Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Beware The Trojan Horse: S.A.I.T. Preview

The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology is UAA's preseason opponent this Friday at the Curt Menard II Memorial Sports Center (which is uncomfortably close to the Palin's Wasilla compound). It would be wrong for me not to note that the game starts at 7:07pm. I'm sure you already knew that. I've got lots today that you didn't know about the upcoming opponent.

SAIT's nickname is The Trojans. They are the ACAC reigning champions. Whatever the ACAC is? It's unclear if that's actually a part of the CIS or something seperate from it? Ahem .. the CIS is the Canadian counterpart to the NCAA. Their website says that they're 6 time winners of the Canadian Colleges National Championship. So is all that good? I recognize one of their opponents. The University of Calgary Dinos; but I don't know who the AUG Vikings are. Neither do I know who or what the NAIT Ooks are. But I bet the Ooks are the Trojan's big rival. Too bad they're not the NAIT Durex's ... eh? Get it? Nudge nudge ...

The Trojans are comprised of a mix of former Junior A, CHL and professional players. Yes. Players with more than a little bit of experience playing both A and AA professional hockey (ECHL, IHL, SPHL). Well, 2 of them anyway. They're both 27 years old. Mostly though the team is former junior A players that didn't have the sorts of numbers to get them into the NCAA or former CHL players that didn't get opportunities to go pro. Most of them are in the 22-25 year old range. They're mostly all from Alberta and they're mostly all pretty big but overall not as big as the Seawolves.

The best thing about having this Canadian college team to play against is that they are the first guys that the Seawolves can hit in earnest. Sure ... there are full contact practices. But are you really going to crush your teammate (other than Nils Backstrom of course) the same way you will hit some random Albertan on a half-baked team? There are a couple of great names on the Trojans. Tommy Tartaglione in goal, forward Shadoe Stoodley and another forward named Lust. Who else could a guy named Lust play for but the Trojans? The only thing better would be if they had a player named Jimmy Hat.

None of their players look to be of the goon variety. So that's a good thing. They're in their preseason too. I'd imagine a trip to Alaska is a bit of a cool thing (as opposed to going to Northern Alberta for the 433rd time) so they shouldn't be going home too upset about getting throttled. And the Seawolves better throttle them. I'm just sayin ...

Seriously though. Watch the video. Great stuff. Go back and click the play button now because I know you didn't before you started reading. Everyone needs some 1978 Euro-Pop to brighten their day. And hey ... they're from The Netherlands. As far as I know none of them are related to Mitch "Dutch" Bruijsten. That song was #1 somewhere ... apparently (there are multiple versions of it on youtube!). Gotta "LUV" it.


Now for some important information. The Seawolves will host a free "Skate With The Seawolves" immediately following the SAIT game. They will sign autographs and kids are reminded to bring their own skates to participate. If you bring someone else's skates they might not fit. There are skate rentals available at the arena. Nobody has to fear that I'd sharpen my skates and take a lap. I won't.

Recruit Update: Starting Another Season

This is the first of several Recruit Updates that I'll have over the course of the season. At minimum, I'll post another near mid-season and again near the end of the season. I'll post other newsy tidbits throughout the season as well.

There are currently nine future Seawolves on the docket. 4 are playing in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. 2 are plying their trade in the British Columbia Hockey League. And 1 each are playing in the USHL, NAHL and in Sweden. The USHL and Swedish league are on the cusp of beginning their regular seasons. All the other leagues are well underway.

In alphabetical order:

Scott Allen
(Forward, DOB July 6th, 1990: 6ft 3in 190lbs):
Scott is a big left-handed power winger skating with the Spruce Grove Saints. In 6 regular season games he has tallied 3 goals and 2 assists with 23 penalty minutes. Spruce Grove has played 8 games and his absence in the lineup for two games is a mystery to me. I'll assume that it was related to some hopefully minor injury. He did play in their most recent tilt. Scott is a linemate of UAA recruit Brett Cameron and is well regarded. Last season he notched 15 goals and added 15 assists in 49 games with 124 penalty minutes. It's likely that the line he plays on will become the highest scoring trio in the AJHL this season.

Matt Bailey
(Forward, DOB April 5th, 1991: 6ft 1in 185lbs):
Matt first committed to UAA while a member of the Neepawa Natives in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. In his rookie year in that league he scored 13 goals and added 15 assists in 56 games. Last season he joined the USHL's Tri-City Storm and scored 10 goals with 14 assists in 58 games. This season Matt is with Sioux Falls in that league. Tri-City had a horrible year but this season Matt's team in SF looks to be in the mix as possibly one of the stronger teams in the league. Sioux Falls first regular season game is scheduled for this Friday. In three preseason games Matt scored 1 goal on a power play and added 1 assist.

Gustav Bengtson
(Forward, DOB August 31, 1989: 5ft 10in 185lbs):
Gustav came onto UAA's radar while playing AAA Midget Major for the Northwest Regulators in the 06-07 season. Since that time he's been on a bit of an unfortunate whirlwind tour of North American junior leagues. He made the powerful Cedar Rapids roster in the USHL in 07 but was buried down the depth chart and so was traded to the Texas Tornado in the NAHL where he did well scoring 9 goals with 13 assists in 37 games. Texas ceased operations for the 08-09 season to build an arena or something so in 08-09 Gustav found himself on the Topeka Roadrunners roster. After little playing time on that stacked team he was traded to the Kenai River Brown Bears. He finished the final 28 games with that club with 2 goals and 7 assists. Gustav has returned home to Sweden for a final season before coming to UAA. He is with the Sollentuna Hockey Club playing what is essentially a North American overage junior year. I have a contact who will supply me with updates throughout the season which is just about to start (as best as Google Translate can tell me).

Brett Cameron
(Forward, DOB May 11th, 1990: 6ft 2in 195lbs):
Brett is a highly regarded right-handed power winger with the Spruce Grove Saints. He is a linemate of fellow UAA recruit Scott Allen. Brett is currently attending the Canada West World Junior A Challenge evaluation camp. In 8 games so far this year he has 2 goals and 7 assists with 24 penalty minutes. He is playing with (former UAA recruit target) centerman Adam Henderson who left Michigan State after his freshman year. Brett finished last season as the 12th leading scorer and could be expected to be among the top scorers in that league by the end of this season; making him one of the NCAA blue-chip recruits from that league. He has all the tools to help him succeed when he gets to UAA next season.

Matthew Friese
(Forward, DOB April 17th, 1992; 5ft 1oin 170lbs):
Matthew is now in his 2nd year with the Alaska Avalanche in Wasilla. Last season in 34 regular season games he scored 4 goals and had 4 assists. Don't let the numbers fool you; he was in his rookie year as a 16 year old playing in a league full of 20 year old player in thier 3rd or even 4th year of juniors. Everything I know about Matthew tells me he is a skilled puck handling, playmaking and scoring forward. This season in 7 games he has 1 goal and 4 assists. The Avalanche look to have perhaps their best lineup ever this season and as it progresses I'd expect Matt's production to increase.

Rob Gunderson
(Goaltender, DOB April 1st, 1990; 6ft 186lbs):
Rob is currently attending the Canada West World Junior A Challenge evaluation camp. In 6 starts this season with the Brooks Bandits, Rob is unbeaten and sports an impressive .944 save percentage with a 2.16 goals against average. Rob is a stud. Not much doubt about that. In 08-09 Rob finished with a stellar 26-8-3 record for 2nd best in the league and a .912 sv%. During his freshman year at UAA, I'd expect that Rob will give Bryce some serious quality competition for playing time.

Sam Mellor
(Forward, DOB November 13th, 1992; 5ft 10in, 175lbs):
I've reached that point in my UAA fan career when recruits are younger than my daughter. Sam was a bit of a phenom last season in the KIJHL Junior B league as a 15 year old scoring 19 goals and adding 21 assists in a league full of 20 year olds. I have the highest possible hopes that Sam should match or exceed those totals in the B this season. In 8 games so far this season he has 4 goals and 3 assists with the Trail Smoke Eaters and looks to be settling in nicely in his rookie season there as a 16/17 year old. The Smoke Eaters are struggling early with a very young team overall. They're 1-6-1 in those 8 games which have come against some of the stronger teams in the league. Sam will be one of the few "true" 18 year old players at UAA when he gets here next season. For comparison's sake ... think Kevin Clark.

