Here is a gallery of the pics I took during the trip down to UND on Saturday.
It was a long day that started early when the players hit the ice for a practice on the University of North Dakota’s Olympic size ice sheet. That was after just a few hours sleep but the guys seemed to have a pretty decent practice. That was followed by watching the game day skates for both Alaska Anchorage and the home town team.
Blake Tatchell was one of the first guys on the ice for the UAA Sea Wolves and stood out in his yellow practice jersey. Between bouts of staring at the beauty of the Ralph Englestad Arena I managed to watch some of the UAA skate. They worked on a lot of board play which paid off later on that night.
UND skated after that and they looked good. There are something like 16 NHL draft picks on that team. They spent some time later in their skate with some of the D men working on one timers. It was an impressive display of power and accuracy.
After the skates we went on a tour of the facilities that the UND hockey team has access to including a locker room that I caught a glimpse of bud didn’t catch on camera. It’s a nice room. There are pictures everywhere in that rink highlighting successful teams of the past and they really highlight former players who have gone on to success at the NHL level.
Everything is first class and top notch in that building. Between the training facilities, the weight room and the players lounge I am not sure why anyone would leave that rink. Except to go to class of course. The stick room was a hit with the North Stars players. But that facility is near perfect in every way.
We left and went for food after that and had a quick nap before returning for the game. Seeing the building close to full and sitting in the student section was pretty cool. The students have a bunch of chants and cheers that they go through and the in-rink production is NHL caliber. Tatchell took the opening face-off to start the game and then each period and the OT. He was also first out on the power play most times and was on the ice with a minute left and his team up 1. Unfortunately UND scored on a shot that may have gone in off of Tatchell who was trying to block the shot.
But Tatch was also on the ice for a goal in the first period and played well. He set up a couple team mates in OT and they maybe should have scored the game winner on those passes but the game ended 3-3 and I thought Blake was one of the better players for Alaska.
The quality of the hockey was pretty high and the game itself was very entertaining. It’s a little more of a chess match than the SJHL game and there are less mistakes. I was impressed with UAA’s board play and generally the way both teams controlled the puck. Alaska definitely controlled the boards with their big forwards in the attacking zone and that helped them to a 3-2 third period lead. It was a shame they couldn’t hold on for the victory. But a 3-3 tie on the road against UND who are ranked #2 in America, or were at the time, is a nice result early in the season.
All in all despite not much sleep, a lot of busing and a McDonalds run thanks to a young man named Cody it was a wonderful trip and a great day.
I uploaded a few videos to youtube as well.