Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Chad Johnson Makes His NHL Debut

If you have the ability to tune in to the Rangers-Flyers game right now, Chad "Dos Nueve" Johnson replaced NHL veteran and Swedish Olympic net minder Henrik Lundqvist after a shaky first period. Chad had a bit of a shaky start, allowing the first shot in against him, but since then, he's made four saves.

The game is airing now and have about 15 minutes remaining in the 2nd period, and the Rangers trail 4-0, only one goal being allowed by Chad.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fairbanks - The City of Brotherly Love

A video from about the Knelsen and Molle brothers... Happy Friday.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chad Johnson Anticipated To Make First NHL Start

Hot out of the Nanook Net, Chad Johnson has been doing nothing but impressing in his short tenure in Hartford. Sure, he had a rough few games, but it didn't take him long to get into the top 10 in stats. A while back, the Rangers called him up for a few games, which he sat out in favor of longtime veteran Henrik Lundqvist, he was subsequently sent back down to Hartford and Matt Zaba, also an NCAA prodigy out of Colorado College for a chance. Well, that didn't last long, as Chad "Dos Nueve" Johnson returned to the number 2 position on the Rangers bench.

Johnson, in his first year of pro hockey since graduating from UAF, recently recalled the first start of his college career coming at the ear-splitting confines of Mariucci Arena, where the Minnesota Golden Gophers were opening their season with the #1 ranking in the nation. Johnson allowed 3 goals that night to Ryan Potulny, Phil Kessel and Blake Wheeler - all future NHLers - but stopped the other 38 shots he faced to send the unranked Nanooks out of Minneapolis with a shocking 3-3 tie.

Nassau Coliseum is set to be the site of the 2nd infamous Rangers-Islanders rivalry game tonight in a home-and-home series, which bears some striking resemblances to his first NCAA start..........It's freakin' loud. Chad sat last night, as Lundqvist backstopped the Rangers in an unfortunate 2-1 loss, making 28 saves, but tonight at the Coliseum, fans should expect to see Dos Nueve between the pipes.

Chad finds himself in a unique situation, as the Rangers head into 3 upcoming games in less than 72 hours, giving Lundqvist a much needed and rare rest, as he is not only the No. 1 netminder for the Rangers, but he is getting the nod from his home country of Sweden to start in net for their Olympic hockey team coming up in February.

Further Reading?
New York Daily News

Eager Nanook fans like myself can subscribe to NHL GameCenter LIVE online, for $20.99/month to see Chad play tonight. As a Detroit Red Wings fan, I already have a subscription, but I won't be watching the Red Wings-Lightning game tonight...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Nanooks First Saturday Loss At the Hands of the Mavericks, 5-3

Take Paula Weston's picks this week, and flop the teams and she was right on. Although I neglected to post a preview, I picked a 4-3 W on Friday, and a 4-2 W on Saturday. So 1-1 on the week.

Tonight marks the first Saturday loss of the season. Although you can't win 'em all (just ask Tom Brady), it would have been a nice tally going into the break. Also a first, losing in the Gold jerseys... There's something to think about.

I thought we played well overall, there were a few mistakes made, and UNO just managed to be at the right place at the right time. We played at a high pace, but our guys looked like they were just out of gas. UNO kept up the tempo, and they got us on our heels and capitalized off of the small mistakes.

We had a run going in the 3rd period, but that came a little too late, we ended up losing 5-3.

Dallas made some very good points in the post game conference. "We've got some guys out there playing through some nagging injuries, and I give them points for that", Ferguson said. “I could go through each goal and tell you what went wrong,” said Ferguson, “but at the end of the day, we made some mistakes and they capitalized on them. We’re very disappointed with the outcome, but there’s not really much I can say to put it into words.”

Sad, because we were riding a 5 game unbeaten streak against the Mavericks, dating back to the beginning of last season. Also sad is this loss on our team's mind going into the break.

Last season, we finished the first half 9-5-4, same mark as we have this season. Last season, we finished the first half in 18th place nationally, this season, its 17th.

Here are some highlights from Friday courtesy of Jamie Schwartzwald.

Nanooks open the 2nd half on the road @ Nebraska-Omaha, then head up to Ann Arbor for a series at Yost Ice Arena against the Wolverines.

Tuesday News Day: NHL Interview with Chad Johnson

There really probably is more news out there, problem is, it's finals time, thus meaning, I have no time to really do anything. I'll get caught up over the break, I promise.

Nanooks are off for 3 weeks, good time for some of our players with some nagging injuries to get some quality rest in and come back to the game. Coach Ferguson made a great point of that in Saturday's post-game conference.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Nanooks Take the Elusive Friday Win, 4-3 over Nebraska-Omaha

Apparently Mavericks don't like cold. A possible trend happening here? Well, these Mavericks didn't quit and leave, they played hard definitely had to work for and earn the goals that they got. But despite getting their first goal just 17 seconds in, the Nanooks answered with 4 goals back to back, unanswered, 3 of which were scored in a span of 90 seconds.

I gotta say, I was pretty impressed with the defensive play tonight. A lot of big saves by either Greenham, or a number of our players, including the Molle brothers, Sova, Gens, Enders, Odegard. Did I just mention our entire defensive line up tonight? Yeah, I did. They all played outstanding tonight. I was on my heels a little bit tonight when we stopped actively pursuing the puck and attacking. We got up 4-1, and we clamped down with the lead defensively. In games past, this strategy has come back to bite us a time or two, but we had a big enough gap that their last two goals weren't enough to win it.

Can't get away without talking about our offensive stand, though, as we really poured it on. Throughout post-game conferences, and general chats with the coaches, they all talk about our depth, and that is exactly what you saw tonight. We have a lot of offensive weapons across all 4 of our forward lines, and all of them can score. We had two rookies notch goals tonight, one of which earned Player of the Game honors (Chad Gehon). Looking at the box score, you'll notice that our first line didn't score tonight. I'm sure UNO prepared as much as they could for our first line guys, and they did a great job containing Nik, Andy, and Dion, so it fell to our other lines to put the pucks in the net, and the 3rd and 4th lines did it for us. Granberg, Sather, Gehon and Meyers all tallied goals, all of them pretty sweet in their own right. Just after Sather's goal, I think Ronnie Meyers got a good look at Dupont and noticed how fast he dropped to the butterfly, and with a little hesitation, he picked the puck up as Dupont went down and found twine. Different angle and a different shot, but kind of the same move he put on Ferris State in OT back in October.

Props to Scottie Greenham tonight. He stood real well in net, and aside from that first period fluke, he had a stellar game. He didn't let that first goal get to him and shake him up, and hey, that's hockey, its a game of bounces. Fortunately, he has a short memory.

Tonight marked our first Friday win since October 30th, and our first actual win since the 21st of November, a night we defeated Lake Superior 3-2 in OT.

Following the game tonight, the players came on the ice for the Skate with the Nanooks tradition, complete with Santa hats. It was good to get out there and talk to a lot of the players again. Haven't had much of a chance to chat with any of them since the Blue/Gold game. Dion pretty much stole the show with the crowd, attracting the attention of teenage girls all over, who got him to sign everything from Converse shoes to a cell phone. Good guy though, turns out he's a regular reader of the blog, which makes him better in my book. I'm still loving our freshman. All of them are playing some outstanding hockey, and I talked to most of them about it tonight.

Tomorrow, we'll look to defend our unbeaten Saturday streak, going in at 5-0-3, and donning the now-famous Gold jerseys, which we have yet to lose in. We've only lost once at home, going back to the Notre Dame series, which makes us 5-1-3 on the season thus far at the Carlson Center.

Remember your Teddy Bears too for the annual Teddy Bear Toss.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Gold Jerseys

Sorry for not doing the news or the skater of the week, I'll save my skater for next week. I also wanted to do a "report card" of our skaters during the break, but since ACC's blog already did that, well, I might have to find a better system.

