Fisher, a senior who entered the game leading the Western Collegiate Hockey Association with a .928 save percentage, made 37 saves in Saturday's 2-1 championship game victory against Massachusetts-Lowell. The River Hawks' goal came with 4.3 seconds left and with an extra attacker, well after juniors Tom May and Geoff Paukovich scored the game's two most important goals for DU. Rest of article
The latest victims were the UMass-Lowell Riverhawks who scored with 4.5 seconds left in the game to avoid being shut out. DU goalkeeper Glenn Fisher came within seconds of his third shutout of the season.
"It wasn't pretty, but we got the job done," DU head coach George Gwozdecky said. "Glenn has been terrific all season and he turned in another strong performance tonight. Rhett has a knack for making big plays and he delivered tonight. We're looking forward to a big series against Wisconsin next weekend."
DU won 2-1 over a team that Coach Gwozdecky called, "the best 3-11-5 team in the country." (Does that make us the worst 14-6-2 team?)
On a night when DU might have come out flat after the Christmas Break, they jumped to a quick lead over Mercyhurst and never looked back winning 3-0 and firing 51 shots on goal.
Brock Trotter tallied two goals and Peter Mannino recorded his second consecutive shutout with 25 saves as DU blanked Mercyhurst in the Wells Fargo Denver Cup. Rhett Rakhshani and Chris Butler added two assists each and Geoff Paukovich tallied his second goal as the Pioneers extend their unbeaten streak to five games at 4-0-1 and improve to 13-6-2 overall.
Mercyhurst falls to 4-9-2. The Pioneers advance to the championship game of the Wells Fargo Denver Cup tomorrow night against UMass Lowell.
"We turned in a solid effort after the long holiday layoff," DU head coach George Gwozdecky said. "Peter really deserved the start after turning in a sensational performance at Anchorage. He's really elevated his game the last month. We emphasized the importance of advancing to the championship game of this tournament and the team responded."
DU dominated play throughout the evening and launched a season-high 51 shots in its fourth consecutive win. Mannino extended his shutout minutes streak to 130:55 with his eighth career shutout, which moved him into a tie for third place on DU's all-time shutouts list.
Paukovich staked the Pioneers to a 1-0 lead with a backhanded shot in the low slot at 4:45 of the opening stanza. Trotter gave DU a 2-0 lead at 17:22 of the first period with the first of his two power-play goals. Trotter iced the game with his other power-play goal at 2:23 of the third period.
by Candace Horgan
DENVER — The opening game of the Wells Fargo Denver Cup between the Brown Bears and UMass-Lowell River Hawks was a closely contested affair ending in a 1-1 tie. Even overtime wasn't enough, and after the first five shooters in the shootout, the teams were still tied.
River Hawks' defenseman Jeremy Dehner ultimately got the game-winner on the sixth shot, sending the River Hawks into the championship game tomorrow night against Denver, earning Lowell their first win since November 4.
Nike Swift Jerseys Arrive At DU
From: Denver Post
by Mike Chambers
The memories from last year's dismal showing at the Denver Cup still loom large for the University of Denver hockey team.
Lets get baking...
3). How did the cupcake get its name?
a). The size of the cake
b). They were baked in cups
c). The ingredients are measured in cups
d). Named after easy opponents
4). Name the first team besides DU to win the Denver Cup
a). Colorado College
b). Boston College
c). Miami (OH)
5). Who will win this years Denver Cup?
6). Wells Fargo was founded in what city?
a). Fargo, ND
b). New York
d). San Francisco
7). Besides DU, what two teams have won 4 Denver Cup games
a). Air Force & CC
b). Air Force & BC
c). BC & CC
d). Air Force & Miami (OH)
8). The Denver Cup holds the record for the largest college hockey crowd in Colorado?
9). Where is Mercyhurst located?
c). New Hampshire
10). Denver likes to host the Denver Cup Tourney because?
a). Gwoz likes to start each new year with a win
b). Its an opportunity to see gap between Western & Eastern hockey
c). Hosting a tournament of this magnitude brings "street cred" to DU
d). Its an opportunity for DU alums to "network" with Ivy Leaguers
Bonus Question - Name the only team that has never lost a Denver Cup game?
c). Maimi (OH)
e). None of the above
3). b & c are both believed to be correct
4). Maimi (OH)
7). BC & CC
8). True. 16,061 in 1995
10). Gwoz likes to win
Bonus - None of the above. Every team ever invited has lost at least one game.
