Friday, September 10, 2010

The 2010-2011 UAA Seawolves Sophomore Class


Mitch Bruijsten, Chris Crowell, Tyler Currier, Drew Darwitz, Alex Gellert, Daniel Naslund, Dusan Sidor, Mickey Spencer and Scott Warner are the nine sophomores donning UAA sweaters this season.  In many ways this group could prove to be the most important class of the four.  Yes, nothing has changed since my senior and junior class previews; the WCHA is still an upperclassmen's league.  But this group could very well have the most guys dressed each game night.  And in that lies their importance to the Seawolves chances for more success this season.

I've talked about offensive production with each of the first two groups and the same applies here.  Every sophomore will need to increase their scoring compared to their freshman seasson for the Seawolves to have a higher level of success this year.  In college sports there are two nicknames that are apt to apply here ... sophomore slump and super sophomore.  No slumps and some supers would be real nice to see.

Mitch Bruijsten
In lots of ways Mitch had a classic rookie season last year.  At times he was clearly adjusting to the college game.  His 2 goals and 4 assists were probably on the low end of expectations but one of them was a game winner.  Mitch didn't manage a ton of shots with only 36 registered.  I followed him during the summer a bit as he represented The Netherlands at the IIHF World Championships.  No doubt that was a good experience for him.  I'm a bit lost as to what to expect from Mitch this season.  His anticipation and his first step weren't spectacular last year but at 6'4" he has a definite presence in the corners and in front of the net.  Hopefully, he continues to work hard and his development is buoyed by those efforts.  Here's a link to his bio ...

Chris Crowell
My impressions of Chris are that he is a top-notch journeyman forward with great leadership skills, maturity and intensity.  I really tend to shy away from the term "lunch-bucket" guy but it does apply here.  His effort is almost always noticeable.  Chris sort of got robbed last season out of the one goal he might have scored.  My memory for the exact game sucks unfortunately, but I remember him chasing a puck late in a game to an empty net and apparently not quite touching it before it crossed the line.  Not that such a thing would have been anything for him to brag about but I'm sure he'd rather have a 1 in the goal column versus the goose egg.  I'm betting he'll bag a few this year.  Especially, if he can find a way to get more than 10 shots on the net.  I can't help but think of Charlie Kronschnabel as a comparison for Crowell.  Like Charlie, I'm betting Chris will be a Captain at some point.  Here's a link to his bio ...

Tyler Currier
Tyler's original expectation as a Seawolf was that this season would be his first.  He began as a redshirt freshman but when the opportunity arose early in the season he stepped up and did a nice job.  I'd have to peg him as having the best first shift of the season for any player.  He had lots of jump with his family and friends cheering him on and he laid at least three heavy hits as well as creating turnovers and havoc in the neutral zone.  Tyler played in 14 total games last season and so got the benefit of some development.  He's got both decent hands and good speed.  He nabbed his first collegiate goal in the 2nd to the last regular season game; a 3-2 win over Duluth.  Tyler may sit out a game here and there this coming season depending on how he has developed over the summer.  He will likely see competition for playing time from a couple of freshman.  Here's a link to his bio ...

Drew Darwitz
Drew came to UAA after an excellent final season in the NAHL as that leagues Defenseman of the Year.  Throughout last season he showed consistent and visible improvement with each opportunity he got to play.  I'd classify him as a smart player.  He's solid positionally now after making some early mistakes in that area.  He's a heads up guy and makes good decisions with the puck whether it is carrying it out, making a safe pass or threading it for a long break.  He's strong at 5ft 8in and 170lbs and knows how to stay out of trouble in the corners when big wingers are targeting him.  Like Chris Crowell, I see some potential leadership abilities in Drew.  He didn't bag any goals last year but impressively only took 2 penalties in 18 games.  I can't see any reason that he won't be a regular every game on the blueline this season.  Here's a link to his bio ...

Alex Gellert
I think that Alex is the first our our sophomore class (alphabetically) who has some super-soph potential.  Yes, he only bagged 3 goals last season as a freshman but he's got really solid tools.  He can skate, has good anticipation and knows how to finish (and quite honestly ... it was a bit of puck luck that he didn't have twice as many goals).  With the full 36 games under his belt he was exposed to everything that he needed to be exposed to in order to learn what the WCHA is all about.  His experience playing center should have hastened his development as a goal scorer.  And that is exactly what the Seawolves will be hoping he can do this season.  Maybe it's too much to expect but I sure hope he can make it to double digits this year.  The benefit to the team would be great if he can.  It's hard to know who will be on the power play squads this season but Alex sure seems like a good candidate to me.  Of course, power play time is dependent on production at even strength and whether a player makes the best of his chances.  Alex had 54 shots on net last season.  Here's a link to his bio ...