Photo courtesy Paul McCarthy/

Anyhow, many Nanook fans, like myself, have expressed interest in purchasing one of the new Gold jerseys the Nanooks donned this year. The Face-off club wasn't planning on selling them this year, but if the interest is high enough, they will be selling the jerseys that the team is wearing now at the end of the season.

Here is the original email from the Face-Off club with all the details:
Interest has been expressed by some fans about getting one of the new Gold
Jerseys.  The Face-Off Club purchased these for the team.  Consideration was
given to the fact that since they are only worn half the time they could be
used for at least two seasons.

But, because of the interest, we are considering selling the current set and
ordering a new set.  Per NCAA rules we can't sell jerseys of currently
eligible players with their nameplate, so all except the seniors would be
sold without the nameplates at the end of the season.

The cost will be $250 (the cost of jerseys increased substantially last
year).  This is just an informational survey to see if there is sufficient
interest to warrant selling enough jerseys at the end of the season to make
this viable.  No decision has been made yet.

Dale Anderson ( has volunteered to coordinate this
survey and if you would be interested in purchasing a gold jersey, he would
like to hear from you.

We estimate that we will need to sell about 21 jerseys to make this endeavor
worthwhile at the end of the season.

So, please let Dale know if you are interested.  And, he'll also need to
know if you are interested in a specific jersey (i.e., I only would be
interested in buying one if I can get #19-Steve Moria's jersey) or if you
can't get your favorite players number,  if you'd be interested in another

So, please let Dale Anderson know.  His email is and
his work phone number is 474-2413.
 Definitely a great opportunity to get your hands on a players jersey. Per NCAA rules, you're not guaranteed the jersey of your choice, since they can't hold a specific jersey for sale, but your request will be noted. 

So if you want a jersey, get cracking. They need 21 people or none of us get one, and I'll be forced to buy more.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Nanooks Win the Shootout, Take 2 Points

In an a near duplication of last Saturday's game against Northern, the Nanooks found themselves on their heels, despite having the early 2 goal advantage.

The Nanooks still have yet to lose on Saturday, but we are getting close as we are now 5-0-3 against Saturday opponents, and we definitely escaped one last night, pulling Greenham to take the 6 on 4 power play to bury the tying goal with just 14 seconds remaining. It's a game of bounces, and about 20 seconds after Western got their first goal, the Nanooks figured that out as all of a sudden its knotted at 2-2.

Same thing happened at Northern, got two goals early, then they battled back to tie it. There isn't really anyone or anything to blame, but we got that lead by attacking. On the attack, we can't be stopped. Keeping that momentum going, despite having a lead, we'd beat Denver 5-1, easy. We just have a tendency to back off and drop the intensity, then let opponents keep taking shots. Well, eventually they're gonna get one. In some cases two, like we saw last night, before we start attacking again.

Oh, yeah, who scored the shoot out winner? My pick for rookie of the year, Andy Taranto.

Can we get back on track before next weekend? I hope so. The UNO Mavericks have a long flight to get here (which UA doesn't pay anything for, mind you), and with the last Friday victory to our name was against Ferris State back in October, who just swept UNO this weekend, we have got to end the first half of the season on a positive note.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Nanooks Intro Videos

Cory Weibel is a saint. A good kid who loves hockey, and who happens to be Jamie Foland's Media Relations Intern. He got his paws on a quality copy of the new introduction video that Mike Martinez, formally of Tanana Valley TV, and creator of the previous intro video (also included below), made that is pretty rockin'.

Hopefully these lift your spirits up after this weeks loss and will get you pumped up and excited to go to the last home Nanooks game of 2009 next week.

Way to go Cory, even for a Penguins fan...

And... Here's the original as it was supposed to be. This is the video that G4's Attack of the Show got a hold of and kind of destroyed, as far as information accuracy goes. They didn't even get Mike's name right, let alone the story of what was actually rejected about that video... Whatever, still a classic.

Nanooks 1, WMU 3 - Friday Disappointments Continue

OK, so maybe Paula Weston has her moments. Scoring was definitely a problem for us tonight, and though we held the Broncos to two goals, we failed to achieve that feat for the second time this season. The first time was against the then-winless and last place ranked Bowling Green Falcons. This time, its against the now-last ranked Western Michigan Broncos.

Since I blatantly refused to give WMU's athletic department money to watch a video stream, with multiple reports of sub-par quality, and some shady billing practices, I stuck with good ol' Bruce Cech, something I do quite frequently, even when watching over B2, audio will be muted as inferior commentators are not tolerated. Especially when name pronunciations are clearly not a job requirement.

But not actually seeing the game, Bruce does a good job painting a picture, and it sounds like we just weren't clicking. We have this issue on Fridays, regardless of location, where passes tend to get intercepted more often than normal. Sounded like almost every offensive rush, a pass gets picked and its going the otherway. It's like watching Charles Woodson in football, we're in the offensive zone (the "red zone", if you will), and bam, all of a sudden, it's been taken away from you and you're now on your heels, and it shouldn't be that way. We are a better team than this, we are averaging 3 goals per game, why can't we seal the deal on Friday? We have just one CCHA win on Friday under our belts against Ferris State (who shut out our next weeks opponent tonight, by the way), and we have a loss to Notre Dame, a loss to Lake State, a loss to Bowling Green, a tie against Northern, and now a loss against Western. What are we doing so differently? We're winning on Saturday. Is it a coaching thing? Sure, you watch game film to prepare then make some adjustments to the game plan on the ice. Is the team just not ready to play Friday? I don't think so, sounded like they were all out there working for 60 minutes, and there was some great effort put out by a lot of talented individuals, but as a team, I think we failed.

Let's compare our regular season games (including the two tournaments, excluding exhibition).
Friday     - 3-3-1
Saturday - 5-0-2

Seriously, what is different? I fail to understand why those numbers are so staggering. Northern was doing a good job of keeping us back on our heels during the game, and maybe Western picked up on that, but we've got to attack the puck and be aggressive on BOTH sides of the ice. It's a two way game, and the Nanooks know that, perhaps better than anyone out there. Just didn't execute as well tonight. Sad loss for UA, as Ferris' defeat tonight now ties FSU and UA for 3rd place in the CCHA. Tomorrow, I hope will be a typical Saturday, and a much needed 3 points will go on the standings.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Andy Taranto Name HCA NCAA Division I Rookie of the Month

Image courtesy of

Here is a snippet from the press release:

Andy Taranto, a 6-foot, 213 pound forward at the University of Alaska, has been named the HCA National Rookie of the Month for November.

Taranto finished the month on a five-game scoring streak to rank first in CCHA rookie scoring with 18 points, including seven goals. He recorded five goals and seven assists in the month of November alone. Three of Taranto’s goals during November came with the man advantage. His 1.29 points-per game average puts him in second place in the nation among rookies who have appeared in more than one game.

The Woodridge, Ill. native, who led the USHL with 34 goals last season for the Fargo Force, was named CCHA Rookie of the Week on Nov. 30 and CCHA/CCM Rookie of the Month for November. Taranto notched the game-winning goal in a 3-1 victory over then No. 9 Notre Dame on Nov. 7. He earned at least a point in every game but one during the month. He also registered two goals on Nov. 27 in a 3-3 tie with Northern Michigan. Taranto’s play helped Alaska compile a 3-3-2 record in November, including a 2-1-2 mark during his current five-game point streak.
[CCHA Press Release]

Way to go, Andy! Check out my previous post as Andy was named this week's Skater of the Week.

Paula Weston Has No Idea What She Is Talking About

You know what really grinds my gears? Journalistic incompetence, for one. Now, I'm a blogger, I can spew anything about anything and it doesn't matter because nobody pays me to do this. I do this because I absolutely love watching our team, and watching them defeat ACC five years in a row (longest Governor's cup streak in the history of the Governor's cup) brought enough joy to my heart that I couldn't take Eric Carlson's departure without doing something.

