November 8, 2006
Reducing Shots Allowed Helps Seawolves

By Jess Myers

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."

WCHA Notebook

Alaska 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.

National TV Schedule

"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."


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 the Huskies.

"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
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Denver at Wisconsin

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 Day Parade.

Stick Salute

St. Cloud 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.

Bench Minor

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.


• 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 with Tech.

A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report