Friday, October 05, 2007

Week 1 Breakdown, Part 2: Here Come the Canucks!

In part one, we previewed Friday action. So, it’s only natural that, in part two, we take a look at Saturday play.

(Note: Again, I will be unable to post a Sunday preview, as I will be busy working on things that I wish I weren’t working on.)

Saturday, October 5th, 2007
Southern Alberta Institute of Technology vs. Alaska (Exhib.)
The Carlson Center, Fairbanks, AK; 7:05pm AKST.

The “mysterious Canadian potential powerhouse” that is the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology continues its play in Alaska on Saturday, as they go north – way, way north.

First-year head coach and former Nebraska-Omaha assistant Doc DelCastillo will stand at the helm for his Alaska Nanooks for the first time, but without the aid of former captain Lucas Burnett and forward Curtis Frasier, who graduated, and without defenseman Darcy Campbell, who signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Nanooks still look to be strong, however, returning defenseman T.J. Campbell (6 assists), left-winger Kyle Greentree (21g-21a-42pts.), and goaltender Wylie Rodgers for their senior seasons. The Nanooks tallied an overall record of 11-22-6 and finished last in the CCHA last season.

Dalhousie vs. Bentley (Exhib.)
Ryan Skating Arena, Watertown, MA; 4:30 EST.

Making the trip from Halifax, Nova Scotia, the Tigers of Dalhousie University will take on the Bentley Falcons. According to their website, Dalhousie has “three players capable of being a number one goaltender,” and forwards that possess “… (an) excellent mix of size, speed, skill, strength and scoring touch.” Granted, I sense some bias, but those descriptions sound legitimately scary. With that said, however, the Tigers finished 7-21-0 last season under the command of former Dalhousie player Brad Crossley. Take it for what its worth.

The 2005-‘06 Atlantic Hockey runner-up Bentley is trying to improve off of their 2007 campaign, in which they went 12-22-1 – a record which included a fairly nasty 2-8 slide in their last ten games. The good news for the Falcons – they return all but two players from last year’s squad, including lead scorers Jeff Gumaer (18g-15a-33pts.), Dane Prewitt (13g-15a-28pts.), and Anthony Canzoneri (9g-17a-26pts.).

Acadia vs. #7 Clarkson (Exhib.)
Cheel Arena, Potsdam, NY; 7:00 EST.

The Acadia Axemen come to Potsdam, NY on Saturday, and honestly, I cannot find much accurate information on them, either. It looks as though the Axemen are moderately strong, as they amassed an overall record of 11-17-0 last season and went somewhat deep into their league’s playoffs. Aside from graduating five from last year, it is a bit tough to gauge these guys, however, without question, they will bring their leading scorer from last season, sophomore forward David Lomas (11g-15a-26pts.).

Clarkson, on the other hand, will be gearing up for their opening regular-season game on Sunday against St. Lawrence, and will do so with five impact seniors – forwards David Cayer (11g-26a-37pts.), Nick Dodge (18g-21a-39pts.), and Steve Zalewski (16g-18a-34pts.), defenseman Clint Clintsome (7g-12a-19pts.), and goaltender David Leggio (24-7-5, GAA – 2.16, SV% – .930). In his fifth year with Clarkson, head coach George Roll will look to build upon a 2006-’07 season which included an NCAA tournament appearance and an overall record of 25-9-5.

Calgary vs. #11 Colorado College (Exhib.)
World Arena, Colorado Springs, CO; 7:05 MST.

Sixth-year head coach Scott Atkinson brings his Dinos (Yes, perhaps the “Godzilla reference would have been best suited here.) stomping into the Rocky Mountains, taking on all three Colorado-based schools in as many days (CC, DU, and AF, in that order). The Dinos could have a slight advantage going into the weekend, as they appear to have momentum on their side – the Dinos are 4-1 thus far early in their season, with three wins on the road. The Dinos are a young team, however, with only seven players in their forth or fifth year of eligibility. Can’t find any statistics, so I cannot state much about particular players, but, judging solely from final scores, the Dinos appear to have moderately good offensive output and a decent goaltender.