But anyway, in Paula Weston's weekly CCHA ramblings for this past week, she took the opportunity to royally piss me off. Perhaps it's because I called her out last week, but perhaps she's just too upset over the Nanooks shutting out the Michigan Wolverines that she's just had a prejudice ever since.

At this point, read the linked article above before you go on...


Alaska has trouble scoring?! Seriously?! Maybe standing points, but the Nanooks have the third highest scoring average in the CCHA, four spots above mighty #1 Miami. Sure, we are having a little more difficulty stopping goals this season, but scoring is certainly not our problem. I love the fact that she mentioned that, then said one paragraph later that Andy is the greatest rookie on the planet. Which, he is, I'll get to that in my next post today, but seriously, give me a break.

I have yet to read a post from her that has been positive about Alaska. Sure, the number 9 ranking may have been premature, but that's how rankings are, they are done weekly, and shift constantly throughout the season. Fortunately, we haven't gone from on the list *cough* Michigan *cough*. If her articles aren't surrounded by her beloved Wolverines (which she managed to muster a section, including video, devoted to the dumb-helmets), they pretty much sink every other team. And it drives me nuts because she is the beat writer for the whole CCHA, not just Michigan... Get with it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

UA and WMU, an objective preview.

OK, so UA notched two shoot out wins last week against a team that swept Nebraska-Omaha a week earlier. Nebraska-Omaha sweeps Western last week. Does that mean UA should win easily? Not exactly.

One thing the Nanooks are learning this season is that no game is a guaranteed win. Yes, there are games we should win, but you have to work in every game, nothing is a "gimme" at this level and the Nanooks are realizing that (perhaps a bit more than ACC is, as a win on Friday appears to be an impossibility in Anchorage). The real challenge is going to be game one, sealing off 3 points tomorrow night. Obviously, if you look at the scoring summary in the screenshot above, comparatively, the Broncos have no comparison. Goaltending isn't very close either. Remember a post I made about a week ago? Talked about Paula Weston's weekly article about CCHA goaltending. Mentioned an interesting case about WMU goalie Riley Gill. I didn't mention it then, but its worth it to say that I didn't think he was good enough to earn those stats, and how right I was, as they have already fallen off.

I obviously expect the Nanooks to sweep this weekend. There should be no reason UA can't leave Kalamazoo with 6 points. Here are some pretty intriguing series notes from the media release from the UA athletic department:
  • The Blue and Gold trail the Broncos 18-22-4 in the all-time series and 8-13-0 at Lawson Arena. Here are this week's need to know notes about the WMU series and Alaska Hockey. 
  • Last year the teams were clustermates and met four times during the regular season. The teams split their four encounters first the two in Fairbanks on Dec. 19-20 (W 6-3, OT L 2-3) and then pair at Lawson Arena (L 0-3, W 4-3). 
  • SR F Dion Knelsen leads the Blue and Gold with 2-7-9 in 11 career games against WMU. JR F Dustin Sather leads in points-per-game against the Broncos with 1-7-8 in six career games (1.33).
Last 5 games - Alaska leads 3-2
Last 10 games - Alaska leads 6-4
Series total  - 18-22-4 WMU leads all time

This weekends predictions:
Friday     4-1 W
Saturday 4-2 W

Johnson Goes to the Show - NY Rangers Call Up Chad Johnson to NHL

Chad Johnson got word this morning as the New York Rangers pulled him up from their AHL affiliate Hartford Wolf Pack. Johnson will replace previous backup goaltender Stephen Valiquette
who cleared waivers this morning and will be sent down to the Wolf Pack. Chad Johnson was not allowed to practice with the Rangers this morning until Valley's waivers cleared, so the Rangers
brought in a temporary non-pro goalie to help out. Johnson will be expected to report to the Rangers next practice tomorrow, and should be on their official roster soon.

I believed all along that Chad is a very capable goaltender and well suited for the NHL, but he may still need time to develop. Whether this move is permanent is unknown at this point, but I
think Chad is entirely capable of handling the pressure.

With Johnson in net, that makes two Alaska Nanooks on the Rangers' as former Nanook left wing Aaron Voros welcomes Chad to the roster.

[Jim Cerny's Twitter]

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tuesday News Day

Well, my Skater of the Week has apparently influenced some votes in the CCHA head office as Andy Taranto was named CCHA Rookie of the Month. Andy is also 1st in the CCHA for scoring in conference play with a 6-9-15 scoring line, averaging 1.5 points per game in conference play.

Also, check out this video and "Go Behind the Mask" with UA sophomore goaltender Scott Greenham.

Gotta love news. The 12th ranked Nanooks take on the Western Michigan Broncos at the Lawson Ice Arena in Kalamazoo. Game preview to come soon.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Nanook Skater of the Week: #29 Andy Taranto

Seriously. Are you surprised? This Nanook rookie has the highest point total of all rookies in all of NCAA D-I hockey with 18. He has 5 power play goals, tying him in 6th with many others, and is one of only two freshman with that tally, alongside Michigan State's Derek Grant (although, Andy has notched that tally in two less games).

Coming off of a 4 point weekend, Andy notched 2 power play goals, 1 even strength goal, and recorded an assist in the series against Northern Michigan. Andy also notched the game winning shoot out goal in Friday's contest. This guy is going to go down as one of our greatest recruits. He's faster and a better stick handler than Kyle Greentree was, and, he's almost on pace for a 50 point season.

When in the defensive end, he does a great job bringing pressure to the puck and making the guys work to move the puck. He gets in the passing lanes and forces bad angle shots. Offensively, he sets up camp in front of the crease, screening the goalie and knocking in rebounds. He's also got one hell of a shot too, with incredible accuracy.

Andy is a great player and a great addition to this team. Congratulations for being selected as the Nanook Hockey Blog's Skater of the Week, as well as the CCHA Rookie of the Week.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Nanooks Take 4 points in Two Shootout Victories Against Northern Michigan

First, a question for the officials that may or may not actually read this blog, but when you see a home player with his skates sticking up from behind the away team bench, do you ever think to yourselves "Huh, I wonder how he got there?" Now I didn't get a great look at the hit tonight, but the replay up on the board showed a player drive Hohl into the boards, and lower his body and picked up Ryan and dumped him into the bench. Whoever did it is lucky I didn't get his number, otherwise, this post title, and the content might be a little bit more spiteful.

The men in stripes let the guys out there play a bit more tonight, and some calls were overlooked on both sides of the puck, but that hit was a little dirty, and I'm a little surprised that wasn't a misconduct call, or even a two minute boarding penalty. In all seriousness, it's one thing to hit a player, it's another entirely to hit someone with the intent to injure. 

But, anyway, the Nanooks skated very well and were very sharp on the attack, and I thought the first period had some incredibly brilliant defensive play in it. The first half of the period, NMU had some nice rush attacks that our defensemen were having none of. We had some struggles tonight though on the backcheck. The Nanooks had a hell of a time taking the puck away from Northern after they set it up in the zone. We got better as time went on, but once Northern came on, it took some work to get the puck going the other way. Particularly, I thought all of our defensemen played pretty outstanding tonight. Had a couple of plays they collapsed on, only one of which amounted for a goal, but Greenham came up with a few solo saves on his own, which saved us from letting the game tilt the other way. There is some room for improvement on our penalty killing, positioning and patience, mainly. Getting into the passing lanes to disrupt their passing around the perimeter, forcing them to either shoot or pass low. Shifting the puck around the blue line forces our defense to shift to look at a shooter, then all of a sudden, a cross ice pass opens the back door, and boom, they've scored.

I still think Greenham did a great job this weekend. Given the chance, I'm sure a few of those goals would have had a different outcome, but that's how it goes. As a fan and a blogger, its really hard not to compare Greenham against Chad Johnson. Right now, Greenham is still learning. And Scott has significantly better stats than Johnson did in his sophomore year.

