Yuki Miura: Always Working

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

When Lake Superior State Head Coach Damon Whitten and his staff went to a USHL showcase a few years ago, they saw many good players at that event as they do every year. More than that, they saw, in Yuki Miura, a player that exudes continuous effort to get better, and to grow the game in Japan, his homeland. It was then that Whitten and his staff decided to recruit Miura.

Whitten and his staff at Lake Superior State won their first major recruiting battle getting Miura to come to the Upper Peninsula. Since then, things have not always been linear for Yuki. First, he had to deal with some eligibility issues which he has gotten resolved. Then, he sat out most of his nexr season due to dealing with a broken leg. After that, he slowly worked his way into the lineup, but when he was on the ice, he was noticeable. The first thing most people notice about him is his superb speed.

If you have not seen Miura play, we will note that he models his game after Tomas Plekanec. Miura is a tenacious player, who went from a playmaker with Waterloo, to one of the better penalty killers in College Hockey, with that same playmaking ability. When you stop your assistant coach’s power play continuously in practice to the point of good frustration, that is pretty indicative of what he does in games. As shown in the photo, Yuki goes all out to block shots in games, and this effort is consistent across all phases of his game.

The penalty killing was an adaptation for Yuki, that is he had to learn how to get better at that skill to see more time on the ice, and it has paid off for him. Now, in his senior season as a Laker, he is one of the better penalty killing forwards in the WCHA if not the country. To play more, Yuki had to evolve his game and be able to win more puck battles along the walls, and add some truculence to the speed and finesse he already has. Becuase of the staff at Lake Superior State, and his will and tenacity, he is in position to earn a professional contract as an undrafted free agent in North America next season. As an institution, Yuki is what personifies college hockey at its best.

Why is that? Well, not only is Yuki working dilligently to help his Lakers as they head to face Michigan Tech this weekend, but he is also already giving back and has a superb outlook on life.

First, regarding the attitude he has, Yuki was cut from Japan’s Olympic Qualifying Roster for the 2022 Winter Olympics, depriving him of the chance to play in the games, like his dad Takayuki did in the 1998 Nagano Games for his home country. That has not stopped Yuki from developing, and he is using the cut as motivation this season, to fuel his already strong drive. The next time the full World Championship Program is held, he wants to be competing for his country once again, and the effort and speed he has developed will go a long way to making that happen.

Regarding his giving back, Yuki is an active journalist for all of those in Japan considering playing college hockey, and more. He routinely blogs about his experiences and overcoming adversity. In addition to that, he makes videos showing how he works on improving elements of his game, like picking a puck up along the boards. In terms of advocates for college hockey in Japan Yuki is one of its greatest ambassadors and is at the forefront of Japanese players coming to play College Hockey.

All of Yuki’s work, in leaving his home to play in the Kladno program in the Czech Republic before coming to Waterloo, to adding elements to his game, and being a mentor for others in Japan wanting to play the game, combined with his incredibly upbeat personality showcase a player ready for the next level. We have oten referred to him as the happiest man in Division One Hockey, and we stand by it. After a 7-1 loss to Bemidji State last year, Yuki came out with ice bags on his legs from blocking so many shots and talked to us happily about the evening never being negative. For all of the opportunities he has been given, Yuki expalined that he was just so incredibly thankful for everything and everyone who has been and is a part of his journey in this game.

Well, we will close with simply saying this, the sport of College Hockey is better off with Yuki in it, and advocating for it. As to his work ethic on blogging and communicating, Mareks Mitens, the starting goaltender for this team quipped that when the rest of the team is home, they look on social media and see that Yuki made another video at the rink, long after practice has ended. His effort, humility, and tenacity to get better are evident through his rise to Lake Superior State, and highlight the endless promise his feature holds.

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UND Men’s Hockey’s conflicting views on major penalties: Some thoughts

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Today, the NCHC suspended University of North Dakota Forward Grant Mismash for strolling through the creae of Denver’s Magnus Chrona and shocking him with an elbow. Chrona took the elbow to his chest and fell, smacking his head against the ice, and leaving the game after. Mismash was assessed a five minute major and a game misconduct for charging him.

