As I'm decadently indulging in a couple of nice breakfast cheeseburgers and wondering about UAA's first opponent this weekend, I've decided to steal the phrase from the long past Wendy's commercial for my preview. I didn't want to be totally remiss by ignoring the team UAA isn't playing though so here's some condiments for the effort. I'll be in the stands consuming the BU/RMU game (mostly to scout BU); hopefully these two teams won't have to play in front of a mostly empty arena but I doubt that'll be the case. I imagine there'll be a couple of thousand folks in the joint by the third period so with some luck it'll be a close exciting game to whet all our long unsatiated hockey appetites. Doncha wish you had burgers for breakfast now?
Robert Morris begins it's fourth season in D-1 this weekend. They've played one exhibition game against Ryerson winning 8-5 before beginning their long trek to the north coast. RMU is located in Moon Township, Pennsylvania which is just across the river from Pittsburgh in Allegheny County. There's a fairly long history of youth hockey in Pennsylvania. UAA's one player from that state that I can recall was goalie Kevin Reiter. RMU has a couple of "local" players on their squad but is composed much like most other D-1 schools with a mix of Canadians and Americans from all over. They're a pretty top heavy team with 18 upperclassmen on the roster (14 seniors, 4 juniors). They return 8 of their top 10 scorers from last seasons team. Ryan Cruthers (17g-20a), Sean Berkstresser (9g, 17a) and Chris Margott (12g, 9a) lead that list. In goal I'd expect that we'll see senior Christian Boucher whose previous three seasons saw save percentages of .916, .903 and .899 respectively. Overall the team has good size with 14 players that are 6'1" or taller with a lot of that size on the blueline. With all that experience I'd guess that the Colonials are one the favorites to gain what might be the last NCAA autobid for their College Hockey America conference (league coaches picked them to finish 2nd). They won't be a walkover for BU by any stretch of the imagination; just like fellow CHA member Wayne State won't be a walkover for the Seawolves.
Wayne State comes north from Detroit. If you've been in a cave and haven't heard, this season will be their last. Financial considerations have forced the school to drop it's men's hockey program (women's hockey will remain). It's a big blow to the CHA conference and will probably lead to the failure of College Hockey America which leaves the other members high and dry with regard to getting into the NCAA's. Coach Bill Wilkinson is a class guy in my book as he's been quoted remarking that this season is one where each and every player on the team is auditioning for next year. Because the program is folding all of Wayne State's players will be eligible for immediate transfer without having to sit out the requisite year that other transfers have to. Don't think for a second that every opposition coach won't be sizing up kids when they're playing Wayne St. I'm glad to see Wilkinson acknowledge (and even promote) that reality with 22 players on his team having eligibility left. As all those returnees indicate the Warriors have a fairly young team this season. Their 3rd leading scorer last season was freshamn Jared Katz (11g, 13a) and will likely be one of the prizes for someone to pick up. Senior Derek Bachynski (7g,14a) also returns to close out his career. Sophomore Jon Grabarek (5g, 10a) last season will probably be looked on to improve his output as a junior and will garner plenty of interest if he manages that task. Sophomore Brett Bothwell (18games, .889 save percentage) and freshman Kyle Funkenhauser look to be the leading candidates for the #1 spot in goal. They're not a big team with only 7 players exceeding the 6'1" mark. The team is mostly made up of Michigan and Ontario kids. My provincial interest in WCHA teams leaves me scratching my head about how difficult of an opponent the Warriors will be for the Seawolves but their motivation to play well (if for nothing other than pride) should make them a tough team to beat.
I expect to have BU's preview (BU's blogger and I are exchanging previews) posted tomorrow. I'll work up some sort of report about the Coaches Luncheon when I get back from it on Friday before I head out to the games. Not sure what (if anything) to expect from me on Thursday. The only Seawolf note today is that Blair Tassone has been practicing so it seems the knock he took courtesy of Peter Cartwright isn't an issue. I look forward to meeting new folks this weekend and seeing friends from last season. Hang in there, just 3 more days!
Edit@12:54pm: As is often the case after I post something other useful information comes to light. Here is a link to the Nye Frontier Classic Weekly Release from the UAA Sports Information Department. So ... there is some beef for ya!
BU's goalie, Gillispie, was the starter in Bonnyville (AJHL) in junior when Olthuis signed there.
I thought Jonny O just played two years in the BCHL. So him playing in the AJHL is in itself a bit of trivia to me.
I saw RMU play 6 games last year after I moved to Pittsburgh. For some drinking related reason the only series I remember is the Bemidji State series in which RMU swept in pretty impressive fashion. I would expect they look very similar this season as last years squad only had a couple of seniors. Jason Towsley is a guy to keep an eye on injuries really slowed him down last year..
Thanks. Exactly the sort of comment I always hope for on this blog. I'm thinking RMU may be the tougher of the two CHA teams in this tournament.
Off-topic for a second ;-)
But if you're signed up for UAA's "Seawolf Scoop" e-mails, the one that they just sent out a couple of hours ago reminds people to write in about their comments on the new sports/hockey complex.
If you don't receive the Seawolf Scoop, you can find the comment link on the main page on the GoSeawolves website (left side of the screen right under the Nye ticket info).
Dr. Cobb also talked about the new arena on an interview with the NCAA on 9/18/07 which was also on the main page through the end of September on media player, but now the only place to find it is on the NCAA's website.
Unfortunately it's a shortened version of what they had on the Seawolves site originally.
Anyway, get those ideas and comments about the new facility sent in to Cobb, Spindle, Ulmer and the planning team!! :o)
I guess I have to declare today as Outstanding Comment Day!
Go to the sports section and you'll see my first hockey article.
Nice job Jeff. Do you know anything about homecoming and the pep rally's, tailgate parties, etc. going on?
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