Monday, March 29, 2010

The New Guy

Greetings everybody! I'm Jimjamesak and I'm the new guy around here... In a way. I've been here adding comments on posts of Donalds, on USCHO bringing up my opinions and making fun of _airbanks (I am the one who came up "You can't spell failure with UAF" ya know)... and Minnesota (The State of Hockey!... that hasn't ever won a Stanley Cup like California, Florida, or North Carolina!)... and North Dakota (More than just a state you drive through to get to Seattle!)... and Wisconsin (It's not North Dakota!), so when Donald asked for people to contribute I had to take this opportunity. I hope you guys like what I have to add. And a big thanks to Donald for letting me join his blog.

The biggest thing I'm hoping to add to the blog in the upcoming season is some multimedia content. Things like game highlights, post-game player comments, that kind of stuff. At least from the home games and maybe the games from Fairbanks. Road games would be kind of tough barring a sudden financial windfall in the next couple of months. Also, one of the first things you'll be seeing from me, hopefully in a day or two, is an update on the Seawolf alums playing professional hockey around the world. I've been working trying to find everybody, from Curtis Glencross in Calgary to Peter Cartwright and Blair Tassone in Holland. I'll be keeping that updated as time goes on and let's all hope that the list grows over time. Beyond that, statistical analysis will be my other main thing to add, hopefully going beyond whether or not we're leading the NCAA in penalty minutes (This last season we did by the way, 762 PIM or 21.2 PIM/G).

Other than that, I'll be adding in some opinions and amateur (emphasis on amateur) analysis on the team and program like Donald does. Also, I'll have some off-topic things to add as well. Just expect mine to be a lot more nerdy and a lot less political, I'm not the raging socialist Donald is and I just really don't care. Plus the NHL playoffs and the World Hockey Championships are coming up here soon so that'll be something to talk about as well.

I'll be adding stuff here soon. Until then, here's Reg Dunlop's opinion on Lady of Spain...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday Potpourri: ... And Thanks For All The Fish

Allow me to start today by publicly thanking those of you kind enough to "chip in" to support the blog.  I have sent (and will continue) to send each person that has done so a personal thank you.  I'm nearly overwhelmed by the quick responses to the effort.  I honestly anticipated a slow but hopefully steady progression, so I'm pleasantly surprised (and heartened) to have raised $185 dollars so far.  I know it says $145 but one donation came outside of the widget's purview.   I recognize that everybody doesn't agree with everything I say here, so to still appreciate the blog with money speaks volumes about those people's character.

The intent of the "Chip In" campaign is to raise enough funds to support sending two people to Final Five when the Seawolves get there next year.  Should that eventuality not pan out for our team, the funds will be used for blog enhancements.  I currently only use "free" software for the chats etc ... but there are things I could purchase which could improve the reader experience and content here.

Why two people?


I have received and accepted an offer to add an author/contributor to the blog.  So the effort here is no longer going to be a one man show.  Yay!  There is no firm date for any particular first contribution but when he first posts I hope everyone welcomes him on board positively.  Who is it?  JimJamesAK is his chosen byline.  He is a lifelong UAA supporter, arena volunteer and regular poster on USCHO's fan forum.

I've encouraged Jim to find his niche here and suggested many different ways he might consider doing so.  I'm not going to act as his editor per se.  He's a big boy and like me will be answerable for what he posts.  I doubt that he'd tend to be as controversial as I sometimes can be.  But he has mentioned bringing more multimedia content as a possibility.  Or maybe some erudite statistical analysis to offset all my ranting?  The one glaring hole here (for a blog with a media pass) has been the complete lack of player interviews and post game coverage.  I'm hopeful JimmyJam will find time to focus on that area.  It's kinda not my cup of tea.

I'm all about "the organic" here.  I have no grand plan or blueprint for success.  As I said, I hope JJ finds his niche.  If you like what he brings to the table then we will know he's found it, right?  Going forward I don't think this means that I'll personally be posting any less necessarily but pushing myself to post something everyday during the season can be cumbersome.  Hopefully for me, it just means that when I am posting it doesn't seem like a job.

That's why two people.  The Seawolves get to the Final Five next season and JJ and I are off to St. Paul to cover it for you guys ... if enough funds are raised.  And at the rate we've received them the first few days, I'm pretty confident that's a good possibility.


I'm not one to take pleasure in other teams misery so much.  But it doesn't make me cry that DU and UND got knocked off by teams that EVERYONE figured they'd roll.  It's a valid argument that it's a good thing to cheer for teams from our conference to win.  But, it isn't possible for me to do so.  I wasn't cheering against them.  I was a little miffed to see some of their fanbase use the "we played like crap" rationalization.  No fellas, you're teams got beat.  No excuses in the NCAA tournament.  You win or you lose.

I was pulling for UAH.  And after reading some of the tripe from Miami fans, I'm officially anti-them forever and ever.  Douchebags all are their fans to me.  Cheer against them eh?  Doing so will enhance your soul.  Trust me.  They just beat Michigan in OT as I write this.  Sigh.  Oh well, not like the ugly helmets losing is ever a bad thing.

UA_?  Like I said last week, I wasn't cheering against them.  That was the best I could do.  Now let me say this; 
Dear University of Alaska Fairbanks,
Isn't it time you dropped the branding pretense of Alaska Nanooks?  One putz in the hockey world uses the moniker as you intended.  Everybody else calls you UAF or Alaska Fairbanks.  Your own fans still chant UAF, UAF, UAF .... Give it up Forrest.  It didn't work the way you thought it would ok?  And since the whole UA_ thing is now in wide use on the internet, don't you think it's sort of backfired?  The intent was transparent when it began and now it's just a joke. 
SCSU finally won an NCAA game.  And the world didn't end?  WTF?  No, I won't be cheering for the lone WCHA team in the Frozen Four.  Who will I be cheering for?  RIT?  Nah, nobody.  I could give a shit about RIT, I don't know them from Adam.  I'll just be a semi-interested observer and it won't bother me in the least if they beat Becky.  And yeah, the Frozen Four in a football arena is stoopid.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

2009-2010 Incoming Freshman Update

Not all of next season's incoming players have completed their junior seasons; nevertheless it's time for me to do the final recruit update of the year.  There are now six players comprising the incoming class; Matt Bailey with Sioux Falls in the USHL, Brett Cameron with Spruce Grove in the AJHL, Rob Gunderson with Brooks in the AJHL, Wes McLeod with Spruce Grove in the AJHL, Mark Pustin with Fairbanks in the NAHL and Quinn Sproule with Okotoks in the AJHL. 

With seven senior departures and the loss of one underclassmen, I expect at least one more recruit to be added to the class at some point depending on how many players the staff prefers on the roster.  We certainly could easily see two names added to the above list.  There is also some unkown to me potential that Bryce Christianson may not return next season.  If that turns out to be the case then the Seawolves will certainly be looking for another goalie as well.  So in alphabetical order:


Matt Bailey
6ft 1in - 191lbs; April 5th, 1991
Forward - Sioux Falls Stampede

Matt is currently tied for 4th in scoring on his Sioux Falls team.  With 13 goals and 28 assists in 55 games, Matt is clicking along at +10 rating.  The 41 points is tied for the 24th most points in the USHL this season.  