Wes McLeod
(Defense, DOB September 30th, 1990; 6ft 2in 185lbs):
Wes is also currently attending the Canada WEst World Junior A Challenge evaluation camp. In 6 games with the Prince George Spruce Kings this season, he has 3 goals and 4 assists along with 15 penalty minutes. That's good enough to be the 3rd leading scorer on PG's lineup. Wes is a highly regarded blueliner who at one point looked to be coming to UAA this season. But numbers being what they are, returning to the B for another season looks to be a good decision. Wes will have an additional year to add some bulk to his frame. And oh yeah ... Happy 19th Birthday to him today. Wes looks to be a potential All-WCHA player at some point during his NCAA career.

Quinn Sproule

(Defense, DOB May 5th, 1990; 6ft 195lbs):
Quinn plays for the Okotoks Oilers in the AJHL. Last season he lead that team's blueliners in goals with 12 and added 19 assists. Word is that he moves the puck up the ice extremely well. For some reason I can't help but think of him as a larger version of Curtis Leinweber. So far this season, Quinn has tallied 3 goals in 7 games. No assists? Does that mean I get to say that all he does is score goals? It will be interesting to watch how many he scores this season. I'm betting on at least 20.

That pretty much covers it for now. Best of luck to all these guys during their junior seasons. Before I do the next Recruit Update you can expect to hear about whatever "fall signings" that UAA gets. This is one of the busiest times of the year for recruiters so I've no doubt that Campbell and Regg are racking up the frequent flier miles finding some more gems to add to future UAA squads that only look to be better and better.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Baldwin on INCH Recruit Rankings

Seawolf freshman defenseman Lee Baldwin (#7, 6'4" 203lbs) was listed today in the top 20 recruits for the 09-10 season as compiled by Inside College Hockey. Lee was the BCHL's leading scoring defenseman last season playing on the Victoria Grizzlies.

He scored 13 goals and added 41 assists. Lee was favorably compared in style to NHL'r Rob Blake. His tool set includes a reported bruising physical game, heavy shot and good skating.

Lee should see a high amount of ice time throughout the season. His maturity will likely serve him well in the competitive WCHA. Lee joins an experienced group of blueliners at UAA that includes 4 upperclassmen (Sr. Nils Backstrom, Sr. Trevor Hunt, Jr. Kane Lafranchise, Jr. Luka Vidmar), sophomore phenom Curtis Leinweber and freshman classmate NAHL Defensive Player of the Year Drew Darwitz.

This lineup comprises one of the most experienced and talented group of defenseman to skate for the Seawolves in any single season. They will be expected to again continue last year's 2nd lowest WCHA opposition shot total as well as generate an increase in the 18 goals tallied by last years defensive squad.

Congratulations to Lee on being named to this (subjective) list. I of course would have placed him higher than the #20 ranking he garnered.

Polls Should Be Motivation For Seawolves

Pretty much just as I predicted on September 20th, below are the two main WCHA polls. These polls mean only one general thing to me. That UAA players ought to play every single minute of this season with a massive chip on their shoulder. They should take offense at it and play harder than they've ever played the game before. It's the best motivation their competitors could give them. They should remember it as being disrespected. They should manufacture a double-hulled super-tanker load of "I told ya so" each and every time they hit the ice. Let it piss you off fellas. And let that motivate you. You DO have something to prove. And this is your opportunity.

Here's what I predicted the WCHA Coaches poll would look like:
1. DU, 2. UND, 3. UW, 4. UofM, 5. SCSU, 6. UMD, 7. MSUM, 8. CC, 9. UAA, 10. MTU

Here's how I would have voted if I'd been asked to fill one out:
1. DU, 2. UW, 3. UND, 4. UAA, 5. UofM, 6. UMD, 7. SCSU, 8. MSUM, 9. CC, 10. MTU
Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own teams in the Coaches Poll. So clearly every coach picked MTU last. If every coach had picked UAA 9th then the total would have been 18 (even though I lack any algebraic skills, I can do that much math). It looks to me that 8 of them picked UAA 9th and one picked them 7th.

The two media representatives from Alaska (out of a total of 25 voters) who voted in the Media Poll are Kurt Haider and Doyle Woody. I can't easily come up with a clear combination of votes to get to the number of points listed. I suppose several variations would put it at those numbers. Any math whiz willing to do the analysis and comment is welcome.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday Potpourri: Sense and Nonsense

It's 9am, Sunday September 27th, 2009 and I pretty much got nothing. You know the Sunday deal by now. A little bit of this and some of that. And before you know it there's Internet blog magic here right? Not today. Usually, I've got several ideas about what to blather about. I'm fully capable of just rambling (err ... extemporaneous writing) but I know you don't want to read a bunch of codswallop.

I could give you some of my commie claptrap. Whaddya think? I'm prescient enough to know you're groaning as you read that, so I'm not about to go there today. Fear not though, there'will be sporadic Marxist proselytizing over time. I can't wait to see Michael Moore's, "Capitalism: A Love Story" when it opens this coming Friday night. Oh wait ... I'll be at a hockey game that night. DAMNIT!


If you're unlike so many of us then you may just be getting around to checking this place out. The rest of us are obsessed, so we've been thinking about hockey for like a month. If you're too lazy to scroll down and check out all my preseason stuff then just click on the following links:

Don't think for a second that I won't be checking to see if anyone clicks those links. I'm always staring at my hit counter thingy. This month I've already had the 2nd highest number of hits EvAh here and if you guys will check back 10 or 20 times each day this coming week then September 09 could go over 9,000 hits for the first time. Since there aren't any hilariously funny "Internet Meme" bandwagons for me to jump on then I'm depending on you hockey readers to make that happen.


Speaking of that moron Glenn Beck. I'm kidding ... I'm kidding. Here's a puck bunny pic. Jeez ... don't be so sensitive.

I like her shoes. Yeah ... that's the ticket. Her shoes are real nice, eh? I swear the Internet is running out of hockey related sexy girl pictures.


All the Junior A leagues have started. Goalie Rob Gunderson is "teh shit" so far ... unbeaten with Brooks in the AJHL, ya know. Without looking, I'm pretty sure that everybody has has scored at least one goal. Three guys have been invited to the Canada West World Junior A Challenge Evaluation Camp (Cameron, McLeod and Gunderson). I will have fully fledged recruit update in a few days. It seems to take that bloody long to write those. And the longer I wait to do it the better all their stats ought to look.


It isn't exactly any sort of Internet "buzz" but the Seawolves are getting a mention here and there as a "darkhorse" candidate in the WCHA this season. Hell, I think we're pretty much a darkhorse candidate any year. Not that anything almost anyone on USCHO's fan forum has to say is meaningful. But hey, I'm trying to give you something other than politics here. If you click on the thread above you'll even notice a Fairbanks fan on the Seawolf bandwagon.

The small existing active Seawolves contingent at that joint could use some help though. In the past, I've encouraged you guys to go over there and post. This is me doing so again. RePReSEnT! If you're already registered then get busy. If you're not then register ... Suggested names to register with ... DTP Clone ... DTP RuLeZ!! ... DTP Sent Me ... Anything along those lines would amuse me. Of course, I could make a sockpuppet and start posting again. Plenty of other banned folks have done so. But I'm not the kind of guy to go back into a bar after I've been 86'd so I sure won't go back there. I'll read it. But I won't post there.


This management of whitespace via these breaks makes unimportant posts like this look really long. It's not that I'm all about things looking longer than they actually are. I'm generally quite comfortable with the actual length of things.


The English Premier League pretty much sucked again for me this weekend. It goes that way when you're always determined to root for the underdogs. Anyone can be a Manchester United fan. I used to be one. How hard is it to cheer for Man U, Chelsea or Arsenal when they have virtually every "superstar" that exists on their rosters? Fulham is 17th out of 20 on the EPL table, I didn't get to see the 2nd half of them losing to Chelsea yesterday. Tottenham is doing nicely in 4th place but of course this season they've lost to Man U and Chelsea for two of their three losses.

Oh ... and don't try to watch fitba (Scottish word for soccer) on the TV while you have one streaming on the computer. I think I missed every goal in the two games I was watching. Plus ... switching/muting the volume back and forth is a pain in the ass. Ick ... now "Serie A" (Italian league) is coming on. Shit I might have to watch the NFL. Nah. I'll watch the PGA instead.


So you're dying to know the big news in the wonderful world of physics this week? There's shitloads more water on the Moon than anyone ever imagined. And by shitloads I learned that if you processed 842 lbs of the lunar material that you'd get 12 ounces of water. More interestingly this week, I learned that there may be glaciers under the soil on Mars at mid-latitudes. You're really excited about all this space water news aren't you? You should be.