Most Improved: Brock Trotter - He was great last season, but coming off an injury you never know what to expect. Runner Up: Cookie Monster
Freshman of the Year: (tie) Rakhshani & Rugesegger - Its been impossible to seperate these two all year. Rugesegger seemlessly made the transition from high school to college.
Biggest Suprise: JP Testwuide - He's stepped into a new position and played some important minutes. Guessing that Gwoz loves the work ethic. Runner Up: Vossberg
Best Defensive Player: Chris Butler - This is a toughie. Count how many shifts Butler & Thomas get when DU has a lead. Runner Up: Thomas
Just my choices. Feel free to add your own or debate...
At the halfway mark of the season, the University of Denver (12-6-2) would likely qualify for the 16-team national field and be guaranteed to play at the regional it will host March 24-25.
The Pioneers, ranked No. 10 in the two national polls, are 8-4-2 and in second place in the rugged Western Collegiate Hockey Association with the most difficult portion of their schedule behind them.
DU plays 13 of its final 18 games at home and should have injured seniors Adrian Veideman, Ryan Helgason and J.D. Corbin back for most of the second half of the season. Veideman (neck, shoulder) and Helgason (hand) might return Friday when DU begins the Denver Cup against Mercyhurst (4-10-4). The annual four-time holiday tournament also features Massachusetts-Lowell (3-10-4) and Brown (6-4-2).
Corbin, who broke his leg and had surgery on his ankle after the fourth game of the season, could return as early as the middle of January.
The Pioneers, who rely heavily on underclassmen who only figure to get better, are on a four-game unbeaten streak (3-0-1) since Veideman and Helgason joined Corbin on the injured list.
"I'm proud the way our team has developed over the first two and half months, and I think we have a lot of positive development to come, and that's exciting as a coaching staff," DU coach George Gwozdecky said.
"We've kept ourselves in contention. It hasn't been easy. It's been challenging at times, but we knew that probably would be the case with so many new faces, and so many big responsibilities put on those new faces."
Joe Sakic - "He's built like his dad, he's got the same strong hands and ability to find a player with a pass through the tiniest opening,"
"Paul is such a smart player, he's always in the right place. The sky's the limit for him."
Colorado College Alum Arrested
Charges include: No License, No Insurance & "Pulling a Runner"
Greco’s matter is very serious. Johnstown police charged Greco with driving without a license, accidents involving personal injury while not being properly licensed, failure to immediately notify police of an accident, recklessly driving, careless driving and not having the required financial responsibility. Greco allegedly fled the scene of a traffic accident early Sunday morning.
Belec said neither the Chiefs nor Tampa Bay Lightning could comment on Tuesday. He said the organization would address the matter when all the details are gathered and scrutinized, a process made more difficult by the break in the schedule that had much of the team out of town.
In a related story, DU Alum Paul Stastny scored a goal and had three assists for the Colorado Avalanche on the same day as Greco was arrested.
Read about his amazing comeback this season with the Lincoln Stars in the USHL.
Editors Note: In what is believed to be a college hockey record, the Wisconsin Badgers are going to have two nominees for the 2006-07 All Bad Boyz Team in separate incidents. The latest incident occurred back in August but just came to light today in the Capital Times.
MADISON - One current and one former member of the University of Wisconsin men's hockey team were charged with criminal damage to property on Tuesday.
Kyle Klubertanz (Which is a Hungarian name meaning "cow tipper" in English), a star defenseman from Sun Prairie on both this year's team and last year's national championship team, and Jeffery J. Slinde of Monona, who quit the squad at the end of the first semester last year, were charged with being party to the crime of criminal damage to property for toppling a cow sculpture in front of the Kohl Center in August (We're only hearing about this now?).
The pair were reportedly on their way home from a night at a campus area bar when they decided to tip over one of the CowParade Wisconsin cows at the Kohl Center.
"We were stupid (to get caught)," Klubertanz told a UW Police Officer in way of explanation for the episode.
(The crack) Security personnel at the Kohl Center (who spend most of their time confiscating cow bells ironically) apparently saw the pair and called UW police. The incident occurred at 2:11 a.m. on Aug. 3. After police arrived, the pair offered to push the cow back upright (cow lifting?), the criminal complaint against them says.