Name                      GP W L  T GA MIN     GAA   SH  SV    SV%
Scott Greenham, So 13 8 3 2 26 796   1.9609 1 289 .917
Chad Johnson, So    19 5 6 2 52 1002 3.1133 1 393 .883

Obviously, their hasn't been 19 games yet for Greenham to play, and that was Johnson's entire sophomore season. But as you can see, Greenham is ahead of his time. Same thing with Chad in his sophomore year, they both have showed a lot of brightness, but they still have some growing to do. Unfortunately, Chad had an injury that kept him off of the ice his junior year, but he got out there his senior season and blocked virtually everything that was shot at him, and ended the season as the number one goaltender in the country.

But Northern Michigan came to play hockey this weekend, and they were a real challenge for us. It would have been nice to come up with an actual win this weekend, but 4 points in the CCHA standings is not a bad thing.

Offensively, we were able to keep it up tonight, scoring 3 goals in the first period. NMU netminder Stuart was pulled after his 4th goal against him in the second period, and he might have been the root of Northern's problems. Stuart got a big chunk of Taranto's shot, but it bounced right off of his glove and into the back of the net. He got a little antsy after that and kinda went crazy. If I was Walt Kyle, after goal two, he would have been out of the net. He was clearly rattled, and a shaky goaltender is not something you want to see. Carlo Finucci's goal was a real thing of beauty to watch too. A nice wheeling backhanded shot driving towards the net. I really hope someone posts highlights up from tonight, just so everyone can see it.

Then, obviously, Brandon Knelsen's game winning shoot out goal won't go without attention, taking it out wide, and simply beating Ellingson to find twine. Brandon's brother, Dion, who didn't get to shoot last night since his new line mate Andy Taranto and Scott Greenham sealed the deal before Dion's turn came around, attempted the same shot that he scored to beat Allen York of RPI with back in early October. Looks like Reid did a little homework and got his stick involved and poked it away before Dion got the puck on the backhand.

A great weekend of hockey. It really was. Both teams fought hard, and when the dust settled, the Nanooks emerged with 4 points, and the Wildcats, and that duck call of theirs, head home with 2. Bon voyage NMU, we'll see you again in late January at the Berry Events Center.

The Nanooks go on the road to take on last-ranked Western Michigan University next weekend.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Nanooks Nab the Shootout. Taranto Goes Off as UA wins 4-3

During the post game conference, Gens said it best. A question came out from a kid in the crowd, "Were you nervous in the shootout?", Aaron came back and said "We have Greenham in net, we don't get nervous..." How true is that for tonight? Sure, Scott did have 3 goals allowed, but NMU had to really work for all of them. But he came up huge in the shoot out.

The real story is Andy Taranto. Had a great game not only on the score sheet, but through all aspects of the game. He stepped up in the offensive zone and caused some havoc. Unfortunately, shoot out goals will not count as a goal tally, so Taranto doesn't quite nab the hat trick, but had a great look at getting goal number 3 in the 3rd period. But, he will get credit for the game winning shoot out on a nice high backhanded shot.

I thought we struggled a bit offensively, but NMU's mistakes amounted, and they actually had a few more than they were called for, but the Nanooks capitalized on 3 of 6 power play opportunities. Definitely a great thing, because we didn't much going in the offensive zone at even strength.

We had some defensive break downs that Greenham came up big to stop. Great awareness on Scott's part to keep an eye on the puck through all of the traffic. I thought Odegard played really well tonight defensively. He did a good job keeping NMU skaters out of the slot and steering the puck wide.

A great win for the Nanooks tonight. Obviously, would have like to win in regulation or OT to get all 3 points, but coming out with 2 is much better than 1, or even none. Tomorrow night, the Nanooks will take the ice in their alternate gold jerseys, which they have never lost wearing. Let's hope that rings true.

Looks like the Wildcat faithful, who travelled over 3,000 miles for disappointment, have already posted video to YouTube of Greenham's denial of Northern's shoot out attempts.

Here's another edit, with some more video highlights from Friday's game.

See you at the Carlson Center tomorrow night. Puck drops at 7:35PM AST.

Some people sent me some emails tonight, assuming from Michigan asking about audio/video The game tomorrow will be aired on KSUA, internet stream is available at Live video is available through B2 Network, which is pretty decent, but costs $7.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Northern Michigan Heads, err, Further North, For a Series at the Carlson Center

So no "Skater of the Week" this week. Not that I didn't want to post one. It's just, well, it's Thanksgiving, and I'm thankful for ALL of our players, and all of college hockey. Plus, time is short.

Now that the sappy stuff is out of the way, time to disect some weekly media. Notably, Paula Weston, while giving some lovin' to some respectable goaltenders, she throws Scott Greenham a bone with, essentially, an honorable mention.

Here is her list, with an addendum of games played, and why I think credit isn't being given where its due.

• Mike Johnson, Notre Dame (.943/2) (5GP)
• Cody Reichard, Miami (.936/4) (10GP)
• Pat Nagle, Ferris State (.933/7) (7GP)
• Drew Palmisano, Michigan State (.932/8) (11GP)
• Brad Phillips, Notre Dame (.931/9) (7GP)
• Reid Ellingson, Northern Michigan (.931/10) (7GP)
• Riley Gill, Western Michigan (.931/12) (9GP)
  [Note: Interesting case with Gill, stats show that even though he has played fewer games, he has faced just as many shots. Do you point to defensive issues? Me too.]
• Taylor Nelson, Ferris State (.930/13) (8GP)

First off, Scott has played nearly twice as many games as quite a few of these players. The only real stat that matters, goals against average (besides winning percentage), Greenham is right up there at 1.889. You also have to keep in mind, Greenham is number 1 in stats with a minimum of 700 minutes, or 12 games played. Not taking anything away from any of these aforementioned netminders, I think they are some great competition for Scott, but I've watched every single one of these goalies play, a few in Fairbanks even, and none of them seem to have the poise that Greenham has in the crease.

Oh, you came to read about Northern Michigan? Well, this is technically a preview post after all. The Wildcats are a team that have typically always had our number. In Paula Weston's CCHA article this week, she picked NMU to come up with the sweep, with back to back 3-2 performances. I, however, will choose to be a bit more optimistic. I like the Wildcats team, however, our typical home-ice advantage may be a bit irrelevant this weekend for two reasons. One, its Thanksgiving, our student sections is going to be a ghost town, and pep band won't be in attendance. And secondly, NMU's home ice is also a 200'x100' olympic sheet. So they're used to the extra space, something that a lot of our competition is not. But the dangerous NMU plaer to watch for is Mark Olver. With 9 goals and 9 assists, he is averaging over 1.5 points per game.

The Nanook offense is currently lead by Freshman winger Andy Taranto, with 14 points, which accounts for 1.17 PPG, and I'm not surprised in the slightest. When paired with Dion, and Yaremchuk, this offensive line has accounted for 37 of the Nanooks total 93 points. Let's hope they can keep it going today.

Statistics wise, UA and NMU are pretty much identical. In CCHA play, the Wildcats have put up 25 goals for with only 19 against, while the Nanooks have put up 23 goals, and 19 against. So, by that, expect a close contest.

Like I said before, Paula Weston predicts an NMU sweet 3-2 both nights. I really hope she's wrong.

Friday       3-2 W (OT)
Saturday   2-1 W

Monday, November 23, 2009

Where are they now? - Nanooks Turn Pro

Ex-Nanook defenseman Tyler Eckford got his NHL debut this past week, getting called up to the New Jersey Devils playing against the Nashville Predators. He earned 9:01 of ice time, and got flagged for a hooking call.

Eckford contributed in Saturday's 5-3 loss to Dallas as well, earning his first NHL point on an assist in Brian Rolston's 2nd period power play goal. Eckford spent some time in the sin bin in this game as well, on an interference call in the 1st period.

