In UAA's continued tough sledding -- just four wins in 28 games this season -- junior winger Jordan Kwas has nonetheless generated smooth work of late.
Kwas enters this weekend's Western Collegiate Hockey Association home series against No. 16-ranked Nebraska-Omaha riding a career-best, six-game point streak that is the longest such stretch among Seawolves this season.
Playing with freshman center Blake Tatchell and sophomore left wing Scott Allen, and skating on a power-play unit as usual, Kwas has generated three goals and six assists during his point streak, which began when coach Dave Shyiak juggled his lines and put Kwas with Tatchell and Allen.
Kwas said his recent production is encouraging, but would be much more satisfying if it came with more wins.
"Playing with guys I have a natural chemistry with is the biggest thing,'' Kwas said. "That, and not letting the losing get in the way of what I want to do with my hockey career. It's nice to get points, but it's never the same when you're losing.''
Tatchell (7-14--12 totals), Kwas (9-10--19) and Allen (11-6--17), the team's leading goal scorer, rank 1-2-3 in points for UAA. Allen is tied for third with junior center Matt Bailey (6-11--17).
Kwas said he lately has made more of an effort to play to the strengths of his game, which is the offensive side, and historically, play-making. Kwas' 40 assists and 57 points in 84 career games both lead active UAA skaters. He also said Shyiak has given him some freedom to make plays.
"He's loosened the reins some,'' Kwas said. "He knows I can make some plays, but I might make some mistakes too. I'm kind of a risk-reward player. It's nice knowing if I make a mistake, I've got some good defensive players backing me up, and knowing Coach is giving me some room.''
One big difference in Kwas' production this season is scoring goals. He scored eight goals in 57 games his first two seasons, but this season ranks second on the team with nine goals in 27 games. Kwas' five power-play goals make him the only UAA player with more than one power-play strike this season.
Even though Kwas is averaging almost exactly as many shots on goal per game this season (1.52) as in his two previous seasons (1.51), he said he is trying to moderate his natural inclination to serve as a set-up guy and making a conscious effort not to pass up good shooting opportunities
"It's taken me two years to realize I need to do that,'' Kwas said.
The Seawolves have scored 14 goals in the last six games, and either Kwas, Tatchell, Allen or Bailey, or some combination of those players, has had a hand in all 14 goals.
Allen, with a plus-1 rating, is the only Seawolves skater with a plus rating. Tatchell checks in second with an even rating.
Bailey leads UAA in shots on goal with exactly two per game (56 shots in 28 games). Allen checks in second with 53 (1.89 per game) and Alex Gellert is third with 52 (1.86 per game).
This series is the only meeting between the Seawolves and Mavericks this season. Nebraska-Omaha won all three games against UAA last season, winning 3-0 at UAF's Brice Alaska Goal Rush tournament -- that game did not feature a single penalty and took just 2 hours, 1 minute -- and sweeping visiting UAA 4-1 and 3-1.
After this series, the Seawolves have just one home game remaining, a Governor's Cup match with UAF on Saturday, March 2.
Through 14 of 17 home games, UAA's average attendance is 2,594, a plunge of 499 fans per game -- that's 16.1 percent -- from last season's average of 3,093.
UAA's seven ties puts it in a four-way tie with Air Force, Clarkson and Wisconsin for most ties in all of college hockey this season.
Friday is Parent's Night. Also, the first 1,000 fans get Seawolf bag tags. Saturday is Senior Night. UAA has five seniors: captain/winger Chris Crowell, assistant captain/defenseman Scott Warner, winger Alex Gellert, center Tyler Currier and center Daniel Naslund.
The coaches luncheon is 11:30 a.m. Friday at the Cuddy Center on UAA's campus.
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.
By DOYLE WOODY