Klubertanz, who was 20 at the time, was given a preliminary breath test by UW police and had a blood alcohol content of 0.097 (Ruh Roh), the complaint says.
If convicted of the misdemeanor charge, each would face a maximum penalty of nine months in jail and a possible fine of up to $10,000 (although they might get probation if they agree to work at Chick-Fil-A).
Junior honored after 7th career shutout in 2-0 win at UAA
From DU Athletic Website
Mannino, a 6-foot, 200-pound junior, turned in an impressive 38-save shutout performance on Dec. 16 to lead the visiting Pioneers a 2-0 victory over Alaska Anchorage. He recorded his first shutout since Nov. 26, 2005 (at Massachusetts) by stopping all five shots in the first period, 21 in the second and 12 in the final stanza. Mannino led DU's penalty-kill to a perfect 7-for-7 effort, including two 5-on-3 UAA advantages as the Pioneers stretched their unbeaten streak to four games at 3-0-1.
From: Denver Post
by Mike Chambers
(left) Tyler Bozak scores last season
With Tyler Bozek coming to DU, freshman scoring could be a strength again next season. Bozek, a center for the Victoria Grizzlies, leads the 17-team British Columbia Hockey League with 76 points in 33 games. His 51 assists and 2.3 points-per-game also lead the league.
"Tyler is a late bloomer," Miller said of the 6-foot, 170-pound Bozek, who will be a 21-year-old freshman. "Four years ago, he was 5-8 and 120 pounds. When you're small, you have to have great intelligence to succeed. Tyler is a coach's son and a kid who has worked for everything."
Bozek will become classmates with two other high-scoring junior-A stars. Kyle Ostrow of the Nanaimo Clippers is seventh in the BCHL with 55 points in 30 games, and Jesse Martin of the Tri-City Storm is tied for 10th in the United States Hockey League with 27 points in 20 games.
Miller, DU's longtime recruiting coordinator, said his job used to focus on "trying to make the next class better than the one before it."
Since signing San Jose Sharks defenseman Matt Carle in 2003 and Avalanche center Paul Stastny in 2004, Miller said, "the challenge is to make each class just as good as the last."
From: Rocky Mountain News
by Pat Rooney
Not after Hobey Baker Award winner Matt Carle took his 53 points to the NHL.
But after a season in which the Pioneers relied heavily on Carle's scoring prowess, DU slowly is developing what is perhaps a more balanced offensive attack from the blue line.
Sophomore defenseman Chris Butler had three assists during the Pioneers' sweep of a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series at Alaska-Anchorage on Friday and Saturday.
Butler and captain Adrian Veideman have led an otherwise young defensive corps through growing pains throughout the first half of the season and have helped turn one of the team's early-season question marks into a strength.
"Obviously, I don't think we have anybody that is going to score 50 points from the back like Matt did last year," Butler said. "But that's part of my game and a big part of Adrian's game, both on the five-on-five and on the power play especially. I think we're both pretty good skaters, which allows us to jump up into plays. And we both do a good job of realizing the right time to jump up in plays."
Butler has nine points in the past nine games and 14 points overall after posting 22 last year as a freshman.
Despite missing the past four games because of a concussion, Veideman has eight points and junior defenseman Andrew Thomas has four points, matching his total in 38 games last year.
The unit also has received a boost from freshman Keith Seabrook, who has displayed a heavy shot while contributing seven assists.
"Keith has been a little snakebit. He has a heck of a shot from the point," Butler said. "I think once he gets that first (goal), things are really going to look up for him. We've played half the season, and everyone is getting more comfortable with each other."
PRIME SPOT: The Pioneers' sweep at Anchorage lifted them into second place in the WCHA going into a holiday hiatus that will end Dec. 29, when DU opens the Denver Cup against Mercyhurst.
After going 8-2-2 in their past 12 games, the Pioneers (12-6-2, 8-4-2 WCHA) are in solid position for a second-half charge toward a berth in the NCAA tournament and a bid to the West Regional at the Pepsi Center. DU can solidify its credentials in a hurry after the Denver Cup, as its next three league series will be against Wisconsin, Minnesota and St. Cloud State.
CLIMBING: DU junior goaltender Peter Mannino made 38 saves while posting his first shutout of the season and the seventh of his career Saturday.
Mannino moved into a tie for fourth place on the Pioneers' career list, trailing Wade Dubielewicz (eight), Adam Berkhoel (12) and all-time leader Gerry Powers (13).