Now if somebody would just step up and discover/explain the underlying cause of gravity... I say it isn't mass (as if my intuition meant anything). Mass might just be a sort of artifact of something else. If I knew what that something else was I wouldn't be writing this hockey blog; I'd be across the pond collecting my Nobel prize. I'm holding out waiting for a Nobel category for "die-hard overly-optimistic hockey fans". I think I'd be a shoe-in.


The girls on the left look so pathetic. Get some self-esteem eh? Of course, I'm guessing that a Buffalo player or two was tempted to write down her number.

I hate that logo. What happened to the Buffalo? Sigh.

I don't know if the Leafs fan on the right has any self-esteem but then again does it really matter? Click on either or for larger versions.

I'm also guessing that most every single NHL player already has at least one girlfriend, so those chicks on the left shouldn't have waited around too long for the phone to ring. They'd have more luck with college players I'd think. Also, I'm guessing that at least 60 percent of the Sabres roster isn't into girls. Ya know? I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that because there isn't. I'm just saying. Thomas Vanek? Drew Stafford? Chris Butler? They all seemed pretty light in the shoes to me when they were in the WCHA.

Edit: Disregard my badly mistaken references to Buffalo above. I stupidly thought the "Sabres" had changed their logo. I don't want much NHL. The broads in the picture are from Tennessee. That in itself explains a lot. It kinda ruins my "gay joke" about those former WCHA players though. Also, what sorts of idiots call themselves the Predators and adopts a logo of a Sabretooth when there's a team in the league called "Sabres"? Answer: Tennesse idiots.


I've got a trio of food challenges for you this week. You really should try all three of these prepared as I describe them. The first is a Banana sandwich. Toast some typical whitebread (you know ... Wonder Bread or whatever) to your preferred darkness. Immediately spread copious amounts of butter (not margarine) on each slice so that it gets nice and melted. Then using your knife mash one medium-sized but ripe Banana onto one slice. Cover that with the other slice and ingest. It's simple and delicious.

The second involves toast as well. I'd recommend a nice Sourdough variety as opposed to that Wonder bread crap. Once again, toast the bread to your preferred darkness and spread a minimum amount of butter (not margarine) on each slice. Top the buttered toast with copious amounts of black raspberry jam (it's acceptable to use blackberry jam if you must, if you only have jelly ... throw it out and go buy some proper jam) on each slice and cover with slices of Kraft American cheese. It's sort of a trailer-trash version of pretentious French fruit/cheese combos. It's awesome. Seriously.

The third is a delectable dessert treat that is incredibly simple. You need two ingredients. Vanilla ice cream and Ruffles potato chips. Dole out your preferred sized serving of ice cream. Grab one handful of fresh Ruffles and crush them up in your hands. Not too small and not too big. Dump the Ruffles onto the ice cream and mix with spoon until smooth. It's "teh shit". Listen to me now and believe me later.

I expect some feedback from you guys on the food challenge. Give it a try. Don't be a wussie. Dean Talafous would never eat any of those. You wouldn't want to be like Dean Talafous.

Oops. I think there was some codswallop in there. Oh well. It's Sunday. I can't think of a better day to write nonsense.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Secrets To Success

I'm thinking this will all sound a bit obvious. But since I start my player/season previews etc ... so early (ahem ... back in August) and with the lack of any substantial news (a good thing generally), there isn't much for a blogger to write about. So, I thought today I'd give you my ideas about what needs to happen this season for the Seawolves to succeed.

First, allow me to define what I mean by succeed. At minimum this coming season, success means finishing with more points than last season. The 08-09 finish put the Seawolves only 6 points out of 5th place and home ice. If they'd won three more games (depending on other results of course) then we very may well have been sitting in the Sully watching playoff games instead of looking at them on TV from Denver. Let me put it simply, it was the best 9th place finish EvAH.

But would 24 points be a rousing success? Nah. It would be minimally successful but really only if the placement that 24 points gave was higher than 9th. My point here is, that each and every point and placement in the standings higher than last season will represent a higher level of success. Each of us fans will have varying degrees by which we measure that. For me, I'd say anything more than a 30 point season translates to "quite successful".

Allow me now to breakdown some parts of the game that will have to click to reach that 30 point plateau. In order of importance:

Team Defense
Last year the Seawolves gave up an average of 26.7 shots per in WCHA games. Only one other team had a lower average. This has been a statistic which has improved steadily during Shyiak's tenure. I like to think it has become a key part of the team's identity and I expect it will be somewhat of a strength this coming season.

Time and again we've all seen players going down to block shot attempts. It is a matter of commitment. Every player must be willing to get in front of a shot. It means sound positional play. It means getting in the lanes and being responsible. If the puck in in the Seawolves half of the ice, then the mindset of every player must be on taking away opportunities from the opposition. Every backchecking forward has to stay with their man. The defensemen have to face up and direct everyone as needed. If a shot attempt doesn't get to the goal then it can't go in the net.

Last season the Seawolves PK was a substandard 75.8%. For comparison's sake, Minnesota killed off over 89% of their penalties. A well-coached, well-prepared and properly executed penalty kill should be over 80%. All five teams in 1st through 5th last season finished with better than 80 PK's. All five teams in 6th through 10th didn't. The team took 18.5 minutes of penalties per game last season. Not the worst in the league, nor the best. Something less than that would be helpful. Obvious yet?

I hate talking about goaltending but I believe this is the 2nd most important facet of the upcoming season. Last season neither UAA netminder exceeded .900 save percentage. It seems that at one time or another both guys were victimized by flukes and/or garbage much more often that should be the case. It's not a knock on either one. Just a statement describing some circumstances. We definitely saw too many ... ARGHHHH moments.

Down the stretch though, both Jonny O and Bryce stepped up their games and for the first time in a couple of seasons, we saw one or the other actually stand on their head. Bryce finished with a real nice 2.60 GAA which came on the strength of his play in the 2nd half. In order to help the team reach it's goals, both guys will need to have better seasons. Goalies are going to give up the occasional softie. The fewer times that happens this season the more likely the team will succeed. In whatever combination they see action, a combined save percentage of over .900 and a GAA of less than 3 is going to be necessary. Still Obvious?

Transition Game
There is nary a team in the WCHA that can't put the pedal to the metal. There is a lot of run and gun hockey every weekend. Last season we saw one of the best skating Seawolf teams to EvAH hit the ice. There is speed throughout the lineup. I'm confident that UAA can (as they say) "skate with anybody".

But transitioning the puck from defense to offense isn't just about wheels. It's about tape to tape passing. Forwards have to be quick to recognize the change of possession. They have to see the ice well enough to get into position for the pass and have quick enough boots to get them there. Defensemen have to keep their heads up and decide quickly whether to pass or skate with the puck. And the choice they make will be damned important. A pass that doesn't click rarely turns into something positive. A carry that results in a dump to the wrong side doesn't help anything.

This is one part of the game where coaching makes a big big difference. Shyiak, Blair and Simon will need to do their homework every week to try to identify the various opponents tendencies. They will likely have to tweak the systems week to week. But ultimately, it will come down to the guys on the backend making good decisions with the puck and executing those choices effectively. Just as obvious?

69 goals in conference play was the total last season. That won't be enough this season to get to the previously discussed level of success. About 30% more pucks will have to find their way into the opponents nets this coming season. If that sounds like a shitload well ... it is and it isn't.

The Seawolves scored 2.46 goals per game last season. 85 goals would mean a smidgen more than 3 goals per game average. More than a couple of players will need to have their highest production in green and gold to make that happen. Guys that dropped their output from 07-08 to 08-09 will need to step up in 09-10. Some rookie forward(s) will have to contribute. Veteran blueliners will need to score more often. A rookie blueliner contributing would be a nice bonus.

The power play last season was a paltry 13%. That was pretty much identical to 10th place Michigan Tech who won a whole 2 WCHA games. Some combination of coaching and execution needs to happen to push that number somewhere closer to 20%. Coach Shyiak has it dead on right when he talks about first timing shots on the power play. The quicker the man on the point gets the shot off the more likely it will find a lane to the net. Look at any truly successful WCHA team and you'll find AT LEAST one guy on the blueline that can rip it first time. Obvious to me.

There isn't much a team can do to keep from getting bitten by the injury bug. On average in this league it seems that at least one team suffers from some serious manpower shortages due to injury every season. Last season that was Michigan Tech. The Seawolves have had their turn at that injury bug rotation in the past. The one thing the staff and players can do is ensure that everyone is in the best physical shape possible.

