Monday, March 08, 2010

Can UAA History Repeat Itself? Of Course ...

In 2003-04 the 11-20-3 UAA Seawolves toddled off to Madison, Wisconsin to face the heralded Badgers in a best of 3 playoff series.  The Badgers only had a few (err um ... 7) future NHL'ers on the team that season.  

Rene Bourque hadn't yet played in nearly 300 NHL games with 72 goals.  Tom Gilbert hadn't played 240 NHL games yet on Edmonton's blueline.  Brian Elliot hadn't played over 4000 NHL minutes yet.  Adam Burish hadn't racked up 309 penalty minutes in 156 games up in the bigs either.  Andy Wozniewski didn't know he'd be sent up and down between the AHL and the NHL over the next 6 years accumulating 79 games.  

What about Ryan Suter?  He's only got 375 games with the Preds; and didn't he just get some sort of medal for the USA at the Olympics?  And they had this other pretty good college player called Robbie Earl who as a freshman that season scored 14 goals and has 32 NHL games under his belt. Even Jake Dowell has skated in 23 NHL games, heck I guess if Aaron Voros could get to the show then Dowell could too.

Down the stretch the Seawolves lost 9 of their last 10 regular season games.  CC swept them 3-2 and 4-3 in Colorado Springs.  UAA hosted Michigan Tech the next weekend and was swept 3-2 and 9-4.  Following that embarrassment they headed off to Mariucci and went down 3-2 and 5-2 in another sweep.  The last WCHA home series for the Seawolves was the Badgers that season.  They came to town and also swept UAA 3-0 and 3-1.  Then UAF came to town and the Seawolves managed to pick up a win on Friday night 5-4 before losing their last home game of the season 6-4 to the 'nooks.

What happened next?  The Seawolves won the best of 3 series with the Badgers (3-2, 0-4 and 4-1).  They went to the Final Five and won the play-in game versus CC.  They became the little darlings of the Final Five crowd with that victory.  But then the magic wore off, they lost their next two games to UND and UMD by scores of 4-2 each.

But that year is looked back upon fondly by UAA fans.  It was the only time we've witnessed our guys win a playoff series.  Winning even just the play-in game was pretty satisfying.  Sure we had to sit back through two more tough Final Five losses.  But there was some satisfaction because our team played with pride and acquitted themselves well in the last two games.  

They showed heart and character; and they burned their names into our memories.  Glencross, Fournier, Steward, Kronschnabel, Smith, Parez, Bourne, J.J., Green, Lowe, Novak, Anderson, Segal, Dahl, Stuchlik, McMann, Underwood, Reiter, King.  Only Curtis reached the NHL from that group and has played in 207 games.

Six years on from that last (and only) taste of post-season success for the Seawolves, this years 11-21-2 squad toddles off to the same locale to once again face a much heralded Badger team.  How many games will Derek Stepan play in the NHL?  Brendan Smith?  Ryan McDonagh? John Ramage? Justin Schultz? Blake Geoffrion?  Craig Smith?  Jake Gardiner?  Jordy Murray?  One or two of those 9 guys might not make it to the show.  But I wouldn't bet against it.  There are a couple of others that have a legitimate chance as well as those listed.

Can the Seawolves repeat that historic 03-04 program achievement?  That's the big question this week.  The 03-04 team's regular season accomplishments were not higher than the Seawolves this season.  They finished in 8th place with 17 points.  The Badgers that season had 35.  This season the Seawolves tied for 8th with 20 points.  The Badgers finished with 37 points.

History certainly has absolutely no bearing on the outcome this weekend.  Because it happened once before does not mean it will happen again.  In the 04-05 season, the Seawolves  again pushed the Badgers to 3 games in the playoff series but came up just short losing game three 2-1.  But since that three game series, the Seawolves have beaten Wisconsin just once in 14 games.  

The examination of the history is relevant in one sense only here.  It demonstrates without equivocation that such an upset is entirely within the realm of reasonable possibility.  It even begins to sound plausible considering the many similarities between then and now.