Daniel Naslund
Daniel has what I think are probably the softest hands on the team.  He's big and strong (6ft 3in and 205lbs).  That strength showed itself along the boards last year and his hands helped him get possession of many pucks that other players might not have won.  Daniel got lots of experience last season in anticipation of him becoming a regular scoring threat.  In some sense, he was (and perhaps still is) a bit of a project.  In my eyes, the biggest key to becoming that threat was his skating.  I speculated that he was a bit of a late bloomer physically and is just growing into his legs.  Daniel played fairly penalty free hockey taking only four minors in 35 games.  His three goals and ten assists were better numbers than I anticipated and surprisingly most of those points came in the first half of the season.  His shooting percentage was respectable at .094 on 32 shots.  I think he also has potential to be a super-soph.  Mostly, it's just a matter of him finding his game at this level.  If his skating has improved even only marginally then he's likely to find his game sooner versus later.  Here's a link to his bio ...

Dusan Sidor
I'm guessing here that Dusan isn't going to see tons of action in the net this season.  It's really difficult for me to judge his goaltending skills based on two periods of action.  He looked fine when he played but that's just such a small sample.  It's possible he could work himself into more playing time with two freshman goaltenders as competition but honesty demands that I note he was brought into the program with the 3rd string role in mind.  He's an excellent student and I bet he works his ass off in practice which can only help the skaters.  Players like Dusan are often really loved and revered by their teammates for all the efforts they put in without getting much playing time.  He is to be respected.  I think it would be sweet if he came out of nowhere and earned a starting role and then got a hot hand.  I know it would be a great story to write about.  Here's a link to his bio ...

Mickey Spencer
Mickey is another of the forwards in this class that has the potential for a super-soph year.  I like his determination and at 190lbs this year it appears he's put on a bit of muscle.  He gets up and down the ice very well, has good instincts and can finish.  He's strong on the puck and should learn this season how to use that more to his advantage.  Like Alex Gellert he's a strong preseason candidate for power play time.  Double digits in goals is certainly not out of the question in his case either.  Mickey played in 32 games last season and registered 57 shots on goal on his way to 4 goals and 7 assists.  He did however take some boneheaded penalties.  I know that's maybe a rough way for me to put it but so many of them were stick related.  I can't think but that his discipline will improve dramatically this season.  With as many penalties as the Seawolves have taken over the last couple of years, it can't always be the referees fault.  Buckling down on that will prove a benefit to both the team and to Mickey's production.  You can't score goals from the box.  I think Yogi Berra said that.  Here's a link to his bio ...

Scott Warner
The last (alphabetically) of the sophomore class is Scott Warner.  Scott sat out last season as a transfer from Army.  As a freshman in 24 games for them he scored a very respectable 6 goals and 7 assists from the blueline.  When I first learned of his transfer and saw those numbers, I was excited.  I am yet to see Scott skate.  But from what I hear, we're all going to be happy he came home to play at UAA.  I understand he is a quality puck mover and tough as nails at 5ft 9in and 179lbs.  Don't bet against him playing a shitload of games this season.  If he can manage to match his freshman production at Army this season.  I'll be happy.  More than that will be a very sweet bonus.  Army plays in the Atlantic Hockey conference.  It's isn't the WCHA, but hey ... Atlantic hockey teams haven't done too bad for themselves in the NCAAs over the last few years; so his numbers aren't necessarily from playing against cupcakes.  Here's a link to his bio ...

That's the sophomores.  Who (if any) will be super and who (if any) will suffer slumpness?  Impossible to really guess.  I hope they will all be super.  I've ran the numbers in my head and I really think that if this group as a whole can provide 50+ goals then we should all be pretty much happy with that.  I think that number will improve the team's level of success. 

I know that real success always seems a couple of years away.  Projecting this group together as seniors gives me all sorts of warm fuzzys for the team as a whole.  Hopefully, nobody other than me is looking two years into the future and is focused on being their best this season.  Success today is always a better thing than success tomorrow.  I doubt Yogi Berra said that but then again ... he said a lot of stuff.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

kevin clark will be playing on a line with schroder and billy sweat against hall and eberle tonite at the youngguns tournament in pentiction.
All the best to the seawolves in the 2010-2011 season.

Donald Dunlop said...

Sweet lines ... three of the best NCAA forwards from the WCHA skating against a line with 2 of the best from the CHL.

Good luck Kevin. I was already following this pretty closely.

For anyone that wants to watch the game live on the web it is available by clicking on this link ... And no it isn't some illegal stream (would that stop you?). It looks like the entire tournament is being streamed free.

Donald Dunlop said...

I had a Sunday Potpourri post completed with quite a few hockey related notes and bits. But Blogger ate it. I am not recreating it. It was about Clarkie's appearance with the Canucks "Young Guns" squad which I linked above.

Check out the BCHL scoring tables. Sam Mellor had a nice opening couple of games.

Dudes ... I'm miffed at Blogger.

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