ETC.: Veideman and senior Ryan Helgason (broken hand) are expected to return for the Denver Cup . . . DU freshman Brian Gifford on Saturday recorded the first winning goal of his career and has a goal and three assists during a four-game scoring streak.
From: Denver Post
by Mike Chambers
The Pioneers' captain suffered a concussion Dec. 2 against CC and missed last weekend's series against Minnesota State.
He still suffers from neck and shoulder pain caused in a post-whistle skirmish with CC co-captain Brandon Straub, who also was involved in last Saturday's brawl.
"My head is cleared to play, but I don't know about my shoulder and neck," Veideman said. "I was having problems before, and it made it worse."
DU Takes The Fight Out Of The Seawolves
From: DU Athletics Website
(left) Peter Mannino Leads DU to a 2-0 victory over the Seawolves
DU rolled out of Anchorage with a sweep thanks to our buddies in Colorado Springs, who were kind enough to wipe out a quarter of the UAA roster Friday night. I know what you're thinking, did Colorado College give the Seawolves Mono? Not this time. It was game disqualifications for fighting last week. Who knows if it affected UAA's play on Saturday night?
Peter Mannino posted his seventh career shutout with a sterling 38-save effort to lead the No. 12 Denver Pioneers to a 2-0 victory and series sweep over Alaska Anchorage before 3,621 fans tonight at Sullivan Arena. Freshman Brian Gifford netted his first career game-winning goal and fellow freshman Tyler Ruegsegger iced the win for the second consecutive night with an empty-netter. Mannino led the penalty-kill unit to a perfect 7-for-7 effort in DU's third consecutive win. The Pioneers gain sole possession of second place in the WCHA with 18 points and improve their record to 12-6-2 overall and 8-4-2 in league play. Anchorage falls to 8-8-2, 6-8-0 with its third consecutive loss.
"Peter turned in a sensational performance for us tonight," DU head coach George Gwozdecky said. "Our guys really battled this weekend and earned themselves an early holiday present. This was arguably Peter's best game as a Pioneer."
DU held a 1-0 advantage for much of the game behind Mannino's best outing of the season. Gifford one-timed a feed from Chris Butler from the top of the right faceoff circle on a 5-on-3 advantage at 17:28 for the game-winner with Rhett Rakhshani earned the other assist on the score. DU outshot the Seawolves 10-5 in the period.
The rest of the game belonged to Pioneer goaltender Mannino. The junior stopped all 21 Seawolf shots and keyed a penalty kill that thwarted a 5-on-3 advantage and three UAA power-play opportunities in the second period. The Pioneers were stopped on a 5-on-3 advantage of their own, but still held the one-goal advantage despite being outshot 21-6.
DU killed off another 5-on-3 Seawolf advantage for 1 minute and 34 seconds near the start of the third period. Ruegsegger ended UAA's hopes of a tie or win with an empty-net goal at 18:57 of the third period. Mannino stopped all 12 UAA shots in the final stanza en route to his first shutout since Nov. 26, 2005, at Massachusetts.
UAA outshot DU 38-23, but couldn't end the Pioneers' dominance in Sullivan Arena. DU is 8-0-2 in its last 10 outings in Anchorage.
UAA Hockey Fan Blog
This was the expected outcome but it certainly wasn't clear that DU would live up to that expectation until Tyler Ruegsegger added his 6th of the year with less than 2 minutes to play.
My overall impression of DU's play last night is thus: Much too deliberate. At the beginning of the game and at the beginning of each of the subsequent periods I thought the Pioneers played with some abandon and at a high pace. But as each period progressed DU seemed to become much more "careful". With 6 regular starters back in UAA's lineup Saturday night the Pioneers will have to put such deliberate play behind them if they hope to gain anymore than 2 points on the weekend.
UAA Hockey Fan Blog
UAA Blog (hereafter prefixed as "Me"): What's this all about?At this point the Cabal becomes distracted for several minutes while they argue about whether to get the Caramel Pecan Bon or the Cinnabon Stix. The young woman in the toga just orders a Chillattas. While they're all making their snack choices I managed to peak into the Cabal Leader's carryon and find the weapon they've smuggled past Homeland Security. I quickly zip the duffle closed and try to sit there looking innocent.
