Tanner Dusyk, Brad Duwe, Dylan Hubbs, Conner Wright and Chase Van Allen comprise the Junior class of this season's Seawolf Hockey team. These five guys have a wide range of experiences in the green and gold which they can draw upon as a very important part of the Seawolves upperclass leadership paradigm.
Tanner Dusyk sat out his sophomore year after being diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm at the beginning of the season. Brad Duwe went into the 2nd half of his freshman year looking like an average player and finished that season looking like a future scoring machine. Dylan Hubbs is the embodiment of the cartoon Tasmanian Devil with his non-stop intensity and high energy play. Connor Wright walked onto the team and is a great example of a local kid with perhaps less skills than his recruited teammates who busts his arse all week to make the weekend roster. And Chase Van Allen is as hot carrying the puck up the ice as the Van Allen radiation belts. Their wide variety of experiences and abilities will individually serve as good examples for younger players to emulate.
As a freshman we saw the 5ft 9in 175lb Tanner Dusyk in 28 games. He scored 4 goals in those games and showed good growth over the course of the season. He's a quick skater with good hands and lots of hockey sesnse. Sitting in the stands for a season is pretty certain to have created a very strong desire to be out in the mix again and contributing to the team's success. Tanner gained more than a few fans during his freshman year and as one of them I'm excited to see what he'll bring to the effort this season. He can provide leadership and advice to guys that will be sitting in the stands whether by injury or by not making that weekend's line-up. And equally importantly, this is a player with potential to put up double digits in goals.
6ft 1in, 191lb Brad Duwe scored 7 goals in the 2nd half of his freshman season. As a sophomore Brad was unable to repeat that sort of production. Brad scored his freshman goals because he was in the right place at the right time. His role as a sophomore didn't seem to get him to the front of the net as often which is where he prospered in the 2nd half of his freshman season. Brad has great hand eye coordination in front of the net. This season he needs to find a way to get to the front of the net again and cash in on his ability to redirect the puck into the twine. Brad is not the best skater on the team. He isn't the hardest hitting player. He is a quality team-oriented player who'll fill the role the coach needs. That role this season will be to regain his freshman production. Putting the puck in the net will keep him in the line-up. Not doing so will open the door for younger players to show if they can produce. It's a big year for Brad in terms of how his future hockey career goes and if he can reach double-digits in goals that'd be real nice.
Dylan Hubbs is the sparkplug and one of the best penalty killers in the WCHA. He's firey and hot and creates explosions 100 times a minute. Dylan plays much larger than his 5ft 9in, 170lb frame. He get's in opponents heads with his solid trash talk. I like to think about Bobby Clarke when I'm thinking of a good comparison for Dylan. His toughness and willingness to mix it up combined with his scoring abilities make him someone no opponent will look forward to taking a shift against. 4 goals as a freshman and 6 as sophomore means 9 goals this year for him right? Dylan's energy on the ice should certainly inspire younger players. No doubt those younger teammates will be well served to emulate that aspect of Dylan's game. Unless it's in their nature then they shouldn't probably be inspired to try trash talking. That's a talent. Dylan is a fan favorite and like everyone else, I'm excited to see every shift he takes.
Connor Wright's game experience in the green and gold is pretty limited. He got into 7 games in the 2nd half of last season. He's tallied a single assist. Connor's best contribution this year may be off the ice by showing younger players what sort of effort is takes to crack the lineup. When he's on the ice we've seen him play energetically and enthusiastically to satisfy his coach's needs. Connor is likely to have to work even harder this season to crack the lineup with the influx of freshman talent. That kind of work ethic from him should translate to high efforts from younger players looking to make the game day roster.
Chase Van Allen is one of the most offensively talented defensemen in the WCHA. Expect to see his name on an All-WCHA list at the end of this season. Chase's skating is excellent and his judgements about moving the puck up the ice are usually very sound. He's got the skills to make whatever he wants to happen, happen and plays bigger than his 5ft 10in 190lb size. He'll certainly be the quarterback on the 1st power play unit this season. He's got both the heavy shot from the point and the smart shot from the high slot as tools. He's a smart heads-up blueliner with all the passing skills needed to make positive differences on the ice on any shift he skates. I (and I think many other UAA fans) love when a local player stands out on the squad. Chase lives up to the long line of elite level Anchorage based players who've excelled wearing the green and gold.
These five guys seem like more than five guys to me. The diversity of their playing experience as well as the widely different skill-sets they collectively bring to the team just adds up to more than five in my math world. When you combine these guys with the Senior class you've got an outstanding leadership group which will lead by example on and off the ice and raise the game of our underclassmen which comprise the majority of our team this season. 15 or 17 skaters (depending on Renouf's final status) make up the sophomore and freshman classes. Youth will be the core of this year's Seawolf team so the leadership from the juniors and seniors will be key.