In 2 games played, Tyler has 0 goals, 1 assist for 1 point, as well as 4 penalty minutes. He is also an even 0 in +/-

Tyler Eckford's NHL Profile Page

Former Nanook goaltender Chad Johnson is making a name for himself in the pros as well. Playing for NY Rangers affiliate Hartford Wolf Pack, as the starting netminder, Johnson has posted 2.060 goals against average, as well as a .927 save percentage with 3 shutouts in 15 games played. He is second in goaltending stats with a minimum 15 games played. He is also tied for 1st among AHL goaltenders with his 3 shut out performances.

Chad Johnson's AHL Profile Page

Nik Yaremchuk - CCHA Rookie of the Week

Image courtesy of

Congratulations to Nanook rookie Nik Yaremchuk for his selection as the CCHA rookie of the week.

His two goals and two assists this past weekend received some attention from the CCHA head office.

I've talked about Nik before, but it's worth mentioning that although he's relatively small, he's got some great hockey sense and instincts. What I really like is his involvement on defense. He gets down in the zone and really helps out the defense and comes up with the occasional turnover.

Great job Nik!

Alaska Nanooks 3, Lake Superior 2

Although I didn't see the game (you can thank High School Musical for that), I heard during intermission that the Nanooks went down 2-0 again, and of course, my heart stopped beating for a few moments. After the show, I get home, and see that Dion knocked in two goals to tie the game, with Bryant Molle notching the game winning goal.

Not seeing this game at all makes it a bit difficult to fully analyze this one, but I think the 'Nooks are faltering a little bit defensively, and potentially in net. I don't want to blame the departure of Chad Johnson, because Greenham is a very capable replacement, but it may take a little while for Scott to play up to Chad's level. He is only a sophomore after all. Coach Ferguson was quoted after Friday's contest saying "I’d like to get that big save when it counts...". I very much agree. As I mentioned in my review from Friday's game, Greenham could have/should have been able to stop two of those four goals and keep it to a much closer game. Not taking anything away from Greenham, he's a great goaltender, but will take some time to perfect his game.

The Nanooks still need to find a way to win on Friday road games. Splitting these series that we should have sweeps in aren't helping us in the standings now, and definitely won't come March.

The Nanooks return home this week for a tough series against a Northern Michigan team that is coming off of a home sweep as they beat down the UNO Mavericks 5-1 and 6-3 on Friday and Saturday respectively.

The Nanooks fell to 12th in all three major polls this week.  PairWise rankings pit us at 14th.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Alaska Nanooks 3, Lake Inferior State 4

On bizarre Friday in college hockey, the Nanooks couldn't pull it out against the abysmal Lake State Lakers. How sad... We had some very good opportunities go past that we should have been able to capitalize on, especially against a defense who isn't exactly known for being outstanding.

The Nanooks came into this game being the least penalized team in the CCHA, and worked their way into the penalty box six times. Luckily, we did pretty decently on the PK, holding the Lakers to one power play goal on five chances.

Two of the three Nanook goals came on the power play, once with a two man advantage, which, is a decent stat, don't get me wrong, but we should be able to score on these guys on even strength. What is going to happen tomorrow? What is going to happen against a Northern Michigan team next weekend that slaughtered UNO tonight? Some offensive questions need to be answered before we enter our incredibly difficult schedule starting next month.

Defensively? Same story. LSSU should not have been able to score four goals on us. Period. I thought Greenham should have came up with two saves on two of the Lakers goals. Should have been a 3-2 score.

I don't want to harp on our team. We have some incredible talent, and we play at a pretty high level, I just don't like seeing us losing to teams that we should be beating. But, that's the way it goes some times. If this week is anything like the last two weeks, Lake Inferior State will have to come up with a miracle to get the 'W'.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lake State Lakers: Some (not so) Fond Memories

This weekend, the Nanooks remain on the road and head up to Sault Saint Marie, Michigan to take on the Lake State Lakers in the dreaded Taffy Abel arena.

The Nanooks history at Taffy Abel is not a bright one. In the last 10 meetings against LSSU, the Nanooks are 2-4-4, with all four of those losses happening in Taffy Abel. Last season, the Lakers ventured north to the Carlson Center, and walked out with just one point as the Nanooks earned a win and a tie with the Lakers. But our record in Sault Saint Marie is a dismal 6-17-0, and trail overall 11-23-5. Their students can't be THAT rowdy, can they?

Although I like our chances this weekend, I wouldn't be surprised of another road series split. Obviously, I have to expect a sweep. Statistically speaking, LSSU's 31 goals for and 36 goals against are resoundingly trumped by the Nanooks mark of 29 goals for and just 17 against...

So the Lakers don't look very strong, more goals against than for is usually a bad sign in terms of outlook for the season. The most recent polls that came out, LSSU did garner some votes in the USCHO poll, putting them on the bubble.

Based on LSSU's record, and our history, I expect a hard fought game, but UA should still come out on top. Since the Nanooks have been in Sault Saint Marie since Wednesday evening, I don't expect the travel issue to be a problem, especially since they didn't come back to Fairbanks before this one.

Since we are clustered with them this year, there will be a rematch in Fairbanks for our final CCHA series in February. Hopefully they won't have to wear Ice Dogs jerseys this time...

Scores this weekend.
Friday:     3-1 W
Saturday: 2-0 W

Current Nanooks record, 7-2-1

Nanook Hockey Blog picks, 6-4 (right-wrong, in terms of strict win or lose). Score differential, 7 goals.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


So my aforementioned "life" has kept my hockey reading to a minimum, and although I knew some of this stuff, I never really had the time to write a post about it, and since I have time during my lunch hour today, I figured 3 posts on an otherwise boring Tuesday is enough to keep you guys reading.

Senior forward Brandon Knelsen was featured in the CCHA's 10x3 feature this week.

Sophomore goaltender Scott Greenham was named the RBC Financial Group CCHA Player of the Month for October after being named goalie of the week twice over the first four weeks of the season. On a similar note, Scott tied a mark set by former Nanook goaltender Keith Bartusch (2001-05), who was 6-0-3 in his first nine starts. After his 20-save performance in Alaska’s 3-2 (OT) win against Ferris State, Scott improved his career record to 8-0-2, making him the first Alaska goaltender in the Nanook's 30 year history to go undefeated in his first 10 career starts.

Although Michigan State's rookie Derek Grant received the CCHA RBC Rookie of the Month honor, the honorable mention went to Nanook freshman Andy Taranto.

Nanook Skater of the Week: Joe Sova

Image from

This week's selection for the new skater of the week piece (see below) goes to sophomore defenseman Joe Sova. Joe has been incredibly valuable on the Nanooks blue line, and an asset to the Nanooks' nationally elite defense. His defensive positioning is outstanding, staying in the shooting and passing lanes, getting his stick down on the ice and preventing opposing forwards to connect, along with challenging the puck along the boards, making his opponents work for every point that they get. Overall, Joe leads the Nanooks in the plus/minus column at +6.

But what makes Sova so special is his offensive prowess. He is a pretty dangerous player from the point. He has an incredibly accurate shot, and I'll use the Brice goal rush as a perfect example, mainly because the game against Michigan can't be found on YouTube...

This video against RPI illustrates two points, his defensive dive he made pretty much saved the goal right there. But the goal he got was very pretty, sniped it top right. His goal against Michigan was very similar but was on the rush, and Hogan was so far in front of the net that Sova didn't have much of an angle to shoot at, but it didn't matter, he made it anyway.

Joe is second on the team in shooting percentage as well at 18.8%, netting 3 goals on 16 shots. He is 3rd on the team in total points with 7 through all 10 games this season. Joe also sits in 2nd in the CCHA overall for scoring defenseman.

A couple of seasons a go, after Doc's reign came to an abrupt end, the departure of Nanook defenseman and Hobey Baker finalist Tyler Eckford before his senior season left a lot of worried fans out there wondering who could fill his skates. I think Sova fills them pretty well, and by his junior/senior year, he will be nationally considered as an elite defenseman, if he hasn't drawn that attention already.

