Sunday, January 29, 2006

Three Entries In One

Saturday Night vs. U of D
As has been the case virtually every weekend this season the Seawolves redoubled their efforts following a Friday loss. Saturday's game could have been one of complete redemption with a win but once again settling for partial redemption is as good as it gets. A glance at the box score would seem to show that UAA was dominated. The reality though is that UAA was dominated for one period on Saturday night. The first period produced a whole three shots on goal for UAA while at the same time allowing 15. It was an ugly first period that ended with the Seawolves trailing 2-0. The second saw UAA cut two goal deficits to one twice by outscoing UofD 2-1. UofD reversed that in the third for the 5-3 win.

Positives for UAA? John DeCaro played a solid game. Brent McMann scored his first goal in forever. Jay Beagle continued to show leadership by his effort. Luke Beaverson once again was defensively excellent and also continued a slowly progressing trend of contributing to the offense. His second period rush from center-ice was a classic situation for a defenseman to step up and Luke saw the opportunity and "made" McMann's goal. Justin Johnson once again was the most active player on the ice for UAA doing especially good work on the penalty kill. For the weekend the penalty kill went 2 for 14 showing it's continued good effort and play.

Another season of not living up to potential has me depressed. Looking at the players that returned this season was the overwhelming reason for my preseason optimism. I'd also expected a bump from the enthusiasm of having a new coach (especially after the previous one had kicked the program in the teeth); but that never happened. I'm left but to think we should change the name of the mascot from Spirit to Waytul (as in Waytul next year).

Visitor's Well Hosted
I'd mentioned last week that a couple of U of D fans from USCHO made the trip to Anchorage to watch the series. I was responsible for their entertainment Saturday night. Suze from USCHO (along with Mr. Suze) played tour guide Saturday and took the pair sightseeing (glaciers and mountains and such). Saturday night was an entirely different story. The urban indoor sightseeing was highlighted by an extended visit to one of Spenard's finest sightseeing destinations (PJ's). There aren't exactly any glaciers at PJ's though I'm sure I saw a couple of mountain-like protruberances for CO14er's to imagine conquering. Much Ale (and other adult beverages) accompanied the bawdy revelry at PJ's and all in all it seemed that our visitors left our fine state with an enriched view of "The Greatland" ... I think a couple of dancers left PJ's "enriched" as well. I'm pretty sure I managed throughout the evening to pay off a couple of Long Island Ice Tea's that I owe to an SCSU fan who'd graciously assigned the visiting U of D fans as surrogates. I'd be amiss if I didn't mention the excellence of our very own Booster Club president in welcoming Dubbie31 and CO14ers. Our team might be in the basement but the sky-high welcome set UAA fans apart from others this weekend.

Note to a few other fans in attendance:
Turning around after your team scores and giving the Sullivan arena crowd the double-finger is about the most assinine display from a fat-assed slob that I've ever seen. It's good that your fetid John Candy-like ass only comes to the arena once a year. I doubt that the stands could support your gargantuan form more than that.

ASS is not an obscenity. If you think it is then don't bring your chillen's to a hockey game. I'm going to say dumbASS; ASSwipe; ASS-biter; stupid-ASS and various other ASS combinations; If you don't let your little ones watch certain channels on TV where ASS is a commonly used term then don't bring them to the Sully. Either get a babysitter and come cheer the team on or learn to live with the fact that you will never be able to shield your precious kids from such horrendous vulgarities as the word ASS.

I'd think that an otherwise nice old lady in a Pioneer sweatshirt would understand that it isn't up to her to attempt to silence my loud mouth by throwing stuff at my head. But that's the virtue I guess of being a senior citizen. You get a pass on the rules that apply to the rest of us especially from the blatantly ignorant part-time John Wayne wannabe's that are employed by the Sullivan arena to handle such incidents.