Was that deserved? Many people outside of the program may think so, but UND Men’s Hockey Head Coach Brad Berry begs to differ, saying ” we know every five-minute major goes through a review process… I got a call today that said he was suspended for the extra game. Our league does an outstanding job as far as officiating and the review process. They deemed it a one-game suspension. I guess I would say we here have a difference of opinion, but at the end of the day, the league makes the call and we deal with it and move forward. It is what it is”

Compare that Brad Berry bit of passive aggressive thought to what he said when Jimmy Schuldt of St. Cloud State nearly two years ago injured Grant Mismash through a knee on knee contact that official Todd Anderson thought, at the time, was a clean hit. Arguably both should have been reviewed, but Schuldt’s hit was not. Berry said, “i’m very, very, disappointed, …And again, I’m not going to get in any trouble here by making a comment, but that was a knee-on-knee that should have been reviewed. We have a protocol in place and it wasn’t reviewed and I’m very disappointed in that. It’s not the result of the game that I’m alluding to. It’s one of those things where you know where anything is 50/50 like that at that time in the game has got to get reviewed, and we have that in our protocol.”

Categorically speaking, the suspension Grant Mismash received today arguably was fair. You do not causally saunter through the blue paint and elbow a goaltender. That is a no in this sport at any level, and Mismash is paying for that. Magnus Chrona did not at all dive, and he looked concussed on the play and could miss time for a Pioneers team. The puck was no where near Chrona when the contact happened, and there was no reason for Mismash to skate in the blue paint, that close to him, during that instance in the game. We remember covering that night against St. Cloud State when Mismash got injured that collision. As noted, fans and Berry were incensed, and rightly so given the player they lost for the rest of the year. Chrona is at least at that level of importance for the Pioneers, if not more given his role as the starting netminder. The overhead view is pretty clear and shows the space Mismash had to try and adjust before going into Chrona.

What Grant Mismash did to him was the functional equivalent of a defensive lineman getting to Kurt Cousins and sacking him three seconds after he throws the football downfield. There is no functional reason for that, or for what Grant did. He is a good player in his own right and playing for an NHL contract with the Nashville Predators. That play certainly did not help his case, which was building in the positive direction given his scoring touch this season, but the stark disparity in Berry’s tone between today, and nearly two years ago is reflective of how some Fighting Hawks fans see this disparity. To Berry and them, we would concede that the Schuldt hit on Mismash was worthy of a review, which it should have had. With that said, we do not play sports in any condition that is theoretical, and UND fans were right to demand a review that they did not get two years ago.

Where we draw the line is the disparity. Advocating for transparency, and for your player to pay attention to where he is on the ice would have been the straight up way to adress the suspension today, if Mismash skates through he paint and doesn’t elbow Chrona, maybe Magnus moves up on him a bit like most goalies to give their defense a little more room, but no elbows to the chest plate occur, or potential concussions on that instance. You could even make the argument that given what he served in the game, and when the penalty happened, no suspension was warranted, but you understood the penalty. Berry was right to be incensed at the NCHC for their lack of transparency on the choice to not review the Schuldt hit on Mismash on the ice that evening, and is not correct in his response to Mismash’s suspension. Knee-on-knee contact and goaltender interference via charging through the blue paint with a puck no where near it both have no place in this sport.

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Alabama Huntsville leads the country on the power play: Here’s why

Photo Credit: LSSU Athletics

While it is true that the Chargers’ Hockey team has played in only eight games, it is also true that Alabama Huntsville’s power play, heading into another WCHA showdown against Northern Michigan, is statistically the best in the nation, clocking in at 29.6 percent. This team has been made over from top to bottom, and its biggest improvement to date is on the power play. For context, through eight games last year this team had a power play clip of 8.3 percent.

Why is this team doing better on the power play this year?

Well, the top two lines of UAH, lead by Tyrone Bronte are most commonly featured on the power play for Lance West’s team.

With that and Bronte’s speed you get some different looks from this UAH team, some improvement was expected, but a 21 percent jump over an equal amount of games not many people around the country would have expected, outside of,well, the Chargers of course. a player who had no offers until June to play Division One Hockey is leading the positive effort for this team. His speed draws attention, and provides openings for whomever else is on the ice.

Bronte is the leading scorer for this Chargers side on the power play putting up all of his goals on it. More than that, his ability to direct traffic and set his teammates up on the power play cannot be understated. Last year, the Chargers did not have a person with the speed of Bronte, but there’s also more that goes into this power play worthy of menton.