The Stampede has clinched a playoff spot and are currently in 3rd place (31-14-11 for 73 points)  in the league's West Division.  They have four regular season games remaining before the playoffs.  Matt had 12 multiple point games this season including a couple of 3 point nights in the first month and a 4 assist night the first week in November.  

He was named USHL Offensive Player of the Week for November 2nd. He had one 9 game scoreless streak from February 9th to March 4th but has 5 points (3g, 2a) in the seven games since.

Matt was a Canada West U-17 selectee before going to the USHL.  In his 1st season of Jr. A hockey (as a 16 year old) he scored 13 goals and added 15 assists for the Neepawa Natives in the MJHL.  I greatly look forward to Matt's arrival here at UAA.  By all accounts he has the necessary tools to become a solid offensive contributor.  It may be a slight stretch to call him an elite level player but he will be as fine an addition to the UAA lineup as we've seen in the last decade.  He'll come here with good size as a 19 year old and I anticipate he'll have an excellent career.


Brett Cameron
6ft 2in - 195lbs; May 11th, 1990
Forward - Spruce Grove Saints

Brett rejoined the Spruce Grove lineup several games before the AJHL playoffs began a few weeks ago.  In 8 playoff games he has 4 goals and 2 assists.  Two of his goals have come on the power play.  He is currently 3rd on the team in playoff scoring.

In 31 regular season games Brett collected 9 goals and 20 assists.  He missed a large part of the season due to a concussion he received but seems to be near back to regular form since returning.

Spruce Grove continues it's dominant play from the regular season with a 4-0 playoff series sweep versus Bonnyville and a 4-1 series win over Camrose.  In the 9 games so far in the playoffs, the Saints have scored 31 goals and given up only 11.  They await the start of AJHL championship series against Fort McMurray.

Brett was projected to be one of the top scorers in the league this season and was off to a nice start when he was concussed.  Brett should get quite a few more games under his belt during the playoffs as Spruce Grove is favored almost all Canadian Jr. A teams to reach the RBC finals.


Rob Gunderson
6ft - 186lbs; April 1st, 1990
Goaltender - Brooks Bandits

Last December I wrote that Rob Gunderson would be coming to UAA in an ideal situation for a freshman netminder.  At that time I expected that he would be coming to UAA as the default #2 goaltender.  Since that time though there are legitimate questions about Bryce Christianson's intentions to return next season.

If Bryce chooses not to return then there will be some immediate pressure on Rob to perform well.  Over the course of the regular season in the nets for Brooks, Rob had a .900 save percentage overall with a 3.3 goals against average and a 20-17-1 record.  In six playoff games Rob was 3-3 with a .904 save percentage and a 3.38 goals against average.

Rob had a better 2008-2009 season accumulating a  .912 regular season save percentage with a 2.58 goals agains and a record of 26 wins and 8 losses.  In the playoffs he sported a .936 save percentage and a 3-6 record with a goals against of 2.34.

Brooks finished its season with a 4-1 series loss against Camrose which included two OT losses after posting a 3-1 opening round playoff series win versus Calgary.


Wes McLeod
6ft 2in - 185lbs; September 30, 1990
Defenseman - Spruce Grove Saints

In early January Wes was traded from the BCHL's Prince George Spruce Kings to AJHL power Spruce Grove.  In 14 games with the Saints during the regular season Wes had 4 goals and 6 assists from the blueline.   So far in the playoffs he has 3 assists in 7 games.  While in the "B", Wes accumulated 9 goals and 27 assists in 37 games.  

Wes has received some nice perks last year and this.  He competed for Canada West in the World Jr. A Challenge tournament and was named to the 6 player all-tournament team.  In December he was named to the Interior Conference starting lineup for the BCHL All-Star Game which he unfortunately didn't get to play in due to the trade.

This BCHL profile story on Wes is very revealing and contains more about Wes than I could possibly cover here.  He talks about wanting to get to the show as well as his continuing development when he gets to UAA.  It's a good article, so go read it.

As I said in December, Wes comes to UAA with as fine a resume as any blueliner to ever wear the green and gold.  Of all the incoming rookies, he would be the first to be expected to contribute.  As always, the transition to D1 hockey must be navigated but Wes should adapt quickly and become a force on the blueline as the season progresses.


Mark Pustin
5ft 8in 155lbs; October 17th, 1989
Forward - Fairbanks Ice Dogs

In 52 games this season, Mark has 23 goals and 36 assists for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs.  Those numbers put him at #7 on the NAHL point scorers table and 2nd on the Ice Dogs in points.

Mark was named the NAHL's West Player of the Week for December 7th for a 3 goal and 4 assist performance in 3 game sweep of Alaska.

I think I can best liken Mark perhaps to a forward like Merit Waldrop.  By all descriptions he seems to have dynamic skills and skates well.  Scoring accomplishments in the NAHL don't necessarily translate to D1 immediately so Mark will come to the Seawolves and likely face a big transition.  

It will be challenging for him even though his coach compliments his defensive play and calls him a "game changing forward."  The Ice Dogs currently sit in 3rd place in the NAHL west division with 57 games completed.  They are one point behind the Avalanche in the standings and have clinched a playoff spot.


Quinn Sproule
6ft 195lbs; May 5th, 1990
Defenseman - Okotoks Oilers

Quinn finished the regular season with Okotoks with 9 goals and 17 assists in 59 games.  During the playoffs he scored 1 goal and added 5 assists in 11 games.

Quinn was among 4 nominees for the "Top Defenceman" award for the AJHL this season.  His 9 goals was tops on Okotoks amongst the blueliners.  During the 08-09 season he tallied 12 goals and 19 assists.

Quinn was named to and participated in the AJHL All-Star game.  It's difficult from afar to assess Quinn's style and game play.  Similar stats from one year to the next can be a misleading indication.  Normally, improved stats show development but does the lack of improved scoring mean as much for a defenseman?  

It's easy to assume that as a veteran player Quinn was asked to take a more responsible defensive role.  If that is the case then his numbers are quite nice and he'll have had a year developing his game on the back end.  Time will tell how he adapts to the D1 game.  


In terms of incoming classes this isn't the biggest number of players that UAA has ever brought in.  But I have to say that I think it ranks fairly high in terms of quality.  Wes McLeod is just about a can't miss prospect.  Matt Bailey and Brett Cameron have very strong resume's and shouldn't take too long to adapt to the college game.  Rob Gunderson will have some questions to answer depending on what situation he comes into but has shown an ability to be a force.  Quinn Sproule may be a bit of a hidden gem.  And according to his Fairbanks coach, Mark Pustin is a "pure goal scorer".  

As I mentioned above, don't expect these six to be the final number of incoming players.  It will be interesting in the off-season to see who else the Seawolves acquire.  Or perhaps they'll advance one of the 2011 recruits?  Your guess may be as good as mine in forecasting that.

