Monday, October 13, 2008

Week 1 Wrap Up

Well it wasn't always pretty and it certainly was not as easy as expected, but the Tigers came out of their opening weekend against a non-conference foe unscathed. I'm sure there will be rumors and hate spewing across the 'net from opposing teams and media wondering if CC is actually any good after struggling by a team from Alabama. After watching both games up close, I can assure you the Tigers will be fine and that UAH is much better than advertised, they will handily win more than 6 games like they did last season. Their defense and goaltending was solid; they always had three players near the defensive net which made shooting lanes almost non-existent and it was hard to get in close for a quality shot, hence the lower-than-expected offensive output (scoring, not shots). The Tigers did manage a couple powerplay goals Saturday night and 4 goals during "regular" play (Rau added an empty-netter) so they will be fine. The power play suffered from too much passing (aka indecisiveness) and the aformentioned tight defensive play. The Tigers went 0-for-8 on Friday and 2-for-6 on Saturday, a game in which EVERY hook or grab was called in the offensive zone. CC was 5-for-5 killing penalties Friday and 9-for-9 Saturday. As good as UAH may have been defensively, they certainly didn't have the elite offensive scoring of a WCHA foe, so penalties need to be kept low. Look for the obstruction calls to continue to remain high this season with the new rules changes.

Uncaged notes:

  • Both teams went with their 2nd goalies Saturday night and both played well. Drew O'Connell played the entire game and wants to get more playing time in his senior season. He was hung out to dry by the D on 2 of the goals he let in
  • UAH played with a lot of energy and came out hot and it looked like it caught CC off-guard, they were a little out of sync for the first 10 minutes
  • A fan threw a broom on the ice after the game, funny but not really necessary
  • The crowd was better Saturday night but still pretty weak by my standards, I guess live hockey with a great team and great venue isn't appealing to more than 3,000 people in a city of over a half-million, shouldn't matter who the opponent is
I'm going to try to do grades for the weekend series' for as many weekends as I can. Definately will for the games I attend, we'll see about away games...

Offense: C
The Tigers passed too much and waited too long to take shots and need to develope more scoring past Chad Rau to survive the WCHA

Defense: B
O'Connell was hung out to dry twice Saturday, once on a 3-on-1 shorthanded, but those were the only real glaring errors

Goaltending: A-
Richard Bachman didn't face many shots Friday but the long gaps between shots tested his game focus. O'Connell let in 1 he shoulda saved and 2 that only Patrick Roy could have gotten. UAH didn't manage more than 20 shots either night

Skating/Team Speed: A+
The Tigers can flat out fly

Puck Control/Passing: A-
The Tigers were sloppy during a few points Saturday night but are still very skilled and well-coached

Crowd/Atmosphere: B
When the Tigers' scored it felt like the arena was full. The rest of the time it was pretty quiet and people arrived late. I realize Alabama isn't a huge draw so I'll give credit to those who were actually there. I will say though, I'm impressed with the apparel in the crowd: most people had yellow and black on or one of the various jerseys so we have a very strong following of regulars

Intangibles: C
(note: this is a generality, CC has no control over how they play out)

The altitude seemed to get UAH a little bit Friday, not Saturday. The home crowd wasn't big enough to cause any problems and UAH played tough.

Opponent Representation: F
I saw 1 UAH fan, though I honestly didn't expect any

Up next is Michigan Tech, who went 1-1 in the Superior Cup opening weekend. Preview of them Wed. or Thursday.