First off, Lucas Bahn is one of the leaders in defense for this team. Three of his four points have come on the power play through making strong passes and leading a power play unit of his own. He is a cerebral player capable of making the needed pass at any time, and one that will continue to get better over the next few years. Do not forget about Dayne Finnson as well. All of his points have come with an extra skater on the ice. He possesses a rocket shot for this team, as fans saw when he won the game in overtime against Ferris State. He also uses that shot to create offense elsewhere.

In addition, this team all has a role in its power play sucess through its effort. As Karlis Zirnis notes on his penalty kill, the goal is to outwork the power play, and arguably the power play has the same basic role, all centered around effort. That is the biggest common variable around how this team has changed its narritive and redefined what it can be, effort.

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UND Hockey: What comes next?

Phtoto Credit:Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Tonight, the Fighting Hawks earned a victory over the Pioneers of Denver a mere 24 hours after losing to them 4-1. What does this mean for the team’s fortunes the rest of the year? Well these are three things we came away from the series noticing.

Penalties, so many penalties

These two games have shown us one thing despite the results. The Fighting Hawks are incredibly overaggressive as a team most times, and are subject to tougher officiating more than most. The team took multiple unneeded penalties throughout this weekend, and was able to squeak out a victory over the Pioneers because of how it killed the penalties it took. With that said, do keep in mind that the postseason will feature 15 other capable teams on the power play, and all will have a chance to potentially end UND’s season in some form or fashion.

Goalie concerns

Adam Scheel played superb in the series finale, and should every game he plays in resemble it, than UND will win a lot of games this year. With that said, you cannot throw out the season opener, or multiple other close ones that Scheel has had this year. The NCAA Tournament has teams that live for one thing, depositing rebounds in their opponent’s net. On Saturday, multiple reboundds off the equipment of Scheel ended up in the back of Scheel’s on looks Scheel should have swatted away better. Rebound control has been a consistent concern for him, and it is the thing that, in our eyes, limits his celling at the next level. Scheel will not win the Mike Richter Award, but in order to win the National Championship with UND, he needs to lmit second chances a bit better than the first game in this series showed he could do. Part of this can be acheived through UND simply playing Peter Thome a few more nights the rest of the way. Resting Scheel will help him in the postseason, and let him get more time to study video and be ready to lead this group in the postseason.

Turnovers are still too high

UND seems to have a consistent proclivity to make home-run passes and pay for them, or get dispossesed at their own blue line on nights that goaltending does not stand on its head. The Fighting Hawks are a team built to wear others out, and turned the puck over far too much against Denver for anyone’s liking. When they give the puck up, fast teams like Denver take advantage of this fact and score transition goals in bunches to provide a lot of the scoring against UND.

All of this is to say, UND is a really good team, but one with flaws that need to be looked at to prevent the NCHC’s number one representative from losing in the first round in the last three years that the tournament has been held.

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UND-Denver: Three things to watch

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Tonight, the Fighting Hawks take on the Pioneers in a battle of two teams going in different directions.

UND is fighting for the Penrose Cup to stay in Grand Forks against the Huskies of St. Cloud State, while Denver is fighting to get into consideration for an at large selection. In the NCHC Pod, when these teams played, skill was on top display as Carter Savoie and Riese Gaber seemed to do battle to provide the best highlights in the Pod.

For Denver, the Pioneers have all of the skill they have had in years past. The fact that Carter Savoie took as long as he did to get drafted (fourth round by Edmonton) is somewhat shocking given how he has played for this team. Players that played in the USHL with worse statistics for his same player profile were taken ahead of him. He is a rookie of the year candidate and has 13 points in 12 games so far. The forward group of this team has what they need to go far, the back end is reeling from the departure of Ian Mitchell. Magnus Chrona is still the main player in net, and for the Pioneers to turn things around, he has to be their best defender on some nights and take a few games they did not deserve.

With that intro out of the way, here are three things to watch in the series.

Where the penalties happen

With UND playing Denver, we expect plenty of penalties to happen. The Fighting Hawks have a proclivity for taking offensive zone penalties due to their over aggressive tendencies on the forecheck. For a team that controls possession as much as UND does, they should not have to do too much to maintain it, and offensive zone penalties, with the team they are facing tonight and tomorrow are an invitation for more goals scored by the Pioneers. Carter Savoie, Bobby Brink, and the rest of Denver does not need any more time and space, and the penalty kill numbers of UND, while great, will suffer if this trend continues. For the Pioneers, if you see a lot of penalties taken in their own end that is indicative of how well UND is holding the puck. The longer teams cycle on offense, the more defensive penalties are taken. The Fighting Hawks have turned drawing penalties on those long shifts into an art form, and deserve accolades for that.

