Tag: alaska anchorage

Series Preview: Lake Superior State @ Alaska Anchorage

 

Alaska Anchorage 2016: 7-21-6 2017: 2-22-4
Lake Superior State 2016: 11-18-7 2017: 8-20-4

Pairwise #57 meets #60
To say it’s been a disappointing season for these two clubs would be an understatement, and neither had much to build off of from the end of last season.

The Seawolves of Alaska Anchorage ended last season with 7 wins on the season, but have only won two contests this season – one coming from Lake Superior State and the other from Alabama-Huntsville, though to their credit they’ve also won three games in the shootout and somehow managed to tie North Dakota, then ranked #7 at the Ralph.

It’s not hard to see why when looking at the stat sheet. They’re led in scoring by senior forward Austin Azurdia, who has 11-5-16 in 23 games this season. Following him you have (A)Tad Kozun, another senior forward with 5-8-13 in 27 games.

In net you have the outstanding Olivier Mantha, now a senior he has played in all but 151 minutes, but has a 3.58 GAA and a .900 Save %. I say outstanding since, despite the team he has in front of him, he has played fairly well, peaking at a .913 Save % and a 2.82 GAA last season. He’s been the backbone of these Seawolves, having played in 118 games and totaling 6730:51 minutes in his career going into the final weeks of the season. He is currently #3 in the number of shots he has faced this season with 920 and has had to face 3671 shots so far in his career – it’s not wonder some of the scores get run up with nobody playing defense in front of him.

While technically not out of the playoffs, as they could potentially catch up to Ferris State (they are 16 points behind), they’d have to essentially sweep the next three weekends & get a lot of help along the way.

Late Season Lakers Surge Forward

Everybody listening to the Bemidji State homers on the radio last weekend, or anyone following our coverage here at LakerHockeyBlog probably had the same sort of reaction to last weekend’s 4-goal shutout sweep of the Beavers: Excitement with a touch of anger or annoyance.

The Bemidji State Beavers are a good team: they now have a 14-10-6 record, with one of the top goaltenders in the country backing them up, yet this Lake State team, led by forwards J.T Henke (9-16-25), Max Humitz (12-9-21) and Diego Cuglietta (7-14-21), and being backstopped by Nick Kossoff Friday night and Mareks Mitens Saturday night managed to pull off two 2-0 shutout wins, marking both the first sweep of the season, the first conference shutout of the year (they did shut out the USNTDP 6-0 in exhibition play), and also marked the freshman goalie Miten’s first collegiate shutout, facing and turning away 36 shots.

Last weekend should power the Lakers into their final two series of the year: this week against UAA before going on a bye week, then traveling to Big Rapids to potentially fight for the final playoff spot. But what needs to happen to get there?

The first step is that Lake State needs to sweep Alaska Anchorage this weekend in regulation, giving us six points totaling 27 on the season – one behind the Bulldogs. Ferris is off this week, but will face #5 Minnesota State-Mankato next weekend. We have to hope that Mankato does their job and sweep Ferris, leading up to a very interesting Friday night matchup on February 23rd, and potentially a nailbiter on the 24th.

But even if the Lakers miss playoffs this year, having a late season surge in spite of one of their own getting into trouble around town should be a motivating factor going into next season, barring any early departures.

Puck drops in Alaska at 11:07 ET and can be heard locally on 99.5 YesFM or on the web at yesfm.net. As always, you can view the games live on WCHA.tv.

Series Preview: Alaska Anchorage at Lake Superior State

Alaska Anchorage – 2016: 7-21-6 2017: 0-5-1

Lake Superior State: 2016: 11-18-7 2017: 1-5-2

 

Preying Mathas

There are two things each of these two teams have in common this season: their record and starting goalie.  Alaska Anchorage has started senior Olivier Mantha in all six of their games this season where he has faced 216 shots in 356:05 minutes in net, which is good for #13 in the country for shots faced (Nick Kossoff of the Lakers sits at #15, with 211 shots faced in 321:43 minutes in net). Despite the scores and records, Mantha is having a pretty good year with such a tough schedule. They opened up at home against NCHC powerhouse North Dakota, forcing a 1-1 tie. The Sea Wolves lost in overtime the next night 3-2, allowing 4 goals in 78 shots. The next weekend they travelled to Colorado College to take on the Tigers. They lost 6-1 and 3-2 on the weekend, that Saturday night score is impressive, considering that the Tigers are now 5-2 on the season, splitting games with some really good teams. If Mantha was backstopping a more competitive team in the conference, like a Michigan Tech or Mankato (I would say Bemidji, but trying to decide between Bitzer and Mantha would be an impossible decision), I think that the WCHA could bring home a national championship.

But the rest of the team is another story. They have not allowed as many goals or shots on goal, but as a team they are sitting with the lowest Corsi For % in even strength & “close” , and for the overall totals. Lake State does sit right above them, however.

(Lake) Superior State of Sorrow

This season has not lived up to our expectations. They have been outshot 195 to 70 in the last two weekends, with two periods (one each weekend) only having a single shot on net. There seems to be a few injuries on the blue line, but that doesn’t really excuse the excessive shots on net.

The Lakers lead the nation on shots on goal against, with 332 (UAA had 219). This is dead last in the nation, ahead of Arizona State by 45 SOG. In contrast they only shot the puck on net 166 times (UAA has 150). In case you didn’t notice it, that is 2:1 SOGA:SOGF.

We’ve talked about it as a group here at Laker Hockey Blog but despite it only being the 9th and 10th  game of the year for the Lakers, and 7th & 8th games of the year for UAA, it feels like a must win series for both teams if they want to 1) make the playoffs and 2) build momentum to turn their seasons around since the rest of the season will not get any easier for both teams.

I think it’s pretty obvious what the key to success is this weekend for the Lakers: Get shots on net and limit shot attempts from the Sea Wolves. Basic hockey. This is the time for fundamentals, not fancy drop passes, zone entries or clears.

Look for this game to be one of:

  • High scoring
  • High SOG
  • A exercise in futility

No matter which team you will be rooting for this weekend, I think we may all agree that copious amounts of alcohol will be required to get through it.

This slugfest can be seen locally at the Taffy Abel Arena, with both Friday and Saturday night games starting at 7:07pm. They can be heard locally on 99.5 YesFM, online at  www.yesfm.net, or on the TuneIn app. For those fans not in the area, or cannot make it to the arena but still want to watch the action, both games will be available on www.WCHA.tv.