Friday, March 21, 2008

Recruit Update: Final

With two recruits signed for the 08-09 season and five departing Seniors don't be surprised if UAA adds another forward at some point this offseason. UAA has 20 returning skaters next season (8 defensemen, 12 forwards OR 9 defensemen, 11 forwards depending on what you call Jared Tuton). The Seawolves aren't in desperate need to add another forward but could add depth with another. That's all pure speculation on my part.

Tyler Moir's (6'1" 205lbs -- turns 20 on Sept 17th) Drumheller Dragons are in the semi-final round of the AJHL playoffs and will be facing perennial powerhouse Camrose for a birth in the finals. Tyler is currently leading the Dragons in playoff scoring with 3 goals and 7 assists in 8 games which is also good enough for 6th overall on the league leader table. He finished the regular season ranked 4th in points per game at 1.4 with his 75 points (26g-49a) putting him at 8th overall. 13 of his goals came on the power play. His 216 penalty minutes were good enough to tie him for 7th overall in the league.

Curtis Leinweber's (5'8" 169lbs -- turned 20 on Feb. 25th) Okotoks Oilers were just eliminated from the playoffs by the Dragons. In 8 games Curtis posted 1g-2a for his team. During the regular season Curtis' numbers were 22g-38a for 60pts in 61 games. He was 3rd on his team in scoring even though he filled the role of a non-forechecking locked winger in Okotoks neutral zone trap.

Mickey Spencer (6'1" 180lbs -- turns 19 on June 11th) and Gustav Bengtson (5'9" 175 -- turns 19 on Aug 31st) are 2009 recruits. Spencer finished his rookie season with the Cowichan Capitals in the BCHL with 27 goals and 12 assists in 53 games. Cowichan did not qualify for the BCHL playoffs. Bengtson has netted 9 goals and 10 assists over 36 games in his rookie season with the Texas Tornado of the NAHL. The Tornado have clinched a playoff spot however they've done so with the lowest point total of any team that will be participating.

It's time for me to move on to the off-season. I will not be posting again until at least mid-August. I know I said this last year and then posted anyway. Don't expect the same thing this off season unless there is some earth-shattering news, in which case I probably won't be able to resist the urge.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

UAA Hockey Fan Blog Awards: 07-08

Rookie of the Year
Kane Lafranchise
The 07-08 Seawolf freshman class hit the ice with some vigor this season. Winston Daychief was named WCHA Rookie of the Week for the third weekend in October. By that time 4 Seawolf freshman had already bagged their first collegiate goal. Craig Parkinson, Tommy Grant, Brad McCabe and Winston all had respectable numbers in their first year. On a team that only managed 81 goals those 4 guys contributed 23. Pretty nice. Parkinson and McCabe both finished the season with 7 each. Overall, I think those are pretty promising numbers but I'm naming Kane the ROY because of his overall solid play in both ends of the ice. Kane's offensive potential became apparent in the 2nd half of the season as he gained confidence and adapted fully to the college game. Kane was the 3rd leading scoring defenseman (but tied for 1st in goals scored) on the team with 3 goals and 5 assists but most of those points came in the 2nd half. I'm big time jazzed about the skills he brings to the blueline. His smooth skating and heads up play impress the hell out of me; And his attention to his defensive responsibilities are second to none.

Most Improved Player
Sean Wiles
There simply was no bigger change in a player from the beginning of the season to the end than what I saw from Sean Wiles. He went from a guy I wasn't initially sure could skate with D1 players to someone that I confused with Paul Crowder. I'm not sure exactly what Sean's offensive potential might be but I can't deny the huge difference in his apparent abilities from early to late. I also believe that Jon Olthuis qualifies for a mention here. I suspect that if you broke his season in two and calculated his save percentage that you'd find a substantial positive difference. I considered Shane Lovdahl here because I really think his skating abilities are undersold by the coaching staff. He also showed some nice flair puck-handling deep in the offensive end. Ken Selby also came to mind simply because when he finally got into the lineup he produced. I sure hope we see more of him next season.

Heart and Soul
Mat Robinson/Kevin Clark
For one reason and one reason only these two guys share my Heart and Soul award this year. Because these guys both seemed to me to "want it" more whenever they were on the ice. Mat layed on many many punishing hits this year. He never hesitated to carry the puck up when necessary and always did so with vigor. I could see from my balcony seat that Kevin wanted to make something happen every shift he took. Whether he was instigating or playmaking he simply gave it his all on every shift. He is perhaps the most talented stick handler on the team and made so many many pretty passes. Let me be clear here though ... just about everyone on the team came to mind when deciding this award. I loved Chris Tarkir's effort all season. I think Jared Tuton did everything the coaching staff asked him to do. He's got to be a coaches dream player eh? I think Luke Beaverson sacrificed his offensive game in order to lead the team and I think he was a great Captain. Merit Waldrop would have been deserving of this award as well. Peter Cartwright was another player that let it all hang out all season and could have garnered this. And of course Blair Tassone shouldn't be left out of consideration. I called him this years Justin Johnson in my Senior Tribute and I'll stand by that. He hit somebody on every shift and brought so much energy. I considered naming the "team" as Heart and Soul winners. But that seemed like a bit of a cop out ... so congrats to Kevin and Mat for being just marginally more intense and standing out in my mind.