Who Scores First

If the Fighting Hawks score first, good luck coming back. This statement applies to any team they will face this season. Brad Berry’s team is uniquely capable of holding possession against most teams in this game for stretches’ of time that go for perceived eternities. The teams with the best success against UND in the past few seasons are ones that eschew possession metrics when they play the Fighting Hawks. That is, they get into the zone fast, and score off the rush. They take what the defense gives them and capitalize on mistakes. If the Fighting Hawks have one potential weakness its the offensive nature of the defense corps. This team has offensive defenders on every pair capable of joining the rush. They also have a tendancy to go for stretch passes in a way that often comes back to harm them. If Denver scores first, they can force UND to make more of those mistakes via necessity. If not, their task becomes tougher.

Who wins the turnover battle

This fact will determine who wins the game more than shots on net. That is, how many turnovers each team gives up, and what is done with each of them ultimately impacts the final score more than saves made. By this, i reference the previous two categories. If Denver can catch the defenders of UND a bit off guard, and steal a pass or two through the neutral zone more than UND can, they will get a few more grade-a looks on Adam Scheel and likely bury a couple of them. If , on the other hand, Denver tries something remotely similar and gets away from being cohesive, than the veteran Fighting Hawks will take control of this one, and pretty early.

All of these facts, beyond the top line statistics will play a key role in determining how this series goes. If UND can get some points, they will remind the nation of their status in the NCHC. If Denver surprises some folks this weekend, they can show that the Pioneers belong back in the national conversation.

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The WCHA will get at least three teams into the NCAA Tournament: Here’s why

The WCHA, in its final season in its current form, and most likely its final season on the men’s side of things, is having themselves a superb year. Alabama Huntsville is playing the underdog role with 13 freshmen and dramatically improved results from returning players. Ferris State has a World Juniors Champion . Bowling Green is one of the most complete teams in the country with multiple stars on it. Lake Superior State has one of of the top goalies in the country in Mareks Mitens leading a veteran team. Also, Michigan Tech has one of the best goalies in the country, a really tough system to scheme against, and is in a good spot as well. Minnesota State still is in pole position for the McNaughton Cup with its sterling start to its WCHA season despite losing a lot of scoring up front.

All of the top six teams in this league are playing good enough hockey, that the “eye test” should actually benefit this league this year without normal factors of consideration being used. In its final year, the WCHA may have more influence over the final field than realized.

Why write about this?

Well, the WCHA is being looked on by some as an after thought. Every year, like Atlantic Hockey, it seems like the leagues is talked about as an afterthought. Given that the ECAC only has four teams participating this year, and both independents do not look to be candidates for an at large bids, the other five conferences will get to compete for some extra at-large spots.

In addition, defensively, the WCHA is a league built on being able to play close games, like those which are commonplace in postseason hockey. Six teams are within the top 22 of fewest goals allowed, and all of those teams, arguably are fighting for a postseason spot in the league. Given the non-use of the pairwise, all of these teams still have some claim to being under consideration, as long as they finish at .500 or better of course. That style plays better in the postseason when games are typically tight checking, low scoring affairs throughout.

Not many leagues play consistently defensive hockey as well as the WCHA has. Given its top goaltenders, and opportunistic offense, they, like Atlantic Hockey, will have more teams representing them in the NCAA Tournament this year, and deservedly so.

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UAH Hockey: Credit the Returners-Part Two

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

The Chargers of Alabama Huntsville have done quite a lot in this pandemic-marred season so far. Part of that is how well the 13 freshmen have integrated into this group. Another part of that is the exponential growth of those who came back. This is the second part of our series documenting the sucess of the retuners. If you did not get a chance to look at the last bit of info on some of the returners, there will be a link at the bottom of this article to go back and check that out. Since writing the first piece, we have seen Bauer Neudecker continue to thrive on Tyrone Bronte’s line and showcase the sneaky shot that David Fessenden and others know about. In addition, his linemate Lucas Bahn has pitched in in some key moments, especially on the power play. He leads a power play ranked fourth in the nation coming into the weekend.