Friday, March 26, 2010

UAA Rescinds Bengtson's Scholarship Offer

Word comes to me today that head coach Dave Shyiak has rescinded the verbal scholarship offer to Gustav Bengtson.  This unfortunate news points out once again the foibles and difficulties of recruiting players at younger ages.  Surely Dave Shyiak and his staff saw promising things from a 17 year old player to offer him the scholarship and then keep it in their vest for three years.  

But now a young man is left without much time to try to find an opportunity to pursue his dream of playing NCAA hockey?  For nearly three years no college hockey recruiter would have looked at or spoken with Gustav.  He was coming to UAA right?  That was "on the books" eh?

I can't help but say this to all college hockey coaches and recruiters.  If you're going to offer a schollie to a 17 year old, you damn well better be prepared to live up to your verbal commitment.  It is unfair in the extreme to keep a kid off the recruiting table and then turn him loose at the last moment. 

Originally committed to join the team in 2009, Gustav was asked to push that back for one more year.  I can't help but think that was the proper time to release him.  A year and 5 months certainly would have been a more fair window for him to find another school versus the 5 months he now has.

For any recruits out there; I'd tell you that if the school recruiting you hasn't sent you an LOI to sign then perhaps they're not really serious about wanting you.  This isn't the first time some school has rescinded it's verbal arrangement and it won't be the last.  If you want to know your future for sure; make the school step up and put it in writing.  Especially if it going to be more than a year before you attend school.

Bengtson was tendered the verbal offer in 2007 while playing major midget hockey in Utah with the Northwest Regulators as a 17 year old.  His coach there said this at the time:
“What sticks out for the scouts when they watch him are his tremendous skills”, stated Gronborg. “Gustav can be a dynamic player with his skating and stick handling at a very high speed."
"Mixed with being a very ‘coach-able’ athlete you can consider him a ‘dream player’ for our staff. His commitment also shows in his approach to school where he is an honor student”

“Gustav was a pretty accomplished player when he came over to the US. However I would like to commend his work ethic on and off the ice especially in areas such as his defensive play, his play in traffic, and keeping a consistent high level of play, which he needs to continue to improve in order to make the next step. There is always a transition period for an European player to come over to play North American hockey and I think that Gustav has handled it great”
Gustav began his junior career in the USHL but a lack of playing time even though he showed great potential, the deep lineup and lack of playing forced a move to Texas in the NAHL where he gelled nicely and contributed 9 goals and 13 assists in 37 games.  Texas suspended operations the next season and Gustav found himself first in Topeka and then with the Kenai River Brown Bears.  

I often commented here that his junior career was stunted by provincially minded junior coaches.  If you were coaching in Cedar Rapids wouldn't you give ice time to the kid whose Mom and Dad were in the stands?  Damn right you would.  When given the proper opportunity (as he was in Texas) he showed great promise and development.  His coach there said;
“He’s really added an offensive spark that we were lacking early on in the season,”
Perhaps frustrated by his North American junior experiences Gustav returned home to Sweden this past season to bulk up and polish his game before heading to UAA this coming fall (a year later than originally agreed to).  He currently leads his team in scoring.  With the Seawolves now out of the mix, there is a quality Swedish player looking for an opportunity to play college hockey.  In my estimation, someone will be lucky to latch onto Gustav.  He is an excellent student having graduated from high school in Texas with a 3.75 GPA.

At this moment, I'm not proud of the program I support.  For a program that already faces difficulties in recruiting and building success due to it's geography, this is a black mark it didn't need.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday Potpourri: Breakup, Blogging, Clarky & Nookies

Spring is beginning to tease us here in Anchorage.  A slow melt has been underway for just over a week or so.  It's always welcome.  With the time change, it's light enough now until around 8:30 to drive without turning on your headlights.  Most main streets are completely clear of snow and ice (except for the ice that forms overnight from the melt) and side streets should be clear soon.  

It's almost "breakup".  I always liked breakup but we don't seem to have that 2 week period where everything melts at once anymore.  It is transformational when it happens more quickly.  But for at least the last decade it seems, the melting takes a month or more to happen.  Maybe we'll get lucky this year and get a really significant warm up?  I hope so.


Not to be dramatic but, I'm seriously considering giving up this blogging thing.  I have been for quite a while.  There are definitely some things I need to weigh and consider in that regard.  It's really just a matter of personal priorities and not necessarily reflective of anything else.  As with anything else in life I suppose it's a matter of finding the proper balance.  

But as an imperfect and less than most successful human being such a consideration is necessary.  We'll see.  I'm not promising anything either way.  One decision or the other will make some people happy I suspect.  But I'll base my choice on what makes me happy.  That's right ... you're all secondary.  Blogger has no emoticons or you'd see me sticking my tongue out after that last sentence.

I still plan to get to the last two posts I promised.  Look for the coaching evaluation and recruit updates to come out soon.  How soon?  I dunno.  When I get around to finishing them?  Not a great answer I know but that's the way things are at the moment.

With all that, some sort of partnership with another dedicated Seawolves fan would encourage me to continue.  You don't have to have some great flair for writing.  Just a dedication to supporting the program and some knowledge of the game is pretty much all I'd require.  And no, your opinions and/or views wouldn't have to line up with mine.  And you wouldn't actually have to put your real name anywhere on the blog.  Though I suppose, I'd need to know it.  So um .. email me if you think you've got some Seawolves blogging in ya.  Or you could start your own excellent Seawolves blog.


I grabbed (and uploaded to YouTube) Kevin Clark's 1st AHL goal from his 1st game with the Manitoba Moose.  The goal came on his 1st shot and on his 1st shift.  It's always a good sign for a guy to get one like that.  Curtis Glencross scored a goal on his 1st shot in the NHL.  So, good luck to Clarky on continuing success.  He was awarded the 3rd star of the game.  You can see the full game highlights as well as post game press comments by clicking here.


Congrats to UA_ for getting into the NCAA's.  Does it matter that they sort of backed in?  Not really.  There was a crapload of stupidity with this year's Pairwise calculations mainly because Alabama-Huntsville won the final CHA tournament and the autobid that goes with it.  Without that UA_ wouldn't have been waiting until the last minute to know if they were in or not.  They would have been in.  

Good on UAH for getting in.  They got pissed on by the CCHA not letting them into their conference.  So to go out and grab one of the autobids is ironically pleasing to me.  Those poor bastards will have to play an independent schedule next year.  That sucks.  Getting into the dance this year is a small reward but one which I'd assume they treasure.

The 'Nooks will get an NCAA opponent familiar to those up on UAA's own NCAA history: Boston College.  In the Seawolves first appearance in the NCAA's, UAA dramatically beat B.C. in what is often looked at as the biggest upset ever in college hockey.  In a best of 3 series, the Seawolves took the first two games to advance.

I know lots of you will be mustering some home state pride and wishing them the best.  Expecting any of that sort of thing from me would be a mistake.  UA_ is our one and only true rival.  I will not be wishing them good luck.  Congratulations to them is all I've got.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Lee Baldwin To The Rangers

University of Alaska Anchorage defenseman Lee Baldwin (6'4" 203lbs) has apparently signed (I've got no link to any announcement) with the New York Rangers after just one season with the Seawolves.  The 21 year old (April '88) Baldwin came to the Seawolves after a BCHL All-Star/Team MVP season with the Victoria Grizzlies in 2008-2009.  This past season, he finished the season with UAA amassing 1 goal and 9 assists in 32 games.

