Seawolves hockey team looking for rare pre-Christmas break victory

Doyle Woody

Every college hockey team naturally wants to gift itself with victories and good vibes heading into the Christmas break.

But for about a decade now, though, UAA has been Team Lump of Coal.

UAA in the last decade has not earned a win in its final series before the holiday hiatus. Since a 3-1 home victory over Colorado College under then-coach John Hill on Dec. 13, 2003, to complete a Western Collegiate Hockey Association sweep, the Seawolves have gone 0-17-1 in games played in the last series before the break. All of those were WCHA games.

The only time the Seawolves haven't lost in that span came in 2010, when they closed a home series against Denver with a 2-2 tie.

In Dave Shyiak's eight seasons behind the bench from 2005-13, the Seawolves went 0-15-1 in games played just prior to the holidays.

The Seawolves, under first-year bench boss Matt Thomas, no doubt would love to ditch their holiday jinx because, well, that's an awful statistic for a program to lug around.

Also, they're coming off a particularly discouraging 5-4 loss to rival UAF in Game 2 of the Governor's Cup on Saturday on home ice at Sullivan Arena. UAA banked two goals in the opening 3 minutes, 30 seconds, of the third period to seize a 4-2 lead in a game they trailed 2-0 early, then promptly surrendered three unanswered goals with a series of defensive breakdowns the Nanooks exploited.

Plus, UAA entertains Lake Superior State (Mich.) on Friday and Saturday nights at Sullivan with the clubs tied for sixth place in the 10-team WCHA. And the Lakers have two league games in hand on the Seawolves.

Just five points separate second place from eighth place in the standings as the Seawolves hit the halfway mark of their 28-game WCHA schedule in this series.

Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog

No. 17 Lake Superior State (Mich.)

9-6-1, 5-5-0 WCHA

at

UAA

7-7-2, 4-6-2 WCHA

Friday and Saturday, Sullivan Arena, 7:07 p.m.

Radio: Live AM-650 KENI

TV: Tape delayed, GCI Cable Channel 1, 10:30 p.m.

HOLIDAYS IN HOCKEY HELL

A decade has passed since UAA last won a hockey game in its final series before the Christmas break.

UAA, currently led by first-year head coach Matt Thomas, has gone just 9-28-3 in such games under four different coaches in its 20 previous seasons in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. That .263 winning percentage is significantly below UAA's .321 winning percentage in all other WCHA games.

Here's how the Seawolves have done under previous coaches in the final series, all WCHA games, before the break:

COACH RECORD IN FINAL SERIES BEFORE HOLIDAYS

Dave Shyiak (2005-13) 0-15-1 (.033)

John Hill (2001-05) 3-4-1 (.438)

Dean Talafous (1996-2001) 4-6-0 (.400)

Brush Christiansen (1993-96) 2-3-1 (.417)


By DOYLE WOODY
dwoody@adn.com