UAA has branded this chapter of Seawolf hockey as “A New Day.” The program wants to give people a reason to forget its checkered and disappointing past. A solid start to the season won’t wash away those memories, but they’re on the right track.
The Seawolves can continue to hike their approval rating up this weekend when they play back-to-back games against the Michigan Tech Huskies. It’ll be a favorable matchup for the home team.
Sometimes games are decided by which team has the best player on the ice. If that’s the case this weekend, the ‘Wolves should have the edge.
Senior forward Matt Bailey has started the ’14 season on a tear. He leads the team in points and shots on goal. He’s also the only Seawolf with a positive +/- on the year.
Bailey was named as a co-captain back in September, and his play has mirrored the “C” on his chest.
But it’s not just Bailey — the entire group of captains is proving they deserved the honor.
Assistant captains Scott Allen and Jordan Kwas have provided the second most points for the ‘Wolves. Kwas’ total includes a team-high in assists, as well.
Bailey’s fellow co-captain, Brett Cameron, is sitting fourth in points. As a whole, the foursome is responsible for over half of the team’s points.
Head coach Matt Thomas singled these players out and gave them big responsibilities before the season began. His anointed leaders are setting the right tone thus far.
The Huskies are looking up to the ‘Wolves in the WCHA standings. These two games at the Sullivan Arena will be important for a team that’s fighting to get to 0.500.
For the Huskies to climb the ranks, they’ll need sophomore goaltender Pheonix Copley to hold down the net like he has all season. Hailing from North Pole, Alaska, Copley is transforming into a huge asset for his team.
Copley’s save percentage is at 0.938, which is top-three in the WCHA. His 1.86 goals-against average also sits in the top-three — one spot behind UAA’s Rob Gunderson.
The Huskies’ issues are reminiscent of what Seattle Mariners pitcher, Felix Hernandez, goes through every season. Despite throwing filth and always keeping the opposing team’s score within striking distance, Hernandez struggles to earn wins.
In the Mariners’ case, it’s a lack of bats. In the Huskies’ case, it’s a lack of sticks.
This statistical disparity highlights the problem: in the WCHA, the Huskies are ninth (out of 10) in scoring offense with 2.0 goals per game, and second in scoring defense with 2.2 goals per game.
If the Huskies can get something going offensively, the ‘Wolves could be in for a long weekend.
And if they can’t, the ‘Wolves could wash away a little more of the fan base’s sour memories.
Stats (as of Nov. 14)
Goals – Matt Bailey, 6
Assists – Jordan Kwas, 5
Points – Matt Bailey, 9
Plus/Minus – Matt Bailey, +4
Save % – Rob Gunderson, .916
GAA – Rob Gunderson, 1.83
Power Play % – 24
Penalty Kill % – 86.7
Goals – Alex Petan, 6
Assists – Blake Pietila, 5
Points – Alex Petan & Blake Pietila, 6
Plus/Minus – Chris Leibinger, +6
Save % – Pheonix Copley, .938
GAA – Pheonix Copley, 1.86
Power Play % – 7.4
Penalty Kill % – 84.5