UAA hockey strives to improve despite numerous losses and changes to roster, staff

This year, the hockey team revamped their coaching staff, their roster and their game plans, yet, almost halfway through the season they have not seen a single conference win. Overall, they have one win and ten losses.

Nicolas Erb-Ekholm :: skip hickey.jpg
Nicolas Erb-Ekholm against North Dakota. Photo credit: Skip Hickey

As part of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, the Seawolves are currently ranked No. 10 out of 10 teams. In contrast, in-state rivals UAF are sitting at No. 5.

Despite the sequence of losses, head coach Matt Curley is confident in the team and believes that things are improving for the Seawolves.

For their first out of state game, the Seawolves traveled to Michigan on Oct. 26 and 27 to compete against Ferris state and suffered two losses, 4-0 and 3-2, respectively.

“We had a couple slip ups, and unfortunately it cost us [the game against Ferris State]. We talked about it [afterwards] and kind of got back to where we need to get to, which paid off afterwards,” Curley said.

Curley explained that he has really been emphasizing working together in groups as defense, offense, goaltending, etc. He does believe individual achievements will help, but he wants to focus on a group effort.

He thinks that, despite the loss, that effort really showed itself during their game against Ferris State.

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They continued on play Bemidji State on Nov. 2 and 3 at the Sullivan Arena. They lost 2-0 and 3-1.

“It was a little disappointing during the start of the game. I was hoping for a little bit better energy. Unfortunately, we didn’t have that,” Curley said. “However, looking at it from the glass half-full, we did bring that energy to the second and third periods.”

He sees the goaltenders doing a phenomenal job. Whether it’s Kris Carlson or Brody Claeys or Kristian Stead, they are the strength of this team.

“It’s my responsibility to stay with these boys and hold them accountable. They want to do well; they’re trying. We are doing things the right way, but it just takes time,” Curley said.

Carlson emphasized that the goaltenders have been focused on their jobs in practice and in competition.

“I just take it five minutes at a time and not worry about what’s happening offensively,” Carlson said. “My job is to stop the puck and give my team the best chance to win.”

The following week, the Seawolves suffered another loss against Bowling Green, again at the Sullivan Arena. The Nov. 10 loss of 3-0 was preceded by the only 0-0 tie of the season on Nov. 9.

David Trinkberger, a junior defenseman, was disappointed with the losses but, like Curley, is confident that they are trying.

“We had a system, and we have [still] been sticking with it, even though we haven’t come up with any wins yet, but the goal has been to just keep it simple and get the pucks through and keep going from there,” Trinkberger said.

He explained that it was tough coming into the season with new coaching staff and that it took a while to adjust and find a new chemistry.

Bowling Green was one of the best teams in the nation at that point, Curley said, and it was a solid lesson for the team. It taught them what they needed to follow up and do in their next games.

“The guys played much better [at that point in the season], although it was still a little bit disappointing, and I think it showed that we still have a long ways to go in terms of finding out consistency,” Curley said.

The team has been making progress in the early part of the season, but the Seawolves suffered losses without making any goals of their own. They aim to stay focused and use what they have learned as they continue on the play Bemidji State for the second time on Dec. 14 and 15.

For a full schedule, visit www.goseawolves.com.

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