Great job Joe, you have skated very well for this team and are well deserving of your selection as the first Alaska Nanooks Hockey Blog Skater of the Week.

So I'm going to try to put out a new piece that I'll keep up each week highlighting a Nanook skater. If you want to nominate a player, feel free to email me your nomination, and include anything in the email you feel justifies their selection as the skater of the week. Since this isn't a democracy though, I am the sole person on the selection committee, with some potential insight solicited from my puck-minded friends, and thus I have the ultimate say in who gets named here. My personal criteria for selection are based on performance, not just in the recent games, but on the season as a whole. Players are chosen based on impact to the team, and their value. I will make a player of the week post each week on Tuesday or Wednesday with my selection. I may try to get interviews with the players when applicable, however, the protocol to get an interview with the players formally may be more than its worth, but I may try to get a chance to sit down with some of the seniors that I choose down the road. I know the players are reading this, but unfortunately, as much as I would want to actually give you guys something for being named here, I'm poor. So all you win is bragging rights. Hopefully, down the line, I might be able to get a local business to make a donation to this section, or something of that nature. I have an idea for one sponsor, so I'll have to approach them and see how that goes.

Alaska Nanooks 5, Bowling Green 3

Sorry for this one coming so late. I've been busy as of late having a life. But fortunately that won't last too much longer...

This game went much more like you would have expected Fridays game to go. The Nanooks came on very strong in the first period, notching three unanswered goals. Obviously, some looked better than others, but the real meat of it was UA's power play performance. Although the box score shows 2 of 5, we were really 2 of 4, and both of the power play goals came within 20 seconds of the penalty being called. Dion's goal came 14 seconds after the whistle, and Granberg's came 16 seconds after the whistle. Pretty decent outing coming after a night where we were 0 for 5...

Our offense really clicked in the first period. Passes were making it from tape to tape, and plays were happening. A nice 2 on 1 opportunity between Dustin Sather and Carlo Finucci was capitalized on a nice touch pass across the front of the crease from Sather to Finucci, which put goal number 2 on the board.

I thought the announcers had at least one thing right, saying that we were playing much better on the attack, then when we tried to clamp down defensively and manage our lead. Once we did that, we allowed 3 goals, one on the power play, and two other even strength goals that brought the Falcons within a goal on two different occasions.

Had Dallas kept with the attack from the first period, we could have buried Bowling Green in the second period and not had to worry about BG coming close.

Sorry for such the long delay on this. I've had some live performances of a particular musical in Fairbanks that I'm a part of that has somewhat taken over my life for the last few weeks. The last weekend of shows is this weekend, so the Lake State recaps might be a bit delayed too, but I'll try to keep them rolling. On that note, I won't get to watch the Saturday game, so I'll be recapping solely off of box scores, and potentially a USCHO recap. Game preview to come Thursday.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Alaska Nanooks 1, Bowling Green 3

I've been really dreading the composition of this post, hence why this isn't going up until late Saturday night, even though I started writing this during the 3rd period. But sometimes, life doesn't always throw lemons your way. The game really did not go the Nanooks way, and to be honest, they weren't getting much done in almost any aspect of the game.

 The 'Nooks have kinda had the hot and cold thing going for the last few years, coming up with a big win against a strong opponent (in this case, Notre Dame. Or Miami, like last year) and then dropping a game against a weak opponent the following week. BGSU is a team that we should have swept. There shouldn't have been any reason not to. Not taking anything away from BGSU, they played a strong game and made us work for everything we got, but up until yesterday, the only team to score 3+ goals against us was Notre Dame. To have Bowling Green in that category is kind of appalling (especially since they did it twice).

Our biggest fault of the night, were turnovers. We handed the puck over to them on numerous occasions in the transition game, and that alone accounted for two of BG's three tallies on the night. We were poor in our offensive production, not setting up the puck, bad passing, and not being able to really get control of pucks deep. We played a lot of dump and chase offense, and very rarely were we able to chase down the puck before the Falcons broke out.

The best and the worst part is, Bowling Green was only able to muster 14 shots on the evening. From a defensive perspective, thats usually a good thing, but the bad thing is that of those 14 shots, 3 went in. Poor Greenham, definitely didn't have a career night with a .786 save percentage and a 3.02 GAA (since he didn't technically play for the full game), definitely going to make an impact on his stats this early in the season. Hopefully not too much.

Granted, this was our first trip to the lower 48, and with the amount of freshman in our lineup, this was their first opportunity to see what our away games are like. As I mentioned last week, our team travels a lot of miles to play our opponents, and traveling can wear you down pretty bad. I don't want to use travel as an excuse for a loss, that would be stupid, all things considered. But this weekend was a great chance for our freshman to get a feel for our travel schedule. The Nanooks will stay away and travel to Sault Saint Marie, Michigan on Tuesday to prepare to take on the Lake State Lakers.

Going into this weekend, the Nanooks were ranked ninth. After this, we may slip, but I still think we are going to be in the top 10 with Vermont getting their butts kicked by BC, and Cornell losing to Yale, the rankings may adjust above us to keep us relatively solid where we are at. Hopefully, the focus this week will be off of us and on #1 Miami falling to two shoot out losses to Ferris State, one of which went for 11 rounds before FSU pulled it off. Keep in mind, shoot out wins only matter in CCHA standings, as the NCAA still views it as a tie. After game one against BGSU, the Nanooks fell to number nine in the PairWise rankings.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Time to Go Bowling in Bowling Green

While this whole Doc fiasco blows up all over the web, we still have hockey to play. Which, when you think about it, could wind up being detrimental to our team for those players and coaches that pushed through ground zero who may have lost some focus to this crap.

Luckily for us, we are playing a win-less team. Granted, its in their barn, but still they got their butts handed to them by Ferris State, 1-5 and 2-3. I have a lot of respect though for Bowling Green's newly hired head coach Dennis Williams. Coming in to a crippled program where it wasn't even certain that hockey was going to exist this year. Granted, he hasn't gotten his first win yet, and let's hope he doesn't this weekend, but he's got a strong will in a place where morale is probably pretty low. There are only 58 teams in Division 1 hockey, since we don't have that many to lose, just having one drop off is pretty major.

What scares me about BG is the 3 goals they put up on John Faulkner at Nebraska-Omaha two weeks ago in a tying effort. Maybe it was their 9 power play chances. But they only got 20 shots on goal, and 3 went in. A bunch of controversy went down after BGSU used an ineligible player in the shootout to get them the win. The league office said the officials should have caught it, and since they didn't, it stands. That's OK. I think UNO gets too much credit anyway, as I've said before.

The Falcons don't have any major offensive weapons that our defense can't shut down. I think Scott Greenham is going to be the best goalie the Falcons will face this year, and I don't vision their players getting any big points this weekend.

BG starting goalie Andrew Hammond, is to say the least, not Scott Greenham. Hammond boasts an .896 save percentage with 3.8247 goals against average. I'd like to see at least 3 goals each night from our offense against the Falcons, favorably more. There should be no reason to leave Ohio this weekend with less than 6 points.

Friday     4-0 W
Saturday 3-1 W

So, if you haven't noticed, I've adjusted the blog theme a bit, and I think I'm going to stick with it. The old one, the body was just too narrow, and didn't really work to post videos in, plus it made my posts look ridiculously long that some people just decided to send me an email and tell me that.

On a similar note, I'm very pleased with how well this blog is being received. I've gotten compliments via email, in person, via the comments sections. I'm kind of impressed and surprised. According to Analytics, I'm averaging 60-80 hits per day, netting on average about 2,100 hits per month. Just over 6 months in, and already getting some good press. Hopefully, I'm doing something right...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Truth Uncovered About Doc DelCastillo

Danny Martin, my esteemed colleague over at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner has posted a very interesting, serious article on the resignation of former Nanook Hockey head coach Doc DelCastillo.