So regardless of what you read on the Internet this week.  The conclusion is most certainly not a foregone one.  The games are yet to be played.  In finishing, I ask you to ponder some quotes I've selected (from wiser minds than mine).
You must always know the past, for there is no real "was", there is only "is".
-----William Faulkner

Hope is the other side of history.
-----Marcia Cavell

That which is past and gone is irrevocable.  Wise men have enough to do with the present and things to come.
-----Francis Bacon

In analysing history do not be too profound, for often the causes are quite superficial.
-----Ralph Waldo Emerson

History is full of delightful reversals, where the opposite of what one predicts comes true.
-----Edmund Carpenter

Life must be lived forward, but it can only be understood backward.

History isn't really about the past - settling old scores.  It's about defining the present and who we are.
-----Ken Burns

The obscurest epoch is today.
-----Robert Louis Stevenson


Anonymous said...

Very interesting article donald, can uaa win one or two games.
Four years ago this young team won one game in minnesota and forced a third game. Clark and lunden were freshman, lawson and beagle were there.
Can clark score 2 goals. lunden and grant one each.
Stranger things have happened, win friday, and the game will be in the record book.
Last friday at home was a win, let's hope the hockey gods are on our side this week.

Anonymous said...

any reports of this weekends game being on GCI and online?

Anonymous said...

Good write up, as usual. Not to throw water on your parade, but there is one big difference between the team that beat the Badgers and this team. And that is goaltending.

Back then Kinger was playing the best games of his career, with a save percentage well over 90%. What we have this year are numbers that are worse than most teams back up goalies.

UAA's goalies have shown flashes of brilliance, but they need to step up big time this weekend. Two (hopefully three) nights in a row. And the defense is going to have to help them out BIG time.

Donald Dunlop said...

Not to dampen your imagined water throwing onto my imagined parade but .... there just isn't a parade there.

I've laid out one scenario and called it "within the realm of possibility". I didn't use any measure to even infer probability. I did use the word "plausible" after the modifying phrase "begins to sound". None of which I believe puts me anywhere near parade status.

At the same time, I included some quotes which can be interpreted to essentially invalidate or validate everything which preceded them.

The main point being that a "fan" certainly shouldn't throw in the towel at this point. To do so would be folly.

Perhaps the best thing is that UAA has had little success against the Badgers since then. Perhaps that awareness can focus a team's collective eyes?

So to all I'd say; save the "Donald you must be high" comments until I step out on a limb later this week and publicly demonstrate my confidence that this group of Seawolves will get to the Final Five by knocking off the Badgers.

Suze said...

Having seen UAA knock off some very talented, nationally ranked teams this year, I think the team is capable of taking one or two from the Badgers.

However, it is going to take an entire team effort. A much better effort than I saw last Saturday night.

Make believers of us Seawolves! Will can beat skill.

Suze said...

The UAA hockey link at the GCI site isn't even clickable right now. Badger fans said the games were being shown locally in Madison, I hope we get the feed.

As of today, the Friday game is not listed on the B2 Network.

Anonymous said...

Probably on the wisconsin website under the multimedia link

Anonymous said...

does clarky have a shot at wcha offensive player of the week.
4 goals in 2 games

Donald Dunlop said...

Unless I'm mistaken nobody else scored 4 goals over the weekend. So I'd have to imagine he indeed has "a shot" at the award. But I didn't go through and count every scorers points.

Anonymous said...

Donald, I just checked and nobody else scored 4 goals. Mankato's Galiardi had 3, and UND's Gregoire had 3 goals and 1 assist.

The nod should go to Clark. David Tuttle just gave him the #1 spot in his 6 pack of the week, and mentioned Kevins league leading 23 goals. I am no longer watching channel 2 news.

Justin Bourne gave UAA a shout out on his FB page this week, nice to see.

A Seawolves Fanatic said...

Time to unleash yourself and give the Badgers hell Seawolves.

Eric said...

As long as WCHA fans can remember Jamie Ram and MTU beating CC, there's hope for all the underdogs, no matter how bad their team is.

Anonymous said...


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