Most Valuable Player
Josh Lunden
Josh scored twice as many goals as any other Seawolf. It's always easy to name the leading scorer as an MVP and that's the case with Josh this season. If that was all that he brought to the party it would be enough. But Josh brought more than just goal scoring. His physical game was always evident and he was a leader on the ice. Paul Crowder got consideration here both because he was the 2nd leading scorer but also because I think he was perhaps the smartest penalty killer on the team. I can't say I didn't think of Kevin Clark here as well for the reasons I mentioned above. I'm thrilled that all three of these guys will be in Seawolf sweaters for the next two years. They are leaders as sophomores already so as juniors and seniors we should expect more excellence from them.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday Potpourri: I Am What I Am

How does a losing season really differ from a winning season? As we vicariously live as fans through our favorite team's successes and failures we should each really ask and answer that question. Does our pride in the team we've adopted decrease with a score that isn't in our favor? Are we better people because our team had success? Conversely, are we lesser people because our team didn't succeed? I sure could make a good case that the fans of a team who only taste success intermittently have more character than their opposites.

There is zero risk in sitting around and waiting through half a sports season and then jumping on the bandwagon of a team that looks destined for success. But the risk of ridicule is great to stand up (season after season) and say that you believe your team will do great things before they've done a thing. I'm not one for hiding behind a rock. In the past I've stood up and rationalized why I thought my team would do well before the season. In the future I'll do the same. There is no part of me that you'll ever see indicating that I think my team will be lucky to finish in 8th or 7th or 6th place. I'm a believer. You can call it blind optimism or green and gold colored glasses. I don't really care. To me being a fan means that you don't accept conventional wisdom. Fan is from "fanatic" and the definition of fanatic is:

A person with an extreme or uncritical enthusiasm or zeal.

Thats me baby. I could give a shit what the record book says. Don't come to read here if you expect some faux-journalistic pretense. I won't apologize for loving my team and living up to the definition above. So I say this to those of you who come here to piss on the Seawolves grave; fuck you. And the horse you rode in on. I know I invite such things with my attitude but the truth is you just wish you had someone like me writing about your team. If I come back to do this next year don't expect anything different. I'm going to find ways to bash your team and/or town or region. I'll do so because I fervently believe that my team, town and region are better than yours.

No doubt there are some Seawolf fans don't don't appreciate my style. To them I ask that they consider contributing here. Share your thoughts and perspective. I can do no less than share mine. My genetic history does't include much in terms of traits that would lead me to be compromising. The Scots aren't known for pragmatism. That's an early 20th century American invention. Instead I'm a subscriber of the 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume who taught us that each or our realities is shaped by our own individual perceptions which in turn were made by our experiences. My experiences tell me that the Seawolves were better than their record. Hume was also a champion of reasoning and I think I've tried to use that methodology in backing up my beliefs whenever possible. In any case, I think you're getting the point. I'm Popeye ...

What is with the idiots in Minnesota? I'm watching the FSN coverage of Mankato/UofM game three and it's between the 1st OT and the 2nd. The FSN people are stupid enough to allow any and all manner of folks to stand behind Doug and the Rug and right now there is this ugly bastard standing back there giving the choke sign and pointing to Woog. WTF is that about? This guy has no idea that he is a complete douchebag. LOL. Normally, you just get all sorts of rubes tugging their ugly M's in some sort of bragging. Could we just go back to that please and remove the grotesquely ugly turd calling his whoring mother on the phone and waving? That guy just shouldn't even be allowed in public (perhaps it is Kurt Davis' dad? ... that is just for you LGM). OMG. I hadn't really cared who'd win this series before now but I think I'm gonna cheer for the Gophs now. I will say that whoever wins will be tough to beat down the line.

UND absolutely escaped against MTU this weekend. I understand the refereeing sucked tremendously. Of course you won't hear Susie fans bitching and moaning about the refereeing since their team gained from it. I swear if I have to read anything else from "The Sikatoka" or Patrick Miller about "clutching and grabbing" and calling the game "like the NHL" that I'll puke. I keep saying that UND isn't that good and I thought MTU would expose that this weekend. I guess they did so to a point. Here's my prediction though ... UND loses it's first game in the NCAA's that isn't against a CHA or AHA team.

DU beat UMD. Sigh. There's another team that is no where near as good as it's record. They won't go anyhere in the NCAA's either. St. Cloud beat an average Wisconsin team in 2 games. They'll likely make some noise at the Final Five and fail to win an NCAA game as usual.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

UAA @ CC: Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda

The Seawolves final series of the year mirrored their season. Friday night they lost a game where they outplayed to opponent by a score that in no way reflected what happened on the ice. And tonight in a closely played 60 minutes they were every bit a match for the #3 team in the country. But just as happened so many times in 07-08 the Seawolves came up short when they coulda, shoulda or otherwise woulda won. I've said it, the staff has said it, the players have said it and opponents have all said the same things; a bounce here or there, a missed opportunity, an opponent that didn't miss their opportunities. Blah blah blah and on and on. It's a tired refrain but that doesn't make it any less true. It defines the season.