Hopefully, everyone worked their asses off during the summer and are continuing that modus operandi here in the preseason. Not even the best conditioning though can prevent certain injuries from happening. Perhaps one mitigating factor is roster size. The Seawolves have 22 skaters available in the first half and 23 in the 2nd half. That should help to turn an injury to one player into an opportunity for another.

Another helpful facet related to health may just be that this team is BIG. I know I've harped on that for a couple of years now. But this season we're going to see the largest Seawolf team to EvAH take the ice. I'm reckoning they'll be the largest team in Division 1. I know they're bigger than any other WCHA team ... by quite a bit in some cases.
Team Defense -- I'm confident it can be what it needs to be.
Goaltending -- There's every reason to expect Bryce and Jonny O to be improved
Transition Game -- There is quite a bit of experience and talent on the backend and enough speed on the frontend to improve this facet of the game.
Scoring -- It might seem like a tall order but we're talking about less than one more goal per game than last season.

Health -- The team is just so damn big and there's enough extra players that (knock on wood) it shouldn't be an issue.
I'm sure there is some other aspect/facet that I might have addressed here. What do you see as being important? Would you put these things in a different order?

In ancient Greece, a young man approached Socrates and queried him as to the secrets to success. Socrates took the young man by the hand and led him to a river. Together they walked into the water until the water was quite deep. At that point, Socrates pushed the young man under the water and held him there.

The young man struggled to no avail in order to return to the surface. At the point when the his struggle was lessening and his face was turning blue, Socrates pulled him to the surface. Wide-eyed, gasping and terrified the young man asked, "What the Fuck?"

Socrates answered his question with a question (philosophers do that). "What did you want more than anything else when you were under the water?" ... The young man answered, "Air." Then Socrates said, "Well, when you want success as much as you wanted air just now, then you'll most certainly achieve it."

I warned you it was all pretty much obvious.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Seawolves Practice: Day 2

I went to a doctor when I was 19 to see about getting my deviated septum (crooked nose) fixed. The one I ended up with was in his 70's. After doing a complete EENT examination he informed me that he believed the sort of septum surgery I wanted would be a potential long term problem. He said it would weaken it my nose. He offered to take out my tonsils instead.

They'd always been an issue for me so I said sure. During the post-exam discussion I asked him how long he'd been a doctor. He said, "I've been practicing medicine for 45 years." I immediately responded with, "Isn't it about time to stop practicing and step up to the plate in a real game?" Needless to say, I spent 3 days in the post-surgery unit getting IV Penicillin.

There is never much to glean from an early season practice. It was the same story today at the Wells Fargo Sports Center. There were lots of drills. Most of those I saw (I didn't stay for the full practice) were focused on neutral ice and transition. There were of course a few flubs and some sloppiness. But everybody looked focused and attentive. I saw a few moments where vets were being cool to rookies as they waited their turns in the drills. I don't have a lot of specific comments regarding any of the new players. They all looked like they belonged for the most part.

After the players had done a couple of minutes of warm-up skating, Shyiak called everyone to the board for a chalk talk and to explain the upcoming drill. I'm not sure of the particular infraction but Curtis Leinweber was required to take a lap. As he cut around the first net he promptly stepped on a loose puck and went down like a sack of potatoes. I mention it only because when the rest of the team saw it they gave him a good razzing. Curtis did have to take another lap when they gathered for the 2nd chalk talk. He didn't fall down that time.

I'll see about getting to another session sometime next week before the preseason game versus SAIT in Wasilla (October 2nd, 7:07pm @ the rink near Sarah's hovel).

Speaking of the SAIT game in Wasilla. The UAA Sports Information desk issued a release today announcing that tickets for the preseason game are on sale.
Individual tickets for the game are priced at $10 and can be purchased in Anchorage at the UAA Athletic Department (Room 220 of the Wells Fargo Sports Complex), and at the Silva Saddle (2808 E. Tudor Rd.).

Tickets can be purchased in the Valley at KMBQ 99.7-FM (2200 E. Parks Highway), at the Curt Menard Memorial Ice Arena rink office during daytime hours, at the Action Pro Shop, and at Mr. Lube.
I don't know yet if I'll be able to attend. It's my daughter's 17th birthday and while I'm reasonably certain she won't have any overwhelming desire to spend any extended amount of time with her old pops on that day, I thought I'd keep my calendar clear. That doesn't mean that I'm not going to the Wasilla game though.

While at the WFSC, I picked up my shiny new 2009-10 non-transferable media credential. It's #005. I met and spoke briefly with Derek Donald. I didn't yet suggest it to him, but at some point in the next couple of weeks perhaps I can do some sort of interview with him so he can describe any plans to help improve the attendance this season.

The WCHA is conducting it's annual Media Teleconference on Tuesday October 6th at ZERO DARK THIRTY Alaska Standard Time. The WCHA press release says,
The teleconference will begin with results of pre-season polls, followed by remarks from the Commissioner, an update from the Supervisor of Officials, and then a question and answer session with the men's head coaches. The coaches portion of the teleconference will begin with the defending MacNaughton Cup champions and then proceed east to west to best accommodate the five time zones. Each coach will give a brief presentation, followed by questions from attending media.
It looks to last about an hour and a half. I'd imagine that my cell battery will last that long, but I'll probably keep it on the charger so I can put it on speaker mode. Naturally, I'll have all the details here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday Potpourri: Poetry, Prose and Activism

I received an interesting email yesterday from someone who'd prefer to remain anonymous. It's a sort of an "Ode" to Seawolf hockey. Here it is:
Seawolf Pride
Our hometown team of green and gold call this great north state and city home. Although many great Seawolf skaters have passed our way, the best Seawolf team has yet to play.
Win boys win, and they will com
e; the cheers of UAA! UAA! will continue long after you’ve won.
Beat the badger, the Gopher, the Sioux and fans at the Sully will love you.
The time for winning is now.
Straight into the 2009-10 playoffs we will plow.

It’s a long, tough season in the WCHA.
No lead is ever safe, no easy teams to play.

Give it everything you got - skate, shoot and hit!

The BYOTCH Project
It's been 8 days since I my challenge to WCHA Athletic Directors to answer my Open Letter calling on them to renounce the travel subsidy that UAA shells out. Only UAA Sports Hall of Fame swimmer and current Colorado College A.D. Ken Ralph had the courtesy to reply. Honestly, I expected no replies. Ken was informative and polite but in no manner came close to renouncing the subsidy. That means only one thing.

Project B.Y.O.T.C.H. is a go. BYOTCH stands for Buy Your Own Tickets College Hockey or Buy Your Own Tickets Cheap Hacks or By Your Own Tickets Charlie Brown if you prefer. I was going to call it the YHABRFYTSWAYSTMFU ... (You Have Already Been Recompensed For Your Travel So Why Are You Still Taking Money From Us) ... but that seemed a little cumbersome. I'm officially looking for one volunteer to make some simple 8x10 posters that look like the picture below. Use it as a template if you want.

(click to enlarge)

If you want to volunteer to do this let me know. I envision passing them out to folks behind the opposition bench and to the student section. Maybe 50 or so on regular paper wouldn't be too expensive? I'll do all the legwork at the games.

The secondary part of the BYOTCH plan is to make some quality paper airplanes (with the message above printed on them) to be thrown by the student section after UAA scores the first goal. As long as it doesn't evolve to throwing the airplanes at any other point then I think we can get away with it.

Referees typically give a warning to a team after such events. A second infraction would result in a penalty against UAA so we have to make sure that doesn't happen. Any good paper airplane engineers out there? Let me know.


My understanding is that the first official practice may be tomorrow (Monday). If that's indeed the case then I'll try to make it. I'll pick up my media pass stuff and take a couple of pictures and watch the rookies skate. I may not get to it until Tuesday though. I'm still following all of UAA recruits as they get their seasons underway. I'll have a full-blown "recruit update" within a couple of weeks.


It seems to be exceedingly quiet out there on the college hockey interweb. posted official rosters a couple of days ago. So if you want to take a peek at exactly who other teams are going to put on the ice, you won't have to visit every schools webpage anymore. All of the three "big" college hockey sites use to build their rosters and stats but none of them have updated rosters as of tonight.