On The Road vs. The Saint Cloud State Fantasies
The absolutely stunning amount of chest-pumping coming out of low-rent central Minisoduh is astonishing. After a couple of good win's the Bluffski fans are once again in the midst of a Viagra-like extended hardon about how "great" their team is. St. Cloud has had a nice little bump from their pathetic 04-05 season due primarily to one player and a new coach. In a situation much like when UAA sent Dean Talafous packing SCSU dumped their long-time mind-game playing head coach Craig Dahl and chose a UofM assistant as their new head coach. In UAA's first post-Talafous season the Seawolves won 5 more games than the previous season mostly due to the fact that they no longer had to suffer under the twisted regimentary thumb of a manic head coach. The St. Cloud team is getting that bump this year though they've improved their pathetic record substantially. Many of the (more foolish) St. Cloud faithful are talking NCAA playoffs like it's a done deal. They really are gopher-wannabe's in every sense of the word. The feigned arrogance though is laughable. I guess they think since they live down the highway from one of the all-time great D-1 programs that they are somehow in the same boat. Maybe circumstances will turn in their favor through the end of the season and the all-time leading NCAA chokers will get another shot at actually winning an NCAA game (they're 0-4 all time in the NCAA's).

UAA can do something about all the chest thumping and hardon pumping that defines St. Cloud's fanbase. They can win a game or two this weekend National Hockey Center; please. I'd like to see a win; not because UAA hasn't won at the NHC before; not because UAA needs the points in the league; not because it would give the team a little boost of confidence going into the final few weekends of the season. Not for any of that would I like to see UAA win this weekend. I'd like it to happen just to hear and see the lamentations their women (fans I mean ...).

Friday, January 27, 2006

Loser's Rant

Normally I despise negativity. But watching the last 2 periods of tonight's game has me feeling exactly that way. Normally I can see UAA lose and still find positive things to say. And while there were some good things to say about UAA and tonights game I'm going to focus instead for once on the negative and rant about 2 things that are inexcusable.

The first is when teammates don't step up to defend another teammate. I admit up front that I didn't see Stastny run Lawson. I talked to several people at the game about the hit and I'd honestly say there wasn't any sort of agreement about the severity of it. He was penalized so the assumption has to be therefore that he intended to run Lawson. Then with 3 seconds left in the game a DU player threw a wicked elbow right to a UAA players head. I didn't get numbers and it doesn't matter. The DU player that threw the elbow might as well have been escorted along the red carpet as much as the UAA players teammates cared. Weak. Really fucking weak. I apologize in advance if someone on UAA's team actually reminded Statsny what goalie he chose to run but it sure wasn't obvious to me if someone did. Also weak.

The second is listening to the head coach of your team define his squad as not talented. I don't care if it is the truth (and I'll argue all day with anyone that would say so); saying negative things about the team to the press is crossing the line. I heard another coach define his team as not having any talent. His name was Dean Talafous. While it's true that UAA's path to success is through hard work, discipline and more hard work the same can be said for most of the other teams in the WCHA but I don't hear their coaches defining or labeling their teams with that sort of negative hoo haw. It's wrong. I can't feature that sort of negativity to the press from the coach of the team I support. I wouldn't have mentioned this if it was the first time I'd heard him characterize the Seawolves that way. Will can certainly defeat skill but will is absent without belief and a coaches job (in my book) is to make his team believe in themselves.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Addendum to Recruit Update

I found this link to a Bernie Pascall Inside the BCHL feature on Josh Lunden. It's a low bandwidth link and will automatically download a .wmv file. If you click this link you'll go to the page and you can select the high bandwidth option there though it didn't work for me.

Josh talks about coming to UAA in the interview.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Seawolves vs. Pioneers

DU comes to town this weekend having experienced a mixed bag of success and failure in the last few weeks. After two tremendously brutal losses in their own tournament to Princeton and Ferris State (yeah ... worse even than losing to Mankato) the Pios split with the St. Cloud St. Fantasies at Magness in Denver and finished up last weekend with an ultra-rare sweep of Wisconsin in BADger land. Unfortunately the 3 in the "w" column came over the last three games.

The Pioneers logo is without a doubt the most heinously ridiculous looking mess in all of NCAA sports. And NCAA officials let them win the NC twice with that logo? I used to think it looked like a jelly doughnut. But not so much to me now .. instead it looks to me like that nursery rhyme with the "4 and 20 blackbirds baked in a pie". I guess that's why they kept the Pie-n-ear name when they changed the logo. Pie is WAY better than cake which is why they probably aren't called the Bundt's (maybe they should be though?). Seriously though ... a black bird coming out of a cherry pie for a team called Pioneers? Or is it a boomerang? If it is a doughnut then I want to know what the hell took a bite out of it?... Chupacabra?