As we said before, and as is still relevant now,” in order for this team to thrive, the returning players who toughed out so much to stay Chargers have to improve. Given the unique year this is, some returners are playing for ice time next season with their play this year. That is, due to the pandemic, the NCAA is allowing players with more academic work to not have this year count against their eligibility. Therefore, all players, especially the returners are competing for ice time now, and a roster spot next year to some degree. As Carmine Guerriero said when we talked to him, they have all bought into the new way these Chargers are playing, and it has showed.”

Let’s look beyond the top line numbers and look at how some more players have improved year-over-year.

Dayne Finnson

The junior defender put home the most thrilling goal of the season so far, and one of the most thrilling at the Von Braun Center of any scored in this program’s Division One existence. His improvement goes beyond that. For starters, he already has more goals in 8 games this year, than in his previous 64 games over his first two seasons played (two this year, one in the previous two seasons). In addition, he has both of those goals on the power play. When you look at reasons why this power play is fourth in the country, the blue line’s contribution is a big part of that. For Finnson he is also two points from equalizing his points output last year (has five in eight games this season, and had seven in 32 games last year). We knew Finnson could defend well before this year, but him adding as much offense as he has done to this point is a welcome addition to the diversity of point contributions the Chargers need.

Drew Lennon

The junior defender, with one three point game against Ferris State, exceeded his career pont total in his first  two seasons in one game as his three points were a big factor in the thriller. Beyond that, he plays a cerebral game, similar to Bahn. He has shown an ability to find the opening when setting up the offense, as shown on the nice pass he made to Quinn Green earning him the secondary assist on Ben Allen’s equalizer against Ferris State with 2.3 seconds left.  Throughout the year, look for how Lennon compliments the assertive game he plays on the scoresheet. He has the potential to stretch defenses like he did against Ferris State. Given the speed the Chargers have up front, Lennon’s keen eye on offense becomes even more critical, as he showed against Ferris State.

Ben Allen

The third line center for the Chargers scored the equalizer against the Bulldogs last Friday, his ability this year stretches far beyond that. He plays on a line with Peyton Francis and Connor Wood. All three of them provide superb speed and energy that helps extend what these Chargers can do. On that goal, he got the primary assist from Quinn Green, a speedy freshman who spent last weekend on the first line with Tyrone Bronte and Neudecker. That shows his ability to move around when needed, and the staff likes the speed he plays with. From watching him play last year against North Dakota, his ability to defend was apparent to those watching then. This year, he has gotten noticeably faster and provided West with more options for every situation Having a few players that start in the bottom six of your forward corps that can move up in key moments is part of building a better program. Allen has two points this year already, and is on track to far exceed the 16 games played last year if he keeps playing his role as he is.

All of the returners have provided a needed element to this team, and we will have updates on all of them including ones not discussed in this upcoming article. All of them, even ones not mentioned in the first or second article have improved their games and provided the leadership this team needs.

Link to first article on the returners.

https://seamoresports.com/2021/01/06/uah-hockey-credit-the-returners/

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UAH Hockey: Read beyond the shots on net conceded

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography )

Last week, the Chargers of Alabama Huntsville got outshot 42-18 and won the series finale against Ferris State 2-0. While the difference is obviously concerning, there were some positives out of that game to take into the next weekend against Northern Michigan at the Von Braun Center.

First off, we will stipulate that no team wants to give up that many shots in the game. ever. Teams usually give up that difference in a big defeat.

What went right on Saturday?

Well, as we know, Karlis Zirnis runs the penalty kill in his role as an Associate Head Coach for the Chargers. In addition, he works with the team through breaking down video for them, with advice. While they conceded no power play goals on the weekend, the coaching staff, Karlis, and most fans at the Von Braun Center, did scout the Bulldogs well enough to know that netminder David Fessenden faced too many grade-a looks on Friday night. Through adjustments made through the staff’s continuous video work, UAH’s penalty killers actually did even better on Saturday given the tough circumstances they faced.

The team took penalties nearly back-to-back at least once, and had to adjust. Fessenden did see more shots on Saturday, but more than a few of them from Ferris State were not grade-a looks. The Bulldogs, to win, had to score more long looks against a compact team with speed. They were unable to do so. On both nights, UAH did a good enough job boxing out, for the most part, and working together cohesively to get the puck going away from their own end.

A simple shots on net count did not do that series justice, and does not showcase where this team is. While they are still getting outshot on most nights, the differences are a bit less, and the team’s ability to clear second and third looks has dramatically increased their ability to have sucess in the long run.