The only news of any sort worth commenting is that Susies fans are all atwitter because one of the two Sioux nations tribal councils which have to give approval reworded an earlier resolution to make it clear that they ...
"... affirmatively approves and supports UND's use of the current nickname and related imagery, and hereby confirms Spirit Lake Tribe's full permission for UND to continue using the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo and the duration of this authorization shall be perpetual commencing Oct. 1, 2009."
If (and it is a really really big if) the other tribal council decides to issue a similar proclamation then UND might actually be able to keep HOSTILE name and ABUSIVE logo of a decapitated Sioux warrior. It's a bit amazing and more than a bit shameful when a people become complicit in their own racial oppression but there is a litany of such throughout human history. Que Sera Sera, I guess. I was so hoping they'd become the Zephyrs with a cool speeding train logo. That would have been something I could have supported. Since I thought of it and all.

I have to imagine that we'll see the WCHA Coaches Preseason Poll sooner than later. Here's my guess as to what it will look like:
1. DU
2. UND
3. Wisconsin
4. Minnesota
5. St. Cloud
6. UMD
7. Mankato
8. CC
9. UAA
10. Michigan Tech
And to remind you of the way I picked back on August 28th:
1. Denver (highest 1st; lowest 1st)
2. Wisconsin (highest 2nd; lowest 4th)
3. UND (highest 3rd; lowest 5th)
4. Minnesota (highest 3rd; lowest 6th)
5. UAA (highest 4th; lowest 7th)
6. UMD (highest 4th; lowest 7th)
7. SCSU (highest 5th; lowest 8th)
8. Mankato (highest 7th; lowest 9th)
9. Colorado College (highest 8th; lowest 9th)
10. Michigan Tech (highest 10th; lowest 10th)
If it is much different than that I'd be surprised. Maybe Mankato and CC will swap and perhaps the 2, 3, and 4 spots could vary. But dollars to donuts it won't be hugely different. Or ... maybe it will?

Remember, in most years at least one team will ikely perform greatly above everybody's expectations and one team will likely perform greatly below everybody's expectations. That makes it likely that both me and the coaches will be wrong in our prognostications to some degree. At least I gave myself wiggle-room with the whole "highest/lowest" dodge.


Curtis Glencross skated tonight with 41 year old Theo Fleury in a preseason game against the Florida Panthers. Fleury is impressing lots of fans and might find himself a spot in their lineup. Glencross scored a goal and added two assists in the 5-2 win. Here's the highlights:


And you waited all Sunday for that? The "Ode" was good anyway. Since you're all so patient. Here's another lovely Sunday treat. 15 UAA Fan Blog bonus points for the first correct guess to another actress I enjoy watching that isn't named Gretchen or Milla.

And yes. It has nothing to do with hockey. I'm sorry ... I like movie actresses too.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Added Legitimacy

Earlier this week I finally got around to submitting a request to the UAA Athletic Department that I'd been meaning to do for a month or so. Back in 2006, I'd sent them a request for media credentials. I knew other college hockey bloggers had received them, so I thought I might as well try. I was disappointed when I received the answer that such things were reserved for established media outlets. I couldn't argue that I wasn't established. So I toiled for the next 3 years and established myself.

UAA's Sports Information Director Nate Sagan answered my latest request with the following email:
From looking at your blog, it seems you are producing an established and balanced venue for discussing Seawolf Hockey. Your coverage is extensive and consistent. Therefore, we would be happy to credential you for the 2009-10 season.

We only ask that you adhere to the established media guidelines regarding press-box and interview decorum, photography, etc.

Feel free to drop by the office (WFSC Rm 220) to pick up your pass. Please stop in and introduce yourself if I am there. If not, give me a call at 786-1295 or we can chat at the Wasilla game.

Legitimacy at last. It isn't as if I didn't feel legitimate already. Feedback from readers over the last few years has more than sufficed to make me feel so. Pats on the back and supportive comments at the games have contributed. My own natural inclination to self-importance was buoyed by all that reader positivity. Yes ... you guys tended to make me a bit cocky. Well, that arrogance (imagine a "winking emoticon" here) has been rewarded greatly this week with Nate's email.

This all means that I'll have approved access to players for interviews. It means that I can visit stinky locker rooms for post game comments. If I want, I can sit at the press box (note here that my predilection for cheering means I likely won't be) next to actual sports journalists. Fear not Doyle Woody, you won't have to scoot your chair over to accommodate my fat ass; my friends Bob and Suze aren't getting rid of me that easily. The big benefit from my perspective is that I'll get into the games for free.

Thank you very much UAA Athletic Department. You like me ...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesday Stuff

I pretty much have got nothing. But I know everyone is dying for something. I'll do a full blown recruit update in a couple of weeks or perhaps sooner. For now I'll rundown what I do know.

The BCHL started last week. The Seawolves have 2 future recruits in that league this season. Wes McLeod is with the Prince George Spruce Kings. He picked up 1 assist in an 8-3 blowout applied by the Westside Warriors and 2 assists in a 9-2 thumping that Penticton put on them. Prince George looks perhaps to have some work to do.

UAA's only other current recruit in the "B" is Sam Mellor with the Trail Smoke Eaters. They've only played one game losing 4-2 to Merritt. Sam didn't show up on the scoresheet; he turns 17 in November, it may take him a measure of time to get used to the pace of the game. Or maybe he'll bag a hatty next time out?

Over in the AJHL, there are 3 current UAA recruits. The Spruce Grove Saints have two of them in Scott Allen and Brett Cameron. The Saints were highly regarded in the CJHL's preseason poll locking down the 4th spot. Scott Allen tallied a goal versus Sherwood Park on Saturday and Brett Cameron added a goal and an assist. I'm hoping to see both of these guys amongst the top scorers in the league at the end of the season.

A couple of years ago I noted somewhere here that UAA was actively recruiting a kid named Adam Henderson from the "A" and ultimately Adam chose Michigan State. I made some smart ass comment about nobody really "enjoying" playing for Rick Comely. In 27 games last season Adam managed one goal and one assist. I bet he didn't enjoy that. I mention all this because playing junior hockey again for Spruce Grove (and looks to be a linemate of Allen and Cameron) which likely means he'll be looking for a another school. Was UAA his 2nd choice back then? Suze said that staff were out on recruiting trips. Don't be surprised if we hear his name down the road.

Also in the "A" with the Okotoks Oilers is defenseman Quinn Sproule. He bagged his first goal of the season against the Olds Grizzlys last night in a 5-2 win for Okotoks.

The Alaska Avalanche handled Kenai River fairly easily in their first three games by a cumulative 17-5. UAA's single current recruit on that squad Matthew Friese was named the 1st Star in their first game last Friday night with a goal and two helpers in the 7-3 win.

That's pretty much all I know. So now for all the stuff I don't know.

Gustav Bengtson? I have no idea where he's playing this season. He isn't with his last team. He isn't with any past team. I haven't looked at every roster in junior A hockey but I've scanned quite a few. Anyone else know where he is playing? Is he playing? I'm not sure what the deal is ... I know he was pushed back another year which is understandable with the tumult he's seen in juniors. I hate to say it but maybe he's going to fall through the cracks? It'll be a shame if that happens. He was a very early committment having done so at the end of his major midget career.

And why exactly do I have this kid Joe Giordano listed? Because I had an unimpeachable source tell me that he'd committed verbally to UAA. I leave it there until someone tells me otherwise.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Potpourri: There Are Other Sports?

Don't ask me what she is pointing at. I have no idea. And Yes. There are other sports outside of our hockey consciousness (not that you asked). Lots of you follow all or a great majority of them. I don't. It goes that way I guess. I grew up playing soccer. I played baseball for a couple of years and when (as a 7th grader) I realized backup center on the City View Mustangs Junior High School football team would suck ... I opted out on Day 2. Soccer was the only sport at which I really ever excelled. At one point, I could have given most people a beat down on a basketball court but in high school there were still easily 15 guys better than me. So from an fairly early period I've been more of a fan than an athlete.

I'm an Olympics "freak". I love them. It's the racing ya know. There is nothing in sport that compares to 100 meter final in the Olympics as far as I'm concerned. All the track and field events keep my attention in particular but I'll watch and be excited about any race. All credit for my Olympic fandom should go to Bud Greenspan who produced a series that aired on PBS called, "The Olympiad". I watched the whole series at a formative time I suppose. It stuck with me.

I knew who Bob Hayes was when I was 8 or 9 years old after the Mexico City games. I remember some things vividly from Munich in 1972 but nothing clearer than sports reporter Jim McKay unfortunately becoming news reporter. In 1976 I was 15, in 1976 there were lots of 16 year old gymnasts in Montreal. I was unfortunately in Denver but I watched them on the tube. My ONLY gripe with Jimmy Carter's presidency is the boycott of Moscow's Olympics in 1980. Carl Lewis in 1984 in Los Angeles is a strong memory. But it was marred also by the whole reverse boycott thing. Argh.