The trend began in the first two conference games of the season. A tie and a loss to Mankato in games that they coulda won. Then a loss and a tie on the road in St. Cloud and one of the games that they woulda won if the referee woulda been someone other than Derek Shepherd. Then after getting a decent split with the Gophers in their barn, the Seawolves play two of their best games of the year and shoulda came away with points against CC at the Sully. It coulda been frustration from the CC series that lead to a 3 point weekend in Duluth. But then DU comes to the Sully and the Seawolves woulda won the first game if Mannino doesn't play what Gwozdecky called his best game of his career. I mean come on ... UAA outshot the Pie-in-ears that night 36-16. Sigh. Then after securing the meaningless Governors Cup from the lackey's up in Squarebanks the team goes to CC and plays it's two worst games of the year; no shoulda's no woulda's, and no coulda's that weekend. Just one team eating another teams lunch. Then 2 games against Wisconsin at the Sully that they sure coulda won before going to UND where they brutally outplayed the Sioux and woulda won if they didn't give up two soft goals. Then the best weekend at home taking 3 points from MTU, but you know what? They coulda and shoulda got 4. No shoulda's or coulda's the next weekend I think. The games against the Mavericks were close enough but they just played better for 120 minutes. Then back home against St. Cloud and two games UAA definitely shoulda won. A freak goal for the opposition that had it not happened UAA woulda won. Then the Seawolves clearly outplay another team outshooting them 31-13 and lose? A definite shoulda. The rest of the games were all coulda's in my mind. If only the Seawolves coulda found the back of the net.

The team was in virtually EVERY game going into the 3rd period this year. Virtually EVERY single one. None of that makes it any easier to swallow I guess.

I'm proud of the way the team played this year; I'm not proud of the results. Sometimes karma isn't with you. I swore at the hockey gods openly and often. Everyone grasps for straws to explain it. What am I supposed to say? Shit ... a few bounces here and there and it could have been a bit different all season long. There are any number of excuses besides the coulda, woulda, shoulda bullshit. The team is young. But honestly it isn't much younger than anyone else in the league. This player or that player was snakebitten. Man ... those were some long lasting snakebites. I can go back and forth with first one excuse and then an equally reasonable point to counter the excuse. It really just comes down to the old "if" equation. "If" my grandma had balls then she wouldn't be my grandma.

There's nothing to do but wait until next year. I'll be back tomorrow with some sort my regular Sunday Potpourri .... I guess. Then during the next week I'll have a final recruit update and then I'll have the UAA Fan Blog Awards. After that I'll have one final entry before retiring for the off-season.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Foul Stench in "The Springs"?

This post has pretty much nothing to do with hockey. Well except for perhaps eliciting some measure of sympathy for the Seawolf hockey team who are enduring the misery that appears to be Colorado Springs. So if you aren't interested in reading a scathing disrespectful review of some goings on in that place then stop here.

Let me say up front that every city has it challenges and dark moments. Whether it be the tendency of youth in Anchorage to attempt to settle their petty differences with guns or the rampant racial problems suffered by the city of New Orleans; it wouldn't be difficult to dig up dirt on virtually any community, point to it and decry the place as unworthy. That said, the poor bastards that live in Colorado Springs (and no doubt some of them are probably proud of their community) sure seem to have more than their share of ugly dysfunction.

You wouldn't think that'd be the case upon first glance. It's not a huge city. The median income is fairly nice. There are beautiful subdivisions and quaint parklands. And it appears to be one of the most religious places in the U.S. It is home to the New Life Christian Church (over 10,000 members) which apparently is so big they have to put maps of the joint on their Internet website in case anyone gets lost. Sadly, this church was the site of a recent murder spree which you may have seen on the news. That event was significant and heartbreaking for the victims families but I have to ask myself about the reasons behind it. The founder of the place was Ted Haggard. Now if you don't know who Ted is let me enlighten you. He is the self-righteous bastard who was deeply involved in Republican politics; known for his strong stances against homosexuality and drugs. He was forced to resign after it was discovered he'd paid a male prostitute for meth and sex over a three year period. Pretty foul. Oh ... but he went to three weeks of intensive therapy and was pronounced heterosexual again! Yeah ... a pretty despicable character no matter where he is from (he was born in Hoosierland). I wonder if Ted moved just down the street to a church know as The Refuse which is a daughter organization of a church called Scum of the Earth. Maybe that's where James Dobson (head of the Republican front organization called Focus on the Family and Family Research Council) goes to worship? Dobson believes that women belong at home barefoot and pregnant and that "diversity" and "tolerance" are so-called buzzwords. For my Anchorage readers ... these guys make Jerry Prevo look pretty tame. Dobson had Karl Rove in his pocket (or at least he assumed he did ... did you know Rove is an atheist?). And he doesn't dig John McCain. Anyhow ... thats enough of all that seedy right wing sleaze merchant stuff. It's creeping me out ... I'm afraid if I look into it further I'll find Sen. Larry Craig (Mr. Minneapolis wide-stance in the toilet) involved with these fruitcakes.

