My acclaim for a good season was reaffirmed Saturday as I watched our guys take on each other. There were some things that I really liked from our team. Rookies played solid defense and disciplined offense. Granted, there were some things that are ripe for improvement, but these will get worked out with time.
As much as I would like to write a page or two about each of our rookies, unfortunately a social life is somewhat required for sanity. I also didn't have my laptop at the game, so I was stuck jotting notes on my iPhone in between the numerous Twitter updates on Saturday, so my thoughts aren't as complete as I would like them to be.
Speaking of Twitter, the nanookhockey Twitter feed is also embedded on the right hand column of the blog. So for those of you that don't want to leave this page (and why would you), the gadget on the right will show the 5 most recent updates. However, you have to refresh the blog to update them.
So without further adieu.....
(last name pronounced: "Day", for the record)
In short, I am reallyimpressed with this kid. For a freshman to come in and be able to skate right with Dion Knelson without getting blown up, that catches my attention. For the latter half of the game, Justin was paired up with Dion, and the senior wasn't getting any breathing room from the rookie. He plays solid, tight D, he's quick on his feet, and most importantly, he's smart. Watch for him and Joe Sova to be paired together on the PK.
A good offensive instinct is instilled in this guy. He was involved in a lot of offensive plays that really demonstrated his vision and awareness. He's got a great sense of where his teammates are, and this will only get better as he adapts to the team throughout the season. Although he didn't make his way onto the score sheet last weekend, he is going to have a lot of assists this season.
A good finesse forward with some flair. For those that were at the game, did you catch that shootout shot he tried at the skills competition? Believe me, I did. One of those times I wish I had my video camera. Anyway, Saturday's number two star is sure to frequent the score sheet this season. The freshman forward notched a goal and an assist on Saturday, that I hope is indicative of his season to come. From my previous post of his "Best of the West" nomination from WCHB, I had a pre-instilled vision of this guy coming into Saturday. I wasn't disappointed.
I didn't see much of him on Saturday. I saw him suited up, and he was introduced on the ice, and he played a few shifts, but there wasn't much of him to be seen on Saturday. Someone mentioned to me after the game that it looked like he got hurt, which I hope isn't the case. If it is, hopefully the coaching staff will keep him off of the ice this weekend and just let him heal before the season starts. For last year's USHL leading goal scorer to be held off the ice for an injury, that could be a big deal for us. Judging by the number of power play goals he had last year, my hopes are that our power play can get somewhere above the 10% mark this year (9.5% last season, worst in the CCHA, sadly). Closer to 20% would be closer to the top of the pack, which is where we need to be.
I liked what little bits I saw of him playing. He didn't see a whole lot of ice time on Saturday, which was a little saddening. But from what I saw, he's a pretty solid player. I didn't see anything that jumped out at me as spectacular, but on the same note, he didn't make any huge mistakes either. I may have to post an update on him a bit later as I see him play more, but I am definitely tuning into him next game.
The 3rd Canmore Eagle that the Nanooks have recruited (Darcy Campbell, Kelly Czuy), so he has a bit of a reputation to uphold. Last year, he amassed 28 points with 72 penalty minutes while he played 28 games as the assistant captain in Canmore. He is definitely a physical player, which is definitely a personality we can use more of. With the way UAA pushed us around last year, Odegard is a welcome addition. Hopefully he can knock someone around. But from what I saw Saturday, he's got a lot of potential. He's a strong skater, but as time goes on, he will get better.
At this point, he is the clear #2 goalie behind Greenham. He has good vision, good poise, doesn't get rattled, stays in the crease, and keeps his poise. Though he wasn't great in the final shootout, allowing both attempted shots, during regular play, he was very solid. Obviously, he isn't Chad Johnson yet, but I can see Greenham and Thompson splitting time this season.
Another kid that shows a lot of potential. I like his discipline, especially his focus in the shootout attempts, stonewalling every one of them. But he has to tighten up on the rebounds. He lost sight of a few that almost burned him. He is focused enough that I don't think this will be an issue later on in the season.
After the game, during the open skate, I had the chance to go out and meet most of the players. There were a few I didn't get to meet, but I'll be sure to meet them later on in the season. Between shaking hands and falling down on my skates, I introduced myself and got to know the players a little bit. Their attitude: Get back to the Joe. I heard that from quite a few players, and I think that is going to be the primary motivator this season. And rightfully so. We got their last year, and walked away empty handed. So getting back there, and getting into the NCAA tournament is really something to shoot for this season. But every one of the guys I talked to are excited to take on this season. Awesome, because so am I.
Congratulations are in order for Dallas Ferguson who received a 5 year contract extension as Alaska Hockey's head coach. I think I speak for every one when I say "That's a good thing".
Last week, an opportunity came up to potentially start writing for USCHO as a "rink reporter", writing recaps for each of the Nanook home games in journalistic fashion. I'm still waiting to hear back from our athletic department on the details, but that will ultimately earn me a press pass. A privilege that I was previously denied.