Several rumors have circulated throughout the university about such accusations as sexual harassment of  two separate women. Personally, I chose to not believe them. I've talked with Doc several times, and I never got the impression he was that type of person. But, granted, all of our conversations revolved around hockey. I would have been under the impression that if sexual harassment was really involved, charges would have been filed, and Doc would have been off the team a lot sooner than the end of the season.

Documents were obtained from the University through the Alaska Public Records act through litigation. All the details of his cases are covered in the article, which I highly recommend you read. Feel free to sound off in the comments.

Former UAF  Coach Doc DelCastillo Opens Up About His Resignation [Danny Martin, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner]

Monday, November 9, 2009

UA hasn't played away yet?

So much crap always surfaces about travel and how every team is at such a disadvantage when they come to Fairbanks. Within 24 hours of the final horn of Saturdays game, some Notre Dame fan attested the reason they lost was due to the intensive travel the team had to take to get to Fairbanks (which, I'll remind you, UA pays handsomely for). Give me a break. Now the chatter is that UA is finally leaving the state to play an away game. As if playing in Anchorage isn't away?

By contrast, this week, here are the away games that were played in the CCHA and the driving distances (one way) from the home ice to the away ice according to Google Maps.

Miami @ Michigan -- 241 Miles
LSSU @ WMU ------ 344 Miles
BGSU @ FSU --------256 Miles
NMU @ OSU ---------636 Miles
UNO @ MSU ---------672 Miles

Now, when the 'Nooks visited Anchorage for the Kendall tournament (against Michigan and Mercyhurst), 357 miles, right about the average of the 5 other away games that happened this last weekend.

Notre Dame, and all of the other teams that make the trek up here, do so only once per season. Only one long trip to Alaska per season (sans playoffs) for each team to whine and complain about. The Nanooks are set to make seven such trips this season, and make two trips on back to back weekends across the country. Once this coming week against Bowling Green, and the following weekend against Lake Superior State. And again in January, playing UNO and Michigan on the 8th/9th and the 15th/16th respectively.

Here is the list of the away games this season, and the traveling distances to each (one way, adjusted for air travel).

Alaska @ Bowling Green -- 3,685 Miles
Alaska @ Lake Superior ----3,750 Miles
Alaska @ Western Mich. ---3,697 Miles
Alaska @ Nebraska-Omaha 3,153 Miles
Alaska @ Michigan----------3,623 Miles
Alaska @ NMU--------------3,344 Miles
Alaska @ Ohio State--------3,820 Miles
Alaska @ ACC---------------357 Miles (driving)

These are one way figures. Round trip, total mileage doubles (obviously), and for those unwilling to do the math, the total mileage traveled for UA this season will be 50,858 miles. Sure, travel sucks, but you don't hear us complaining. Think about us before you complain about coming here to play.

On another note, the Nanooks have broken into the top 10  in the polls this week, hitting the number 9 spot in both the USCHO/ poll and the USAToday poll after a split series with higher ranked Notre Dame, who now sits one seat above us at number 8. I believe this could be UA's highest ranking in history. An email I received from the face off club today cited a news paper article showing UA at #11 back in the early 90's, which was the best ever at the time.

The unofficial PairWise rankings this week pegs Alaska at number 7.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Alaska Nanooks 3, Notre Dame Hunchbacks 1

Just a word of advice to the Irish. I understand the "fighting" adjective and all, but should you choose to get "testy" with the home team, don't do it in front of the student section. Just saying.

Alaska Governor Sean Parnell was in attendance tonight at the Carlson Center, handling the honorary puck drop honors. Chancellor Rogers and AD Forrest Karr gave him a complimentary customized white jersey for coming to our barn, which he promptly put over his tax-funded fancy attire.

Another night of face paced hockey, however, this contest was not as, err, clean, as it was last night, couple with another night of... questionable... officiating. But, coach West said it best, at least they were "consistent"... Consistent? OK, I suppose. UA spent 8 minutes down a man, where ND was deprived for only 4. Filzen got flagged twice, once legitimately, once because the refs apparently felt like it.

But anyway, the penalty kill tonight went really well. Technically, UA killed off all four, but Notre Dame notched their only goal 4 seconds after Filzen got out of the sin bin. Basically a power play goal, but just adds a minus to our players stat sheets.

If college hockey had a goal of the week honor, this week it would go to Andy Taranto. This kid is going to be something special in his career here as a Nanook. His set up pass cross ice from Sova was on the mark, and he put it top shelf stick side. So pretty, it really was.

Classy move of the week? Dion Knelsen giving the puck to captain Derek Klassen on a rush toward the empty net to put the icing on the cake. Dion had a great chance at it, but he let his captain take the honors, and Klassen added a nice big minus for 6 hunchback skaters. Obviously not a requirement, but a very nice, gentlemanly move on Dion's part.

Anyhow, a very good, character win for the Nanooks tonight. This is the way that last nights game should have gone, but you can't win them all.

The Nanooks now head on the road for the next two weeks, facing Bowling Green and Lake Superior State. For those that don't know (I think I touched on this before...), Kevin Petovello and Brandon Knelsen have been out with injuries for this series. I spoke with coach Lance West after the game and asked him about their progress. Sounds like Brandon will be making the trips these next few weeks, but Kevin Petovello is going to be staying in Fairbanks for these trips on the mend.

Also, the gold jerseys that the Nanooks debuted on Halloween, that were worn again tonight, are here to stay. Coach West said during the post-game conference that the 'Nooks are going to be donning the golden sweaters on Saturdays, sticking with the traditional white jerseys on Fridays...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Alaska Nanooks 2, Notre Dame Hunchbacks 3

Notre Dame became the first team this season to score more than 2 goals on the Nanooks, and thus the first to defeat the Blue and Gold.

Despite having the 9-7 shot advantage in the first period, Notre Dame came out of the first period with the lone goal. Notre Dame senior Christiaan Minella caught the Nanook defense sleeping and capitalized on a turnover in the Nanook end and blasted it past Greenham to net the first goal of the game. Not a whole lot of chances on either side in the first as it was a great showing of defense.

The second period started and the Nanooks came out strong, getting into the Notre Dame zone quickly and setting up camp. Some good cycles by Alaska kept it close to the goal but it was Dion Knelsen's name in the goal column as he knotted the game up at 1-1 off assists from Taranto and Yaremchuk. A lot of bodies in front of the net for this one as Dion tried to get the puck across the crease back to Taranto, but it hit one of the defenders skates and sneaks past Irish netminder Mike Johnson. A bit of a trash goal, sure, but we'll take it.

Riding the energy of the goal, Nanook forward Dustin Sather gets whistled for hooking. And a few moments later Bryant Molle is sent to the box for tripping (a very questionable tripping call, mind you), which gives the Irish a 5-on-3 power play chance for just over 1:30. UA had some great efforts killing this penalty, with a glamorous pick and clear by Klassen sends the Irish to chase down the puck. Coming back on the rush, Notre Dame senior captain Ryan Thang puts his name on the score sheet, scoring a power play goal. Now, technically, the goal was scored on the second that Sather's penalty was up, but Dustin didn't even get his stick on the ice before Thang scored. But in terms of technicality, ND scored with just a one man advantage. But anyway, 2-1 now for the hunchbacks from Notre Dame.

A few good opportunities, scoring chances, and some poor officiating later, Nanooks fight back off of a dump into the Notre Dame zone by Ronnie Meyers, he chases it down behind the net, gets it to Filzen, and somehow in the midst of all 10 skaters jammed together, freshman forward Chad Gehon discovers the puck and squirts it through Johnson's legs. A bit of another high traffic goal that Alaska converted on. But hey, it's 2-2 in the second period.

Now here is another prime example of why CCHA officiating has gone downhill. About a minute and half after Gehon's goal, Scott Enders is defending a player in front of him, and got a decent poke in, but he gets flagged for hooking? Seriously? The crowd definitely agreed with me on that one. Enders sat in the box, and Notre Dame notched their second power play goal of the night from the stick of Kyle Lawson, which ends the scoring for the second period. As irritated as this makes me as I am writing this, I'll get to the officiating crew here again in a bit when I get to my comments.