I can only guess that the repression and outright demonizing these guys have done to any number of groups of humans had something to do with the nutbag who broke into the prayer meeting with guns-a-blazing.

All that horror is seemingly just the tip of the iceberg in "The Springs". Every year it seems there are some disturbing events at the Colorado College. As a prelude let me say that I've read some disturbing things about the state of racism in "The Springs". Much of it is the sort of thing you'd expect in Jackson, Mississippi. It runs the gamut from hockey fans being shouted down at the World Arena as "niggers" to hockey players dressing up in "black-face". The latter event was duly apologized for and the members of the team that participated subsequently attended some "racial harmony/sensitivity" events as penance for their mis-deeds. Nevertheless, the fact that students at a college filled with rich white kids ($44,330/year and only 18% of students are classified as an ethnic minority) felt OK to do so speaks volumes about attitudes in the area. CC has a pretty strict student code and more than a few hockey players that have played there over the year have run afoul of one part of the policy or another. Last year it was widely believed that Aaron Slattengren was dismissed for some form of cheating. This year two players received lengthy suspensions but for the sake of these player's privacy word never "leaked" out as to the cause. Cody Lampl was suspended from school until January 2009 and Derek Patrosso was suspended until earlier this week when he re-enrolled and is magically eligible even though he hasn't been anywhere near the school for almost 4 months. Nice how that works out for the hockey program eh? The school was named by the Princeton Review as one of the top pot smoking universities in the nation so everything there isn't completely crappy I guess. For a school that is basically a liberal arts college it sure doesn't sound too "liberal". In 2002 the student run newspaper ran what it later termed a spoof article describing a new TV network called "Niggalodeon" with blackfaced "Rugrats" and references to crack, crime, fried chicken and watermelons (I shit you not!). I don't think it'd be an unfair characterization to call the place elitist and intolerant. And just in case you were wondering, there is a black person on staff at the New Life Christian Church (39 white people too). It's good to see at least they're "inclusive" eh? Seriously, if you can find one other picture of a person of color on their website I'll send them a $10 donation.

It makes one wonder if perhaps it is something in the water? But a with a bit of research I learned that Colorado Springs is one of the brave cities in the United States that (in 2002) have removed the evil flouride from their water. LOL. Hopefully, my readers are smart enough to realize that the stupid paranoia about flouridated water has been debunked over and over again. Maybe "The Springs" needs to put the flouride back in? The more I read about this city the more I long for a visit to Fairbanks. Maybe it's the slightly lower atmospheric pressure that is responsible for the weirdness in that place? Water boils there at about 200 degrees instead of the 212 degrees the rest of us are used to.

Now for my only two experiences in "The Springs". I thought I killed a kid there once. In a soccer tournament while playing for the Lakewood U-16 team against the New Mexico All-Stars (after I'd scored a sweet goal with a beauty of a left-footed in-swinger directly from a corner), I was in the middle of the field and the ball presented itself to me that was a natural for an overhead volley. So of course being a show off I took the opportunity and played it that way. Well, this poor kid on the other team had decided he'd go up for a header on the same ball and on the follow through my foot connected full on with the front of his face. He went down like a sack of potatoes and didn't move. He was taken off (still not moving) with about 5 minutes left in the game and I spent the next 15 minutes on the sidelines gazing across the field watching people run to and fro while attending to him but apparently by the time the ambulance arrived he was conscious again. Freaked me out at the time (oh yeah .. we won the game 1-0) but at least nobody called me or anyone else on my team a "jungle bunny". The last time I was there some right-wing deeply repressed religious nutbag tried over and over again to make me run into him with my 35ft Winnebago by stopping short purposely over a couple of miles in rush hour traffic on I-25. I don't know why Randy May thought I was following too closely. I wasn't but at least he didn't call me a "zipperhead gook".

Man. I hope UAA beats the snot out of those honkees.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How to Beat a Tiger

Yesterday I gave you the reasons "Why" ... Today is the "How". On the Indian sub-continent when they needed to hunt down and kill a rogue tiger they employed elephants to help. The elephants size and strength was intimidating enough to keep the tigers at bay long enough for someone to crank off a head shot and turn out the lights on the miserable bugger. It is an apt metaphor for the Seawolves this weekend.

UAA is on average more than 10 pounds heavier than CC. UAA is #2 in height; CC is #40. UAA is #5 in weight; CC is #50. I have pointed out the size differences between UAA and their opponent in pretty much every series I've preview this season. I can't say that the Seawolves have used that size difference to it's best advantage over the course of the season. If there was an opportunity to bang the hell out of an opponent it is this weekend. CC is little. The Seawolves are big. I'm over-simplifying the difference perhaps but don't sell it short. Effectively utilizing their advantage in size and strength is the first of the several keys to victory this weekend. UAA has to hit in open ice, along the boards, in the corners and even in the hallways if necessary.

