The Mustangs from Western Ontario take the ice tonight (Friday) up in Fairbanks against the Nanooks. The best indication we Seawolves fans can get as to what to expect Saturday night will be to watch that game and/or check the scoresheet afterwards. The 2nd best is to read my preview here.
The Mustang's have a pretty interesting roster. In past years exhibitions against CIS teams I've seen more than a few 28 year olds with professional experience. I'm not finding that on their roster. Instead there's a roster loaded with guys in their early 20s with loads of Major Junior experience. Let me provide an example; Stephan Salituro scored a couple of goals for the Mustangs last week in their opener against Ryerson University. The 2nd was the OT winner. Stephan is what I'd call a well-traveled 24 year old.
In 2006-07 he played for St. Michaels in the OPJHL and the Vaughn Vipers in that same league. The next two years (2007-2009) he played for the Mahoning Valley Phantoms in the NAHL. He then moved onto Robert Morris University where as a freshman he notched 8 goals with 7 assists in 25 games. Respectable. Note here the RMU beat UAA that season (5-3) in the Kendall tourney but Salituro did not dress. The following season (2010-11) he played for the Pembroke Lumber Kings in the CCHL. The next two season he spent with University of New Brunswick but only played 24 games. Then last year he joined Western Ontario and scored 9 goals with 7 assists in 26 games.
His long resume' isn't necessarily typical for the Mustangs but it isn't out of the ordinary. What you've got is an opponent with a roster full of experienced players who've seen their share of various levels of competitive hockey. They won't be laying down for the Seawolves. They'll play hard and as we've often seen from CIS opponents, they'll likely be physical.
Under Head Coach Clarke Singer the Mustangs have a 335-107-16 record with a 2002 National Championship and a 2009 2nd place finish in the CIS Nationals. He was also Head Coach for the Canadian team at The World University Games in 2011.
Granted that exhibition games against CIS teams are really a tool for UAA's staff to gauge their lineup and get a sense of what certain players can and cannot do but no NCAA team wants to lose to a CIS team. If the Seawolves want that "W" at the top of the schedule then they better come out to play Saturday night.
I'm expecting we'll see UAA skate four full lines up front for this game. Last year, Coach Thomas didn't dress the full 12 forwards for 15 of the games. He typically relied on high minutes from his top lines throughout the season. Expect somewhat less of that this season; not just in this exhibition as he tries to get to the point where they can roll 4 lines all night.
Now it's time for me to take another Benadryl to relieve my cold symptoms. Tomorrow night's game starts at 7:07 at the Wells Fargo Sports Center. I hear it's likely to be crowded/sold-out.