Sioux taking aim at a pair of rookies
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - North Dakota will try to pick on a new guy this evening. When the puck drops on the 2010-11 season at 11:07 p.m. tonight, the Sioux will be looking across at a goaltender who has never played a minute of college hockey. It may...
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - North Dakota will try to pick on a new guy this evening.
When the puck drops on the 2010-11 season at 11:07 p.m. tonight, the Sioux will be looking across at a goaltender who has never played a minute of college hockey.
It may be Rob Gunderson. It may be Chris Kamal. Either way, it will be a freshman making his college hockey debut for Alaska-Anchorage at the Kendall Hockey Classic.
"We are young and it's going to take a while to sort things out," said Anchorage coach Dave Shyiak, whose team was picked to finish 11th in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. "Obviously, we don't have any game starts at the goaltender position. The bullets are in the gun with North Dakota coming in. We're excited about the tournament. We'll see what our team is about."
The Seawolves hope one of the young guys will be able to solve the team's goaltending woes. Anchorage's team save percentage the last four years - .861, .881, .879 and .887 - has been among the worst in college hockey.
The guys responsible for those numbers, Jon Olthuis and Bryce Christianson, have both departed. Olthuis graduated and Christianson signed an East Coast Hockey League contract in the offseason.
The Seawolves recruited Gunderson, a former Alberta Junior Hockey League all-star, in 2009. They added Kamal, a native of Alpharetta, Ga., (the hometown of former Sioux Brad Miller) in April. Kamal played junior hockey in Alexandria, Minn.
"They are a little different in size," Shyiak said. "Rob is a bigger goaltender. He takes up more net. Chris is smaller and relies on his quickness and reflexes a little more. We're not just one dimensional. They bring great work ethic. They are both good, team guys. Right now, they are competing against one another.
"It's an even race, tough to decide who is going to start. Until they get more games under their belts, we might go with a rotation to see who emerges."
Sioux excited for trip
Teams that travel to Alaska during the regular season get to play two extra games. It's an exemption created by the NCAA in order to encourage teams to make trips to the Last Frontier.
UND doesn't travel to Anchorage for a conference game this season, but this trip will allow it to get an exception. That means two more home games and more money for the athletic department.
But coach Dave Hakstol says that's not the only reason the Sioux scheduled this trip.
"It should be a great trip for us to team build and bond a little bit," he said. "I know that's a little bit cliché, but guys are chomping at the bit to get on the road and get out of the routine we've been in.
"It's a great opportunity to play two extra games. They count and we're going to do everything we can to win those games, improve and get better."
Captain Chay Genoway added: "I think it will be fun to get on the road. We'll face a little bit of adversity, I'm sure. But it's time to come together and come together fast."
Schlossman writes for The Grand Fork Herald