University of Alaska-Anchorage season preview

By DJ Powers

The University of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves will open their 2005-06 regular season on October 14th when they host non-conference opponent RPI at Sullivan Arena in the Nye Frontier Classic Tournament.

The 2004-05 season proved to be a difficult season for the Seawolves in several ways, namely the toll that the high number of injuries had taken on the team.

With the team healthy and returning nearly intact, UAA is poised to be a formidable opponent in the always-tough WCHA.

The most noticeable change to the team this season is behind the bench. John Hill, who had helped to rebuild and revitalize the Seawolves, has returned to the University of Minnesota. Dave Shyiak, who comes to UAA from Northern Michigan, is now the new man behind the Seawolves bench.

One position that has been the strength of the Seawolves for the last several years has been in goal. With the return of the tandem of sophomore Nathan Lawson and senior John DeCaro, that trend is likely to continue. Both goaltenders turned in some very solid performances throughout last year.

Lawson enjoyed a stellar season in goal for UAA last season that culminated with a selection to the WCHA All-Rookie team. Lawson posted a 7-15-3 record that included one shutout in 27 appearances. The Calgary, Alberta set a school single-season record with an 867-combined saves performance. Lawson was posted his lone shutout of the season back on November 6th versus Minnesota-Duluth.

DeCaro posted a 5-4-3 record that included one shutout in 17 games last season. Back on February 11th in the Seawolves 3-2 win over Minnesota; DeCaro posted a 57-save performance breaking a school record that stood for nearly a quarter of a century.

The UAA defense lost just one defenseman in Lee Green to graduation. Despite the loss, the Seawolves will once again be a formidable group patrolling the blue line. Two notables are Chad Anderson and Luke Beaverson (FLA).

Anderson led all UAA defensemen in scoring last season with 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) in 36 games. He saw an expanded role on the team last season, particularly on the Seawolves power play.

Beaverson, the biggest Seawolves player at 6’5/227 lbs, was a menace on the blue line last season. He finished his rookie campaign with two points (both assists) and was the only defenseman on the team to have played in all 37 games. He finished tied for third on the team in penalty minutes with 48. His immense size and rugged style made him a difficult player to go up against.

In addition to the returning players, UAA will also welcome three new players to the defensive corps, most notably Shane Lovdahl.

Lovdahl comes to UAA from the Clark Cup Champion Cedar Rapids Roughriders, where he led all USHL defensemen in scoring with 39 points (seven goals, 32 assists) in 60 games. He is an offensive-minded defenseman who is blessed with great puck skills.

UAA returns an excellent group up front led by senior Ales Parez and junior Charlie Kronschnabel.

Parez, who will serve as team captain this season, has become a force to be reckoned with for UAA. He finished the 2004-05 campaign with 15 points (five goals, ten assists) in 28 games. He also led UAA in penalty minutes with 60. For the second year in a row Parez’s season was cut short due to injury.

Kronschnabel finished his sophomore campaign with 21 points (nine goals, 12 assists) playing in 35 games. At 6’4/209 lbs. the Mendota Heights, MN native is an imposing presence for UAA up front. Kronschnabel became the Seawolves faceoff specialist last season.

One UAA player that is well worth watching this season is sophomore Shea Hamilton. The energetic, hard working forward was off to a tremendous start before a wrist injury forced him out of the lineup for nearly three months. He finished his rookie campaign with 11 points (seven goals, four assists) playing in 19 games. He has demonstrated a knack for scoring timely goals. Hamilton led UAA with four power play goals and two game-winners.

The Seawolves welcome four newcomers to their forward lines. Among them is Calgary, Alberta native Jay Beagle. Beagle comes to UAA from the Calgary Royals (AJHL), where he amassed 69 points (28 goals, 41 assists) and 114 penalty minutes in 64 games. He also finished second in the league with 18 power play goals. Beagle is a power forward who brings size and offensive capabilities. He was a player that generated a good amount of interest from several NHL teams, despite not being drafted.

(Number of NHL prospects on 2005-06 roster: 1)

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