Last night I emphasized our Senior class; tonight it's the Junior's turn. First though a reminder that tomorrow night is the Green/Gold intrasquad game preceded by the Meet & Greet with food beginning at 5:30pm. Between the Meet & Greet and the game will be a Skate With The Seawolves session. Make sure to bring the young 'uns for this. Between periods of the intrasquad games there will be a skills competition i.e… fastest skater, hardest shot etc.
The Junior class is composed of 4 defensemen and 2 forwards. So this class will be responsible foremost among the classes for the defensive effort this season. Experience on the blueline is a beautiful thing. With so many games under their belts there's every reason to expect a solid showing at the backend this season. And with three goalies who have a combined 365 minutes and 47 seconds of NCAA experience they'd better be focused on making the net minder's job as easy as possible. Um yeah, all those minutes were logged by sophomore Michael Matyas.
#5 Austin Sevalrud
Austin's first two seasons in a Seawolf sweater produced 1 goal and 5 assists. He skated in 69 games in two years with 110 penalty minutes. He's 6ft 1in and 202lbs. He's a good skater who's shown some offensive ability from time to time. The Calgary native is solid on the backend having blocked the 2nd most shots last season. He's positionally sound and played the best hockey of his UAA career in the playoffs last year. He's got a solid foundation to build on and this season should see him become more impactful on both ends of the sheet.
#9 Blake Tatchell
There's loads and loads to love about what Blake brings to the lineup. The 5ft 10in 183lb North Battleford, Saskatchewan product was both team MVP and Rookie of the year in the 2012-13 season as he led the team in points. Through 74 career games he's tallied 16 goals and 41 assists. If you play with Blake, he's gonna set you up to score. He's got great ice sense and vision coupled with quick feet and a determined attitude. All of those attributes equal someone you'd want to center the line you're on which you happen to be playing. Look for Blake to be centering the #1 line this season and for him to put up some excellent scoring numbers. I'm personally hoping that he pops a few more in himself as he's not just a great assist man but has good goal scoring qualities.
#12 Ben Matthews
Ben's career at UAA has been largely one of filling in on defense. He's got just 20 games under his belt in his first two seasons but managed 3 goals in those outings. He's shown a good sense going forward and at 6ft 2in 221lbs he's got enough muscle to win most physical battles on either end. He's a local player who came to UAA from Prince George and Trail in the BCHL where he put in three very consistent statistical years. He wasn't anything fancy there and unless he's taken a big development step in the offseason we shouldn't expect him to have become Bobby Orr. But he's hard-working and responsible when he plays.
#20 Hayden Trupp
Hayden has been a solid role player in his first two years at UAA. He played in 35 games as a freshman and last season saw action in 27. At 5ft 8in and 162lbs his role hasn't been to grind it along the boards and play possession but instead to give energy forechecking. It's an important role since a quality forechecker is really the first defensive player when the opposition gains the puck. He's got good wheels and determination.
#22 Blake Leask
At 5ft 10in and 181lbs this Edmonton native is the prototype for the undersized and mobile defenseman. Think Mat Robinson. With 13 goals and 36 assists in his final year in the AJHL with Bonnyville, Blake was named league Defenceman of the Year. He's brought the same vigor in 68 games with the Seawolves. Last season he developed into an important asset on the power play as quarterback on his unit. He's smart and disciplined with the puck in the offensive zone. He foot speed and skating are excellent and he utilizes good leverage when initiating contact with the opposition. Expect Blake to dress in every game this season and contribute more scoring points on the power play.
#37 Chris Williams
I'm big on Chris Williams. He impressed me as a freshman early with his smooth skating and ability to move the puck up the ice and I honestly had visions of him in an NHL jersey. He always keeps his head up and sees what's coming. His lack of scoring surprises me frankly as he has the necessary tools to put more points on the board. He's from Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Perhaps he's lacked the confidence to step up to the potential I imagined back then. I'm envisioning a strong season for this 6ft 2in 216lb junior since his 65 games of NCAA experience should by now have given him that confidence. I'll be watching him as closely as any player on the team this season. I shouldn't necessarily have favorites but I do and Chris is one of them. I want to see him become Martin Bakula.
This is a very solid group of juniors, a couple of important role players mixed with some core players who'll dress every night and be expected to contribute to both scoring and keeping the opposition off the board. I love what each of these guys brings to the table and their diversity of skills helps the Seawolves to be a well rounded team. The junior season is when it's pretty reasonable for fans to start expecting or even demanding that players begin to live up to their potential. It'll be fun this year watching that happen amongst this group.
I hope to see a lot of folks at the Green/Gold - Meet & Greet tomorrow evening. It's been a long time since I've had the pleasure of seeing many of you and watching some actual live hockey. I'm jonesin.