Fun Brian is better than RAGERAGERAGE Brian. Just sayin'.
Preview: Nuclear Space Bears Of UAF
THEY'RE COMING. ACTUALLY THEY'RE PROBABLY ALREADY HERE.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Alaska|
|WHERE||Yost Ice Arena, Ann Arbor, MI|
January 15/16th, 2010
|THE LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
|TELEVISION||Friday on FSN Plus
No TV Saturday
What's this then?
It's a hockey weekend preview. Am I doing this solely because of the bear video? No. Ten percent of the desire to do this results from Yost Built's lamentable "job" that prevents him from posting as fully as he usually does. [Update: so of course he posts a ten things.]
Record. 10-6-4, 7-6-3-3 CCHA. Currently 4th place with 27 points. Michigan is tied for seventh but has two games in hand.
After a hot start during which the Nanooks picked up wins over Michigan and Ferris (twice), Alaska has cooled off significantly. They split with UNO last weekend and split with UNO the last week before the Christmas break. Before that, they got one point out of Western Michigan and tied Northern twice. Before that they had three splits, two of them against Lake State and Bowling Green. They, like Michigan, have been an almost perfectly .500 hockey club since about mid-November.
Road/home splits don't mean much in hockey, IME, but I make an exception when you're coming from Alaska and spend weeks at a time on the road and I've seen you wander into Yost to get hammered 8-0 on Friday only to win the next night. So: Alaska is 7-2-3 in Alaska* and 3-4-1 outside of it.
*(UAF opened up the season with a preseason "tournament"—there were no brackets—in Anchorage where they played Michigan and Mercyhurst, winning both.)
Dangermen. Freshman winger Andy Taranto is Alaska's top scorer with a 9-15-24 line, good enough for 29th nationally. (And better than any Michigan player. Carl "Bork" Hagelin is Michigan's top scorer with 12-13-25 in two more games. When was the last time Michigan's top scorer was outside the top ten in PPG, let along the top… uh… 38?) Taranto is second in freshman scoring; Alaska appears to have picked up a diamond in the rough.
Dion Knelsen is the other big(-ish) gun with 10-9-19; no other Nanook has more than five goals.
As a team, Alaska has a little more pop than usual. They check in slightly below average in scoring at 2.90 goals per game.
Defense and goalie and whatnot. Alaska usually substitutes grit, hard work, and caution for scoring prowess and this year is not much of an exception. After losing Wylie Rogers and his .922 save percentage, in comes sophomore Scott Greenham and his respectable .914. That's 23rd nationally. Bryan Hogan is 54th of 75 eligible at .900.
Alaska is 11th in scoring defense at 2.40 goals per game.
Special teams. As is almost always the case, Michigan goes into this series expecting to take more penalties than the opponent. But it's not usually this stark. Michigan is 9th nationally with 17.3 penalties per game; Alaska is dead last with a measly 172 minutes—8.6 per game—on the season so far. That's somewhat misleading, though. I prefer power play opportunities since that measure washes out things like misconducts and coincidental minors. It allso gives you a sense for how good a team is at forcing penalties out of the opponent:
|PP For / G||5.1||5.6|
|PP Ag / G||4||5.4|
The difference isn't nearly as stark from that perspective, but Alaska does have an advantage.
This is where Alaska makes its hay. They're 22/102 on the power play so far this year and haven't given up a shorthanded goal. They're scoring at a 21.6 percent rate, better than Michigan—though not much better. (Given how much I dislike Michigan's power play I'm surprised it's converting at a respectable 20.2 percent rate.) The penalty kill is just okay at 83.8 percent and zero shorthanded goals. But, again, they don't end up in the box much.
Michigan's Hagelin-led penalty kill (third nationally at 89%) is the best aspect of the team, FWIW.
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Obvious: keep out of the box. Alaska has scored 36 even-strength goals in 20 games and will be on the road, where they are vulnerable. Michigan has 43 goals in 22 games at even strength, and while that doesn't seem like a big gap it does get bigger when you account for the two extra power plays that occur in an average Michigan game.
Match Hagelin on Taranto and Knelsen. Alaska's a team that has one main line and Michigan's got the best defensive forward in the CCHA.
Equally obvious: freakin' score. Michigan started the year off in Alaska with a game that foretold this year's incredible frustrations, outshooting the opponent 2-to-1 but failing to put a puck in the net and losing 2-0; Bryan Hogan gave up a soft goal from just inside the blue line.
Michigan had a huge territorial edge in that game and figures to have more of the same this weekend, but the story all year has been failing to make that edge count.
Jump on them early Friday. I've been watching UAF wander into Yost for a decade now and I don't think I've seen them not get bombed in the first period of the Friday game. If Michigan doesn't come out of tonight's first period with a lead that's a major missed opportunity.
The Big Picture
If Michigan sweeps Alaska we can prepare for a critical Ferris series with hope in our hearts, but it just about has to be a sweep. I guess a three-point weekend is theoretically helpful but Michigan hasn't tied a game in almost two years* and at this point Michigan is so far behind the eight-ball that they can't give away home games against average hockey teams.
Can they? It is obviously within the realm of possibility, but it's hard to go back any farther than the sweep against a terrible Western team and have faith in this team's ability to turn its huge advantage in shots and chances into wins. I lean towards a split, but hockey games are even dumber things to predict than football games so will forgo anything on the record.
*(The last one was a 5-5 tie with Miami on February 9th of 2008 that finished a stretch of four ties in five games. Michigan hasn't gone to overtime since the CCHA implemented the shootout.)
I think this is better than the Appy State commercial. Danger zone + Bears blowing shit up with hockey sticks = win!
Wait - that was two words. Damn!
I love how, among all the other awesomeness that bear is capable of, he keeps shrinking all the way to the end. From the size of a planet to about 1/4 of a hockey rink.
Shape-shifting is part of his repertoire.
The size thing always gets me too. He walks up to the rink and he's like 3 times the size of it. But, when he angry bears the roof open he can fit his head in.
The new one is fantastic though, the aviators make the video.
the video is culled from the mayan archives. that's how it goes down in 2012.
Also: For my fellow junkies, 5dimes.com offers college hockey lines.
Alaska +1.5, -185
UM -1.5, + 145
Place yer bets, people.
I'm glad Brian is picking up where yostbuilt left off. i've been deprived of my hockey blog fix this year.
That is the first time I've watched that video... I can only imagine that Kenny Loggins gets a little water in his eyes every time he watches UAF hockey
Bombing campuses and blowing up earth. I wonder if the creator of this clip is on the "no-fly" list?
It is nice to see that someone finally figured out that the ultimate intro song is actually a combination of The Alan Parsons Project, Kenny Loggins, and Metallica. Why did this take so long?
and the author had to wait 6 months between prospectus and thesis defense. Non-waiverable.
Awesomeness = (Amt of Alan Parsons Project)^3 * (Loggins factor)^2 / (Metallicaness)^(-4)
That's 5 times the recommended daily allowance.
There is nothing better than supernova born rampaging space polar bears.
I did a quick search of the IM broomball standings, and there is no "rampaging space bears" team name. Highly disappointed.
Fox Arizona is carrying the game. Channel 415 on Dish.
How can any sports team follow that intro? Anything less than a rampaging polar bear, on skates, with a stick, leaving gory carnage in it's wake would be a let down.
There are so many "Fuck, yeah!" moments in that video I'm stunned as to how UAF could ever lose a game.
More hockey previews please.
Technically, Alaska's goalie last year was Chad Johnson--who recently made his NHL debut, BTW. Wylie Rogers was Alaska's goalie two years ago.
Comcast (ch. 900) is covering Saturday's game.