Saturday, October 06, 2007

UAA 8 - SAIT 0

No doubt its all good to win an exhibition game 8-0 but for me that wasn't the best part of the win. The best part was finally seeing a hockey game. Well, when I say hockey game I'm using the phrase pretty loosely. Zone dominance by the Seawolves was nearly complete for the full game. Merit Waldrop led the way for UAA with a hat trick which included two shorties. UAA outshot the Trojans by something like 42-11. Attempted shots must have been over 60. There were at least three clangers. Rookies Craig Parkinson and Tommy Grant each got on the board. Peter Cartwright, Ken Selby added goals as well and Kevin Clark closed at the goal scoring with about 33 seconds left in the game.

I saw a lot that I liked but then again what isn't to like when you win 8-0. Jonny O played 2 full periods and only really had to be sharp on one series of back to back chances to keep the scoresheet clean. He looked focused. Matt Gordon replaced him for the third and came up with a couple of good looking saves but again he wasn't tested in any big way. The blueliners all played well and this opponent gave them plenty of opportunities to get into the offensive flow. They all pretty much did. I'm going to focus on the freshman primarily. Luka Vidmar has real nice wheels. He was strong and smooth carrying the puck up the ice and his impact was clear. He heavy shot was a bit of a pleasant surprise to me and he used his vision smartly to pick his targets for set ups on the power play. He'll do a good job on the blueline and is an excellent addition. Kane Lafranchise is an equally good skater and always seemed to have his head up enabling him to make smart passes as well. Both of their defensive play was excellent in front of the net and along the boards. My guess is they'll both dress for a whole lotta games this season. Up front I liked the physical play and energy of Craig Parkinson. His physical play both forechecking and backchecking was in evidence. Adding a goal was a sweet bonus. He'll see plenty of ice time IMO. I liked Winston Daychief and as I guessed it is obvious why he was voted fan favortie at Cowichan. His forechecking game was evidenced by more than a few takeaways in SAIT's zone, both by hits along the boards or by stripping an opposition player. My main impression about Tommy Grant is that he has a nose for the net. He was often near the action and could have had more than just the one goal he bagged. All three of these guys were good in all three zones; they were all eager and effective. I'm thinking Brad McCabe is gonna become a beast. He really showed his strength along the boards as well as a good ability to break free with the puck. Strong on the puck would be the phrase to characterize my first impression about Brad. He looked mature and experienced. I'd think Brad is a lock to start pretty much every game. Sean Wiles, Nick Haddad and Jeremy Smith were the DNP's tonight.

Onto the returning players. I'll talk about Ken Selby first. I really like this kid. His speed was evident. His got fast hands as well as fast feet. On the shift before he scored he made a sweet move to deke a defender out of his shorts and had a nice scoring chance. His goal (which he pretty much made on his own) came from a nice effort behind the goal which he finished with a wraparound. If it was up to me he'd play every game hopefully Coach Shyiak sees the same qualities I noticed. Merit Waldrop did tonight what he can often do. He can beat anyone with the puck in any number of ways. Tonight he did it with speed and jukes and toe-drags and ducks and whatever other way you can describe beating a guy. He's got such excellent puck control and always drives strong to the net. The hat trick tonight is hopefully a sign of things to come the rest of the season. I shouldn't mention here how many posts Merit hit in the last three years, so I won't. He was definitely the #1 star of the game.

Peter Cartwright had a strong game with his goal and two assists as well. He showed his maturity and was strong in all three zones. He did have a wicked collision with Blair Tassone in the 3rd, who struggled off favoring his left leg. I don't want to speculate about any possible injury but I didn't see any twisting and at least 2 out of 3 of us seemed to think it was thigh or upper thigh related as opposed to knee related. Blair was walking it off behind the bench and the initial limp seemed to lessen, which in turn lessened my initial concern. Blair had his usual strong and energetic game and showed a couple of flashes where my underprescribed eyes confused him with Merit Waldrop. Jared Tuton and Chris Tarkir both played well enough but waxing on about their play would be an exaggeration. They had their moments and neither made any mistakes.

