Shots Allowed Helps Seawolves
Alaska Anchorage fans woke up on Tuesday to
see their team listed in the national rankings for the first
time in a long time. But if you're hoping to hear Seawolves
coach Dave Shyiak make a big deal out of being in the nation's
top 15, you'd have a better chance hearing him refer to
his club's archrivals without using the word "Fairbanks."
Anchorage is ranked for the first time in a long time,
but the Seawolves are trying to take it all in stride.
Bourne leads the team with 10 points on the year.
"Polls don't earn you points in the WCHA
standings," said Shyiak, whose team was picked 10th
in the league's preseason coaches poll. "I'm not too
interested in polls this early in the season."
Instead, Shyiak's focus has been on a puck-control
style that has meant lighter workloads for the Seawolves'
goaltenders, and a better chance for their team to win on
an every-night basis.
"A few years ago it was pretty routine
for us to give up 40 shots in a night," Shyiak said.
"Last year we brought it down to about 34 or 35, and
this year it's down to about 25 on most nights."
Last weekend the Seawolves held defending
national champion Wisconsin to just 23 shots in a 2-1 victory
– their first regular-season win over the Badgers
since early 2002. Save for a 9-0 loss at Michigan Tech a
few weeks ago, Shyiak likes what he's seen from his team
each outing en route to a 3-3-2 start.
"We played toe-to-toe with Wisconsin
for two nights, which makes three games in a row that we've
played really well after that hiccup against Michigan Tech,"
Shyiak said. "In seven out of eight games, I think
we've played some quality hockey."
The Seawolves travel to Minnesota State this
weekend, and may sense an opportunity for a road sweep with
the Mavericks struggling. That kind of talk, along with
bragging about the polls, is more stuff you're not likely
to hear from the coach.
"They're just like any other team that
can win on any given night," Shyiak said. "That
9-0 game was the learning lesson for us in that regard.
You've got to be prepared and bring it every night."
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE WCHA
Good Gear Helps Goepfert:
Bobby Goepfert had a few uncharacteristic losses in October,
and St. Cloud State rookie goalie Jase Weslosky won his
first collegiate start, on the road. So the stage was set
for a goaltending controversy, or at least a regular rotation,
in the home of the Huskies. Coach Bob Motzko says neither
is going to happen, at least not right now.
"When you've got a guy like Bobby, you
stick with him," Motzko said. "It's Bobby's team,
but Jase is our future, and we will get him involved more
as the season goes along."
Since Weslosky's debut, a 4-2 win at Minnesota
State in which he turned aside 28 shots, Goepfert has started
three games in a row, and Motzko says the senior is penciled
in as the starter for both of this weekend's games versus
Minnesota. But with a stretch of six non-conference games
on the horizon between now and New Year's Day, it's likely
that Weslosky will get more chances to prove his worth to
"From the start of the year until now,
he's come so far in practice, and he's definitely our team's
future in goal," Motzko said.
Goepfert was apparently thrown off his game
early in the season by a change in equipment brands, and
was plagued by what Motzko called "a few leakers"
in losses to Denver and Minnesota State. Since then, Goepfert
has switched back to his original brand of gear, and is
playing better in the coach's eyes.
Great Weekend Getaway
George Gwozdecky looks to continue his winning ways
versus his alma mater on Friday and Saturday as Denver
visits Wisconsin. Gwozdecky, who scored 21 goals and
won an NCAA title with the Badgers is currently five
games over .500 against his old school and 9-1-2 all-time
at the Kohl Center. It's hard to figure who's more
in need of a "statement weekend" as the
two most recent national champs square off for a pair.
While You're There: With the number
of negative campaign ads we've all suffered through
over the past month or so, it would be impossible
to forget that there are American soldiers fighting
a war right now. You can pay them tribute, and honor
the previous generations of men and women who have
defended our freedom, by heading down to State Street
at noon on Saturday for Madison's annual Veteran's
State alum Mark Parrish and his father Gene boarded
the Minnesota Wild's charter plane this week bound
for a three-game West Coast road trip. The
Wild front office invited players to bring their dads
on the trek to San Jose, Los Angeles, and Anaheim.
We salute the Wild for this great way to say thanks
to these hockey dads for the thousands of miles they've
driven to the rink over the years.
After the Bulldogs' Bryan McGregor appeared
to tie last Friday's Minnesota-UMD game in the first
period, referee Don Adam and his crew spent
an amazing 11 minutes (we timed it) talking with each
other (twice), talking to both benches (twice
each), and talking to the official scorer before ruling
"no goal" and giving UMD a penalty. Sure,
we want to see the men in stripes get the calls right,
but taking 11 minutes to do so is ridiculous.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• Duluthians hoping that Minnesota's
midterm election would clear up the picture regarding state
funding for a new DECC may have come away disappointed on
Tuesday. Incumbent Republican Tim Pawlenty, who failed to
provide state money for the project last spring, was narrowly
victorious over Democrat (and Minnesota Duluth alum) Mike
Hatch. On the campaign trail, Pawlenty promised to re-visit
the DECC funding issue in 2007. Hatch apparently did not
receive the boost he was hoping for on the final day of
the campaign when he attended at least one rally wearing
a Bulldog hockey sweater.
• Counting last weekend's sweep of Minnesota
Duluth at the DECC, it's now been more than a year since
Minnesota last lost a road game. The Gophers, current on
a school-record 13-0-3 run in road games, last lost as the
visitors on Nov. 5, 2005, falling 4-3 to the Bulldogs at
the DECC. The dark cloud in that silver lining is the fact
that the Gophers are 0-4-0 in neutral site games over the
past two seasons, having lost three times at the Xcel Energy
Center, and once in the NCAA playoffs last year at the Ralph
in Grand Forks.
• Minnesota State's recent woes at home
(the Mavericks have lost five in a row at the Midwest Wireless
Civic Center after getting swept by Bemidji State last weekend)
may have something to do with the team's inability to get
the sometimes-raucous crowd into games early. When rookie
forward James Gaulrapp scored nearly 19 minutes into the
game last Friday, it was the Mavs' first goal in a first
period this season. They've been out-scored 13-2 in the
opening 20 minutes of games thus far.
• After Saturday's win in Duluth, Gopher
coach Don Lucia is now tied with the legendary John Maruicci
for the second-most wins as coach at Minnesota with 197
each. Lucia has a considerable way to go to reach the top
of the school's coaching heap. Doug Woog won 390 games during
his term behind the Gophers' bench.
• It's only early November, but things
are looking good for North Dakota fans who want to see their
team lifting hardware in March. At 4-1-1 in the conference,
the Fighting Sioux are off to their best start since going
5-0-1 en route to the MacNaughton Cup in 2003-04.
• After Michigan Tech's hot start, some
were surprised to see the Huskies fall twice to Colorado
College last weekend. History says it was no surprise. Dating
back to the 1993-94 season (Lucia's first as the Tigers'
coach), CC is now 36-1-7 in its last 44 regular season meetings
of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report