It's been a frequent object of folly and some derision amongst opposition fan bases at USCHO. It's gotten so bad in fact, that the DU fan base there tries to ignore the official school logo and have resurrected the Disney character called "Boone". I bet they're sick of explaining how the school was being sensitive to its female athletes (Pioneettes wasn't working for the chicks) so they had to make the change ...yada yada yada. So what I'm sayin here is that you should ask any DU fan you know or come across about this. Not so you can get the real story; but just so they have to tell it again. We hate DU don't we?

Now about the series. Nothing new this weekend for UAA. The team should know by this point that a fast start is key to success but that you also ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO play the full 60 minutes. What struck me when these teams met earlier in the season was that after getting beaten 5-3 in the first game that there was an apparently palpable feeling throughout the whole UAA team of "we can beat these guys". They did exactly that the next night with one of their better efforts of the season. UAA has to stay out of bad penalty trouble but still play an aggressive checking game. There are hints in recent performances that the power play could contribute to the bottom line this weekend for UAA. Having Shane Lovdahl's cannon back on the point is very useful against goalies that don't always control their rebounds. Pouncing on those rebounds this weekend could very well be the difference. Defensively UAA has to continue its overall excellent play. At this point in the season I give a solid B to the defensive effort of the team (and if I remember right I said D+ to C- at about the halfway point).

Nathan Lawson was named WCHA Co-Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against MTU. Injuries effected his early season; banked with being in net in front of some brutally ugly non-efforts by the skaters in front of him it's starting to truly look like "The Law" is "back on the books" for good. If Nathan can consistently make those sorts of performances (and he IS talented enough to do so) then UAA could make some sort of run through the end of the season. Ok Ok ... and a few other "ifs" would have to be in evidence as well. But it could happen. It could.

I managed to see parts of both games on MTU webcast since GCI's webcast for UAA was completely MIA. I didn't see any evidence that the games were broadcast at all on channel 88. Obviously a feed was available. What the malfunction was this time is anyone's guess and I'm so fed-up with them that to comment any further would just give me a migraine. Wanna guess? Feel free to post your theories in the comments section.

Lastly, there's a couple of USCHO dorks (I mean DU fans) road tripping up here this weekend. I doubt they'll be ballsy enough to wear toga's. In any case, should I not find them first they can find me in the smoking area between the first and second period of Saturday's game. I won't be there Friday. If they'd like to avail themselves of the offer I'll be happy to shuttle them to establishments of the variety I've read they're interested in visiting (as I am somewhat familiar with such places). I do warn them here and now that I'm a $16 an hour guy living a $22 an hour lifestyle and it ain't payday weekend. And oh yeah ... Boone's ridin in the trunk.

J.J.'s weekend

Since two ties is like kissing your sister twice there isn't much to talk about from this past series with MTU in Hotun. UAA battled back nicely on Friday night after going down 2-0 to tie it at 2-2. Saturday's game though found MTU struggling to keep pace with UAA until :23 seconds of regulation when they tied the game. Sister kissing in spades. Yuck. 2 points on the road is better than none though. Nathan Lawson was dead-on solid to spectacular both nights. But the highlight of the weekend in my mind was the play of Justin Johnson. Justin's aggressive physical play has always been his hallmark for UAA. But this weekend saw him score 50% of UAA's goals. Two beauts. J.J.'s play has been one of the few consistent efforts we've seen from UAA players this year. His absolutely stellar short handed goal a couple of weeks ago along with the goals in back to back games this past weekend give J.J. a season to remember so far. From the newpapers account it sounds as if Mr. Johnson blamed himself for the second MTU goal on Saturday night. Pfffffttt. There were 5 players on the ice that also could have cleared the puck but didn't. The weekend shouldn't have resulted in any UAA players hanging their heads though. In both games UAA showed up to play and that is a step toward consistency. Keep that sort of effort up and they could at least dig their way out of the hole they've put themselves in.

