Thursday, February 24, 2011

Senior Tribute: Sean Wiles

This is the final of five tributes which I'm publishing today highlighting the careers of each of the five graduating UAA Seawolves senior class.  The members of the class in alphabetical order are Tommy Grant, Nick Haddad, Craig Parkinson, Luka Vidmar and Sean Wiles.

Sean Wiles
Over his career, this 6ft, 4in 205lb Seawolf forward from Beloit, Wisconsin has grown more in terms ability than any single UAA player in my memory.  With no offense to Sean, when I first saw Sean here at UAA I considered a marginal NCAA prospect.  He has completely and entirely made that initial judgement foolish over his career.  It didn't take me 4 years to come to that conclusion.  Sean made huge strides in his skating from his freshman season in just his second year.  The progression of his development overall has been a joy to watch.  He has grown into one the best skating big forwards in the league.  He is in fact now threat by his skating.

In much the same way as Tommy Grant, Sean has learned to use his size to protect the puck in situations where it is necessary.  As a penalty killer he is always a threat to breakaway for a shorthanded chance.  His ability on his skates, size and strength are key to his quality play.  He has a an accurate shot with a decent release.  On the cycle he is well ahead of his peers using puck control and mass to work all areas deep in the opponent zone.  He goes to and maintains himself in high traffic areas as well as anyone.  More simply stated, he is hard-nosed and gritty around the net.

This season he has seemingly been a bit snake bitten at times but that can also be attributed to some of the excellent goaltenders in the league.  Nevertheless, at this point in the season he is just one goal short of his highest output.  In 105 games to this point Sean has totals of 20 goals and 22 assists.  

Before coming to UAA, Sean played in the USHL for the Tri-City Storm recording 18 goals with 14 assists in 109 total games and doubled his production from one season to the next.  He tied for the team lead with three game winners in his 2nd season.

In his freshman season Sean dressed for just 15 games.  He picked up 4 assists over the course of that season.  Almost all of his playing time was on the 4th line.  

As a sophomore, Sean appeared in 30 games and scored 3 goals with 7 assists.  It was a good development year for him as he began to confirm that he was indeed capable of contributing to team success at this level.  His first collegiate goal came against UND and was the game winner.  He was also named to the WCHA All-Academic Team.

As a junior he had nothing less than a breakout year.  He tripled his goal production from his sophomore season scoring 9 times while adding 8 assists in 32 games.  That's the very definition of exponential isn't it?  His goal total was good enough for 2nd on the team and total points put him at 3rd on that list.  He was one of only two Seawolves with a positive +/- rating as well.  3 of his goals came shorthanded.  He was awarded the Most Improved Player award at the season ending banquet.

Based on his exponential growth from his sophomore to junior season I hoped Sean would continue his production on the same curve but 81goals would be a miracle from anyone.  So it's difficult to characterize this season's production of 8 goals to this point as fantastic yet he is one of the primary scorers and tied for 3rd on the team in goals.  Nothing to sneeze at there.  And hey, there's four games remaining.  I can't help but think he'll pick up at least a couple of more over the next four games and reach the double-digit mark.

Sean has been an important asset on both the penalty kill and power play this season.  He has also added quality defensive play this season to his resume.  Sean has always been a disciplined player
getting whistled for only 32 penalties in his 105 total games.

Going forward, I'm pretty optimistic about his ability to secure a spot with an AHL team.  He had a good performance at the Washington Capitals summer rookie camp last season that likely got him noticed.  The NHL is definitely not out of the question for Sean.  His biggest step will likely be to add muscle to his frame.  They love a big, fast hard charging winger in the NHL and with Sean's ability to progress his game and improve physically that goal is not out of his reach.  

If I had to imagine a path to that league for Sean I can't think of a better example than former Seawolf Mike Peluso.  Mike's size made him attractive to NHL teams; his unending work ethic, physical stature and desire to do anything a coach wanted him to do eventually got him his name on the Stanley Cup.  Sean would be well advised to emulate those qualities.  If he does, you can't count him out from reaching that goal.  So yeah Sean um .. bulk up a bit, work your ass off and be willing to fight and you'll get there.

Best of luck to Sean with his hockey career and of course any other path along which his life takes him.  We here in Anchorage will follow your career and remember the excitement you brought us.  Go to town on some Nanooks this weekend eh?  Pot a couple of goals!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Congrats to all seniors.
Just noticed on the land-locked Polar Pear's (Answer: What is a Nanook) home page they get oh so clever and ask the clich├ęd college hockey question “What is a Seawolf?” Guffaw. Knee-slapper. Excuse me if you’ve already been down this tired path, Donald, but the Seawolf is a Haida legend of a wolf-like creature that goes back to the sea. A Seawolf is a killer whale, an orca. No doubt knuckle-dragging polar bear fans don’t care much for evolution, so I can see how the Seawolves thing leaves them scratching their heads. Just too damn confusing. I mean, whales are fish aren’t they? Anyway, Orcas (we’ll keep it simple for them), bring home that cup.-30-

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