Baldwin showed all the right potential to progress his hockey career to the next level and had been garnering attention from NHL scouts since his final year of junior hockey.  Lee looked well-suited to the college game when he hit the ice here and progressed throughout the season.  He has some development to attend to before we see him skate in the big show, but hopefully for  him that will be sooner rather than later.

You can never blame a young man for getting a payday while continuing his hockey development.  In Lee's case, I personally think it's "six of one and half a dozen of the other "with regard to whether he can accomplish that goal best from the WCHA or the AHL.  So it's understandable to pursue the NHL dream while getting paid versus toiling in college for a schollie.

Congratulations to Lee and best of luck to him in the future.  With a stable of 5/6 defensemen (Leinweber being a swing player) plus 2 listed defensive recruits for next season, I'd have to say it's an open question whether the Seawolves will be looking to recruit another blueliner for next season.  They may, they may not.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

2009-2010 End of Season Report Cards

As with previous editions of this post, it's necessary to state here that "grades" are awarded on an entirely subjective basis without regard to other program's players etc.  This is nothing more than my personal analysis based on the player's history and my expectations from said player.  So in alphabetical order from defense to forward to goaltender and finishing with the coaching staff:

Nils Backstrom: A+
Nils was everything he needed to be this season for the Seawolves.  He provided solid defensive coverage and was a positive asset to the transition game.  Nils has great hands and is a top-notch skater.  Wherever he gets a chance to play professionally he'll become a solid contributer.

Lee Baldwin: B-
In his 1st season Lee has shown great potential to become a solidly contribuing scorer from the blueline over time.  He has a heavy shot.  He's good positionally.  He plays the body well.  Lee's grade goes up in my book for many of the talents he shows.  However, he lacks confidence and can make puck handling errors when he is pressured.  This is an attribute that should go away with time.  Lee has the tools, he just needs to believe in himself.

Drew Darwitz: B
Drew proved this season that he can grow into a regular defensive job and do well.  He has both the offensive and defensive skills to make that happen.  Early in the season Drew made some typical freshman mistakes and to his great credit, he learned from them and didn't repeat those errors.  Going forward Drew could become a dynamic player if given the chance and if he finds the confidence.  He sees the ice well and makes good puck decisions.

Brad Gorham: B+
Brad's addition at the midway point this season was a boon for the Seawolves.  He is the best stand-up defenseman that I've seen in green and gold in some time.  He's a poke check wizard as well as being solid along the boards and in front of his net.  Late in the season we began to see some offensive upside in Brad's game and that will be important in coming seasons.  His size and strength along with his good skating will be necessary for future UAA success.

Trevor Hunt: A
Trevor is close to an A+ but unfortunately didn't really ever get to show his offensive upside while at UAA.  Or at least it was only sparingly seen.  Trevor has great feet and hands that give him moves in the offensive zone one usually only sees from forwards.  In a nutshell, he is Shane Lovdahl with excellent wheels and a bit of a mean streak.

Kane Lafranchise: A+
Kane took off nicely in the 2nd half of the season.  His numbers aren't a fair indicator of his contributions to the Seawolves offense.  He is capable at any time of bringing the puck and creating offensive chances.  His open ice defensive play and ability to deliver hits is on par with Mat Robinson.  His wheels and heads up play will be a key for any UAA success in 2010-2011.  He is a stud.

Jared Tuton: B+
This was the hardest grade to write down here.  Jared was an excellent captain for the Seawolves this season.  He's always been the model of a coach's player.  By all indications he's been a model character for the team since he got here.  A great kid by all accounts.  But his play on the ice this season was missing something in my book.  Maybe it's because I think he would have been more valuable as a forward.  His role on defense and as captain was to provide stability in the UAA zone.  He did perform that.  But honestly, Jared is not a "talented" defenseman.  Please don't get me wrong.  He is a hard working hockey player that deserves tons of respect for his efforts.  But I cannot overlook the fact that he got beat around the outside more times than should happen when playing on the #1 defensive pairing.  I think he should have been playing forward and I can't get past that.

Luka Vidmar: B
Luka has great tools and isn't quite living up to his potential.  He can skate with anyone.  He can puck-handle well.  He makes good first passes to help in transition and has shown he can carry the puck deep and be effective.  I give him a B instead of a higher grade because I think he can be more intense in his efforts.  That's a difficult judgement to make from up in the stands.  But I don't see the same focus and intensity from Luka as I do from other players.

Mitch Bruijsten: C+
Mitch came to UAA with the expectation he's score some goals.  His production this year though was disappointing at best.  Mitch was unfortunately oversold in a Hockey's Future scouting report as having NHL potential.  Ultimately, that could turn out to be true but such an accomplishment is nothing less than a project at this point.  Mitch needs to work on his skating, quickness and anticipation if he wants to reach his professional hockey goals.  He's had the benefit of the doubt from UAA's staff and played a high number of games.  Next season that experience needs to begin translating to production for him to contribute to UAA's success.

Kevin Clark: A+
What more can I say about Kevin's efforts this year.  Should I add a couple of "plusses" to his grade?  He was everything we fans could have wanted from a UAA Seawolves player this year.  He was hard to play against.  He produced highlight reel goals.  He did it all and enjoyed himself while doing it.  It was nothing less than a pleasure to watch him these past four years.

Chris Crowell: C+
I would and perhaps should have given Chris a B- instead of a C+.  I chose the latter only because it gives more room for growth.  Chris is clearly a guy that is going to become an emotional leader over time for the Seawolves.  His intensity and effort as a freshman were examples some upperclassmen could look to.  Chris took a few more penalties here and there than were otherwise necessary.  Going forward I expect he'll learn to "play within himself".

Tyler Currier: B-
I have big hopes for Tyler Currier.  I don't think he'll likely ever become a 20 goal scorer at UAA but he may bring enough energy, enthusiasm and gritty play to contribute to UAA's success given the opportunity.  In his limited action this season he showed the ability to spark the team.  That sort of attribute is very important.  I hope Tyler is patient with his development.  If so, then he could in time prove to be a valuable scorer perhaps in the mold of Sean Wiles.  

Alex Gellert: B
Alex shows all the potential needed to continue to be a 1st line center for the Seawolves.  He takes faceoffs well, skates well and is competitive in all areas of the ice.  He has a good release when shooting as well.  My advice to Alex would be to grip the stick a little less tightly.  Don't press and instead react.  If he can find some creativity with time he'll be a top producer over the next three years.  I was soooo close to B+ here.

Tommy Grant: B
Tommy never quite found the scoring touch he had last season.  It's distinctly possible that he missed Paul Crowder's uncanny ability to find him at just the right moment.  Tommy will need to rediscover that touch next season to help fill the void of the departed Kevin Clark.  Tommy has the speed and good release to become a 20 goal scorer.  He just needs to find his spot I think.  Find your spot Tommy and make your senior year memorable.  If you do, then you'll go AHL.  If not, then I'm afraid you'll have to work your way up through the E.