Paul Crowder, Kevin Clark and Josh Lunden took up exactly where they left off last season. They worked the puck well, they found each other for good chances. They were quite simply the dominating line they can be. More than once they had extended stays in the offensive zone with multiple scoring chances. Josh was physical in the corners, strong as ever on the puck and always aware of where his teammates were. Kevin was a bit of an instigator and ever-vigilant for scoring chances whether for himself or a teammate. He is just a dynamic player who can surprise and delight at any moment. He had about 3.5 inches of top corner to bury the puck from about 20ft and did it extremely precisely for the "wow" goal of the night. Paul was Paul. He made great passes earning three assists. He worked behind the goal line. He was physical in front of the net. And when appropriate he carried the puck to the net as Coach Shyiak has asked him to do. He was simply effective; as he always seems to be. I'd bet money on these three guys playing together all season. It would make sense.

Among the blueline returners I thought Luke Beaverson looked every bit of a Captain. As the game wore on SAIT grew a bit frustrated and the first evidence of that came when Big Luke and a Trojan tangled along the boards. The SAIT kid was all about dropping the gloves to "have a go" but Luke just roughed him up and waited for the linesmen to step in. This caused the SAIT videographer to yell that Luke was a "pansy" for not getting rid of his cage and fighting. I interjected to that fine fellow that in the NCAA we didn't "do fighting" but that if the guy really wanted to go that I was sure all 6'5" and 225lbs of Luke would be happy to meet the guy after the game. This apparently satisfied Mr. Videoguy as I didn't hear anymore "pansy" references. The game had several more chippy moments but the Seawolves kept their heads and never over-indulged in those pleasures. Shane Lovdahl and Mat Robinson both had strong games. They both contributed offensively. Shane added a near signature hipcheck (didn't flip the guy though) but never found an opportunity to fire his cannon. Mat is smart smart player. He never gets into a position from which he can't recover. His passing was sharp and decisions always excellent. Trevor Hunt had a strong game as well. His hitting was excellent. He contributed in the offensive end too. I think all of the defensemen had some time on the Power Play, but I did notice a couple of power plays were composed exclusively of forwards. I've seen Shyiak tend toward that in the past and if he finds a combination of 5 forwards he really likes it wouldn't surprise me to see more of it. Nils Backstrom's presence on the ice was noticeable. He had several strong rushes (one in particular along the boards that was memorable) and more than a couple of stellar defensive efforts. He did however pass up some opportunities to shoot the puck. I can't criticize his choice to pass on the PP rather than shoot (especially when the pass leads to a scoring chance) but he has a good presence at the top of the umbrella and I just think he ought to shoot the puck every once in a whle.

All in all it was a good outing but honestly the opponent was outsized and outgunned to the point that it's difficult to draw any strong conclusions about the play. Next weekend will be much more telling. Wayne State should prove to be a much stronger opponent as they're a group of guys looking to make an impression for pride's sake in their last season. Then on Saturday the Seawolves will face a quality BU squad loaded with talent. More conclusions will be possible after those two games. I'm excited to see the beginning of the regular season. I'm sure after tonight the UAA players will be as well. Congats to the team on a nice exhibition win.


Anonymous said...

The ADN said that Tassone had a bag of ice on his right knee. However, UAA Seawolves Fan said that Tassone was skating much better after the game for the Kids Skate. Good news. :P

Kris said...

It was fun to actually see some UAA hockey. It was somewhat worrying. I could only think that there were times when, if it had been a WCHA opponent, the other team would have had better chances and not choked the puck up nearly as often. I hope that the freshman don't automatically subconsciously assume that this is the quality of opponent we will be facing every other night.

Even with a few things that worried me, such as a little bit too much defensive pinching (I know we have been wanting to see that since before Shyiak during the unmentionable times, but in the WCHA when you pinch and don't get the puck bad things are bound to happen because of the speed) but there were many bright spots as well. I hope that our team can gel and work hard. The freshman seemed fairly raw at times but that is somewhat to be expected, hopefully they will mature quickly as did many of our freshman last year.

Jeff said...

UAF beat SAIT 4-2

Donald Dunlop said...

It was 2-2 until about the 2 minute mark late in the third. Sounds like SAIT really raised their game after playing us.

Jeff said...

Or UAF is going to completely blow this year. One of the two

Anonymous said...

When a team gets blown out 8-0 one night, they generally compete much harder the next night.

Anonymous said...

Donald, are there any online box scores of the UAF game? I couldn't find one. The recap in the Miner sounds like UAF scores their winning goal on a PP and the 4th was an empty net goal.

Donald Dunlop said...

That was the impression I had as well. The gwg came with about 2 mins to go. I haven't looked for a boxscore. If one exists then perhaps USCHO or College Hockey News would list it.

Post a Comment