Cabal Leader (hereafter prefixed as "CL"): (a clean cut young man about 6'3" wearing Doc Martin's from the 80's) Me and the guys went down to the Sully to offer our hockey services as advertised on your blog (I'd been forced to apologize dozens of times in order to get this interview) and only found out then it was all bullshit. We had all our gear with us except for (name deleted) who stopped by Champions Choice and plunked down 400 bucks for a new pair of CCM Vector Pros.
Me: You didn't realize that DG was a BS artist? 400? BTW .. I saw a pair on the 'net for $349.00.
CL: Hey dude, we saw we were needed. We all played in High School up here. (name deleted) and (name deleted) played a couple of years in the USHL and I played in the "B" (BCHL) until my knee blew out. It wasn't until we got back to the dorm that we read the comments section. That's when we really got pissed. And it's not like (name deleted) had time to wait for delivery ... he needed the skates ... at least we thought he did.
Me: So what? You're gonna go down to Houston and ...?
CL: Well ... we heard this guy is some sort of rocket scientist ... (crude laughing commentary about DG's grammar deleted) ... or something. We figure he can't be too hard to track down.
Me: And then what? If you find him? What are you going to do?
CL: (with a scary evil grin) Teach him a lesson.
Me: Um ... a lesson? What kind of lesson?
CL: What kind of lesson do you think? This cat made us piss away our Thursday evening running down to the Sully and curiste ... (name deleted) bought a new pair of skates. We're gonna educate him.
Me: But aren't you spending a ton of money on airfare and expenses to do this?
CL: We've got backing.
Me: You mean someone is funding this op? Who?
CL: Let's just say there's an organization. They support UAA Hockey and they're backing us.
Me: An "organization"? Like who? The UAA Blueliner Booster Club?
CL: Puhlease ... (looks away uncomfortably)
Me: Then who?
CL: I'm not at liberty to divulge that information. It's need to know only and you don't need to know.
Me: (pretending to be Geraldo) Hey ... my readers have a right to know the truth.
CL: (several minutes of uncomfortable silence) ... Hey (name deleted) you won't be needing your skates in Houston. Ask Donald if he'll hold onto 'em for ya. (I agree to hold the skates and it seems to comfort this determined UAA student). Who is financing this op doesn't matter. We're on the plane in 20 minutes and we're righteously indignant. This DG guy will feel our wrath. We will not rest until our work is done.
Me: Why is that young woman dressed in a Toga?
CL: Let's just say we've done some research and we're including whatever tactics we need in order to make this mission a success.
Me: Hey ... I didn't know they had a Cinnabon's here.
CL: Don't you want a Bon?With surprising quickness I vaulted over two sets of those horrid waiting area seats just as the first boarding call is announced and I'm out of sight. I hear CL yelling something to me about causing this with my stupid "blog swap" idea and I feel guilty (but only for a moment).
Me: No thanks. I just had a turkey sandwich (man ... that was a smooth lie!) One last question before you board the plane?
CL: Sure ...
Me: Isn't the 4th Edition of the MLA Handbook For Writing outdated? Do you really think that will be enough to teach DG a lesson?
CL: Any edition of the MLA Handbook will do the trick with that DG guy. He wrote "can not of". You really think we need the "latest" edition to teach him a lesson. Curiste ... we could have a 1st edition paperback version and that would be enough to penetrate his skull and besides do you think that's the only English usage rulebook we're taking? We're well prepared....(a look of sudden insight comes across his face) Hey ... you looked in my ammo bag didn't you?
I'm posting this with great peril of personal bodily harm that could come to me. I know the Cabal didn't want word to get out but only the determined journalist gets the good story. Best of luck ... DG. I think I'll keep the CCM's ... they're sweet.
Lunden, Beagle, ClarkThe three players who will fill those six spots are forward Ken Selby with defensemen Trevor Hunt and Ryan Berry. The scoop on these guys is as follows. Selby has the most experience having played in 6 games this season. Trevor Hunt has appeared in 4 games and Ryan Berry is yet to skate in his first NCAA game. When Selby and Hunt have played I thought they both played well. Selby is a skilled forward with great wheels and hasn't cracked the lineup primarily because he isn't really suited to being a 3rd or 4th line role player. It will be good to see him with an opportunity because it's possible he could have an impact. Trevor Hunt hasn't cracked the lineup because UAA is so deep defensively (enough so that defenseman Jared Tuton has been converted from D to forward). Trevor has good wheels and a hard shot. I don't know what to expect from Ryan Berry except to say that he was his junior teams leading scorer on defense last year.