Nick Haddad: A
Nick's penalty killing and two-way play make him an invaluable asset to the UAA program.  Nick's speed and often punishing play going forward is valuable as well but his contributions there pale in comparison to his defensive efforts.  He is always willing to give up his body to block a shot.  He anticipates well on the PK and scrambles as necessary to make up any given ground.  If he never skated except on the PK he'd contribute to UAA's success.  Nick found ways to get the puck into the net in juniors.  If he can rediscover that touch next season then he could become invaluable all around.

Curtis Leinweber: A
Curtis' numbers put him in the B to B+ range realistically, but I'm upgrading him to an A because this season he played defense, wing and center at various times.  Curtis is a dynamic puck handler who can scoot.  He shows grit and determination.  He finished the season playing a quite a few games at the center position.  If he manages that well, he could prove to be a force there.  I really really like him on the blueline when he's played there.  Let's all hope Shyiak's experiment with him at center pans out.  If not, put the guy back on the blueline permanently and I'll bet he blooms.

Josh Lunden: A+
Shoulder injuries somewhat plagued Josh while wearing the green and gold.  Nevertheless, he left school as the #2 active goal scorer on the squad just behind Kevin Clark.  Once his shoulder problems are taken care of I'd expect to see Josh banging bodies in the AHL as a classic power winger type.  With some develpment there he could get a shot in the bigs at some point over the next couple of years.

Daniel Naslund: C-
If Daniel spends the entire offseason improving his frankly brutal skating then he can become a contributer at some point in his UAA career.  If every rink in the WCHA were NHL-sized then Daniel would be better suited to produce.  But there's lots of big rinks in the WCHA and Daniel plays for a team with one of them.  His skating absolutely must improve for him to contribute to UAA's success in the future.  If that happens, his excellent upper body strength and his ability to keep and control the puck when pressured will translate to scoring.  He does have great hands, get some decent wheels and he'll be a force.

Craig Parkinson: A-
Craig filled a role this season on the energy line and mentoring younger players it seemed.  He has an ability to find the net but wasn't matched with linemates for that purpose.  His number this season were a reflection of same.  This is a kid that can score.  He's got a good shot, excellent wheels and the necessary other skills to be a double-digit scorer in this league.  Let's hope that next season he gets more opportunities to show that.  He is more than a role-player in my mind.

Jade Portwood: B
Jade is a very comparable player to Nick Haddad.  He has excellent size and has become an invaluable penalty killing asset and regular.  He's shown both of the last two years that he is a responsible two-way player.  Over the next two seasons, it would be nice to see him get more opportunities offensively.  If that doesn't happen he'll still be a huge asset on the PK.  But it'd be nice for him I think to get more chances to put the puck in the net.

Ken Selby: A+
Good on Ken for being "that guy" on the Seawolves team throughout his career under Dave Shyiak.  Ken has great wheels, can puck handle and I know he's got a decent shot.  None of those attributes were utilized at UAA because he has been labeled as not having "hockey sense".  Ken's commitment to his teammates and unceasing efforts in practice earn him loads of respect from this blogger.

Mickey Spencer: B
If there is a freshman I cross my fingers to have a breakout super-soph type of performance next season it would be Mickey.  He's gritty and quick.  He handles the puck well and is unafraid to go into the dirty areas.  He shows excellent potential.  No doubt as he progresses that his numbers will climb and as an upperclassmen will be a valuable offensive asset.  Don't be surprised to see some of that potential come to fruition next season.  I'm not saying it will, but don't be surprised.

Sean Wiles: B+
It was hard not to give Sean an A grade here.  I didn't because even though he always appears to be energetic and useful, sometimes his just wasn't a factor in games.  I don't know what it was but sometimes he just disappeared this season.  I've always thought Sean was a player who drew on emotion to make things happen.  Maybe sometimes this season he couldn't find that.  The junior season can be difficult for some players.  School is hard sometimes as a junior.  I don't know.  I do hope to see Sean with renewed enthusiasm next season.  He is a great story to me because at one point I wasn't sure he could handle playing D1 hockey.  And since then, at times, he's showed an uncanny ability to elevate his game to a level where he simply owns the ice.  The Seawolves will need him to own the ice more often next season if they are to have success.  Maybe the B+ gives him room to improve.

Bryce Christianson: C+
Bryce has the solid skills necessary to become a D1 starter.  He handles the puck well, is athletic in his crease, has a good glove hand, challenges shooters and otherwise looks good between the pipes.  Both his numbers and Jonny O's numbers are reflective of the team's efforts in front of them and not an deficiencies on their part.  If Bryce and Dave Shyiak can work out their differences during the off-season then he could put up good numbers with a better defensive effort in front of him.  I fear that won't happen though and that we've seen the last of Bryce in green and gold.  That would be a huge shame in so many ways.

Jon Olthuis: C
I wanted to give Jonny O the same grade as Bryce.  But one thing stood out in my head all season.  I know the UAA staff have been encouraging Jonny to challenge shooters and come out of his crease for more than just this season.  But time after time after time, Jonny stayed deep in the crease.  I assume it was a confidence thing.  Stepping out must have felt like he was exposing himself.  Had he done it more often though, there would have likely been fewer pucks behind him.  He didn't seem to learn that even though it was preached to him.  So I dropped him to a C.  Like Jared Tuton, I'm not happy with handing out this grade to a young man who by all accounts is a great person.

Dusan Sidor: A+
I give this grade because there is some chance that next year we'll see Dusan in a backup role.  Which means he'll finally get to play some real minutes.  Since he's now spent two years as basically the "practice goalie", he deserves some accolade for that effort.

Coaching Staff: C-
Last year I gave the coaching staff a B.  The very significant drop this season is due to several factors.  First, they overstated their expectations.  I know exactly how that happens.  I do it here all the time.  But I'm just a fan writing a blog.  Second, the defensive play this season was full of some of the most brutal breakdowns I've seen in a long long time.  When the team lost a game, it didn't lose by a goal.  It was more likely 4 or 5 or 6.  One could easily say such breakdowns are the responsibility of the players on the ice at the time.  And I don't think I'd argue much about that.  

However, the pattern of breakdowns is indicative to me of an ill-prepared defensive effort.   Preparation is the responsibility of the coaching staff. Additionally, it's time to realize that WCHA refereeing is what it is and it ain't gonna change in any significant way. The grade wasn't lower because there are some quality recruits in the pipeline and that should be reflected here (otherwise it would definitely be a D+).

Everyone loves the Gretzky quote, "You can't score if you don't put the puck on the net" (or whatever it is) but how about this one?  You can't lose games if the other team doesn't score.  55 teams gave up fewer goals over the course of the 2009-2010 season than UAA.  Fifty-Five out of Fifty-Eight.  3.93 goals against isn't going to win you many games.  

Hell, UA_ scored just three more goals in 2009-2010 than UAA did.  That's right.  Only 3 more ... UAA - 2.42/game (87) ... UA_ 2.82/game (90).  But they are on the bubble of the NCAA tournament.  Why?  Because they gave up 51 fewer goals than UAA did.  Fifty-One.

Defense builds championships in every sport.