I believe the second key to victory is to play the best defensive games of the year. The Seawolves have improved their defensive play dramatically this season. The goals against total this season is the lowest in almost a decade. Shots given up per game are also dramatically down. CC's primary strength this season has been it's defensive strategy. First they trap a lot in order to disrupt the oppositions transition game. Second they pack it tightly in their own zone shutting down passing and shooting lanes then rely on their own excellent transition game to move the puck up the ice. This leads me to one conclusion. The Seawolves have to extensively employ the trap this weekend. When CC gains control of the puck in their end the Seawolves need to get into trapping position and deny the transition. When the puck makes it into the UAA end they Seawolves need to play the game defensively like they already know how to do. Blocking passing and shooting lanes and packing it in tightly is nothing new for the Seawolf squad. Defensively they've been good all season. So more of the same is necessary. The new thing will be the trapping. Trapping is pretty simple as long as forwards take that role seriously and drop back to the high zone or blueline quickly. When given a taste of their own medicine CC has struggled. Three of their four games against Wisconsin were close and they only managed a split against Mankato's high zone zone trap. Likewise when faced with MTU's trap they ended up with a split as well. They beat everyone else in the WCHA that didn't trap them.

The third key for the Seawolves is the most difficult one to accomplish. We all know that burying the puck hasn't been a strength for this years team. We've witnessed many many ties and many one goal games all of which were clearly the result of the Seawolves inability to convert. There is no useful suggestion which I can offer that will make the puck go into the net more often. So as the coaching staff has acknowledged and preached the team is just going to have to stay determined and keep at it.

If UAA can be effective in these three critical areas then Seawolf fans should expect low scoring very tightly played hockey games this weekend. That's how I see it. Beating CC shouldn't be some deeply complex mysterious thing. Hit them hard, early and often. Use their primary strategy against them. And dig deep to find the back of the net. That's what it will take. Get caught up in an up and down pond hockey game and the Seawolves will probably get burned.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Why The Seawolves Will Advance vs. CC

The number 1 seed playing the number 10 seed in the WCHA playoffs has historically been a near impossibility for an upset. Only once since 1993 has the #10 beaten the #1. The winner that year? MTU. The loser? CC. On three occasions the #10/#1 match-up has gone to 3 games. That's the facts jack. Regardless, I believe in the Seawolves and here are some reasons that I say UAA will take it's 2nd trip to the Final Five after disposing of CC this weekend.
  1. CC has nothing to play for. They've won the league championship already. They're going to the NCAA's as a #1 seed on their home rink. Going to the Final Five is just a pain in the ass for them. Final Five profits are divided equally among the leagues teams. They don't need to go to get their share of the booty. They'll go deeper into the NCAA's with the extra rest that skipping the Final Five will give them. Can you say no motivation?
  2. UAA has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Every Seawolf player wants to keep playing. Nobody wants the season to end. There is no excuse not to play the absolute best hockey of the season this weekend. So they will. Can you says tons of motivation?
  3. CC's last National Championship was 51 years ago. They lost to the #10 seed 14 years ago. 51-14 = 37. Numerical substition for S-E-A-W-O-L-V-E-S = 118. 118-37=81. The square root of 81 (10th place - 1st place) = 9. What more could you want? The math gods are on UAA's side.
  4. The Seawolves have a nickname that respectfully reflects the culture of the indigenous people of the local area. The closest actual Tiger to CC is like 10,000 miles away in Sumatra.
  5. Altitude will not be a factor. As I type this UAA is en route to Colorado and will have the days necessary to adapt.
  6. There are 189 mountain peaks in Alaska higher than any mountain in Colorado.
  7. My dad is better than Randy May's dad.
  8. Karma will deny CC the series victory because of their shitty B2 only video with the annoyingly freakish floating Tiger head. Come on Colorado Springs ... get into the 21st century. Why the NCAA would award a regional playoff to a berg than apparently has no satelittle uplink facilities is beyond comprehension. CC fans can blame the egg sucking putz local TV broadcasters for this weekends losses.
  9. Nobody wants to look at Scotty Owens at the Final Five. Let's face it. If they'd never shown Ron Jeremy's face in porn movies then we'd all still be addicted to porn. But alas a face like that should never be shown in any moving image media. Seeing Scotty Owen's face is an ugly reminder to everyone in attendance at the Final Five of their past porn addiction. Nobody needs that so it just ain't gonna happen.
  10. The super secret Eric Walsky multiple giveaway in the defensive zone plan comes to fruition this weekend. Ron Jeremy has no idea. He thinks he got a nice addition when Eric transferred. Little does he know that I gave Walsky some Manchurian Candidate programming.
  11. Richard Bachman is Stephen King's pseudonym. Stephen King is a Mainuh who writes books that often take place in a town called Castle Rock. There is a Castle Rock just outside of Colorado Springs. Maine fans have officially adopted UAA. Stephen King's favorite sport is Women's Basketball. The UAA womens basketball team is having it's best year ever. It all adds up to one thing. As Lyle Woods (UAA's arena announcer) would say, "Another Seawolf victory!"
  12. The most famous person to come from Colorado Springs is probably Lon Chaney (the original Hunchback of Notre Dame). Quasimodo has got to be the most inspiring underdog of all time eh? Lon Chaney never play a Tiger in a movie. He did play a cousin of the Seawolf though .. the Werewolf. A good portion of his career included movies with Alaska themes. None of his roles had anything to do with Colorado Springs.
  13. Neutral zone trapping is for pussies. Hey CC forwards ... come on dudes. You know you don't want to lock back onto the blueline and wait. You want to forecheck! I know you do! Don't listen to Owen's this weekend. Go ahead and rush the UAA zone. Ignore Ron Jeremy! It doesn't matter anyway fellas. Play the game they way you were raised to play it. Go after the puck. Fuck that trapping BS!
  14. The league had no positive drama this season. It was all negative. OMG ... Why are the Gophers "teh Suck"? Waaaa ... Okposo left midseason ... Waaaa ... Trotter left midseason. Where is the heartwarming story? Mankato? LOL. Troy Jutting heartwarming? Nope not unless you think Craig Dahl's sister dressing up like a man is heartwarming. The positive drama just hasn't happened yet. After this weekend everyone in the WCHA will have a warm spot in their hearts for the Seawolves. Even CC fans.
  15. The Seawolves will win because they deserve it. All season they've been a bounce or two away from god only knows how many wins. Fate will intervene and make sure that the Hockey Gods don't screw the Seawolves anymore than they already have.
Thats the deal. Listen to me now and believe me later. And go ahead; try to poo poo all my rationale. You can't do it.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Black Bear Fans Adopt UAA