Take a look at the Chargers’ next scheduled opponent, Northern Michigan. Despite losing 5-1 to a strong Bowling Green team, they had one more shot attempt than the Falcons did. In addition, they forced Eric Dop to make 35 saves off 52 shot attempts. If you saw shots on net first, you could get a misleading thought on the game.

The same is true for these Chargers, credit the staff, lead by Zirnis, for working to adjust where shots on net where being allowed more than the amount. This staff knows what David Fessenden brings for them in net, and is crafting a system to match. To compare this correctly we could look to football. What the Chargers are doing in making this system is like what a team does to build an offense around their quarterback. Of course the underlying numbers need to be better, but they do not tell the whole story. What these Chargers do with this reality ultimately will.

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Building Success: Damon Whitten on two important pieces to Lake Superior State’s strong start

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

The Lake Superior State Lakers are a case study in high offense guiding play. That is, whether last year with Max Humitz, or in years before with Diego Cuglietta, Damon Whitten’s teams have always played with speed and skill to provide goal scoring in bunches.

Now, Whitten’s patience has paid off again, as he has his team competing for an at large spot in the tournament as they competed for two years ago. This week, the Lakers are nationally ranked, and heading into a series of the week candidate against the high-flying Mavericks of Minnesota State. This weekend is one of the biggest in recent Laker Hockey history, because it can stake the Lakers to a good path in the WCHA, and because given their prestige in the league, any team that can beat the Mavericks is looked upon favorably by many in this game.

A big part of the Lakers’ success beyond the continued goal scoring of Ashton Calder, and the speed of the Lakers goes to their defense.

Two of the leaders for this team on defense are Mareks Mitens, their starting goaltender, and Yuki Miura, one of the most consistently strong defensive forwards in this league. Both are undrafted free agents, and both, according to Whitten, have a shot to get to professional hockey after this season.

How did they both get to where they are now?

Well Whitten and his staff made their first concerted efforts to get non North American players to Sault Ste. Marie, and it paid off. He and his staff followed Mitens during his NAHL season where he posted a 92.5 percent save percentage for the Aston Rebels. While there, Whitten talked to Head Coach Joe Coombs, and learned how talented Mitens was in net. Throughout the year the staff kept tabs on his performance, and to the team’s credit, they were able to win a battle against many other colleges, including at least one NCHC school to make Mitens a Laker.

Whitten is glad he did that because now, he has a Hobey Baker Candidate in his net as a senior. Thanks to the help of both Zack Cisek, and Pete Aubry before him, the Lakers have a professional-ready goaltender who has been able to participate in two NHL development camps (Islanders, and the Blackhawks where Aubry is now the Development Coach for goaltenders in their system). Through his first two seasons, Mitens played as a backup and used that time to get acclimated to the college game. Now, he is ready for the next level. He displays the same quickness we have seen since he burst onto the scene at the Under 18 World Championship for Latvia in 2016, but now, he has a consistent and more complete defense in front of him. Combine that with Mitens’ size and superb hockey intellect, and its fair to think that he could get a chance to play at the next level, or even for his home country during the World Championship being held in Latvia this year, given how late North American professional hockey will go, he could be the best Latvian goaltender available to play on what, to this point, would be the biggest stage of his career.

In addition, looking at Yuki Miura, Whitten had nothing but good to say about his growth and development. When Yuki came to campus, he did not kill penalties much, if at all when he was able to play. He had to sit out because of some eligibility issues, and he then dealt with a broken leg, followed by slow integration into the lineup.

Now Whitten noted that Miura on the penalty kill is so good that he stymies assistant coach, Mike York’s Power Play unit in practice with some regularity. Shot blocking is the biggest help Miura brings . Miura is a leader who is smart enough and wise enough at this level to anticipate the next move. In the professional ranks, the ability to kill penalties is paramount for rookies to play a lot early on. Yuki has all of that experiennce in spades, and he is one of the fastest players in this sport this year.

Both Mitens and Miura have brought a lot to the Lakers, according to Whitten. They are still pushing to get better each day, but thanks to Whitten, and his staff’s ability to work with these two players on their journey, they have inevitably extended the time both get to play hockey, and hopefully the celings for both at the next level.

As for these Lakers, their speed is matched by their suffocating defense, especially through the neutral zone. The forward group of this team is quite active in finding quick turnovers to score, and playing Mankato, we should expect the same. How these Lakers do in their WCHA opener, will tell the world of College Hockey a bit more about the ceiling of this team.