Waldrop, Crowder, Bourne
Tarkir, Cartwright, Lowe
Tassone, Corrin, Tuton
How will Dave Shyiak plug the holes? I dunno. I'm not in his head so I'll just tell ya how I'd do it.
Waldrop, Crowder, BourneSo far this season with a full roster I'd characterize UAA as having two skill lines and two role playing lines. With the lineup above the Seawolves will likely be reliant upon a single line to provide scoring. Waldrop, Crowder and Bourne have been the best power play and have accounted for 14 goals overall. The suspended forwards (Beagle, Clark, Tarkir and Tassone) have accounted for 12 goals so far this year. The suspended defenseman have accounted for 9 goals.
Lunden, Selby, Corrin
Tuton, Cartwright, Lowe
Can DU fans expect anything other than an all out defensive effort on Friday from the Seawolves? They'd be smart to expect exactly that. Only being able to roll 3 lines will definitely be a challenge for UAA. I can't see any strategy that makes sense other than being as tight as you can possibly be in your own zone and limiting the Pioneer's chances. To win the game UAA will have to do exactly that and capatilize on any PP chances. Additionally, the Seawolves will absolutely have to stay out of the box. Conserving energy will be important and skating shorthanded won't contribute to that effort.
The Pioneer players should be supremely confident in their abilities to get points Friday night. They're playing a team that only has 15 skaters, who's Captain broke his leg two weeks ago and as a result of the DQ's against CC last weekend will be missing almost 45% of their scoring. If the Pioneers don't win on Friday then they really oughta fly back home that night.
Back home on the UAA Hockey Fan Blog, DG managed to drive my blog statistics through the freakin roof by linking to his Santa Suspends Six Seawolves from this USCHO fan forum thread. An advantage that I clearly don't have since I was such a bad member of that virtual conglomeration.
Our little Blog Swap has attracted the attention of the fine folks at College Hockey News (my favorite national college hockey resource). So I imagine some of those roof-busting statistics can reasonably be attributed to them as well. Those guys are all banned from USCHO's fan forum too (and they used to work there)!?!? Speaking of stuffing ... USCHO's fan forum administrators certainly lead the world in the corn cob up the ass category.
Speaking of ass (which you can't say in the fan forum I won't mention anymore) ... something_something over at UNO's blog ... Crimson Issue can flat out write his ass off. I like style and he's got it in spades. And unlike LetsGoDU he has a link to my blog.
There's a crapload of blogs in Minnesota. Hammy's Gopher blog could be considered minimalist in terms of it's Gopher coverage with mostly just links to other sources and only occassional analysis and commentary. But there is a bunch of info about high school hockey and future Gophers. Last place Duluth has three blogs that I know of. RunningWiththeDog's being my favorite and this week she details Beargate. Radio-guy Bruce has his blog but wading through College Football info can be a bit cumbersome. The DECC is Stacked gets linked as his content has been much more hockey-centric this season. St. Bob has a media blogger ... blech. Journalists look down on bloggers. Over in Mankato, Chris from the Western College Hockey blog also writes for Maverick Hockey Nation. And then there's letsgomavs who has a regular Hot or Not feature which rates players on their looks. I won't say to much about that milieux (for fear that "Ms. Confrontational" will rate me) but I know how a man would be viewed if (lets say) he was blogging about women's basketball and regularly rated opponents on their looks.
There's only one blog in the state of Michigan that I read regularly. MeanEgirl has acquired a partner named Boosh to help keep the place filled up. If you haven't seen the YouTube videos of her apparent obsession with St. Bob's Casey Borer then click here for Part I and here for Part II.
I thought I was done with this Linkages but just realized I'd forgotten the sometimes irascible Goon who is on a video tear this week.
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.