Regular readers will recognize that I really dislike referring to CC by their current nickname (Tigers). I think it is just a stupid nickname. A couple of years ago I saw a CC fan with the moniker "Black Bears" on USCHO who apparently doesn't like the "Tiger" name either. All that is really unimportant in terms of this post except for me to clarify which Black Bears I'm talking about. The title of today's post refers to University of Maine Black Bears (you could probably tell by the picture huh?). Their season is over and in respect of SUZE's contributions to their season thread on USCHO and their fondness for departed assistant Campbell Blair they have officially adopted UAA to cheer for this weekend against the "Tigers". Thanks Mainuh's! If I'm not mistaken UAA is the most western school in D1 hockey and Maine is the most eastern. With CC's relative central position perhaps some mysterious vice-like fandom mental energy can come into play this weekend. So in honor of the support of the fine Maine fans I thought I'd share my one Shawn Walsh story.

Back in the D1 Independent days it was always difficult to schedule opponents. For several years UAA made an east coast road swing playing various teams over a week or week and a half. Gawd ... they must have missed a lot of school! At some point though someone arranged for Key Bank to act as some sort of sponsor and Maine and UAA played 2 games against one another at home. Key Bank found it useful to promote it since the two areas represented their most eastern and western branches.

I'm fairly certain the events I'll describe happened in the 2nd game of the series here in Anchorage (but if my memories of the events are different than yours please jump in the comments section and correct them). It has to be noted again here that this was back in the "Independent" days and to be honest occasionally there was some home-cooking by the local referees. It was usually just appetizers ya know but once in a while they laid out a full spread. UAA had beaten the Black Bears on Friday night and a win or a tie would wrap up the Key Bank "championship" since the Seawolves had split earlier in the year in Maine. Seawolf teams under Brush Christiansen were never known for their subtle physical play. I remember a bench clearing brawl with Air Force once at the Sully and can distinctly recall a radio description of goalie Jeff "Buff" Carlson chasing a UMass player up the ice and giving him a wicked two handed slash across the back. Sometimes it wasn't pretty but you could walk away from the rink satisfied that if your team didn't win the game on the scoresheet at least they won the fights.

In any case, on this particular Saturday night UAA had built a 2 goal lead on the strength of it's power play and Shawn Walsh was not too pleased. I hope my memory isn't fooling me but with time left on the clock in the second period Walsh led his team off the ice to the astonishment and ire of a full Sullivan Arena. I don't think I've ever heard sustained cat calling and booing for as long. Since the time on the clock for the period was relatively short (around a minute) the referees just called the period and UAA headed for it's locker room. When the ice was Zammed and the intermission was over the Seawolves came back onto the ice and took their places on the bench. But no Black Bears. The joint was going nuts with Booing and many a colorful description of Walsh's manhood were being yelled. It took several minutes but eventually the Maine team came back out onto the ice and wound up losing the game. The 3rd period was perhaps the only period that weekend that was called straight up fairly by the referees.

So thanks for not holding that ancient screw-job against us Maine fans! We appreciate your support and postive mental energy for the Seawolves in this weekends series against a team that should be called Black Bears. We UAA fans are aware of what it's like to get homered as it happened to us last year in Colorado Springs when the referee called a series of ridiculous "interference" penalty on face-offs and sent UAA players to the box both nights early in the two OT games. The first night the Seawolves overcame that crap calls and won. On the second night CC pulled out a victory but UAA won the fight! You can read (and/or participate) in the USCHO thread by clicking here.

