Entering his second year as head coach, Guy Gadowski says, “I’m very excited–as I think everybody in Fairbanks is–to see which of these freshmen are going to come in and step up.”
It’s not that the Nanooks lack veteran talent, but some freshmen are bound to “step up” for UAF this season; there are 13 of them, literally half the team.
“Twelve of those will be eligible to play this season” says Gadowski. “We had a definite strategy at the end of the year to recruit toward our large ice surface at the Carlson Center, and I think we’re very happy with the results we’ve gotten.
“We’re definitely not looking for them to ease into anything; we’re going to rely on them to make a big impact right away.”
…13 freshmen and a couple of upperclassmen.
Forwards Ryan Campbell (Ft. Saskatchewan/AJHL), Tom Herman (OCN/MJHL), and Jared Sylvestre (Bonnyville/AJHL) are three rookies expected to make that immediate impact on the Nanook offense. Each notched 100 or more points for his respective team last season.
The top returning scorer for UAF is Bobby Andrews (13-12–25), one of two Nanooks who totaled ten or more goals last season.
Also expected to help with the attack are Ryan Reinheller (3-11–14) and Blaine Bablitz (4-9–13).
Another returning star is goaltender Lance Mayes (3.30 GAA, .900 SV% CCHA), the reason the Nanooks held many opponents close last season.
Defending the Tribe
Senior captain Darren Tiemstra (1-4–5, -12) will lead from the blue line, with help from Chad Hamilton (1-4–5, -10), and Daniel Carriere (8-12–20, -8)–all solid defenders, in spite of certain negative numbers.
— UAF head coach Guy Gadowsky
“Darren Tiemstra is just a fantastic leader,” says Gadowski. “This is going to be his third year as captain of the team. Last year he was UAF’s male scholar-athlete of the year.”
Joining the veterans will be rookie Felipe Larranaga, who scored nearly 40 points in two seasons with Des Moines of the USHL.
Another potentially impressive rookie defender, David Keough, will sit this year out because of two Major Junior games with the Edmonton Ice of the WHL last season.
A Lifeline…or a Pipeline…or Priceline…
With a team plus/minus ratio of -125 in overall play, the Nanooks obviously have some work to do this season. The Nanooks were next-to-last in league offense (2.32 goals per game) and league defense (3.57 goals allowed per game), 10th on the penalty kill (.799), yet 3rd in power play (.190), an area where UAF has traditionally been strong.
Is That Your Final Answer?
On paper, the Nanooks lack the stats to impress anyone…unless you look carefully at their record of last season.
Sure, they lost 25 games, but 11 of those losses were by just one goal, and six more were by two goals. That’s 17 of 25 losses by two goals or fewer–certainly competitive, and with the right amount of chemistry and luck, UAF may just play itself into the playoffs.
Gadowski certainly seems happy in his new job. “This summer has been very productive for us at UAF. We built a study lounge and video lounge for the players in the practice facility. We’re going to have a new look with our uniforms this year. We have secured a letter of agreement with cooperation from the Carlson Center as well as financial cooperation from both our chancellor’s office and the mayor’s office to build a new locker room in the Carlson Center.”
When you’re in Fairbanks, those little improvements to the facilities may help in the recruiting wars.
And membership in the UAF booster club has tripled this year, so the folks in Fairbanks think the new coach is doing some things right.