Monday, March 15, 2010

UAA Hockey Fan Blog Awards: 09-10

Here we are again, time for my all-important (variability based on perspective) annual award announcement for the Seawolves.  It was a difficult year for one category and incredibly simple for another.  While the two middle categories required some consideration for a number of players, I believe my choices there are fairly solid.  Chime in with your comments.  My committee of one welcomes the input.

Rookie of the Year
You Pick It
In the past, I have foregone awarding a category for the reason that nobody did quite enough to garner it in my mind.  But that was for the MVP award.  How do you not give a Rookie of the Year award on a team with 8 rookies that pretty much all saw a decent amount of ice time?  Conversely, how do I separate the close statistical differences between 3 or 4 of them.  Daniel Naslund would just about have to be the selection if you just look at the final stat line.  But honestly, his skating is so deficient that I couldn't bring myself to it.  He had 3 goals and 9 assists in 33 games with a -6 rating overall.  Mickey Spencer finished 2nd among rookies with 4 goals and 7 assists in 31 games and a -10 rating.  Alex Gellert had 3 goals and 7 assists with a -9 rating.  Lee Baldwin had 1 goal and 10 assists for a mostly close statistical comparison, but his -17 rating was the lowest on the whole team.  Bruijsten trailed the regular players, in 31 games he nabbed just 2 goals and 3 assists with a -8 rating.  I like a lot of what Chris Crowell brought to the ice in his 25 games.  But the guy managed no points and was a -9.  Drew Darwitz and Tyler Currier (while both showing good potential) just didn't play in enough games for full consideration.  So there it is.

Most Improved Player
Kane Lafranchise
For his first two seasons Kane Lafranchise has shown flashes of potential and good things to come.  This season though, he brought those flashes of potential to near full fruition.  Kane's play in the 2nd half of the season was nothing short of great.  Down the stretch, Kane showed an ability likely born of confidence.  As he's matured, he seems to know innately that he can be an offensive force from the blueline.  His breakout passes are stellar, his puck rushing has been confident and influential.  He's got a solid shot and his on-ice vision doesn't ever seem to fail.  And this season, he put all those tools to use in leading the Seawolves blueliners in scoring.  Kane simply bloomed this season, in particular during the 2nd half.  Next season he will undoubtedly have one of the best seasons we've seen from a blueliner in quite a long time.  All the tools are there and Kane seems to have found the confidence to utilize them.

Heart and Soul
Nils Backstrom/Sean Wiles
I gave the 08/09 version of this award to Nils Backstrom for his unflappable and excellent defensive work all season long.  This year he matched that play and improved it.  He was a -2 overall for the year on a team that only had one full-time player on the + side and every other defenseman was substantially lower.  Sean Wiles was a +3 on the year and finished 3rd on the team in scoring.  He's here both because of that and his unending never say die attitude with regard to his play.  Both of these guys are imbued with the characteristic I imagined a "Heart and Soul" award winner should have.  They are fiercely competitive and their statistics show they're successful.  While we will miss Nils next year on the blueline as he pursues his professional ambitions, we get  Sean back.  Don't be surprised to see a "C" on his sweater next season.

Most Valuable Player
Kevin Clark
This is the only award that gave me no heartburn selecting.  It is the only award I expect no alternative choices to be listed in the comments section.  Kevin scored the most goals by a Seawolves player since Derek Donald in 92-93.  Ding, ding, ding, ding ... we have the MVP.  Kevin's talent, production and grittiness will all be greatly missed next season.  He leaves a hole that most likely can only be filled by multiple players.  It was a full-on pleasure to watch his career in the green and gold.  Kevin's performances this season put him on par with many of the recognized elite level players in the WCHA.  To lead the league in goal scoring while playing on the 8th place team is no small accomplishment.  If Kevin is not recognized with inclusion on the All-WCHA team announcements later in the week then the voters in the WCHA are a complete sham.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Potpourri: Random, What's Left and Mr. Blue Sky

Tough weekend on which to end a season.  Perhaps even a bit tougher weekend on which to end a career.  I pondered a fair amount looking for some way to describe these two playoff losses.  I don't want to try to take anything away from Bucky here, I recognize they're a damn fine and deeply talented hockey team ... but I'm not sure that was the difference this weekend.

The "kids" in today's culture love to point out arbitrary events in life with the phrase, "That was random." And to me, both of those games sure seemed to fit the bill.  For me that started with the first goal of the series.  How many goals can you remember a Seawolves player scoring with some random non-goal-scoring part of their body?  My head started spinning as soon as Michael "I'm all right with God" Davies' shoulder acted as puck-richocheting vehicle for the verification of randomness in our Universe.  I call it random, Davies likely thinks it's his faithfulness to a deity and lots of people would call it lucky.

In a sport where the primary object of competition can sometimes act more like a pinball than a hard piece of disk shaped rubber, "lucky" goals abound.  But I can't for the life of me remember a couple of games where the Seawolves came out so badly on the wrong side of the randomness.  You would think Yahweh or the Uncertainty Principle of the invisible Quantum Universe might assert themselves in UAA's favor once.  Lee Baldwin's ripped shot rang the post as loudly as I've ever heard a post ding would have been a perfect candidate.  Whether fate or randomness, if the other guys can get such breaks then why didn't we.  Baldwin's shot wasn't the only "bad luck" the Seawolves had to deal with.

And then even when things were seemingly going well, Bucky would get a break and bury the chance.  The Seawolves though never seemed to get their payoff for their hard work.  I know there's an accurate description.  Good teams make their good fortune.  There certainly is some of that in this weekends result.  Like I said, I don't want to take anything away from the Badgers.  They're honestly likely to go very deep into the NCAA's.  Then again, they definitely got their share+ of good bounces and nice breaks.

With all that in my head, it's not easy to analyze much else from the series.  If there was a game that UAA could have won ... surprisingly it's the one they lost by the bigger score.  But it seems that in getting much more flow going forward (versus Friday's offense), the Seawolves lacked a bit in their own end at crucial times ... nay ... at random times.  See, I can't get past "how" the losses occurred.  

The Saturday game wasn't over with less than 2 minutes to go when Bucky went ahead.  They had responded nicely to UAA tying the game and were mounting some good attacks.  Baldwin gets righteously tagged with a hooking penalty and Wisconsin gets it's first power play goal in twelve tries to go up 3-2.  But the game wasn't over.  UAA just has to survive the last minute and a half to get to the locker room and then randomness rears it's head.  Bryce gets called for a trip because he has his blocker on the ice after deflecting a shot wide and a guy skating through his crease falls over his arm.  As soon as that fucking idiot zebra (Mason or Thul) blew that whistle, the game was over.  

All referees make mistakes, they're human.  But this random mistake at this random time effectively ended the game.  One minute it's 3-2 and the Seawolves have played their best period of hockey out of the first 5.  26 seconds later, with just 38 seconds left in the 2nd period and it's game over man.  On a blown call.  Not that I wouldn't dispute any of a fair number of bad calls this weekend.  But none of them turned out to be costly.  Until this one.  Man, that was the most abritrary and capricious slap in the face of the whole season.  A ridiculously bad call.  