Wasn't seeing so many boxers get screwed by South Korean judges a wonder to behold in 88 ... FloJo and Ben Johnson? I remember being so offended in 1992 when some talking head TV asshole asked a swimmer if they were disappointed in finishing 2nd in Barcelona. I was heartened when the swimmer pointed out that 2nd fastest in the entire world wasn't a bad thing especially when you're 2nd by .019 seconds. The Coca-Cola corporate Olympics in Atlanta were memorable for bad reasons even though Ali lighting the torch was very cool. The park bombing of course was horrific. The Aussies did pretty much everything right in 200o mate, Athens overall bored me but Beijing was just WOW. So yeah ... I like the Olympics. I won't give you my "memory lane" recall of the Winter Olympics but it's just as extensive.

I couldn't begin to guess about anything with regard to Major League Baseball. As a young boy, I read Babe Ruth's autobiography. I played baseball with all the neighborhood kids and for a couple of years played for a regular organized youth team. I've attended two MLB games. I saw Willie Mays play at one of them. In the other game I saw the Cincinnati Big Red Machine put a beating on the Astros in the Astrodome. I watched baseball and followed it closely until the first players strike in 1991. After that, the sport got less and less of my attention. The 1994 strike sealed Baseball's fate with me. I haven't followed, watched or listened to so much as a minute of anything related to it since. It isn't a sport anyway. It's a pasttime. Like bowling.

I used to be a much bigger Tennis fan than now ... the Connors through Agassi era mostly. How could you not love Johnny Mac? I watched him play Boris Becker for 5 hours once in a Davis Cup Match. 5 hours? It was crazy. I think Steffi Graf is hot. Ilie Nastase was always worth watching. I liked watching Bjorn Borg lose. I watched nary a bit of the recent U.S. Open. Shame on me for that. I once spent hours and hours on the phone in Milwaukee trying to find a sports bar that was showing it and now I just ignored it? Like I said, shame.

If car racing is a sport then it's only true representative is Formula 1. The Indy 500 used to be cool and all that. But of course some greedy fuckers in CART and IRL ruined that. Nascar is hillbilly crap so I don't watch it. I don't listen to hillbilly music, or eat hillbilly food either.

The NFL is ruined by the business of the NFL. I see highlights but haven't watched a game with any interest in years and years. Greed is now the primary motivator behind everything associated with football.

I grew up a Dallas Cowboys fan in Wichita Falls, Texas between about '66 and '74. A kid in the grade below me accidently hung himself in an attempt to get attention after his dad cancelled their rabbit hunting trip to watch the Cowboys in the Super Bowl. In high school in Denver I had to ditch the last half of "Orange Crush Day". I'd worn a T-shirt which I'd festooned with Cowboys player names and numbers. After 3rd period I learned the plan was to dump a bucket of orange paint on me. Nobody had much to say on Monday after the Cowboys stomped the Broncos that weekend.

I stopped watching the NBA almost 20 years ago for the same reasons. When college basketball wasn't just a farm league for the NBA I was interested. Watch a highlight reel from any day's NBA schedule and you wouldn't be able to tell if it was from last week. Dunkfest = boring. For a time I was a college basketball fan and saw Benoit Benjamin play for Creighton in Omaha when I lived there. The business that college basketball has become is shameful.

College Hockey and the Olympics? That's it? Nope. The FIFA World Cup wraps me up for sure. And I follow the English Premiere League closely; I'll watch an MLS game depending on who's playing. I hate Arsenal and Chelsea. I favor Fulham and Tottenham. I'll cheer for Man City instead of Man U any day of the week. Wayne Rooney is a twat. I have one question though for the broadcast originators of the EPL? What is the fascination of always showing fans "biting their nails". It's a nice quaint little saying that describes how tight a game is and all. But do you really think I want to see people doing it? It's disgusting. Quit putting it on my TV. You must have a cameraman dedicated to finding those people ... either that or EVERYBODY IN ENGLAND BITES THEIR NAILS. You don't see any Scotsmen biting their nails on TV. I'm just sayin.

So yesterday this former Arsenal player named Emmanuel Adebayor scored a goal for Man City against Arsenal. It was on City's homeground so Adebayor immediately ran the length of the pitch to taunt the visitor section. At some point in the past when he played for them, Arsenal fans had booed him. What a douche. Here's the video. Take note of the throng coming down the aisles and the look on some of the faces of the Arsenal fans. They'd have killed him if they'd gotten through. Near the end of the game, Adebayor found Robin Van Pussy's face under his boot and made sure to get the full effect of such contact. Needless to say, this particular preening pimp of a player is likely to watch a couple of games from the stands. I don't not like Man City. But I'm reconsidering that in light of these events.


I did not attend today's Seawolf Meet and Greet picnic. I'm sorry that I didn't. I meant to go. I planned to go. And at 3:15 this afternoon I realized that today was Sunday. Seriously. I thought today was Saturday. Don't ask. I'm 48 ok. I shouldn't be experiencing confusion about the day of the week. Yesterday, I knew it wasn't Friday. Why today I thought it was Saturday I cannot fathom. Rather than admit all that here ... I was going to say that "circumstances unfortunately conspired to keep me from attending". It was vague but also true. I thought you'd all appreciate my humanity though if I shared my day of the week foible. I'll go watch one of the official practices and do a post to make up for it. I hope I can manage to recognize days of the week enough to do so.


I recieved a pleasant early response to yesterday's (Saturday right?) "Open Letter ..." post from Colorado College's Athletic Director (UAA alum and Seawolf Hall of Fame member) Ken Ralph. I posted his email in the comments section as well as my follow up with him. Honestly, I was surprised to get any reply. I feel a bit self-conscious that I hadn't recognized his name but the "big name" swimmer I remember was his teammate Jon Pauole, my ignorance UAA history doesn't translate to Ken not being a stud. No excuse. In any case, Ken's response was interesting. I note here that he did not renounce these payments. I commend him here for his willingness to engage the topic in a reasoned discussion. Good on ya Ken. Your past UAA honors will not be lost on me in the future.


I don't know if you saw it at the end of last season or yesterday (or was it the day before?) when I left it up for observation and/or comment but I've decided that "The Official UAA Hockey Fan Blog Chat Room" will be up and running during all games this coming season. It seems easy to use and nicely functional. I saw one other better free chat program last year on another blog but lost that bookmark when my old computer went tits up. I like that it's easy for me to match up my blog custom colors with the chat room ... it looks integrated. Check it out if you can't get to the game. I'll be on whenever UAA is out of town. It will also be a useful thing for me to review when I get back from home games to write a recap.

Progress is good.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Open Letter(s) to WCHA Athletic Directors

I've written and emailed the following letter to the Athletic Directors at each WCHA institution (UW's Barry Alvarez has no email address ... in their case I directed the letter to Justin Doherty -- Assistant Athletic Director for External Relations) . An issue that concerns me deeply is the ongoing subsidy that UAA supplies to WCHA teams traveling to Anchorage. Currently, UAA provides 12 airline tickets for each visiting conference member per series. It's not unfair to characterize that as about $6,000 per home series for UAA.

As I've mentioned many times over the summer with regard to conference realignment ideas, the NCAA created the "Alaska/Hawaii Exemption" to incentivize schools from outside to compete in Alaska. Each school has the ability to schedule additional home games as a result of this rule. In some cases, the potential amount of money the school could make is substantial. In other cases, not so much. Regardless, UAA is providing a subsidy that I believe it should not be providing. This letter is my first step in attempting to address this unfairness. There will be an ongoing effort on my part to see this subsidy eliminated. Future steps in this theme are "in development".
Dear (insert name here),

I’m writing today in the hope that I may enlist your support and share that with the readers of the UAA Hockey Fan Blog ( regarding an issue of basic fairness. No doubt you are familiar with the NCAA’s Alaska/Hawaii exemption.

Some 25 years or so ago, the NCAA recognized that schools in Alaska and Hawaii faced significant geographic challenges that hindered the fairest possible competition with schools in the contiguous 48 states. They introduced a measure granting game exemptions for any/all schools scheduling an away contest against an Alaska or Hawaii school.

The measure’s stated intention was to provide a financial recompense for schools like yours to recover the costs associated with travel to the 49th and 50th state. This rule has helped keep athletic programs afloat at NCAA institutions in these two states. Without such a rule, competing on home turf/court/ice outside of conference mandates would be virtually impossible for these distantly located schools.