Justin has always been a fan favorite and opposition players and coaches often comment about his intensity and physical play. J.J. is showing the sort of leadership on the ice that we'd expect from a four year Senior player. He puts his heart and soul into every shift because he knows that NOTHING is going to happen if you don't bust your ass. And J.J. never stops busting ass. If I was the coach I'd have every other player on the team write a 5 paragraph essay about what they see J.J. contributing to the team. It would give each and every player the chance to reflect about how their own efforts compare.

J.J. is the man.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Anudder Recruit Update

While there isn't much to hoot and holler about regarding this season, there is next season and it's not too early to look forward. With bit of my own research and a whole lotta help from Suze from the UAA fan base at USCHO here is up to date information on UAA's next freshman class.

Erik Felde (D) - Vernon Vipers (BCHL)
In 42 games so far this season Erik has 17 goals and 38 assists. Erik began the year playing defense but is now skating at forward. Information about that change is hard to come by it's reasonable to assume that its a coach initiated move that's best for Vernon. In this radio interview (downloads an MP3 file) at Erik expressed that he prefers playing defense (the interview is near the end). It's was recorded before he left Chilliwack where he started the year and he also answers questions about playing with Phil Kessel on the USNDT team a couple years ago. Erik's numbers put him at 5th in assists for the league and 13th overall in scoring @ 1.3 pts/gm. As mentioned in a previous post Erik played in the CHAHL Jr. A prospects game back in December and was player of the game for the West Team. It's impressive recognition in a game with the 40 best players in all of Jr. A Canadian hockey. Erik will bring a new dimension in defensive skating and puck handling that UAA fans haven't seen for quite some time. He is an elite recruit with a potential upside that "could" be equivalent to a Matt Carle or Jordan Leopold type player one day. Will he make me (us) forget about Martin Bakula? We'll see ...

Josh Lunden (F)- Chilliwack Chiefs (BCHL)
In 40 games this season Josh has 24 goals and 37 assists. He is currently ranked 3rd in scoring in the league. Josh was snubbed for the BCHL All-Star game which I can only assume is due to the fact that both of his linemates were named to the team and they're both playing in their 3rd year of juniors while Josh is only in his 2nd? Hard to say why the 3rd leading scorer in the league isn't in the All-Star game. Josh has basically doubled his production from last year with the team. He's got good size at 6'2" 200lbs and from his statistical increase it can be assumed that he knows his way around the offensive zone which bodes well for UAA considering their lackluster scoring this year. I don't know that I'd call Josh an elite recruit but his credentials are as good and/or better than any current Seawolf forward. While Felde has the potential for impactful play when he hits the ice at UAA it won't be unreasonable to expect it to be some time into next season before a player like Josh is fully adapted to the D-1 game.

Kevin Clark (F) - Winnepeg South (MJHL)
In 46 games this season Kevin has 36 goals and 35 assists for 6th in the league in overall scoring (3rd in goals and 11th in assists). There are two other interrelated and very interesting statistics regarding Mr. Clark. Firstly; he is 5' 8" 155lbs. Secondly; he is 3rd in the league in penalty minutes with 236. The league leader has 262 but I'm sure Clark can catch him if he would just really try. Seriously, I like those numbers; he's not a big kid but he obviously isn't afraid to mix it up. Coach Shyiak said that he played with "great emotion" and his current coach used the word "passion". I've perused a few of Winnipeg's box scores throughout the season and Kevin wasn't getting a lot of tripping, slashing, holding, cross-checking, ticky tack penalties. Roughing seemed to be his favorite along with fighting and a misconduct here and there. These sound like potentially negative traits but frankly all I think is Brian Kraft. Nuff said? A'ight then. He was player of the week for January 9th in the Manitoba league. I guess he didn't beat up any big guys that week. I'm pretty sure already that I'll enjoy watching him play in a UAA jersey.
He's only second in the league in game winning goals though. As mentioned previously Kevin also played in the CJAHL prospects game in December. Yeah, the one with 40 of the top Jr. A players in Canada. Kevin is another player that could come in and make contributions when he hits the Sully's ice.

