I was wondering how different writing on LetsGoDU would be from my blog. Going into this week I figured the differences couldn't be too great. After all, DG and I both use the same blog service. The mechanics of posting are identical. Why should it be any different? But this joint is crowded and cluttered. I think I even stepped on someone's underwear. Yikes. There's dirty dishes stacked all over and no windows. I came to Colorado for this?
UAA Hockey Fan Blog
I had a marginally formulated sort of plan for the week. I'd do all the regular stuff and try to add a couple of "new things". My first new thing though turned out to be a total bust. I went over to LetsGoDU.com's forum and thought if I could integrate some reader interaction from there that I'd find something entertaining. So instead of just starting some thread where I get input from DU fans about their team and use that info here (I thought that was a boring idea); I decided to leverage my past reputation from USCHO's fan forum and started a (tongue-in-cheek) thread called **Free Original Insults** Get 'em while they're hot. I've channelled Don Rickles ever since "the accident" (I'm much better now) and found him to be very helpful in dealing with idiots. Here's the text of the thread:
My permanent vacation from USCHO's hovel of a fan forum has had but a single deliterious effect on me. I sorta miss insulting folks. Stringing together a quality series of adjectives adverbs and verbs to belittle someone is great practice for my upcoming Novel about a superhero called "Insulter". So I'm hoping DU fans can relieve the pent up volcano of insult that I have stored.The result has been entirely underwhelming. There was a grand total of 12 reads on the thread and 3 of them came from me. Nobody posted a single thing. I pissed away those 75 words words eh? Why the active contingent of USCHO based DU fans don't use their own fan forum is a mystery to me. I didn't have high expectations nevertheless I'm a bit verklempt about the absolute failure. Sniff Sniff. The lesson here for me is to just be organic and not try to emulate the indominable DG with circus-like smoke and mirrors.
To participate just post on this thread. I will consider ANYTHING you post as a transgression and will fervently compose an original insult in response. Save 'em and use them against CC fans. Sell them on E-bay. Squirrel them away in a shoebox and pull them out in 50 years and take them on Antiques Roadshow.
I mentioned in the last post how different the UAA team is this year from last. Word never got out last year but it's clear now that the Seawolf lockeroom wasn't a positive place in 05-06. I was surprised by the defection of three players in the off-season (Walsky to CC, Smith to NMU and Hamilton to UND). It seemed to be quite a blow at the time and definitely left this UAA fan shaking his head. My attitude about it at the time was that if those guys didn't want to be part of the team then they shouldn't be. Hopefully, they each have success in part II of their NCAA careers. But it's clear to me now that some measure of UAA's turnaround is directly related to them leaving. It's useless to point a specific finger but one of those guys seemed to be a cancer on the teams attitude. So ... 06-07 has been about as different from the last two years as it could be. It's not the halfway point of the season and the team has won 2 more games than it did all last year.
My friend Suze loves to say, "Will can defeat skill". It's the sort of belief that fans of traditional bottom dwellers must adopt in order for their "fan psyche" to survive. Last year there was some skill but no will. This year ... there's enough of both to put together a pretty successful season. UAA lost its fair share of players to graduation (and the aforementioned defections) and consequently brought in 9 freshmen. It wasn't the highest number of freshman in the WCHA but it was a big enough number to leave a lot of questions. And 16 games into the season lots of those questions can be set aside. UAA's freshman are preforming at a high level. A couple of weeks ago I compared the WCHA freshman classes "batting averages" and at the time the Seawolf freshman were performing 3rd overall.
The brunt of UAA's freshman scoring is coming from Josh Lunden, Paul Crowder and Kevin Clark. Lunden comes from the BCHL and is what I'd call a "classic" BC player. He's both rugged and skilled; effective in the corners and in front of the net. Paul Crowder is overshadowed somewhat by his brother Tim and his selection in the NHL draft. But his experience being a part of the RBC championship can't be underrated. He is very strong on the puck and skilled with the backhand. I hesitate to compare Kevin Clark to Ken Linseman because for some people that has a negative connotation but besides being known as a great instigator, Linseman put up 6 years of 20+ and 1 year of 30+ goals in a 14 year NHL career. Clark is shifty, gritty and fearless. He is a highly skilled passer with good vision. And he'll get into opponents heads.
The feel good story so far this year for the Seawolves is the play of senior Justin Bourne. After a promising first two years (4g-13a as a frosh and 12g-11a as a soph) Justin suffered through a horrible junior year (5-8). But he is definitely reBourne this season with 8g-11a in 16 games. His numbers on the PP lead the WCHA. Another senior living up to his potential is defenseman Chad Anderson who's 3g-5a are currently six in the WCHA. Senior Mark Smith's 4g-3a have been definitely helpful as well. This version of the Seawolves has the best skating group of blueliners I've ever seen at UAA. They can all wheel. I'm not exaggerating. The poorest skating blueliner (Shane Lovdahl) still manages to rush the puck with success and I've never seen anyone get around him on the outside. Freshman Nils Backstrom looks to grow into a very special player over the next four years. He can skate like the wind, see's the ice well and can contribute with passing and shooting. Anchoring the defensive unit is big Luke Beaverson. He is a tremendous physical presence in his own zone and like the rest of the D he takes his chances to carry the puck and contribute offensively.
Special teams is a big part of the picture if you want to succeed in this league and UAA's numbers are VASTLY improved from last year. The Seawolves are rated 2nd in the league on the combined special teams list. The PK is fifth at about 84% and the PP is about 19%. Neither are "great" numbers but the improvement is obvious to anyone that watched the team last year. Credit for the defensive improvements and PK certainly has to go to new assistant coach Campbell Blair. His experience putting Maine at the top of those charts in the past couple of years has been key for this years Seawolves.
Is anyone interested in hearing what really happened last year when DU fans Peter and Todd came up for the DU series? Lemme know.