I'll be back tomorrow with a list of reasons UAA will win this weekend and advance to the Final Five.

Alumni Extra: Glencross Notes

I have a hard and fast rule about only writing about current Seawolves. I do so primarily for selfish reasons; the amount of time that it takes to follow everyone and do a fair job of it is simply too much for me. It's great that over the last couple of years that Doyle Woody started blogging because he does a good job of following ex-Seawolves and providing updates. I had noticed a couple of newsworthy bits regarding Curtis Glencross this past week and waited to see Doyle make note of them on his blog but it didn't come. So faced with emailing Doyle and hoping he'd note these things or just posting them myself; I figured I could break my rule just this once.

The Edmonton Oilers hosted a team skills competition to a sold out Rexall Arena last week. Curtis Glencross won the fastest skater competition. That was a nice surprise since teammate Shawn Horcroff had actually won the last NHL All-Star game competition and most Oiler fans assumed that Andrew Cogliano was the fastest player on the squad. Perhaps the bigger surprise here though is that Curtis won the event with an "unofficial" NHL record time of 13.37 seconds. Wows.

The other interesting tidbit is a featured radio interview with Curtis on the Oilers weekly radio show. Curtis talks about his time in Anchorage briefly. You can listen to that entire interview by clicking on this link. Curtis has had a nice first full season in the NHL. So far this season he has 9 goals and 9 assists in 49 games, is a +6 overall and has done that playing an average of about 12 minutes per game. Curtis becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. With all the nice additions to his resume this season he looks to substantially increase his $550,000 a year salary.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sunday Potpourri: Whoring Edition

I like to give these little Sunday ditty's a theme. Today's theme comes courtesy of a Sunday afternoon streetwalker that amused my daughter and her friends as I drove them to the bowling alley. Inspiration is an odd thing. It cometh from whereth it cometh and that is the way iteth. Earlier this season after a difficult loss to Wisconsin I cursed the hockey gods saying:
Seemed like no matter what the Seawolves did tonight it wasn't enough to satisfy the hockey gods. To me that makes the hockey gods a bunch of bastards. Yep, I said it; the hockey gods are bastards. Their mothers are harlots and their fathers are wayward scum!
I meant it. I still feel that way especially after seeing their whoring mother walking down the street today. Before you get all worried that I'm going to jinx the team by disrespecting the hockey gods just be aware that they sure aren't going to come to UAA's aid next weekend in Colorado Springs no matter what I do. Nothing I could say would sway them to the Seawolf cause. All the platitudes and compliments I could come up with wouldn't make a difference. They're whores to CC; why else would they choose the Springs for their "Garden of the Gods"? And anyhow, supplication to some imagined deity in return for some kind of renumeration would just make me a whore wouldn't it? Not to mention it is soooo not my style.

Don't think for a moment that I haven't considered that what I do here is akin to whoring. I realized that last summer when I put up the "Donate" button in hopes of prostituting my way to the Final Five this year. I quietly took it down back in January because frankly it's complete lack of success was a constant reminder of what an ugly whore I must be. I think it's always better to be a slut than a whore. I'd rather give it up for free anyway. In that manner I get to enjoy it for the sake of it instead of feeling that I have to provide a service for some fee. I regret having been a whore and so I will not ask the hockey gods for anything. I'll just expect the Seawolves to overcome the obvious wickedness perpetrated by these overrated bullshit self-righteous dieties.

Alaska is pretty famous these days for it's high number of whores. The list of corrupt bastards grows and grows slowly as we learn that that Big Oil stuffed the pockets of virtually anyone that would open them. The latest was former Gov. Murkowski's Chief of Staff Jim Clark who whored himself to VECO or campaign fundage on behalf of the dumbass he worked for. I have to give Clark some credit though as he is the only one of these bastards that fessed up completely and apologized openly last week. It is somewhat of a hopeful sign that he hasn't seemed to personally have benefited financially. The sooner the Federal prosecutors get to the two biggest whores the better. Ben Stevens and Ted Stevens disgust me and the apparent amount of personal graft they received far exceeds the pittances that most of the other whoring corrupt bastards reportedly received. I saw Ted once in the Carr's Safeway Aurora Village store years and years ago. I threw up a little in my mouth back then. He's a decrepit old fart now so if I ever happen across him again I'll just point and laugh. His son Ben wouldn't be so lucky though. That punk ass whore would get some serious in his face confrontation action if I came across him. Alaska has had three right wing idealogues in Washington D.C. since forever it seems (Don Young, Ted Stevens and Frank/Lisa Murkowski). It would be difficult to imagine three (or four) stupider whores if you tried. None of the three whoring bastards has actually lived in this state in the past 25 years. Yet the dolts in this whorehouse of a state kept electing them. Why? Because they brought home the bacon. Man oh man. If that doesn't make Alaska a "State of Whores" I don't know what does. I'm mostly ashamed of my fellow voters here but like so many other things I have optimism for the future. If the world truly has any justice remaining then Uncle Ted and Auntie Don will lose their jobs this election cycle. I hope it does; though I have to admit a bit of cynicism adhering to my optimism. I lack complete faith that my fellow Alaskan's can really overcome their whoring tendencies though.