My concern today is, that in addition to the potential revenue gains for your school (I conservatively estimate that amount at $xx,xxx per year for Xxxxxx), the University of Alaska Anchorage currently subsidizes 12 airline tickets for each WCHA member traveling to Anchorage to play hockey.

I hope that you can see this amount (roughly $6,000 per) can be defined as nothing other than largesse from UAA to your school. Since a mechanism already exists to more than adequately recover your travel costs then I call on you today to completely renounce this practice. In doing so you will be contributing to the NCAA’s stated goal of “fair play”.

With your permission I will post your reply to this plea in my blog. Best of luck with the 09/10 athletic season.
Most Sincerely,

Donald M. Dunlop
UAA Hockey Fan Blog
The email addresses for each are below should you have any thoughts regarding this issue that you'd like to share. I'll add here that my "potential revenue" numbers are derived by multiplying sold-out attendance by $15 per ticket for ONE additonal home game per year. The subsidy cost to UAA is also an estimate based on 12 commercial airline tickets at $500 per. It is somewhat relevant to note that a school like Michigan Tech has no where near the potential revenue enhancement as do the larger schools. But I do propose that in ALL cases (see how that word is bolded?) the amount of actual revenue more than repays the additional costs associated with being forced to travel to Alaska.

I honestly believe that this practice goes against basic fairness in any sense or definition of that word you can imagine. Fairness was rightly applied when the NCAA implemented the "Alaska/Hawaii Exemption" but requiring UAA (not to mention UAF in the CCHA) to provide additional recompense over and above is in many ways an affront to it.
Colorado College -- Ken Ralph --
University of Denver -- Peg Bradley-Doppes --
Michigan Tech -- Suzanne Sanregret --
Minnesota -- Joel Maturi --
Mankato -- Kevin Buisman --
UMD -- Bob Nielson --
UND -- Brian Faison --
SCSU -- Morris Kurtz --
UW -- Justin Doherty --
Unless otherwise requested, I will share any responses from this esteemed group of Athletic Directors in this comment section of this post as they arrive in my email. I look forward to all their responses.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The 09-10 Seawolf Freshman Class

(Top: Baldwin, Bruijsten, Crowell.
Middle: Currier, Darwitz, Gellert.
Bottom: Naslund, Spencer, Sidor
... click to enlarge)

For better or worse there will be some pressure on this years freshman class to add some offensive production, play sound defensively and contribute to overall team success. How much success this year's team ultimately acheives will likely reflect how well this group of players performs. As I try to say every year, having excessively high expectations for freshman in the WCHA is folly. But I have to honestly compare this years class favorably with our current group of Seniors when they arrived. Backstrom, Clark, Hunt, Lunden, Olthuis Tuton and Selby ... oh and some kid named Crowder who signed after his junior year with the NY Rangers. This freshman class has the potential to be more impactful than that group over time. We'll see.

Lee Baldwin - 6'4" 203lbs, Defenseman
There are lots of reasons to expect that Lee will find a regular role on the blueline fairly quickly at UAA. Four veteran returners are locks. Curtis Leinweber may be the fifth but could be slotted in a forward role. In either case, Lee looks to be the best resume'd blueliner among the rookies. All I had to hear to know this is for one BCHL hockey person to make the comparison to NHLer Rob Blake. Lee was an intimidating physical force with Victoria last season. He had a very nice progression in scoring through his Junior A career leading the league's blueliners in scoring. He turned 21 at the end of April so he brings that maturity to the equation as well.

Mitch Bruijsten - 6'4" 195lbs, Forward
Not every player that comes to UAA comes with a publicly available scouting report from a reputable source. Mitch is one exception to that trend. If you haven't read this evaluation from Hockey's Future regarding him, you should. It says stuff like, "... another big guy with great speed and a good shot" and "noted to be hard to move off the puck" and "ability to either setup plays or finish with positive results". Having followed quite a few junior players to UAA, I'm left with some high expectations for Mitch's success as a Seawolf. I mentioned somewhere in a comment string that a St. Cloud fan who follows Junior A prospects closely called Bruijsten the next great European born player in the WCHA. Mitch should see a lot of ice-time and could progress to a 2nd line role fairly quickly depending on circumstances.

Chris Crowell - 6'2" 205lbs, Forward
Chris is the embodiment of a veteran junior A player. He played 4 years for the Vernon Vipers and captained the team in his final season. He turned 21 back in February. His leadership experience and maturity lead me to believe that we'll see him in the Seawolves lineup with great regularity in his rookie season. His size and strength lead me to believe that he'll be a very effective and important role player. Expect to see him on a line designed to shutdown the opposition offense. He won't be up any big numbers offensively but could chip in a few along the way. Most importantly, I have the impression that he brings the ability to raise the level of play from his linemates.

Tyler Currier - 6'1" 198lbs, Forward
Tyler isn't unknown to me but until he hits the practice rink and sees some playing time, it's difficult to know how much he'll play. I expect he'll be one of several forwards on the roster that will be competing for spots in the lineup from weekend to weekend. Patience with his own development will be a key to his ultimate success. Few players come from the NAHL and make an impact as a freshman in the WCHA. I think that applies with Tyler as well. He had reasonably good numbers over the last two years with the Alaska Avalanche (lead the team in 08-09) and a decent shooting percentage. The hometown-boy factor could be a nice positive as he said it has always been his goal to play for UAA.

Drew Darwitz - 5'8" 165lbs, Defenseman
With loads of blueliners on the squad it may be difficult for Drew to see a maximum amount of playing time this season. As quickly as I say that, I don't think it's outside the realm of possibilities for him to step onto the ice and earn a regular spot in the lineup. His Fairbanks Ice Dog's coach had nothing but raves about him. He earned the Defensive Player of the Year award for the NAHL last season scoring 2g-37a which suggests to me that he was the team's power play quarterback. That's great experience and bodes well for his future. UAA's defensive lineup though is pretty solid and some of his playing time may be dependent on injury and/or where Curtis Leinweber lines up.

Alex Gellert - 6'1" 170lbs, Forward
I so was already anticipating Alex's arrival in 10-11 postively, so to see him come a year earlier bodes well for continuing what looks to have been some good chemisty with Mickey Spencer. Alex's 2nd year of juniors saw him tripled his offensive contributions comapred to his 1st season. He does seem to be a player on the development upswing. If so, then I'd hope to see between 5 and 10 goals from him but more importantly, his assist numbers peg him as a bit of a playmaker. So perhaps 15 assists (or more) would be possible. Either or both would be nice to see and clear signs of positive things to come. He turns 20 next week. I anticpate that he'll see some power play time somewhere during the season. How much will likely be tied to any production he creates.

Daniel Naslund - 6'3" 205lbs, Forward
There is very little to be found by me on the Internet to gauge Daniel's skills here. He's said to be able to handle the physical part of the game and has good wheels for his size. So I'm going to take an educated guess for most of my analysis here. He comes to UAA late in the summer, directly from Sweden with none of the oft coveted North American "experience". The exact same situation that led Nils Backstrom to UAA. I've never been anything but happy that Nils is part of UAA's team. I'll make you cry at the end of this season when I do a my annual Senior Tribute post about Backstrom. That's how much I like him. Bringing in a player late from Europe to the NCAA is no simple task. If UAA's coaching staff took the time and effort to make it happen then I'd bet dollars to donuts that there is a good reason. So I'm anticipating that we will see Daniel get real good ice-time in lots of situations i.e... power play, penalty kill. Don't be surprised if you see him on the #2 line.

Mickey Spencer - 6'0" 189lbs, Forward
In both of his seasons at Cowichan in the BCHL, Mickey potted more goals than he earned assists. 27g-12a and 31g-23 assists. It's not dramatically relevant but it does put him in a "goal scorer" light. I'm equally optimist for Mickey's success at UAA as I am for Alex Gellert. Either or both of them could produce more than just a few goals. If Alex knows how to get the puck to Mickey and he can do some finishing as freshman then we can all have high hopes for their careers. Mickey turned 20 back in June so he is another seasoned player with some probable development upside. He'll also likely get some chances on the power play and of course continuation will depend on production.