Ken Selby (F) - Dauphin (MJHL)
In 43 games Ken has scored 27 goals and 17 assists (9th in goals). Everything I read about Ken says SPEED SPEED SPEED and some more speed. As previously noted he won the fastest skater competition at this little get together called the CJAHL prospects game last month. Yeah, the one with 40 of the top Jr. A players in Canada. He is 5th in the league for game winning goals. His current coach characterized him as a game-breaking type of player. He only has 32 penalty minutes. He's a pretty big kid at 6' 2" 190lbs and has wheels? Nice. Nothing I like better than to see a kid fly up the ice with the puck and bury the puck. Ken is a wait and see in my mind with regard to how much and how soon we could expect to see any impactful play but I hope sooner rather than later we'll all see that game-breaking speed put to fruitful use. If you click here you can download another MP3 very recent radio interview with Ken from It's a short but good interview, the kid speaks well; and like the Felde interview it is near the end of the file.

Trevor Hunt - (D) - Chilliwack Chiefs
In 41 games this season Trevor has 9 goals and 30 assists. Which puts him at 3rd in scoring by defensemen in the league. He's playing on a team with obviously the best line in the league so I'd assume many of his 30 assists came on the power play. This tells me that he has good experience in that power play role and could enhance UAA's efforts there at some point. His coach in Chilliwack commented that he was one of the best open-ice hitters in the league. Maybe he'll be a Jeremy Mylomuk that puts some points on the board. If he can hit like Jeremy could then he's VERY VERY welcome to come here.

Two other players are coming to UAA next year. Forward Paul Crowder who "sounds" like a bit of a project. He was injured in the 14th game of the season playing for Burnaby in the BCHL and hasn't returned to action. I have no idea what the injury was. He is described as lanky and late-blooming as well needing to add strength to his upper body. He had 13 points in 13 games with 13 penalty minutes before being injured. Also coming is goalie Jon Olthuis who is 6' 3" and 190lbs. His current numbers are 35 games with a 2.93 goals against average and a save percentage of .899. He is 4th in minutes played, 14th in GAA and 7th in shots faced. If you click here you can download a video interview (.wmv format) from a series called "Inside the BCHL" with Bernie Pascall. It's low resolution.

07 recruit ('88 birthdate) defenseman Kane Lafranchise has 5 goals and 8 assists in 44 games for Spruce Grove in the AJHL. He's 6'1" 185lbs and its just too damn early to be talking about him. Look for more extensive research from me on him next year. These damn recruit updates take a long time to do so don't expect another one until the end of the Jr. season.

And a huge "shout out" to Firestorm for taking my suggestion to register and post at the USCHO fan forum. Many "phat props" to you for doing so! I like the signature. Thanks for the support.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

No USCHO? For a month? Pffft ...

So if you've read me here it's pretty likely that you've read me on the USCHO Fan Forum. But you won't be reading anything written by me on that site for the next month. I was bad. I've been bad there a couple of other times (ok ok ... three) over the last 6 years. The first time was for making fun of the Boston College bandwagon fans during their run up to the NCAA championship game. It seemed every time they had a new thought they'd start a new thread. Of course, I thought it'd be funny so I started a half a dozen new threads with names like ... "I'm a BC fan and I think ..." and "This is not your father's BC thread" and "My favorite BC thread" and "This BC thread rulez!!". The administrator was NOT AMUSED. I sat for a week.

The third time (I can't even remember the second offense) I reeled off a serious insult string in response to another poster in some hotly contested political thread. It was a quality personal insult but once again the administrator wasn't amused; my timing on that one was critical as the board was just starting a "crackdown" on rule violators. That one was last year about this time and cost me two weeks posting privileges. This time my transgression was substantially less offensive when I posted irrelevant song lyrics to ruin a thread who's subject already had an open thread. The poster was too lazy to find it and post in it (even though he'd done so about 50 times before) so I made the mistake of "flooding" his thread and as the nice admin's email informed me that couldn't be tolerated. Ouch. I'm sooooo bad.

So get yer ass over to USCHO and post some UAA positive stuff while I'm on vacation for the next month (suspensions increase over time and I'm up to a month!!! WOOHOO!!!). Just don't use any quality insult strings; instead just call someone a "moron" 'cause that's ok. I'm not sure if the admin has a sense of humor or not so if you just don't emulate me at all you should be ok. And if you do manage to acquire a suspension don't expect an answer when you respond to their email and point out the error they've made. Seriously though; UAA representation on the board is pretty good but YOU can make it better by registering and posting. Yeah I know it's hard to muster much enthusiasm when the program isn't exactly soaring but when the program does start soaring wouldn't it be nice to know you'd said what was on your mind long before the success? And won't that make the success that much sweeter as a fan? Go post.

