Matt Bailey, Brett Cameron, Rob Gunderson, Chris Kamal, Jordan Kwas, Wes McLeod, Andrew Pickering, Mark Pustin and Quinn Sproule are the nine members of this years Seawolves sophomore class. Most of these guys are already established players easily worthy of the veteran moniker.
Last year Winnipegger Matt Bailey scored 10 goals (1 shortie and 1 gwg) added 10 assists, only took 6 penalties. He played in 30 games as he missed the last 7 down the stretch with a knee injury. It was an excellent WCHA debut for the 6ft 1in 194lb forward. Matt skates well and has a good nose for the puck around the goal. He's strong along the walls and can find his open teammates as he sees the ice very well. There's no reason to expect anything other than increased scoring from him this season. He very well could be the team's leading scorer.
Brett Cameron played 36 games last season and bagged 4 goals with 8 assists. At 6ft 2in and 202lbs he can make space for himself and his teammates in the offensive zone. He's a good skater and always strong on the puck. Brett was recruited to add production and having cut his teeth in this league last season I'm expecting him to at least double his point total from last year. Doubling your scoring from one year to the next is no small task but I think he probably had more goals in him last year than the 4 he got.
6ft 1in 186lb goaltender Rob Gunderson played 22 games and went 7-13-2 with an .897 save percentage over the course of last season. 5ft 10in 185lb goaltender Chris Kamal played 15 games and went 9-5-1 with an .896 save percentage. Both of these guys showed the ability to come up big in selected games. Their confidence grew as the season progressed and the team came together in front of them. Either is capable of taking the reins as the #1 goalie with a hot hand. It's also quite possible that Coach Shyiak might choose to platoon the two each weekend. The rest of the squad will be in good hands regardless.
Cochrane, Alberta born Jordan Kwas was a bit of a sleeper coming into last season. He had reasonably decent numbers as an AJHL player and was a late commit to UAA. And he turned out to be perhaps the biggest surprise of the season. Cliche' time ... Jordan can stick handle in a phone booth. He starts and stops on dimes. The puck sticks to his blade. He's a play making scorer who bagged 4 goals and added a massive 20 assists which put him in the top ten scoring WCHA freshman. One of his four goals was a game winner and 4 came on the power play. We'll be seeing a lot of Jordan on the power play.
6ft 2in 194lb Wes McLeod has a big shot and he can take it first time. The Kamloops, BC native played in 24 games last season on the blueline and seemed to get better and better as the season progressed after missing some games in the 1st half due to injury. Today is his birthday. Happy Birthday Wes. He'll be a force for the Seawolves at some point. As he continues to develop this season and becomes more confident he should increase his production. Wes is also important on the defensive side of the ice obviously. His size and skating ability are necessary in a league with more than it's share of offensively talented opponents.
Andrew Pickering came to Alaska from Vancouver just to take a puck in the ear hole? Andrew was limited to 9 games last season for two reasons. The first was that as a freshman he just wasn't able to crack the lineup consistently early in the season. Then early in the 2nd half he took a slapshot to the ear hole while going down to block against DU. It split his ear. I'm still processing that all this time later. Damn. Split his ear. Everything I saw from Andrew told me that he's capable of getting consistent ice time. He filled in nicely on defense when it was needed and showed good energy and ability when he did play. Lots more to see from him I hope.
Californian Mark Pustin is 5ft 8in and 168lbs. He's got a good set of hands and can stick handle well. He's got quick enough wheels to break away. Mark played in 19 games last season. His style is well suited to be a top six forward but as a freshman wasn't going to be able to crack that barrier. So he spent the season learning the necessary roles on the 3rd and 4th line when he played. This will likely to be a season of continuing development for Mark and with time he could work his way onto one of the top two lines. If he produces when he gets his chances that'll be sooner rather than later.
6ft 191lbs Hussar, Alberta born Quinn Sproule turned in a very solid freshman season on the back end. He's yet to score his first collegiate goal but showed he's very capable with good junior numbers. Quinn played in 32 games last season and was very responsible and committed in his own end. He also showed us that he can rush the puck forward when appropriate and that ability will earn him some stats this year. Dependable isn't a flashy adjective but it fits Quinn's first year. With more time he'll become more confident and maybe there are flashier words I can use later this season.
This group of players were very important for the Seawolves success last season and this year their collective contributions could make them the highest producing class.