Last evening (Wednesday) the UAA Athletic Department held a "Meet and Greet" with new Seawolf Assistant Coach Louis Mass at the Alaska Airlines Center's Varsity Grill. It was a good event that was reasonably well attended for the middle of July. Louis seemed pleased with the turnout.
After being introduced and giving his background (Anchorage kid, played comp hockey ... always the last kid chosen ..., then went to Bowling Green State University near beautiful Toledo, then his stint as a player and coach with the Aces) Louis took questions from the attendees.
He's going to be coaching the D. We already knew that here on the blog but the question did get asked a couple of times. Louis talked about the differences between coaching the Aces where the dynamic variety of players and attitudes could sometimes make his job of getting guys familiar with their system a bit of a challenge. He is looking forward to having guys for 4 years and guiding their development. He used the word "teacher" self-referentially which was a good thing to hear.
I was curious about how he'd answer the question that's burning brightly in my heart. How does he think an average Seawolf squad would do in a couple of game set versus the Aces. Naturally, he was diplomatic but he definitely leaned toward experience as having an advantage. Doesn't matter who I ask that question to (and trust me, I bring it up a lot) their answer doesn't convince me. I'm all about youthful exuberance and desire providing an advantage. We'll see one day. And that will be a great day for UAA hockey; I suspect.
In the long term Louis will be a success here not only by improving the defensive game play of the Seawolves, but perhaps more importantly by being the local guy on staff who knows the local hockey scene and is already acquainted with Seawolf Hockey alumni who are all very passionate about seeing our boys rise again.
We've been on the coaching change carousel for a couple of decades now. I think it's safe to say that most of us are on-board with Matt Thomas' regime and believe that over the next few years we'll see some big improvements. Louis Mass will add to that stability and enhance the opportunities to bring in more local players.
Success at UAA isn't a difficult proposition to describe. Get the best kids from the western Canadian leagues like the BCHL and AJHL and add the quality local players. It's more difficult to do than it is to describe.