There's quite a few new players for fans to get familiar with this season. We thought it was going to be 12 but it looks fairly certain to me that the number is 10 due to the Renouf brothers having to sit out a transfer year after a residency rule change to the NCAA's transfer policy went into effect this past spring. No worries, there's a lot to learn about the 10 guys that will be playing this season.
Quite a few of the nine skaters putting on the green and gold have legitimate chances to become impactful at some point this season. They're all going to get plenty of chances to adapt, learn and then perform on the ice but not all of them are going to necessarily thrive. So sight unseen, here's what my intuition (hope?) tells me about how each of these guys might shake out.
Cam Amantea #28
Cam comes to us from Penticton in the BCHL after playing 3 full years. Cam scored 24 goals in 141 total games with the Vees. His assist total is 23. These are not numbers that turn my head. The 5ft 10in 177lb Amantea is therefore one of the freshman players for whom I can mostly just hope has the skills and ability to compete and/or thrive in his first Division 1 season. His resume' includes playing with some damn good teams and damn good players throughout all his development years. So, he's likely well-coached and mature ... and a good team player. Cam's path to success as a Seawolf looks to me to be in filling a role. We could use a face-off stud.
Wyatt Ege #7
I have high hopes for Wyatt. Hopes that I think are backed up by a player that looks to have some talent and skill that could help the team this season. Wyatt is an offensive defensivemen. He's 5ft 11in and 176lbs. All reports peg him as a quality power play quarterback which means he sees the ice well. His numbers are not eye-popping but there are consistently nice throughout his career before UAA. Wyatt's a Minnesota kid who seems to mostly have been overlooked by the hockey factory there. I suspect we're going to like Wyatt quite a bit.
Here's the thing though, even though he's a skilled freshman there's a solid 6 guys ahead of him on the roster that aren't going to want to sit in the stands. That's Wyatt's first challenge here at UAA. When Coach Thomas is giving him a look, Wyatt will benefit greatly by contributing to scoring. I suspect we'll get lots of looks at Wyatt over the first 10 games of the season. If he's made scoring contributions by that point then we'll see lots more of him.
Nicolas Erb-Ekholm #10
I wasn't quite sure what to think about Nicolas when we first heard of him. There's not much here on this series of tubes regarding his skills as a player. His career profile doesn't do much positive in terms of teaching me anything about him. But, you hear/see things here and there and after a while you come to the conclusion that Nicolas might be a bit of a project. His limited time in the states make me think that Josh Ciocco probably didn't see him play too many times. Something about him must have stood out. I wish I knew why he only played 10 games for Janesville in the NAHL last year before heading back to Sweden. I'm guessing that he secured a commitment from UAA during those 10 games and chose to go back home for the year rather than staying in Wisconsin. Freshman we've seen from Sweden in the past were sometimes "projects" in one sense or another. I'll happily withdraw my project supposition after seeing him play a bit ... or maybe I'll confirm it?
Evan Hauser #30
Evan is going to contribute in two ways for this year's Seawolves as the third goalie dressing only for practice and emergencies. I'd imagine he's a recruited walk-on since he was brought in late after the goalie playing in front of him for Kenai River last year turned out to not qualify academically. I hope he can contribute to an overall positive team environment. Maybe he's the crazy goalie we don't have yet?
Alex Jackstadt #19
Alex is already a favorite for at least one blog reader here. He's the only local kid in this season's incoming class. He's almost certainly a walk-on at this point. He's 5ft 7in and 154lbs of Alaskan which translates to 6ft 2in 200lbs of Canadian. I'll be pulling for Alex. He'll straight up have to impress the snot out of the coaching staff in practice and any games he cracks the roster in order to become a regular in the lineup. I think there's a factor for a local guy in the lineup for his local team that shouldn't be overlooked. The pride alone can increase the performance of such an athlete. I hope that factor is something Alex can use to show the staff and us fans of what he's made ... Alaska.