The WCHA regular season certainly had it's share of surprises for me this season. If Lammy didn't play so well for UND my predictions of a less than successful season for them may have been correct. But he did play exceptionally well all season and I was wrong. I did peg CC as the best team in the league. It really wasn't hard to see that. I called DU's year a probable rebuilding year. But the Pioneers really overachieved in my book. Or maybe just Brock Trotter did? In any case, I'd have to say I was wrong about them when I figured the highest they could finish was 4th. I pegged MTU with an NCAA playoff win before the season started and for the 1st half they looked to be living up to that. But down the stretch they seemed to have lost the magic and along with UAA are one of only two WCHA teams that won't get in the NCAA's without winning the Final Five and getting the autobid that comes with that. I said the Gophers were probably looking at a top three finish. And if Stoa hadn't been injured early and Okposo bolted midstream I probably would have been close to right. Duluth's record sure outpaced my predictions for most of the season but ultimately they landed in 8th place. They aren't out of "it" yet though. A WCHA playoff win and a couple of wins in the Final Five over the right opponent and who knows. They could see an at large bid. I picked SCSU as a likely WCHA road playoff team. But their two ties against UND this weekend locked up the last home ice spot for them. I may have overrated Wisonsin for two years in a row. I thought Turris would spark more offense but Bucky still couldn't bury the puck enough to earn a home ice spot. Sure they could still get into the NCAA's and then anything can happen (Michigan State proved that last year eh?) but like I said that is the case with 8 WCHA teams. My worst prognostication was with regard to Mankato. I figured they suck it up big time. But they got the Eaves trap down solid and managed to find a way to bag enough goals at good times to finish in 4th place and host the Gophers in the WCHA playoffs. I wonder if Mankato's AD is checking with the Xcel Energy Center to see if he can move his playoff games there as he did for a regular season game versus the Gophers a couple of years ago. I saved that for last since the guy is obviously a whore.

The biggest whore in Minnesota lately though seems to be the President of Bemidji State Jon Quistgaard. First he flailed his arms around in the "our program will die if" the WCHA doesn't save us dance. The WCHA responded by agreeing to try to schedule Bemidji more often and Quistgaard runs around called it a scheduling agreement. Funny that the WCHA never called it a "scheduling agreement". Now the guy is using the same sort of whoring extortion with the Minnesota legislature to get his school a new rink. Bemidji obviously has a long rich tradition in the college hockey world and they ought to get support to build a new rink I suppose. Tons of rubes in Minnesota think that the WCHA should add them as a member to save the program. I'm not opposed to any of that philosophically but I'll tell you what; Jon Quistgaard's whoring gesticulations that the sky is falling are souring me quickly. The program can move back to D3 and continue their rich tradition at that level. It's a tiny little berg with less than 15,000 people in the city. Sometimes selling yourself to the high rollers can result in some bruising ya know? Not every whore is suited to the Las Vegas strip. Some of them probably ought to stay on Spenard Road.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Sunday Potpourri: Fried Green Tomatoes

I'll eat a panload of those acutely disgusting unripened fried tomatoes before I'll stomach the regular season as it happened. Yep. I'm not going to spend the weeks before the WCHA playoffs or the off-season focus on records or numbers. The team was better than their record. Plain and simple. I know it. You know it. The coaches know it. The players know it. The opponents know it. Why am I sticking with the same refrain? Because it's the truth. Reality "suggests" the team is exactly as good as it's record. But sports is often a case where truth and reality can be in opposition. That's how it is. I've convinced myself it's the case. And I guess that's all I'm going to say about it.

If I'm not mistaken UAA's first round opponent isn't quite set. Colorado College is in 1st place with 39 points and UND is 2pts back with 37. Colorado College faces a home and home series with arch-rival DU this weekend and UND host's St. Cloud for a pair. If the teams finish tied then CC will have the better out of conference record. They split in their only series of the year against one another. I'm not exactly all up to speed with regard to the tiebreakers. I'm hoping they go to "WayLessThanGrand" Forks only because we might get to see it on TV. I'm guessing the UND games earlier this season weren't on TV because the originator thinks it's worth more than it is and GCI choked on paying whatever the were asking. There seems little chance of seeing a game from CC as I don't think one has EVER been on in Anchorage.

I'm dispensing with any sort of recap of Saturday except to say that with the game at 2-1 instead of a puck off a Gopher thigh onto Selby's stick we had a puck off a Seawolf defenseman dropping in front of a Gopher forward. That's the difference between a 2-2 tie and a 3-1 loss. Just one bounce on both nights determined the game. The ADN's story was pretty much right on so read it if you haven't already.