Ironic isn't it; that I was offering advice to Shea Hamilton about not establishing a bad reputation with the referee's while at the same time I was cementing my already established bad reputation on USCHO's fan board?

Monday, January 16, 2006

An Ugly Mankato Weekend (again)

In 4 games against MSU-M this season the Seawolves managed one tie. The other three games were lost by a combined score of 15 - 3. Ouch. You look at the similar placement of these two teams prior to both series and you'd have expected the crucial WCHA points to be something that would be bitterly contested. Why weren't they? One team gave up on at least 2 of those games. The 5-1 loss in Anchorage and the 7-2 loss in Mankato were both games that the Seawolves gave up on ... right in the middle of playing them. While one positive is that the guys weren't as physically sore the next day as they would have been had they actually played a hockey game. "Back in the day" those were the kind of losses that would have earned the team some skating drills right after the game. Unfortunately that sort of thing doesn't seem to go over well with the D-1 brass. If I'd ever seen a case of a team needing exactly that thing it was so Saturday evening.

It all started well enough; UAA was getting good chances, the physical play was dramatically improved from the night before, and in a matter of moments they all basically quit playing. Yep, Shea Hamilton took a "bad" penalty ... and Mankato built a bigger lead because of that but no other team in this league gives up. Not one other team. Year after year in this league there are dramatic come from behind victories and they aren't limited to upper tier teams fighting back against lower tier teams. Giving up when there is still more than 24 minutes to play and your down by 3 goals? It doesn't seem that there is any obvious explanation other than they sure look like a team with zero confidence. The massive difference in the level of play from one game to another (or period to another) is obvious to everyone though regardless of the cause. This team thoughh has played inspired and to its full potential (albeit not often) so it seems that the problem must be confidence.

Will a trip to Michigan Tech be some medicine? It's unlikely ... Tech is a team that probably has a bit of confidence; they split with Mankato, had two close losses to Michigan and Michigan State in holiday tournament action and just swept UMD in Duluth this past weekend. Nothing less than a total effort will bring any success this coming weekend.

Mr. Hamilton,
There aren't that many referees in this league and it doesn't take long to establish a reputation and once you get that kind of rep, those zebra eyes will be on you like flies on shit and if you don't smell just right they're gonna send you to the box. Play hard. Quit retaliating. Score a couple of times. It's the ONLY cure that will clear that kind of rep. If Marty Sertich didn't score so many goals do you think he'd get away with all the stickwork? Put the puck in the net. It shuts a lot of people up.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

10 Days in Minnesota

Maybe it's really only 9 or hey ... it could be 11 but the Seawolves are taking their annual "long" roadtrip over the next week and a half by staying in Minneapolis after the Mankato series before playing Michigan Tech. Traditional wisdom says that such trips are ideal opportunities for teammates to "bond". Ok. I buy it. I've got a suggestion to "enhance" the bonding experience though:

After they get done hitting the books they should go see the new movie "Glory Road". It's a movie that opens on Friday about the 1965-66 Texas Western basketball team (Underdogs; Championships; that sort of thing ...) The trailer makes it look good anyway. It'll be showing at the Crown Block E. 15 on Hennepin Ave. in Minneapolis. They should probably just "pass" on "Memoirs of a Geisha" and if any of them want to see a horror movie then hand them a game tape from November 4th, 2005.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A Trip to Cow-ville? Moo-berg?

Mankato St? Minnesota State University, Mankato? Neither. Now it's Minnesota State University Mankato. They've dropped the comma? Though the school seems to have some sort of identity issue it's hockey team doesn't. They're tough bunch. At least they always are when UAA plays them. Under the official league scheduling rules (also known as Don Lucia's List) UAA and Mankato are "designated rivals". The WCHA perhaps should have chosen that moniker more carefully ... you can't actually make two teams into rivals. Nevertheless a bit of a rivalry has begun to establish itself over the years. Most of those years both teams resided in the bottom half of the standings. That proximity in the standings has made the points won and lost in this series very important to both teams. Hence, both teams generally give their best when UAA and Mankato play. It should be no different this coming weekend.