Listen, Bucky was loading on the pressure there at the end of the 2nd period.  They were posssessing and pushing deep, they were holding the zone and generating multiple chances.  This is exactly why referees call penalties at those times.  They are subtlety influenced by the action in the game.  They see one team generating chances and something inside them clicks to call a penalty in that teams favor.  Doesn't matter which team it is, it goes that way (in favor of) for the Seawolves too.  Sometimes, it is indeed the hard work of a team that makes the other team foul them and many such calls are entirely legitimate.  This one wasn't though.  And it decided the game.

Note: no "blame" on the refs in that.  Like I said, you could deconstruct multiple bad calls in every single WCHA game to show how they are wrong.  It happens.  Referees are human.  I'm just lamenting this single call, at this particular part of the game which I believe was the death knell for the Seawolves season.  Random.


So that's my perspective on the weekend.   There's a lot of work to be done in the off-season to become one of those teams that makes it's luck.  I'll be examining some of that in upcoming posts.  I'm going to wind down my writing season over the next week or so.  Here's what is planned/upcoming:
  • UAA Hockey Fan Blog Awards
  • Report Cards
  • Dave Shyiak: A Comprehensive Review
  • Final Recruit Updates
  • A Look Ahead
The 3rd piece will be my critical look at Dave Shyiak's performance in his first 5 years.  It is a year earlier than the fairest possible time to do such a thing.  I've long stated here that 6 years is the proper time frame for such assessments.  I still hold to that pretty much.  If after his 6th season Dave hasn't shown some positive progression in term of success then its fair to have the discussion.  So in the case of me writing this review, consider a "pre-evaluation" evaluation.  In any case, I see it as perhaps the most important post I've made here and am approaching it with that sense in my mind.

Feel free to email me your thoughts.  I want to try to be reflective of ideas, criticisms and just the general fanbase's emotions when I write it.  Thanks in advance.  What's left seems like work to me, so your input will be valuable.


And here's my suggestion for next year's Theme Song ...  because it's a happy sunny day song and we all need a little more ELO in our lives.  And oh yeah, it reminds me of being 17 and driving around in my 1974 Mercury Capri, jamming this song on a sunny day with the sunroof cranked open.  This makes me feel like I've ended today on a positive note.  Yay, I can sense spring coming.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Playoffs Game Day: Seawolves v. UW

UAA Seawolves vs. UW Badgers
Friday 4:00PM (Alaska Standard Time)
Kohl Center: Madison, Wisconsin
Alaska TV: GCI Channel 1
Alaska Radio: 550AM w/Kurt Haider



Media Links


I'll post the lines if they turn up in my mailbox but I often don't get them from the road games.  There's not much left to say about this series.  We all know the stakes.  Best of luck to all the guys.  Play your hearts out and you'll be rewarded.  We believe in you all.  Go Seawolves!!!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

INCH Podcast Previews Wisconsin Series: Never Mentions UAA

National College Hockey website Inside College Hockey who's slogan is "Just trying to capture the spirit of the thing ..." completely and totally missed the "spirit of the thing" in their most recent podcast which previews all the playoff action around Division 1.  

After covering the CCHA, Joe Gladziszewski, Mike Eidelbes and James V. Dowd moved on to discuss the WCHA.  For the next Two-Hundred and Twenty-Three seconds they talked about the UAA Seawolves versus Wisconsin Badgers matchup (Note: That was easily twice the amount of time they spent discussing the other WCHA series).  And not once did they mention the Seawolves, UAA or a single player on the UAA roster.  Seriously, they didn't say "Let's talk about the Badgers versus the Seawolves" or "What about the UDub - UAA series" or "The Seawolves have the #1 goal scorer in the WCHA on their squad" or even "The Badgers should just walk over the Seawolves".  The big question during the Badger/UAA segment was whether Wisconsin could beat Denver.

They drooled over all-things Badger that you might imagine.  Please, just imagine it.  Don't bother listening to the podcast.  Don't bother visiting their site at all.  I have removed my link to their website as I cannot in good conscience support my team and lead people to their website.  This eastern-centric and CCHA-loving group of college hockey writers deserves not a single hit from a computer in Anchorage.  Remove your bookmarks.  I have.  Every single WCHA writer they have ever employed came from Wisconsin.  Did you know that?  Piss on INCH.

Here's the email I just sent "Gladdie";
I certainly understand that the Seawolves haven't impressed anyone this season.  I recognize that the Badgers are a fine team.  Yet, if you're attempting to garner the widest possible audience and cover "the spirit of the thing ..." then I'd assume you might actually just once mention the name of the fucking team that is playing the Badgers in your podcast.  You mentioned Michigan Tech's name.  Didn't you?
I have listened to virtually every single podcast that your site has ever produced.  It's a nice feature that separates you from your competition.  However, I now will forever only reference College Hockey News and USCHO on my blog.  I will encourage my readers (don't worry, I only get 400 hits a day) to remove their bookmarks for you site and to never visit it again.
After the Seawolves dispatch your beloved Badgers this weekend, don't bother mentioning it ok?
Donald Dunlop (former INCH website visitor)
Oh yeah, I also love how much love they threw to Jason Gregiore on their podcast and with a nomination for National Player of the Week when he didn't even garner the WCHA Player of the Week honor.  I wonder if they understand what the word "Putz" means out there in Michigan land.

Profanity-Laden Anti-Badger General Tirade

Lacking inspiration or perhaps just out of laziness, last week I went with a standard "newspaper-style" previews and recaps etc ... of the Seawolves/UMD series.  I'm perfectly prepared to do so again if necessary however, I do have a fallback option which I'll give a shot now.  

If you're reading this, then I'm satisfied with how it turned out.  If you're reading the boring run-of-the-mill newspaper-style shit I can write in 30 minutes then I didn't like the way this turned out ... aaand ... you won't know it anyway.  This will be unedited for content.  I will correct spelling errors and major grammatical problems; but otherwise ... I'm going free-form rant-o-rama now.  That all means don't bother hitting the play button on the vid below or reading any text after it if you're offended by colorful language.

After this best of three series with the Badgers, one of two realities will exist.  The Seawolves will begin  preparing for a Thursday night game at the XCel Energy center or they won't be.  I'm here to say that I'm not fucking ok with the latter reality.  I'm not ok with it because I really feel like this Seawolves team deserves a better ultimate fate this season.  There's a bunch of guys on this team that have gotta be pretty damn sick and tired of seeing "9th seeded UAA blah blah blah" and then not fucking getting to the Final Five.

I know I feel that way and god damnit, I'm sick and fucking tired of reading and sensing shit like " ... if we can't beat UAA then my hopes for blah blah blah ..." In case you didn't know it; that is the prevailing attitude amongst opposition fans year in and year out when the Seawolves go on the road for the playoffs.  It doesn't matter who they play.  Sure, there's one or two fans in other fanbases that might step up and say, "Hey, UAA can be dangerous ... we shouldn't overlook them."  But that fucking minimal amount of respect is overwhelmed by the general consensus that a playoff series against UAA is best looked at or utilized as some sort of tune-up.

