Monday, October 23, 2006

The Skinny on the WCHA

With the beginning of UAA's conference schedule it's a good time to examine some of the truth's about playing in this league.

1. Win at home; Split on the road.
This is a time tested formula that will land a team in the top half of the standings at the end of the season. If a team can finish by getting a big majority of points on thier own ice and then stealing points on the road it can finish with between 28 and 40 points. Which is a range of points that would put a team in the top 5 in virtually every season of the last 10 or so.

2. On any given night ...
The 10th place team can beat the 1st place team and so on. While this is a "truth" it isn't necessarily one that comes true frequently. However, it does happen frequently enough to give it a fair amount of credence. UAA fans know this as Seawolf history is replete with big wins even though they've often been mired near the bottom. Two years ago UAA went 2-0-1 against Minnesota but only finished with 9 conference wins. Three years ago 8th place UAA made it's only final five appearance beating 3rd place Wisconsin in the playoffs. I've only used UAA examples here but the record is full of similar examples. I wouldn't go so far as to say there is parity in the WCHA but the adage that "will can defeat skill" is alive and well.

3. The WCHA is an upperclassmen's league.
This is Don Lucia's favorite refrain. While underclassmen often do make big impacts it always seems that the teams with the best performing upperclassmen are the ones that succeed most often. Probably the best example of this is the 03-04 Minnesota-Duluth team. 6 of the top 7 scorers on that team were upperclassmen and they led UMD to the NCAA semi-finals. A look at the standings in 04-05 saw UMD drop to 6th and last year they finished 9th. While everyone would love to have Thomas Vanek, Zack Parise or Phil Kessel none of those guys ever became upperclassmen in this league before moving onto NHL careers. Are Junior Lessard, Evan Schwabe, Peter Senja, Jeff Panzer, Reggie Berg, Brian Swanson, Marty Sertich and/or a multitude of other top contributing upperclassmen getting rich in the NHL? No. But they all led their teams as upperclassmen to WCHA glory.

4. It's the toughest league in D-1.
This is pretty much a no-brainer. The WCHA has won the national championship 36 times in 54 years. The inter-conference records year after year show the WCHA's dominance. This year the WCHA is 16-7-4 against the other big four conferences. There are great teams spread throughout the other conferences but none of those conferences has really come close to the WCHA (especially in the last few years).

5. It sucks to go to Houghton (Ho-tun).
Situated further away from a major airport than any other WCHA city the travel to Houghton is a drag for every other team in the WCHA. Though I'm sure when you get there the 10,000 or so lovely people there make it worth the trip. But hey ... there's almost nobody ever murdered there.


Anonymous said...

Don't forget about Tech last year laying it on Wisconsin in Madtown, which i believe was the first loss for the "Commies" all year or at least in the WCHA.

And do we know who will replace Woody as the beat writer for the 'Wolves?

Donald Dunlop said...

I believe it will be our favorite UAF beat reporter Danny Martin.

Anonymous said...

So is he writing for both schools, because his article for the Miner was just reprinted in the ADN wasn't it, and why would anyone want a uaf writer writing for UAA?

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