Each week here I try to provide some sort of preview of the upcoming series. With the last regular season series upon us, I think it's time once again to give credit for this to whom the credit is really due. UAA SID Dallas Baldwin is without equivocation the engine that makes my previews go. Her timely efforts each week are nothing short of rich with excellent information. I'd completely be just a mouthpiece flapping in the wind without them.
I have little doubt that SID's at other schools work hard and provide quality information to the media but I'd put Dallas' contributions up against any of them for comparison anytime. Steve Cobb should give her a raise. The best SID in the WCHA deserves it.
If you don't visit goseawolves.com and read the weekly releases already then start doing it. Send her an email expressing your thanks. Send Steve Cobb an email telling him to give her a raise.
The whole staff of UAA's Athletic Department are certainly underrated for their efforts. I really only see what they do for the hockey program but I'm often aware of exactly how busy they all are supporting all the fine sports. Good on every single one of them. Again, show your appreciation to them soon eh?
Now onto the Mankato series. It's a big friggin deal visiting the purple cows this week. How well the team does will go a long way to determining their final standings and the matchup for the WCHA playoffs. Though Dave Shyiak would never say this, which opponent the Seawolves draw for the playoffs matters substantially.
There are road barns that UAA has historically had been performances. Right now it looks to me like the Seawolves could visit one of at least 5 other barns. If the season ended today they'd be going to Duluth. But they could end up in Colorado Springs, Madison, Minneapolis, Omaha or Denver. It all depends not only on the results against Mankato but from all the other series this weekend.
It's pointless to list all the ifs involved really. Three teams are vying for 5th and 6th place which are the last two home ice spots. Minnesota, CC and UW. Minnesota is basically in the drivers seat for 5th with 28 points facing Bemidji this weekend, CC and UW have 26 and 25 respectively for 6th and 7th and they play each other this weekend. St. Cloud has 2 more points than UAA and is on the road at Denver this weekend. Bemidji and Mankato are both only two points behind the Seawolves.
A bad weekend could mean an 11th place finish. That sure wouldn't reflect justice on the Seawolves in my eyes as they've had an unexpectedly decent season this year. A good weekend (4 points) in conjunction with other favorable results could mean a 7th place finish. That's a pretty big swing positionally in the standings.
So yes. This is the most important series of the year. I never get tired of saying that even though I'm quite sure you get tired of reading it. The Seawolves though only have to know one thing is important. It is important to win this Friday night. Without a Friday win the possibilities for a better draw are diminished. I think the coaching staff has done a good job this season of preparing the squad with that Friday night mindset. 7 out of their 10 WCHA wins have come on Friday nights. And only twice on Friday nights has a game been something other than essentially a one goal game.
I'll be back later this week with a more detailed look at the series after I spend some more time studying Dallas Baldwin's meritorious weekly preview.