Monday, October 09, 2006

Nye Tournament: Merrimack Preview

The Merrimack Warriors come to town this weekend for the Nye Frontier Tournament to play UAA in the 8:05 Friday night game and then face CC in the 5:05 game on Saturday. It hasn't been exactly the smoothest beginning to the season. Last week the school announced that last season's leading scorer, sophomore Rob Ricci was suspended for the entire 06-07 slate. Coach Mark Dennehy called it an unspecified violation of team rules; one that was apparently aggregious. Merrimack was UAA's equal last season in terms of goal scoring futility and the loss of their most talented goal scorer will definitely present some challenges. To Ricci's credit though, I understand that he is going to remain in school, continue to practice with the team and then suit up next season. If that wasn't bad enough Pat Watson a sophomore goalie has been suspended for the first 6 games. The two incidents were not related.

In 05-06 Merrimack finished last in Hockey East matching UAA's finish in the WCHA. They won 6 games last year. UAA won 6 games last year. Both Dave Shyiak and Mark Dennehy are starting their second seasons at the helm of their respective ships. Of course none of that means anything other than they're interesting parallels. I'd rate the players to watch as junior Hank Carisio (#23), freshman Matt Jones (#11), freshman d-man Brandon Sadlowski (#22) and freshman goalie Andrew Braithwaite (Sr. goalie Jim Healy had a .892 sv% last year in 23 games). Jones had 11 goals last year in the USHL for Sioux City and Sadlowski had 5g-32a for Fort McMurray (the AJHL champs) last season while Braithwaite posted a nice .908 sv% for Chilliwack in the BCHL last year in 53 games. Though it's somewhat worth noting that Braithwaite played 4 years in juniors so even though I'm saying he's a "player to watch", he likely isn't going to make anyone forget Ken Dryden (or Michel Plasse for that matter). Beyond that it's difficult to say much about a team that I really know nothing about. A look at the roster shows that it's not a big team overall with 8 players listed under 6ft. Compare that to UAA who has only 3. But on the big ice I don't see that as being any big advantage for UAA. I'd imagine though that some of the bigger teams in HE though push Merrimack around a bit on some of the NHL sized rinks in that league. Perhaps some nice Merrimack fan will happen across this and give us the real skinny in the comments section?

I'll have some sort of UNO preview next and it will likely be quite a bit longer since I'm more familiar with them. I even lived in Omaha for a couple of years (forever ago); as if that means anything.


Anonymous said...

Just read the post on the USCO message board about the possibility of Bemidji making the jump to the WCHA. UAA should be worried about that. With the way UAA is going and the lack of attendance there should be worry of BSU taking UAA's spot in the WCHA. The teams in this league hate coming to Anchorage and playing in front of a half empty buildings. Bemidji is a nice geographic fit to the WCHA.

Anonymous said...

Get a life anon @ 8:41. Who are you anyway? former UAA staff? LOL.

Anonymous said...

The kids that I have meet from other wcha schools have all told me they enjoy going to alaska the experance is fun and gives them a chance to see a diffrent part of the country and they say that UAA has potential to brake out. So please shut about UAA leaving the Wcha and dont talk about what you dont know.

Donald Dunlop said...

Always nice when I don't have to chase off a troll by myself.

Bemidji is years away from even being able to QUALIFY for WCHA admission. And their inclusion will be ZERO threat to UAA's status in the league.

Post a Comment