Though last weekends goals against isn't an indication of it; UAA's defensive game is improving bit by bit over the last few weeks. This past weekend we saw the offense come alive in terms of scoring chances. Many of those additional scoring changes came by way of odd man rushes for UAA. Those rushes were a direct result of the improved defensive play. I see better transitions and better decisions. The play in their own zone is more disciplined that it has been all season. Positinally it has been very very good. Everyone seems to contribute as necessary by going down and blocking shots.

With the same sort of ethic this weekend the Seawolves should see some points on the road. Part of the offensive problem has been that the forwards have simply been too busy in their own zone to make anything happen up the ice. That improvement along with the growing offensive confidence the team is showing makes me pretty optimistic. Defensive patience coupled with likes of Smith, Beagle, Walsky, Waldrop, Hamiton breaking out means that UAA could counterpunch the Mavericks into Palooka-ville? Lightsout City? Rubberleg-berg?

Special teams are likely to be a factor this weekend. The power play needs something. It needs to score some goals. Maybe they're all just gripping their sticks too tightly? Hopefully they'll contribute something this weekend but more importantly the penalty kill HAS to be at its best this weekend. Backes, Morin and Carter have 13 power play goals between them.

The last time UAA and Mankato played UAA helped them find a goalie. All three of their goalies had played prior to the UAA series. Since then it's pretty much been all Tormey and he's been playing well enough to keep his team in games against anyone. Of course as it was vital last weekend to getting points ... UAA really oughta score first. It'll just make things a bit easier guys. Really. Ok then.

I thought Lawson was great against UND but I thought also wanted to say here that Luke Beaverson had an outstanding series. He was solid every shift. He took care of business along the boards and was physically more dominating. He's making me think that he's really starting to mature. He is showing confidence with the puck and is looking both strong and quick on his skates. I imagine he was a bit motivated since he came to UAA as a result of UND rescinding their scholarship offer to him. Way to go big Luke.

More soon ... probably.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Seawolves vs. Fighting Sioux Preview

I said when I started this blog that I'd try to do some post-series analysis but, because I can't watch a game when I know the result all I have to go on regarding the two losses at Fairbanks is what I heard on the radio. The team got a few more penalties than they would have expected and they didn't capatilize on a single one of their own 17 power plays. Fairbanks did; and that was the difference. They can rub our faces in it for another year. I hope every player on UAA's team left that city with a bad taste in their mouth. I hope they remember that taste until they play UAF again.

Meanwhile there is a series this coming weekend to focus on. A good opponent is coming to The Sully and they need some WCHA points. They think UAA is easy meat. They won't say it. But they are thinking it. This is an important series for UND as they currently sit in 6th place with 12pts only one point behind Duluth who has played 2 more games. If the Sioux leave Anchorage with a split then they'll be in 5th by themselves.

Four Sioux players (Oshie, Lee, Toews, and Chorney) are currently busy representing the USA in the World Jr. Tournament in Vancouver. They should all be in Anchorage by game time and Coach Hakstol has said he'd make the determination at that time whether they'll play or not. Oshie and Toews have been real scoring threats so I'd expect that as long they aren't too tired that they'll be in the lineup both nights. Drew Stafford has 14g so far this season. Oshie is right behind him with 11. Toews has 7. The Sioux have been scoring 3.75 goals per game in the WCHA.

What can UAA do to have success this weekend? Lets just say it would be useful to score first. UND is 2-7 overall when their opponent scores first; they're 11-1-1 when they score first. UAA is .500 when they score first. That is an opportunity. UAA needs to focus on that and not get frustrated if they put pressure on and don't get a goal. I've seen their shoulders drop all too often after putting out 110% only to see the other team get the goal first. Score first guys. Confidence and attitude are a huge part of the D-1 game. UAA doesn't have to catch the Sioux sleeping to win a game. But they do have to play a solid defensive game with fewer penalties than last weekend.

In the second half of the season it is important to know where you are in the standings. I hope UAA players have looked. If they have then they'll notice that if they get their first home sweep of the year that they'll have 11pts. I know ... I know ... by saying that I'm saying that UAA can sweep UND this weekend. Of course they can. Will they? I guess that's why they play the games.