Slumping UAA hockey team gets a double dose of good news

Doyle Woody

The UAA hockey team that has lost eight straight games -- four before the holiday break and four since -- finally welcomed some good news Tuesday.

A double dose, actually.

Winger Jordan Kwas, whose eligibility was in question after this season, has been granted an additional year of eligibility after winning an appeal to the NCAA, the school said. Than means Kwas, who is tied for third among Seawolves scorers, is back to being a junior and is eligible to return for his senior season in the fall.

Also, UAA said the Western Collegiate Hockey Association has rescinded the game misconduct penalty issued to center Matt Bailey, the team's co-leading scorer, in last Saturday's 7-1 loss at Minnesota. That means the junior is eligible to play in Friday night's home game against Minnesota State-Mankato.

Bailey late in the third period Saturday received a major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct. That game misconduct was Bailey's third of the season -- he was hit with a major for checking from behind and game misconduct in both home games against Minnesota in November -- and under NCAA hockey rules, three game misconducts in one season triggers an automatic one-game suspension.

With his game misconduct wiped out, Bailey can play Friday, which is beneficial to the Seawolves because he is tied for the team lead in points -- Bailey owns 4-8--12 totals in 20 games -- and plays in all situations.

Still, one more game misconduct this season and he will be suspended one game.

Kwas' case hinged on an NCAA Division I rule that penalizes an athlete one year of college eligibility if the athlete competes in junior hockey after his 21st birthday. But the athlete can maintain four years of future Division I eligibility if, when he turns 21, he is enrolled full-time in a college that does not have a hockey program.

Kwas, 23, said he knew about the caveat to the "21-year-old'' rule. While playing his final season of junior hockey for the Olds Grizzlys in his native Alberta in 2009-10, Kwas said he enrolled full-time at Olds College before his 21st birthday, which fell on Feb. 20, 2010.

Even though Kwas said he wasn't talking to Division I recruiters when he enrolled at Olds College, he said he enrolled in case Division I teams showed interest in him and also to get started on college. The NCAA rule does not apply to Division III hockey.

Anyhow, Kwas's enrollment in Alberta was the basis of his successful appeal, and he said it takes a load off his mind.

"You try not to think about it, but it's always in the back of your mind, not knowing whether this is my last semester of college (hockey) or I get another kick at the can,'' Kwas said. "The word is burden -- it's been a burden.''

Kwas has been listed as a senior by UAA this season, but his status has been switched back to reflect his is a junior.

Kwas owns 6-4--10 totals in 19 games, is second on the Seawolves in goals and leads the team in power-play goals (3).

Bailey and Kwas are UAA's top two active career scorers. Bailey owns 24-25--49 totals in 84 career games and Kwas has furnished 14-34--48 totals in 76 career games.

Seawolves notes

According to Chris Heisenberg's recruiting site and the Olds Grizzlys, Olds forward Dylan Hubbs has committed to play for the Seawolves beginning next fall.

Listed at 5-foot-9, 161 pounds, Hubbs apparently has some sandpaper in his game to go along with scoring. His 14-29--43 totals in 45 games ranks him fifth in assists and tied for ninth in points in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. His 219 penalty minutes leaves everyone in his wake -- the next most PIMs in the league is 134.

Judging by Heisenberg's site, that gives the Seawolves six incoming forwards. They'll lose to three current forwards at season's end, when the eligibility of those players is exhausted. Also, forward Andrew Pickering retired earlier this season after repeated concussions.

Besides Hubbs, the recruits are Zack Russell of the AJHL's Canmore Eagles, whose 17-17--34 totals in 35 games ties him for 15th in the league in goals; Tanner Dusyk of the AJHL's Bonnyville Pontiacs, who owns 16-19--35 totals in 38 games; Brent Baltus of the British Columbia Hockey League's Trail Smoke Eaters, whose 21-16--37 totals in 22 games ties him for sixth on the circuit in goals; Michael Stenerson of the BCHL's Surrey Eagles, whose 11-27--38 totals in 37 games ranks him tied for eighth on the circuit in assists; and Hudson Friesen of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League's Selkirk Steelers, whose 22-22--44 totals in 37 games ties him for fifth in the league in points.

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