Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How Many Dead Gophers Does It Take To ...

The Seawolves were the first WCHA playoff opponent to win a game at Mariucci Arena.  That wasn't last year.  On March 10th, 2007 the Seawolves broke that Gopher unbeaten streak. Last year they became the first team to win 2 games at the Mariucci Arena during the WCHA playoffs.  Then the next night they became the first team to win 3 games at the Mariucci Arena.  The Seawolves are 6-8-2 against the Gophs since.

It's a pretty good possibility that this weekend could be the last chance to see the University of Minnesota men's hockey team on the ice at the Sullivan Arena for quite a long time.  The WCHA's unbalanced schedule means that the Gopher's won't be coming to Anchorage for it's final season in the league next year.  As a Big 10 member the chances they'd schedule a non-conference series up here is close to nil as they'll be maximizing their home dates.  

It's possible that they'd accept an invitation to the Kendall Classic (such an invitation would greatly offend my sensibilities to be honest) but at the very least that will likely be quite a number of years from now.  None of that means anything on the ice this weekend.  Cos, like I said.  This weekend is about some payback if you're a Gopher veteran.  And with the Seawolves coming off a couple of bad results combined with not having played at home since the opening weekend then you have to expect lots of high energy play this weekend.

If these two games are anything like the SCSU game at the Kendall then hockey fans at the Sullivan will get their money's worth this weekend.  Will it be that sort of up and down racehorse hockey?  I"m sure we'll see a good rush or two or three ...  

In looking at some early reporting I see Don Lucia is using his well worn "...they play a 1-1-3" analysis of the Seawolves.  And oh yeah ... the Seawolves are "gritty".  

Hopefully he thinks that is all UAA is.  You and I know differently.  This year's edition is more dynamic offensively.  Scoring has been pretty balanced thus far.  The offensive execution has been at a higher level as well.  We've seen the improvement of the passing game and how that's influenced the transition game and improved the look of the power play. 

If this year's Gopher squad comes up here thinking UAA is just going to sit back and play some purely defensive game they'll be making the same mistake as last year in the playoffs.  How many times did you see a Gopher forward back check during that series?  Yeah ... me too.  Few.  The Seawolves won those games because the Gophers ignored what had happened on Friday night; they still thought all they had to do was go forward.  Two-way play?  Basically none from them.  The Seawolves defensively matched the Gopher's offensive execution (blocked dozens of shots and got solid goaltending) and the Gopher's near complete absence of back checking provided all the offensive opportunities UAA needed.

That all said ... the Gopher's are better too this year.  Especially offensively.  They're only averaging 5.83 goals per game so far.  But even if you throw out the 15 goals against Sacred Heart they'd still be averaging 5 goals per game.  And then there's the whole payback thing.

Expect to see Chris Kamal in the net on Friday.  His 37 save outing on Saturday and his past success against the Gophers makes that a clear choice in my book.  Curtis Leinweber is questionable for this weekend and Jordan Kwas' sprained shoulder will keep him in street clothes.  Expect whoever else is in the lineup to play their asses off.  A series like this could be a chance for a young player to get noticed or an established one to stake a claim.  The first chance is Friday night.  Win that one first.

Should be a fun series.  I got word from SID Dallas Baldwin that they will not be hosting "Live Chats" on a regular basis but instead will be doing them during special events like the Kendall etc ... So I'll be hosting one both nights this weekend.  I liked them doing those.  I liked them doing those a lot.  More than a lot even.  They of course are cordially invited to spend as much time as they wish in our chat over here.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Question for UAA fans: a group of Gopher fans are coming up for the series this weekend. Do you have any suggestions for any activities to attend to enhance our Seawolves Hockey experience? Any pregame or postgame activities or bars to go to? Thanks in advance. I'll keep checking back for your repsonses.

Donald Dunlop said...

Here's a thing I wrote quite some time which might help

Mike said...

Traveling fan, when do you get into Anchorage?

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Donald, the link is very helpful. Mike, we are heading up on Thursday and heading home on Sunday evening. Currently, I have us heading down to Whittier and up to Talkeetna on Fri and Saturday (weather permitting). Taking a flight tour of McKinley/Denali. We're also stopping in the curling club for a tour/beer on Thursday.

