of him. However, I can't remember a year with goalie stats as low as this season.

Anonymous said...

Unless you are up in Fairbanks, is kurt the only way to catch tonights game ?

akmillers said...

Well said Suze...you saved me a ton of research.
I'm not going to waste time taking on the WCHA vs. CCHA debate. Everyone (including Burke and WIlson) realizes the WCHA is far superior in overall talent.

Remember Nanooks fans...win or loose, you still live in Fairbanks. That in itself, negates any victory on the ice. Have fun banging your mufflers at tonight's game!

Suze said...

akmillers, you are welcome. Federenko was another goalie with a save % of .907 in '82-'83.

Anderson, Benton, and Teskey were damn close to the 90% number as well.

Good luck tonight Wolves.

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