Jade Portwood, Brad Gorham and Curtis Leinweber comprise this year's Senior Class. Though fewest in numbers amongst all four classes; these three guys are certain to contribute more than their proportional share to success this season. Each brings a comparitively unique set of skills and experience from the others. The common attribute they share is leadership both off the ice and on.
The 6ft 3in, 205lb Portwood is a hard charging big winger who's been a key fixture on checking lines throughout his first 3 seasons. During that time his development as a top defensive forward has grown noticeably. That growth has enabled Jade to become an important penalty killer who last year lead the team in shorthanded points with 3 assists. Last season also saw him become a consummate shot blocker; though to my mind he didn't get statistical credit for all the shots he blocked. Jade skates very well for his size and knows the importance of keeping his feet moving. He has potted 7 goals in his first three years and last year alone contributed 9 assists. His experience and leadership will be important factors to the team as well this season. I expect him to have his best statistical season this year.
The 6ft 1in 197lb Anchorage born Gorham has been a key cog in the defensive effort over the last two seasons after transferring from Ohio State to UAA. His steady and smart positional play has provided much stability on the back line. Brad possesses a great ability with his poke checking. He can be a force moving forward with the puck creating offense. His skating is excellent and he's got both an accurate wrist shot and a good slap shot. To me he defines the type of solid hockey player so often produced by Anchorage youth hockey ... gritty and tough. Uncompromisingly so. Over the last couple of years I fear Brad has been targeted on occasion and been tagged with some major penalty calls that were undeserved. This season I expect him to find a balance in his physical play so as not to give any referees an excuse to sit him.
The 5ft 8in 175lb Leinweber will be without a doubt the most dynamic offensive threat from the blueline this season. Curtis is as quick on his feet and can explode out of the gate. His puck handling skills are exceptional and his vision is excellent. As a freshman Curtis lead the freshman class in points and I expect he'll lead the seniors as well this season. He is the type of defenseman on which gameplans can be built. If Coach Shyiak can feature Curtis' skills in certain situations it'll result in production for the team. My focus on his offensive abilities shouldn't in any manner diminish his defensive skills. He plays positionally smart with commitment and is capable of coming away with the puck in any part of the ice.
To help the team to more success each of these three guys need to have their most possible productive seasons. All the things you expect from seniors playing Div 1 hockey are evident in each of these three excellent hockey players. They're mature, experienced and show leadership. And with the bulk of this years squad being underclassmen, those traits will be key factors.