UAA Hockey Fan Blog
UAA split with them in Mankato but I wouldn't say that Coach Shyiak figured them out. The Seawolves didn't really look good in either game. But it looked like Gwoz sure had their number on Saturday. Or maybe he finally found Dingle's number? It's hard to tell from a boxscore if the win on Saturday was due to the team playing well or just one line lighting it up. I've read concerns about inconsistency in the Pioneers play for a good portion of the season so I'm going to assume that this latest performance falls into that category. I think there's little question that DU suffered from inconsistent play (if you can call two losses "inconsistent") against CC. They played badly the first night and pretty well the second ... no? I'm not so sure that inconsistency though is the problem. Just like most other teams in the WCHA; DU has a lot of new players in the lineup this year. I think that the Pios just haven't established a solid identity; it's a team ... but like a nice Flan, it ain't ready til it's set and has some extra caramel on top. They seemed to be coming along in November with a stellar record and I don't think that losing twice to a bitter rival and then struggling (a bit) against Chuck Wepner University is any reason to doubt. Getting swept by UAA shouldn't be a cause of great consternation in Pio-land either. The Pio's are dead-on in the middle of a mix of teams that will be fighting for home-ice WCHA games. Start worrying after January. They can't be far off from cementing "who they are" together. Til then ... just let the Flan set and keep the caramel close by.
The Seawolves had a distinctly different experience at CC this past weekend. And by distinctly different I mean Mike Hunt (ooops ... its Marco) piling on penalties in OT periods. From what the coach said UAA seemed to play two pretty good games. Listening on the radio I got a somewhat different feel. It seemed the squad had some major portions of time where they were badly dominated by CC. But that could just be an impression I gained by sitting through 17 CC power plays. So yes ... we've seen plenty of the inconsistency symptoms as well. It takes time to develop an identity; but from Day 1 in Anchorage the story has been one of a complete turnaround in attitude. Upperclassmen say great things about the rookies. The rookies talk about the leadership of the upperclassmen. And the coach talks constantly about how close the team is. So (unlike my thoughts about the Pioneers), I'm fairly confident that UAA's players have indeed found their identity as a team over the past two weekends. First they lost inspirational Captain Charlie Kronschnabel when he suffered a broken leg against UMD. Then the loss in OT and the fight at CC. I think both of those will be the final catalysts for this squad to pull together even closer and eliminate their inconsistencies.
UAA Hockey Fan Blog
A picture on the MTU blog got me thinking. The picture was of Chris Conner on the ice getting his first chance up with the Dallas Stars. I've always had a place in my fanheart for the smaller players. You know ... guys that have great quickness and can dazzle the joint when they get the puck on their stick. Back in the day at UAA that guy was Dean Larson. Lars was magic with the puck. Really. No BS. Not in the run-of-the-mill Scotty Gomez pull another great assist way. He literally was often show stopping. But at 5ft 6in (rostered at 5'8") 160lbs nobody from the NHL ever really gave him a shot. The Gophers had an Alaskan little guy back in the day. Steve MacSwain had a great career there (65g-74a in 3 years) and no interst from the NHL because of his size. One of my (few) favorite Gophers had to be Jake Fleming who put up 22 goals in 4 years with the Gophers. I always thought he didn't get a chance on that team because of his size and could have had MacSwain numbers with couple of elite players instead of the 4th line grinders he played with.
So during my roster scouring this weekend I took note of all the little guys in the WCHA. But before I get to all that; I first have to establish what a "little guy" is (which no doubt all the little guys hate being called). I went with 5'8" or shorter. You could argue points either way about the cutoff. It seemed like a fair enough number since it's sort of arbitrary anway. In any case it left me with only 9 players.
So I went back and looked at the rosters and there's some 5'9" players that are definitely worth mentioning. My last post talked about this ALG (almost little guy)". Tyler Hirsch. Nuff said. His teammates Evan Kauffman (4g-4a) and freshman Jay Barriball (10g-11a) don't make the cutoff either. Down the highway from those three is St. Cloud's aLG freshman Ryan Lasch who has 9 goals and 10 assists so far this season. CC's aLG is senior defenseman and Captain Lee Sweatt (5g-7a). MTU has an aLG as well with junior Jimmy Kerr (4g-7a). There's quite a few points there from quite a bit of talent. These guys are all probably 5'8" anyway ... but aLG is aLG and their rostered at 5'9". So then ... here's my first annual (probably last as well) All-Little Guy WCHA team.
Phillipe Lamoureux (UND)
Robbie Bina(UND), Lars Helminen(MTU)
Michael Davies(UW)(Fr)(5g-6a), Ryan Duncan(UND)(So)(11g-7a), Kevin Clark(Fr)(UAA)(4g-4a)
Honorable mentions (and all the rest of the little guys):
Brandon Polich (Sr)(CC)(3g-7a)
Peter Rouleau (Fr)(MTU)(4g-2a)
(C)Mike Batovanja (Sr)(MTU) (0g-1a)(and at least one big hit every shift!!)