On recruiting, to find the next player like Miura or Mitens, especially relating to the ability to score goals , Whitten had this to say, “a lot of people think you have to go to North Dakota Denver or Michigan to be high scoring [when] you can come to Lake State and showcase yourself.” Given the track records of Mitens and Miura, that assertion is by no means limited to goal scorers, of which this program has had many come through it. The Lakers are a team with three NCAA titles, and one of the stronger traditions in all of College Hockey. They, like the rest of the WCHA, according to Whitten, deserve more of a look at the national level.

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“Every Single Program Matters”: Mike Snee on College Hockey Inc’s Mission

(Photo Credit-College Hockey Inc.)

Mike Snee is the Executive Director of College Hockey Inc. This is an organization integral to helping grow the game, and in placing new teams across America to showcase a game loved by many in areas where there is not a hockey presence that there is now. His organization helps move the process forward to find new teams at interested schools with the capacity to fund them, and works to market the game to perspective players before they commit to a path to play hockey beyond their youth team.

Those presentations around America are a big part of the daily mission to grow the game for all, and Snee’s team has had to adapt to the pandemic-marred world we are all living in. As a result, his organization now has the capacity to present to any group in the world about a game with unrivaled passion and fan support across the country. If more Americans are choosing to play the game, that means these presentations are working, and 33 percent of players on NHL roster have now played college hockey. In addition to that, Snee strongly believes that because of the increase in interest towards Division One Men’s College Hockey, more worldwide interest has dovetailed with that. For instance, last season, 116 Europeans played college hokckey, a vast increase from the time Snee stepped in to run the organization.

As a leader of College Hockey Inc, Snee cares about all Division One Men’s Ice Hockey programs. As such, he took his time focusing on developing a plan to call new schools after the Pegulas pouted a lot of their money into making their Penn State program viable and competitive in the Big Ten Conference. In terms of how he structures to call teams to maximum affect, he has devised his pretty simple way of doing it. First, the team needs money, and a lot of it.It also needs Money is not the only concern for teams have the hay too adress. They need school, alumni support, an ice rink or two, and some fans willing to come. He noted that the success of his group has given them two different templates of creation to pursue going forward.

College Hockey Inc. has two roles. First, its job is to market the game to Americans better than it had done before its formation. On that note, this organization has done a good job in promoting the exploits of its American-brown alumnae at the NHL level and beyond. Throughout this interview that having more players like Cale Makar come to college helps them all around the world as they look to raise the profile of this great game.

“Every single program matters.”

Snee said this specifically when talking about Alabama Huntsville’s future. He credits the tremendous steps the Advisory Board has taken to help UAH Hockey move back into the game, and is now working moving to a new conference. As to their sweep this past weekend, he noted that sweeps like this help build the very lore that the Chargers are doing things right. He called that, as Head Coach Lance West did, a “program win.”

In addition, he notes a theme we have been seeing with other’s perception of the value of the UAH program. That is, this program is indispensable to the sport in order to grow it in its least capitalized market, the southeast.

Despite having a large role in expanding the game, through connecting folks who want to give money with schools willing to have Division One Men’s Ice Hockey, Snee credits the programs in this sport for everyone’s success. Although he does have a point in general on the day-to-day of running and promoting stores, we think the role of College Hockey Inc. is much more. They have their own process and list of calls ro make towards new schools after the pandemic abates. Given that his staff is so small, they spend a lot of time making presentations, and finding new ways to stay up-to-date on things around this great game. We had discussions about other areas of possible expansion as well. Snee and his small group are passionate advocates for every school in this great game, and their efforts show.

How the game continues to grow will not solely be on Snee and his group created with funds from the NHL and USA Hockey. It will grow or not by the efforts all of us take to promote it on our own communities and how we value the sport within its context. That is, if we see hockey at the college level as itself a perpetual interest generator in playing this great game, more people can be encouraged to help fund future teams. Perhaps one day, in a not too distant future, Purdue and Indiana could be doing battle on the ice for the Old Oaken Bucket Cup given to the winner of that series every year , should they make the jump to Division One. If Snee has his way, that example could become reality one day.

As Snee said, “every single program matters.” His group fights to help all of its members, and work to bring in new ones on a daily basis. College Hockey Inc. does their best to live up to that four word saying, and it shows.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link: paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

Your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.