Dusan Sidor - 6'0" 166lbs, Goaltender
Dusan spent last season with the Seawolves but redshirted so this season will be his official freshman year. As the assumed 3rd goaltender, Dusan has the important role of taking a lot of shots in practice and growing into a time when he can step forward and challenge for playing time. Jonny O is in his last season and Bryce has proven ability. Any starts he might see this year would likely only be for an emergency. He is one of 5 european born players on this years squad.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The 09-10 Seawolf Sophomore Class

Curtis Leinweber - 5'8" 171lbs, Forward/Defenseman
I'll begin with a fairly bold statement. Curtis Leinweber is as fast as any player in NCAA Division I Hockey. I know speed. I've seen lots of fast skaters. Curtis is as fast as anyone. Speed kills. Curtis adds an extra dimension of wheel speed to a team that already has some damn good wheels. Sorry to say this dear past Alumni ... I loved you guys just as much. But I think overall this years Seawolf team would skate circles around you.

Curtis is the definition of dynamic. He'll make things happen just about on every shift. His quickness on his feet translates well to what he's doing with the puck on his stick. He can blow by or undress opponents without warning. He gets every ounce of his hundred and seventy-one pounds to rocket the puck on net. He can explode into an offensive outburst from just about any sitution. He'll see significant time on both the penalty kill and power play this season. And he'll produce points in both cases. Yes. He'll bag some shorties.

Last season Curtis was voted as Rookie of the Year. He played in 22 games. That's a huge measure of respect from your team. I believe that playing a full schedule Curtis will find his best stride and contribute in very significant ways offensively. Whether he plays at wing or defense his contributions could be very surprising to a lot of people. If they aren't already, Seawolf fans are going to be damn glad that Curtis came to UAA after this season.

Jade Portwood - 6'3" 207lbs, Forward
Jade Portwood skated in 28 games last season. As with most freshman it was really a year spent in development. He showed excellent abilities in Shyiak's possession style. He is strong along the boards and uses his size to it's best advantage to protect the puck. He's strong on his feet. Jade's wheels allow him to be a threat in transition as well.

This season I think Jade's role is likely to include more opportunities to get to the front of the net during the possession game. There's nothing wrong with an NHL sized forward in front of the net creating traffic and banging home rebounds. Jade will be one of those guys this season.

He has the potential to become a significant goal scorer during his career. I expect we'll see more of that from him this season. In some sense, he was a snaken-bitten on several chances last year that could have seen him easily triple (or more) his 2 goals. He skated in all situations last year gaining some valuable experience that could translate to penalty kill and power play time this season.

Brad Gorham 6'1" 195lbs, Forward/Defenseman
Scott Warner 5'9" 180lbs, Defenseman

Brad Gorham (left) will be eligible to skate for the Seawolves in January following his transfer from Ohio State. Scott Warner (right) transferred from Army and won't dress for a game this season.

In 12 games at OSU Brad scored 1 goal and had 1 assist. When he hits the ice he'll be UAA's most mature sophomore. He turned 23 back in May. It's difficult to know whether Brad skates at forward or defense. Shyiak seems to appreciate utilitarian players so perhaps Brad becomes another Jared Tuton during his career.

In 24 games with Army last year as a freshman Scott put in a nice 6 goals and added 3 assists. That number of goals matched his two previous years total in the BCHL. That bodes well for next season. They are both originally from Anchorage.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Sunday Potpourri: McCarthy, Hockey, Bourno and Gretchen

Moments as displayed above are so so rare in our world. You don't have to watch the whole thing. Just skip to about the 6 minute mark to get Joe McCarthy in one of his last public attempts to condemn a young lawyer who might have but ultimately didn't work for this particular committee after the questioner, Joseph Welch, had previously realized the guy's one time association with an organization called The Lawyers Guild might at some point be used by McCarthy. Exactly as he imagined McCarthy did bring out the man's name to insinuate he was a commie. And beginning at about the 6:15 mark we get "the moment" ... Joe Welch says,
"Senator, may we not drop this? We know he belongs to the Lawyers Guild. Let us not assassinate this lad further Senator. You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last. Have you left no sense of decency?"
It is the moment that was the beginning of the end for McCarthy. After years of false allegations and innuendo which he'd began to prop up his foundering re-election campaign, someone finally stood up. The assembled public in the hearing room applauded. McCarthy died 3 years later, a broken and drunken shell of a man.

The post I made yesterday was not creative or original on my part in any way shape or form. It is the result of my discovery of what is called an "Internet Meme". I know pretty much nobody clicked on most of the links. If you had you would have seen a series of pages and articles that mirror what current McCarthy-analogue Glenn Beck has been perpetrating for quite some time. All the techniques he uses were brought to bear against him in order to make a point through parody and satire. You may consider it tasteless and/or ugly. I'll grant that it isn't pretty. But parody has little power if it is not offensive and/or outrageous.

I jumped on the bandwagon because Glenn Beck (unlike what I suspect many of my readers believe) uses the Joe McCarthy playbook line by line. He is soft spoken most of the time and uses his faux-outrage strategically while repeating assertions and innuendo that came from someone else; "I heard", "It's been said", "I don't personally believe this but", "I'm not saying he did this thing but there sure are a lot of unanswered questions" etc etc etc ... He continuously reminds his viewers of his patriotism and love for this country while all the while using a wholly unjust methodology to attack and defame anyone he considers as opposition. This meme therefore should be viewed as an attempt to be the "Joseph Welch of 2009". It is highly unlikely though that (what I consider a beautiful parody) will be the beginning of the end for Glenn Beck. It should be. But I doubt it will. He is no patriot. He is a vile pig.

I am happy though that the people that started the ball rolling (they didn't originate the rumor) gave me a big fat link in their evidence list calling the link "Hockeyvidence". It isn't often that I'm sitting home alone and laughing out loud about something but this whole meme gave me more than a couple of those such moments. The sweetest moment of course is that Glenn Beck and his lawyers are actually trying to supress this whole thing. Idiots.

In the complete absence of any other Seawolf hockey news let me point you to the roster at The yearly pictures have been taken and posted. Curious to see a head shot of a rookie? Click the link above and you can do exactly that. This coming week I'll have profiles of the sophomore class and then the freshman class. Next weekend is the annual Seawolf Hockey Meet & Greet picnic, I'll be attending and then post the highlights here.

I'd assume that within the next couple of weeks we'll start seeing various prognostications all through the college hockey internet. The WCHA Coaches Poll is due at some point and bloggers everywhere will be picking UAA to finish 9th or 10th. The first two previews that I've seen pick UAA at 7th (Wisconsin Blog - No Alibis No Regrets) and 8th ('s WCHA examiner Brian Pietrzak).

I communicated in some manner with both of the above and assured them they were underestimating the Seawolves. Both interactions were exceptionally polite: yes ... I'm not a total jerk to everyone all the time; just a partial jerk to certain people at intermittent times. Let us all not forget that the difference between last years 9th place finish and a 5th place finish for home ice playoff was 6 points ... that's 3 wins.

I've decided to use the above line to better separate the various content in these Sunday Potpourri posts. It's better in terms of white space ... no? I recognize my tendency to drone on and on about whatever, so some visual cue for my readers to be able to skip over the droning about politics should be some sort of help. It's nothing huge ... but when reading Justin Bourne's blog, I realized that such delineation is helpful . I envy him so I figured some minor emulation couldn't be a bad thing. He uses a series of asterisks.

I should say here that I'm not a reader. I'm happy that you guys are readers or my fetish for writing would be a complete waste of time. I read for purpose. I look for Seawolf news and/or blog posts and/or forum references and I read them. But outside of that I don't have some list of must read blogs etc that I hit regularly (Donna ... I read your blog every day). The one other exception is Bourno's blog. He is and will become a regular columnist for more and more reputable and widely read publications. He will make a tidy living and a name for himself while doing so.

Billy Mays is still on TV. Geeeeaawd. Have you ever bought anything from any "direct marketing" TV thingy? I haven't. Ever. Anything. And I won't. If WalMart doesn't have it then it must not be worth buying, right?

Gretchen Mol. I'm not obsessed with her. But inevitably, when looking for eye-candy-like pictures to post here I end up with her on a browser tab or two. Why? I don't like blonds. Ok. It isn't right to say I don't like blonds. It's more appropriate to say that I'm naturally attracted to brunettes. And yes ... I could certainly find younger, sexier and/or more current "babes" to post here when I think you guys are deserving (i.e... anytime I've made you sit through my commie manifestos) but there's something about Gretchen (other than her being the very definition of "sex on legs") that makes me less able to close the browser tab. Oh lookie ... Gretchen as a brunette!


Fear not. The season fast approaches. There'll be less of the useless bullshit that you don't want to read and more hockey talk with each passing day.