Anonymous said...

heard Leinweber is up on offense this weekend and Courier is playing defense. not sure why Shyiak would do that, Curtis is a great defensive player, just seems like an odd switch.

Alaska Hockey said...

UAA Booster luncheon Friday 11:30 Lucy's Fine Dining at the Cuddy Center at UAA $20.00 Best Lunch in Anchorage for the price also UAA Coach Shyiak will be ready for comments and questions after He tells about this weekend match up .

Alaska Hockey said...

I can't wait to see Leinie up on the front line

Donald Dunlop said...

Tyler showed himself to be very very effective on the blueline last year. He carved himself a niche there so I'd assume that he played at forward so far so that Shyiak could see if he would generate anything there with his energy. He has been close so far and has created some chances but no production resulted.

Curtis is an offensive minded blueliner who likewise has created some dynamic plays and chances without creating much production so far. He can still get back and help on D from the wing.

If this move happens I'll be looking forward to seeing the results. Could be a very nice move by Shyiak. Certainly something I've been thinking could happen for quite some time.

arcticfox said...

Anonymous MN traveler, I sure hope you don't hit the first snow of the year when you start driving down to Whittier. I'm sure you're familiar with snowy roads, but it seems like every time we get our first snow, it takes a few days for some people to remember how to drive on them! :p With a little luck, we'll stay sunny & snowless! :D

Anonymous said...

Articfox, thanks! I know the first snow driving obstacles. As a near-Canadian boy, I deal with it in St. Paul every year. Urgh. Yes, good advice. However, I will take you up on the sunny and snowless! We are pumped for the visit!

A Seawolves Fanatic said...

Yep, Curtis has indeed been practicing as a forward this week. I've seen him paired up with Bailey & Bruijsten the most.

Helen said...

This series will be fun for Eric Scheid as he will be playing against one of his best hockey friends Nick Bjustad. They played together at Blaine High School. Go Seawolves.

Mike said...

MN traveler…per Donalds link. If you are going to Whittier then definitely take the time to go to Alyeska ski resort. The hotel has decent food, the tram ride well worth the view. You may also like to go to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Talkeetna is a good destination north. Man vs. Food was there and ate at some local joint that he really liked. "Richman also visited the West Rib Deli & Pub, also in Talkeetna, to try the "Seward's Folly", a 4 1/2-pound double-stacked burger made with Caribou meat (in the form of two 1-lb. patties) and topped with American and Swiss cheese, 12 slices of bacon, a pound of ham, "FatAss Sauce" (made with mayonnaise, horseradish, bacon, and balsamic vinaigrette), caramelized onions, lettuce and tomatoes, and served inside toasted sourdough bread. The burger is held together with a small Alaskan flag and served with a pound of fries."
That's enough for a family of 5 or so! Enjoy your stay in AK!

Anonymous said...

Here's hoping the Seawolves knock the gophers down once or better yet twice again.

It's me vizoroo, but I seem to be blocked from the blog.

Anonymous said...

MN Traveler: I know Donald mentioned it in his travel guide, but do hit up the Moose's Tooth Brewpub. If you guys like beer you will love their huge selection. They brew it themselves (at another location in Anchorage. Popular choices are Raspberry Wheat, Pipeline Porter, Fairweather IPA and Hard Apple Ale. Always super packed, but you if you go midday (1-4PM) you shouldn't have to wait too long. Awesome pizzas too (try the Avalance).

Donald Dunlop said...

Viz,
I can take no action to block anyone from here. I wish it weren't so for many people (not you) so whatever problem you encountered had nothing to do with the blog.

Jason said...

Be sure to stop along mile marker 100 of the Seward Highway on your way to Whittier and check out the chainsaw carvings by Jordan Anderson (jordancarving.com) He's a Grand Rapids, Minnesota native and a Gophers fan. Let's see all the Gophers fans at Moose's Tooth Friday around 5:00.

Anonymous said...

I hope UAA sweeps the rabid rodents! Go SCSU

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