Colorado College is coming into 2007-08 on the heels of a respectable 2006-07 campaign, in which the Tigers placed in the top-half of the WCHA (18-17-4 overall, 13-12-3 in league play). The Tigers are returning the majority of their team from last year, including leading scorers Scott McCullough (18g-6a-24pts.) and Chad Rau (14g-17a-31pts.), as well as assist leader Jimmy Kilpatrick (7g-25a-32pts.). Goaltending could be a problem, however, as CC’s starting goaltender from last season, Matt Zaba, was lost to graduation.

US Under-18 NTDP vs. #13 Maine (Exhib.)
Alfond Arena, Orono, ME; 7:00 EST.

Hey! Americans! The U-18 NTDP comes to Bangor on Saturday. In NAHL play, the U-18 NTDP are 4-1, with one shootout loss and an overtime victory. The USA Hockey website has season statistics on the young’uns, but in MS Excel format (I don’t have Excel installed on my machine, so I cannot tell you anything interesting statistic-wise).

The Black Bears are coming into this contest on the heels of a pair of Frozen Four-placing seasons, going 23-15-2 last year under now-7th-year coach Tim Whitehead. Despite losing leading scorers and linemates Josh Sores and Michel Leveille to graduation, and also losing #2 scorer Teddy Purcell early to the professional ranks, Maine does get back goaltender Ben Bishop (who is in likely healthier condition after an off-season of rest) for his junior year, who registered a GAA of 2.14 and a save percentage of .923 last season.

Toronto vs. Michigan Tech (Exhib.)
MacInnes Student Ice Arena, Houghton, MI; 7:05 EST.

The Varsity Blues of Toronto come rolling into Houghton to play the U.P.’s program on-the-rise Saturday. Can’t tell you much about the Blues’ supporting cast, but they appear to have a heckuva goalie in forth-year player Ryan Grinnell. Grinnell, last season, touted a CIS leading GAA of 2.20 and a save percentage of .921, and won MVP honors in Toronto’s conference. Grinnell also amassed a pair of shutouts in the CIS playoffs.

If the Huskies haven’t had their true “breakout” season in the WCHA as of yet, they’re likely very, very close to having just that this season. Under 5th-year coach Jamie Russell, the Huskies nearly broke through the WCHA’s glass ceiling in 2006-’07, finishing tied for sixth with Wisconsin in the WCHA standings (18-17-5). Only three players graduated from the 2006-’07 squad, and thus, many key players return for 2007-’08 – including junior goalie Michael-Lee Teslak, who registered very impressive numbers last season for Tech while in-net (SV% - .916, GAA - 2.00). Lead scorers Tyler Shelast (15g-9a-24pts.) and Jimmy Kerr (10g-9a-19pts.) also return for their senior seasons.

York vs. Niagara (Exhib.)
Dwyer Arena, Lewiston, NY; 3:05 EST.

Can’t find much on information on York either, aside from the fact that they recently competed in an exhibition tournament, in which, they lost two games and won a consolation game against Acadia. A problem for York is their youth, as they might dress as many as 14 first-year players while in Lewiston.

The defending regular-season CHA champion Niagara comes into 2007-’08 only graduating five seniors from last year’s club. Sophomore Ted Cook returns to the Purple Eagles, hoping to build upon an excellent 2006-‘07, in which he lit the lamp 32 times and tallied 16 assists. Also returning, along with others – forward Matt Caruana (14g-24a-38pts.), forward Les Reaney (16g-28a-44pts.), forward Egor Minorov (10g-8a-18pts), defenseman Ryan Annesley (3g-6a-9pts.), and goaltender Juliano Pagliero (14-11-3, SV% - .915, GAA - 3.09).

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