Tuesday, October 27, 2009

UPA Finals 2009- Open Preview- Pool D


Results will be posted here

Pool D
  • Sockeye
  • Johnny Bravo
  • Madison Club
  • Machine
Sockeye (24-4) was UPA champions as recently as 2007 and represented Team USA at Worlds in 2008. In 2007 I wondered if Sockeye would dominate for 5-10 years based on the quality of their roster and the stars who were hitting their prime. Now we wonder if they can return to their almost invincible status.

As always, Sockeye is very open to provide information and captain Ben Wiggins provides the following review of his squad.

This is the youngest Sockeye team, maybe ever. We retired 5 players, we have 6 rookies, and a large part of our team is built around very young players, so it is going to be fun to see what we can do. We lost Nord and Fleming to season ending injuries, and we lost CK to med school (he's been to one practice this year, but he is a star and we hope he'll be able to gel quickly in Sarasota).

Our expectation is to play our best when it matters most, to bring energy on every point from the sideline, and to play together. Everything else is beyond our control.

We did a lot of intra-team scrimmaging at Sectionals, and none of our games were very tight. Even in our good games against Voodoo and Furious, they didn't have a lot of motivation to expend energy or use strategies that they wanted to keep hidden for Regionals. Regionals was all about making it to the show. Anyone could fall out, even a great team like Furious, so we were focused on getting to the final as our #1 priority. I'm sure Revolver was thinking the same thing; keep the season going and get to Florida. We were a little extra worried because the flu ran through the team in the week leading up to the tournament, but some of our younger and newer players rose up to really excel, especially in the Regional final.

Who do we want to face? Same opponent, every game. Guys in shirts, trying to keep us from outdoing our previous best game. The level of play is so deep, there are legitimately 10-12 teams that could win the whole thing without surprising me, that it is just about getting hot at the right time and overcoming another hot team. Psyched to play Bravo in pool play, we always have great games at Nationals, and then everything else is just gravy.

Key Players to watch on our team?-It's a team mentality, so you'll infrequently see someone on Sockeye throw 4 hucks in one game or score 6+ goals...but watch for guys on our D-team to blow up and have the kind of multi-block games that Skip, Blaine, Nord, etc have had in the past that have pushed us over the top in bracket play. Our new D-guys this year are Tyler Kinley, Spencer Wallis, and Eddie Feeley, all of whom have good Nationals experience with other teams.

Johnny Bravo of Boulder (28-9) has been on the doorstep of a championship for some time. Despite losing several great players to other teams in the off season, Bravo is still an elite team that has beaten some of the very best this season. They will be an interesting team to watch, and difficult to predict how they will finish.

Madison Club is a entry from the great state of Wisconsin. Players from this team used to help feed Minnesota's Sub Zero depth chart, but under the leadership of Hector Valdiva, they are their own club and beat some very good teams to qualify out of the region. (e.g. Sub Zero and Machine of Chicago). In a busy touring season of 46 games, the team went 36-11. Unfortunetly, the team lost the majority of its matches with teams that qualified for Sarasota, and they will face an uphill battle to reverse that trend.

Machine of Chicago is a perpertual UPA finals participant but has not been able to make the jump past quarter final contender. The team compiled a 20-12 record during the season. However, the state of their opponents in this pool (All new or in roster transition) opens the door for Machine to make some noise on day one.

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