Well fuck that.  The Seawolves are damn sure not some "elite" WCHA team's sparring partner for the big fight to come.  They're a pretty damn good hockey team when they set their minds to it.  And god damnit, they better set their fucking minds to it this weekend.  Every single fucking one of them.  No bullshit this weekend.  If a Seawolves player isn't clearly determined to leave his heart and soul out on this ice this weekend then they can fucking sit and watch from the stands as far as I'm concerned.

The only tomorrow that happens at this point is if the Seawolves players themselves manufacture one.  That means going out on the Kohl Center ice and putting the damned puck behind Wisconsin's goaltender and keeping their arrogant NHL-bound draft picks from returning the favor.

I've got no genius fucking plan for how that happens this weekend.  Dave Shyiak should have some sense of it.  That's what he and his staff are getting paid for.  So, yeah ... Dave needs to pull a fucking rabbit out of his hat and say presto.  That's all I care about.  Trap the shit out of the Badgers if that's what it is going to take.  I don't care.  Just fucking win baby ... just fucking win.

I don't like the Badgers.  Never have.  I didn't care for the way Jeff Sauer looked standing on the bench when he coached and I sure as hell don't like Mike Eaves smugness (ok ... he's not nearly as smug as Gwoz) but it's still enough to grate on me.  The Badgers have had their share of prima-donnas over the years and that sort of shit never impresses me.  Do they have any this year?  You know what?  I'm not really sure.  I haven't had the chance to see them play that many times.  I'd guess I've only seen about 4 or 5 of their games.  Eaves is well-known as kind of a prick and I don't think that sort of crap flies with him.

And yes ... all this sports hate comes from years and fucking years of not getting the upperhand on these bastards.  That's why I pretty much hate all of the regular top 5 WCHA finishers.  And that dislike/hatred makes beating any of them (even if it's only once during a season) sweeter.  Some dimwit is likely to show up and say something like "jealous much" in response here.  Well numbnuts, it has nothing to do with jealousy.  Jealousy requires that I would want to be a Badger fan.  That's about the 2nd to the last team I'd want to cheer for.  Yep ... the Badgers are damn close to the Sioux on my "Teams I Wouldn't Piss On If They Were On Fire" list.

Sure, I could sit down and easily write a post full of platitudes and respect and awe for the Badgers.  Even after UAA beats them this weekend, they are perfectly capable of making a deep run into the NCAA's.  They've got a team full of "studs".  Why shouldn't they?  It's a Big 10 school with tons of money and rich fucking alumni.  They've got an ongoing history of excellence in hockey and however many national championships.

So fucking what?  I could give a shit about any of that.  I want to see them go down if for no other reason than Dean Talafous went to school there.  That would be enough reason for me ya know?  But as you should already clearly sensed here ... there are nearly endless reasons for me to want to see UAA beat the living snot out of the Badgers this weekend.

Christ, they say "beg" instead of "bag".  Isn't that enough reason to want to see them lose?  Again, it would be enough for me.  It's an "A" you macaroons.  There oughta be a button somewhere that we could push to give any person that speaks that way a firm backhanded slap across the face.  Doncha think?  Someone invent that remote and I'll buy it.

Here's another thing.  They've all written off the loss to the Gophers on Sunday as an aberration.  What?  They only beat the Gophers on Friday night by 3-2 and that was apparently with 3 Gopher goals disallowed/waved off.  Um ... so you folks think you're team only played one bad game?  Yeah ok.

You'd think I'd like Madison as it's known as a bastion of progressive thought in the middle of red-state America.  You all know I'm a big time commie right?  Madison ought to be my Mecca.  So what?  We're talking hockey here.  

Ok now onto the stupid fucking dancing by people that aren't students at the Kohl Center.  Old dudes busting the choreographed dance moves started by the student section is beyond my comprehension.  Really old guys?  You're going to stand-up and dance like a 19 year old girl even though you're in your 50's, 60's and 70's?  Not only should you be ashamed of yourselves, you should be hauled out, tarred and feathered ... then sent to Milwaukee.  

I'm not against people having fun.  But how about using some of the decorum and maturity that comes with being old.  Live vicariously through your hockey team.  Shout and cheer for them.  Yell nasty shit at the referees or try to taunt the opposition.  Good on ya.  But quit fucking getting up and leading some stupid dance-o-rama.  You're an embarrassment to your generation and since I'm not far removed from it I must address it here.  Stop it you fucking morons.  It's ok if your wives do it.  They're women.  You're not.

Make wins (plural!!!!!!) happen this weekend, dear Seawolves.  Eat their fucking lunch.  Hand them their fucking hats.  Wink at their fucking girlfriends.  Make their ancestors turn over in their graves.  Give them noogies and titty twisters.  Ask them if they want a "Hertz Donnit" and them give them one.  Give them an "Indian Burn".  Blow your nose on the back of their jerseys.  Pound them into the boards every opportunity you get.  If one of them is checking his laces while carrying the puck, line him up and blast him.  Paste them onto the boards in the corners and put them on their red and white asses in front of the net.

I really really do not want to sit down after this weekend and come up with some positive fucking spin because it is the end of the season.  Really.  I don't.  And to some of the smarmy UAA fans that assume this year is just like any other.  Go fucking skiing this weekend eh?  Or jump on your snowmachine and go out and about.  Be safe and enjoy yourselves.  But don't think about the series.  Ok?  The less of your thoughts floating around out there in quantum space the better.  If you can't watch the games without some hope and belief then do something else.  Or better yet ... become a Gopher fan; you've already got the right attitude.

I know this Seawolves team can beat the Badgers twice.  I know it.  And I'll be watching with exactly those thoughts.  I'm a never say die, never surrender guy.  Criticize me for being that way if you want.  I don't care.  My team is going to win this series and they're going to the Final Five.  I just refuse to have it any other way.

Sorry Suze ... it was too good to pass up.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Kevin Clark: WCHA Offensive POTW

Congratulations to UAA Seawolves forward Kevin Clark for receiving the WCHA's Offensive Player of the Week honor for March 9th, 2010.  It is Kevin's 2nd such award this season for his offensive performance.

Here's the text of the WCHA release:
A 5-9, 171-pound senior and alternate captain from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Clark’s four goal series give him 23 goals on the season – first among WCHA players overall and eighth in the nation. His 23 goals this season also represent the most scored in a single season by a UAA player since Derek Donald had 23 in 1991-92.

Clark scored two goals in each matchup against the visiting UMD Bulldogs on March 5-6 at Sullivan Arena. His two goals last Friday night included the game-winner at 19:38 of the third period as the Seawolves captured a 3-2 victory. He then came back on Saturday with a power-play goal in the second period and an extra-attacker tally in the third as UAA dropped a 6-3 decision.

In addition to his four goals, Clark also fired seven shots on goal in the series.

On the 2009-10 season, Clark leads the Alaska Anchorage team in scoring with 37 points (23g, 14a) in 34 games played, averaging better than a point per game at 1.09.
Hopefully, Kevin uses this award as motivation to continue his outstanding 2nd half production into the playoffs this weekend versus the Wisconsin Badgers.  I fully expect the Badger's to key on Clarky as part of their strategy this weekend.  I say let them try ... the only thing likely to stop Kevin Clark from producing is Kevin Clark.