Jeremiah Luedtke #27
Jeremiah is another of this year's incoming class who I think has a legitimate shot at becoming an impact player sooner rather than later this season. In his 164 BCHL games over three years with Prince George he put up over twice as many assists as goals ... 41 goals and 104 assists. That's pretty close to a one point per game player over his three year junior career. That's quite nice and even nicer is that he essentially doubled his goal production from year 1 to year 2 and then from 2 to 3 he increased it another 50+ percent. So what we've got here is a 5ft 9in 158lb playmaker. If Coach Thomas can find some chemistry with a goal scorer then Jeremiah could put up some real nice freshman numbers. Reports of his skating and puck handling skills are excellent. The fans in Prince George valued him highly. I think he'll make some Seawolf fans happy too. I doubt he's another Dean Larson but maybe he's another Steve Cygan?
Sean MacTavish #29
6ft 1in, 181lb Sean MacTavish comes to UAA after figuring out that Boston University had over-recruited and that he probably wasn't a key player in their minds. Here at UAA he's going to be a key player. His resume is pretty sweet. That's what happens when your old man is a GM in the NHL ... he knows where to send you for the best development. He was discussed as an NHL draft prospect and he has done really nicely at every level he's played until last season in the USHL where he apparently struggled with two different teams before catching on with the Lincoln Stars near the end of the season and putting up a 3g and 4a in their last 14 games.
He's another freshman with a legitimate chance to become impactful this season. He got dinged a bit a couple of years ago regarding his skating by scouts but made up for it with his great shot and smart play. Sean will be playing center and if he finds chemistry with a couple of guys then this is a player that I think could be near the top of the WCHA's rookie scoring table at some point during the season. Or hopefully all season.
Luke McColgan #12
Californian (Manhattan Beach) forward Luke McColgan at 6ft 1in and 197lbs is my dark horse recruit. He's my pick for a guy to perform above anyone's expectations. I have no real basis for that. I've seen a fairly mixed bag of talent come out of California over the last decade or so. Luke's numbers during his junior career don't really give me any reason to pick him as a player who'll make an impact but I'm doing that anyway. He's my new Steve Bogoyevac so look for him to score an OT game winner in all our tournaments.
Mason Mitchell #8
Everything I've read about Mason Mitchell tells me that he's hard-nosed or gritty or whatever your favorite adjective is for a guy that seems to go balls-to-the-wall every shift. At 6ft, 2in and 210lbs Mason's been called a beast more than once. He'll be ready for the physicality of the college game on day one.
We're going to see Mason in the penalty box a couple of times this year as it's unlikely that his 207 minutes of penalties in 39 games last season can be cured quickly. Granted that a lot of that was in 5 min majors for fighting but this guy ran roughshod on the entire AJHL last season while scoring 19 goals with 15 assists. That's almost a point per game. He's been compared to his cousin Rene Bourque in terms of playing style. I hated Bouque when he played for Wisconsin but Bucky fans liked him. We're gonna like Mason to start with and if he drops his penalty minutes we'll keep liking him. I'm not going to say here that he's likely to be impactful. Instead; he'll be impactful.
Eric Roberts #3
This 6ft, 2in 203lbs defenseman spent the last 4 years with Chilliwack in the BCHL. During those 4 years he turned into one of their top blueliners. Eric comes in with experience quarterbacking the power play and as a captain. He looks to be competent based on his numbers. Super-fan Suze provided this quote earlier this year from Eric's coach;
"In spending some time with Eric it was obvious in our discussions that he would be a great person to lead our team. He has a tremendous work ethic. He battles hard and we want to be a hard team to play against in all zones. We expect Eric to lead our team and prepare them for those battles. We are going to strive for excellence and it starts in the dressing room under Eric’s leadership.”
So that's good. I have to think that Eric will grow into an impactful player. I think we'll see good things from him this season but his worth to the team will increase over time. He's a great "character" addition.
There ya have my thoughts on these guys. This is the core of a future good team but the only future I'm concerning myself with right now is the immediate one. I can't know whether any of these guys I tagged as being potentially impactful will turn out that way. But that's how I see it. If three or four of them live up to my hopefest of potential impactfulness then we'll have more success this year than you might be currently thinking. We'll see ... this is why we play the games.