This weekend the Seawolves for the first time this season face an opponent that they've already played this season. And will face two more times after the conclusion of this weekends series. That's right when you add it all up ... the Seawolves play CC a total of five times this year. The normal regular season maximum between two teams in the WCHA is 4. But CC was an invitee to the Brice Goal Rush tournament and UAA faced them in their first game there taking the 4-3 loss.
Since that early season meeting the Seawolves have gone 2-6-1 in 9 games and CC has gone 3-6-0. The Black Bears have faced UAF in a single game and lost, Mankato in a series and split, gotten swept my the Gophers, split with DU, beat AF and lost to Yale. UAA faced Union in a single game and lost, tied UMD and lost, lost to Mankato then tied, split with Bemidji and then split with SCSU.
In general both CC and UAA have had relatively the same amount of success against a relatively similar group of opponents though they only have Mankato and AF in common. The Black Bears biggest win so far came on November 6th when during the final game of a home and home series with DU they pasted the Pios 9-2 after being soundly beaten the night before.
If there is a big factor in terms of differences between these two teams early experiences it is travel. CC's coming off a bye week after two home games against Minnesota, a road game in Denver, a home game against DU, a road game across town at AF and a home game versus Yale. In other words, they've slept in their own beds for damn near a month coming into this weekend.
In terms of the WCHA grinder they're near the end of a pretty grindless portion of their schedule. Lucky them. For the Seawolves this is their 4th road series of the season after going to UAF, Duluth and Bemidji previously. In WCHA grinder terms the Seawolves are fully immersed.
CC's home ice advantage this weekend is supplemented by their acclimation to Colorado Spring 6,035ft above sea level altitude. The Seawolves come from 144ft above sea level. Going from sea level to more than a mile high can be a big challenge for an athlete. The difference in oxygen levels can be a detriment to best performance.
It generally takes more than a few days to acclimate for average people. Athletes have a slight advantage with their already increased capacity to use oxygen and in the past we haven't seen altitude become an obvious factor in specific games. But maybe just maybe it's part of the reason that the Seawolves are 3-33-0 in The Springs?
So, I think between the travel and the altitude the Seawolves come into this series facing two obstacles before they even hit the ice. Perhaps they aren't major obstacles. But they do exist. I'll come back here tomorrow with some sort of regulation style preview of the two teams. Consider this a pre-preview of sorts because I've got a busy day.