Thursday, July 20, 2006

Been Awhile

Well it's been awhile since this site has seen any updates, mostly because not much has been going on. There have been two important news items for CC fans of late though. For one, CC star Marty Sertich is now a Dallas Star. He signed a contract a short time ago as an undrafted free agent, and hopefully we'll get to see him make an impact at the NHL level soon. The other piece of news is that top Alaska-Anchorage forward Eric Walsky is leaving UAA and could be heading for CC. If so, it'd be a nice pickup for our 2007 incoming class, which is looking a bit thin. This article comes from the Anchorage Daily News:

Anchorage Daily News

Eric Walsky just returned from a month-long trip to Italy and Switzerland, but he's not done traveling.

Walsky has left the UAA program and intends to transfer to another school in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, the powerful league in which UAA plays.

NCAA transfer rules require the Anchorage native, who was the Seawolves' best forward as last season came to a close, to sit out one season before he is eligible to play for a new team.

Walsky, 21, who has two seasons of eligibility remaining, said he will transfer because he believes UAA coach Dave Shyiak's system is too conservative and won't allow him to flourish. Walsky said he didn't harbor any animosity toward Shyiak. They just disagreed philosophically, he said.

"Simply, I don't feel I'll develop into the player I deserve to be,'' Walsky said. "I don't have the opportunity to do that here. I butted heads with the coach a little bit, and I didn't see that changing.

"I take this decision very seriously. I take my hockey very seriously, and I want to have a career.''

Shyiak said he gave Walsky his best wishes the last time they talked.

"I told him, 'I wish you the best of luck. You have a future in the game,' '' Shyiak said.

Walsky would not say where he intends to transfer, but it won't be to Minnesota. UAA athletic director Steve Cobb refused to grant Walsky a release to join the Gophers because Minnesota assistant John Hill, the former Seawolves head coach, recruited Walsky to UAA on UAA's dime.

"I'm not going to allow someone who worked for us, and used school resources to develop a relationship with the kid, to benefit from that with another school,'' Cobb said. "I agreed to waive him to 57 (other Division I hockey) schools, so I'm not limiting the kid.

"I don't have any bad feelings toward Eric.''

Cobb said Colorado College was the only school he granted a waiver to pursue Walsky. If Walsky chose to transfer to Colorado College, that waiver would, under NCAA rules, allow him to receive scholarship aid while sitting out his transfer season.

After Cobb refused to grant Walsky a waiver to pursue a transfer to Minnesota, Walsky appealed the decision, as allowed by NCAA rules. A UAA appeals committee upheld Cobb's decision.

"The rules are there to protect the institution, not the student-athlete,'' Walsky said.

Walsky became the second Seawolves forward to transfer in the offseason. Winger Shea Hamilton, who will have two seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out a transfer season, left the program earlier and signed with North Dakota of the WCHA.

Also, Shyiak said recruit Erik Felde of Anchorage, a forward/defenseman of astonishing speed who tore up the British Columbia Hockey League last season, won't join the Seawolves as planned his fall because he did not meet academic qualifications.

The Tri-City (Wash.) Americans of the Western Hockey League -- a major-junior circuit that produces scores of NHL players -- have Felde, 18, on their list of 50 protected players. That gives them exclusive rights to Felde in the WHL.

Elite young players in North America generally play either major-junior hockey or U.S. college hockey.

Despite those personnel losses, Shyiak said he is looking forward to his second season behind the Seawolves' bench. He has recruited four forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender for 2006-07.

"I'm excited about the guys we have coming in here,'' Shyiak said.

Shyiak, whose team went 6-27-3 last season, also will be joined by two new assistant coaches. Damon Whitten, a former Michigan State skater who previously was an assistant at Division I Wayne (Mich.) State, was hired last month. UAA expects to announce the hiring of the other assistant later this month.

Walsky's numbers last season as a sophomore weren't particularly eye-popping -- three goals, 12 assists and 15 points in 35 games -- but he led the team in assists and tied for the team lead in points.

On a team that produced just 1.89 goals per game, the second fewest in Division I, Walsky was clearly the team's most dangerous player in the postseason, when UAA was swept out of the first round of the WCHA playoffs by Minnesota. Walsky registered two assists in UAA's 7-4 loss in Game 1 and scored one goal in the Seawolves' 6-2 loss in Game 2.

Walsky was UAA's best stick-handler, even after a 2005 surgery that left him with two screws and limited range of motion in his right wrist, and he literally played keep-away with the Gophers in that series.

Walsky, a former state player of the year at East High and a standout with the Alaska All Stars competition program, was a prized recruit when he came to UAA in the fall of 2004.

But a high ankle sprain suffered on the first day of practice caused him to miss the opening 12 games of the season. He later sat out a two-game series at Denver with asthma. And after playing just 16 games, he suffered a broken and dislocated wrist against North Dakota and required surgery.

Between his freshman and sophomore seasons, Walsky underwent surgery to have his tonsils and adenoids removed and his septum straightened. Post-surgery complications caused him to lose 50 of his 195 pounds and landed him in the hospital for two days.

Walsky, who last weekend returned from traveling in Europe, said the physical travails of 2004 and 2005 might actually help him emotionally while sitting out a transfer season.

"I think I'm more prepared with all my injuries,'' he said. "I know what it takes, how depressing it can be. I'm going to force myself to be optimistic.''

Walsky said his decision to transfer involved mixed emotions, but ultimately he thinks it is his best recourse.

"It's tough in some ways, and not in other ways,'' he said. "It's tough to leave my team and my teammates, and I got along with them really well. And it's tough to leave the hockey community, because it's been supportive of me and supportive of this hockey program.

"But I need to do what's best for me and best for my career.''


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