The third period, the Nanooks came out with fire. They upped the pressure and kept the puck in the Hunchback zone for 15:31 of the 20:00 period, generating a total of 16 shots, compared to Notre Dame's 1. With about 1:10 left on the clock, Greenham comes off of the ice to give UA the extra skater. The Nanooks had some good looks and a few chances to knot the game at 3 in the closing seconds that came up just short. Captain Derek Klassen had a great chance just outside of the right face off circle that went just wide (which, Derek made a pretty funny comment about in the post-game conference in response to Danny Martin's question asking him about the play), and Joe Sova had a great chance in front of the crease at about the 10 second mark that was ultimately deflected wide.

UA really threw everything they had at the Hunchbacks in the closing period, but came away empty handed. Hopefully we can come out tomorrow with the same energy that we had in the 3rd period. If we can, the Hunchbacks of Notre Dame will head back to their bell towers with a series split in Fairbanks.

Shots 37-15 in Alaska's favor.

Greenham 12/15 (.800 save percentage) 3 GA
UA defense allows 2 power play goals of 3 chances.

I thought we did some things pretty well tonight, some other things not so much. For one, we really ground it out in the offensive zone tonight. Both of our goals tonight came with high traffic in front of the net, as a result of lots of good work in the offensive zone. Notre Dame wasn't giving much to shoot at for the better part of the game, and with some offensive grinding, UA came out with two even strength goals.

Our defensive effort was great, but wasn't without fault. Towards the end of the first period, Minella picked a UA defenseman in transition (I didn't catch who exactly) that lead to Notre Dame's only even strength goal. Playing a team like Notre Dame means you've got to be on top of your game for all 60 minutes, or you'll get burned, like the Nanooks did there. Secondly is the penalty kill. Granted, if it wasn't for the jackals in zebra stripes calling the game, this wouldn't have been much of an issue tonight. But you work with what you get. The Nanooks finished just 33% on the PK, allowing 2 goals from ND.

But, the two legged zebras really screwed the pooch tonight. Apparently, offsides rules are subjective, penalties are only called when the officials feel like the timing is right, and corrective lenses are not to be worn when necessary. I guess earning your paycheck is not a sentiment used by the CCHA officiating crews these days. I always hate blaming officials for game outcomes, regardless of a win or a loss, especially in the case of this game where it really can go either way, but the officials tilt it the other way. The game really was mostly clean by both teams. There were some calls not made on both teams, but the calls that were made on Molle and Enders were marginal at best. Had those calls not been made, the game could have had an entirely different outcome (say 2-1 UA), but alas, the Hunchbacks get the favor in this one.

Look for Coach Ferguson to tighten up some bolts and get back on the ice tomorrow night and come away with a series split and send the Hunchbacks home to their towers in South Bend.

How Much Fight Does the Irish Have?

#13 Alaska vs. #9 Notre Dame

This series promises to be an exciting one. Notre Dame is a surprising 4-3-1 so far this season (and even more surprising, are still ranked above UA, despite 3 losses to unranked teams (note: Boston College was not ranked when they beat ND)).

The Irish have only played one away game thus far, and have traveled 3,500 miles to get here for their second and third games away from South Bend, so hopefully home ice will tip in our favor.

Notre Dame 4-3-1 (19 GF, 13 GA) (2.375 GFA, 1.625 GAA)
Alaska 5-0-1 (18 GF, 7 GA) (3.000 GFA, 1.166 GAA)

Statistically, the Nanooks are coming in looking a bit better than Jeff Jackson's Irish, but statistics don't mean everything. The Nanook defense has not allowed more than two goals in a game all season, including the shut out Greenham pitched to Red Berenson's #3 Wolverines.

Expect a good showing by both teams. Notre Dame appears to be on a bit of a roller coaster, having beat Boston University, losing to Boston College, then coming up with a win and a tie at home against Ohio State. We also won't mention their losses to Providence or Alabama-Huntsville... Expect a showing of defense this weekend, as Greenham and the Nanook defense flex their muscles against ND's squad, but I think the Nanooks will come out with a sweep this weekend.

Friday 3-1 W
Saturday 2-1 W (OT)

Tune in to my Twitter feed for live, in-game updates.

Live Video (~$6 through B2 Networks)
Live Audio (free, courtesy of KSUA)

Ferris Swept in Fairbanks

As it tends to do, history repeats itself as the Ferris State Bulldogs leave Fairbanks with no points last weekend as the Nanooks handed them 3-1 and 3-2 (OT) losses on Friday and Saturday respectively, bringing the aforementioned winning streak to 15-0-2.

Unfortunately, I was out of town for these games. While residing in the central time zone, where Alaska hockey games don't exactly air in prime time, I wasn't able to tune in for this series. However, sources say that Ferris looks much improved from last season, and fought us until the bitter end both nights.

In game one, all of the Nanook goals (with the exception of the empty-netter at the end) came on the power play, capitalizing twice on four chances for a 50% power play conversion. From my observations watching the films between FSU and RMU, their defense has really tightened up from what I remember last season. With that, Ferris got on the board first at the 14:31 mark of the first period as Blair Riley sneaks one past Greenham just outside the crease off of a centering pass from Cody Chupp. The Nanooks answered with just 1.1 seconds left in the first when freshman Nik Yaremchuk beat Taylor Nelson and the clock to knot the game up at 1-1 with a man advantage headed into the first intermission.

The Ferris defense really clamped down in the 2nd period, but got a little rattled as Ferris' Eric Alexander took an infamous 5 minute major penalty for checking from behind, and had a 10 minute game misconduct penalty tacked on to that as Mr. Alexander found his new home in the locker room for the remainder of the game. Already down a man, Blair Riley becomes the second guy to go to the box at the 12:00 mark to give Alaska a full 2 minutes of 5 on 3 power play action. Ferris defense did a good job defending in their zone and clearing the puck, as the Nanook power play unit failed to convert on the 5 on 3 chance. With Blair Riley out of the box, the Nanooks still have 2 minutes left to work on the 5 minute major, and a minute later, Aaron Gens took a shot from the right point that Nelson had no chance of stopping. Obviously, I didn't see it, but I wished I had. Supposedly, outside of Ronnie Meyers goal in game 2 (trust me, I'll get to that in a second), it was the prettiest goal of the weekend. Gens' goal would become the game winning goal as Cardwell's empty netter at the end of the 3rd just puts the icing on the cake.

In game 2, there really is only one story here. Not taking anything away from Taranto's or Sova's goals, they both capitalized off of a pair of good rebounds. But the real gem comes from sophomore Ron Meyers. This guy has become pretty famous for his last minute antics around Fairbanks. Last year, as Alaska played host to the Ohio State Buckeyes, Meyers notched the games only goal in game three with just 50 seconds left in the 3rd period to send UA to the Joe. This season, he's back at it, with just 15 seconds left in overtime. I won't begin to describe the beauty of his play. Just watch for yourself...

Ronnie knows how to make a blogger proud.

Also, congratulations are in order for UA Athletic Director Forrest Karr for being selected in AKJOC's Top Forty Under 40! He will be recognized in a special luncheon on January 14th at the Dena'ina Center in Anchorage.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Alaska vs. Ferris State: A history of success

Ferris State is one of those teams that we have historically fared well against. Overall, the matchup is at 25-23-3, but it's tipped in the Nanooks favor the last few years, going 13-1-2 and shutting them out once since 2003. Our last loss to Ferris State was January 2nd, 2004. All time, at home, the Nanooks are 18-6-1 against FSU, and haven't lost at home against the Bulldogs since 2002.

On a normal basis, these stats may say something, but with this season starting out as it has, it may not. Ferris is off to a raging 5-1-0 start so far, sweeping both UConn, and the familiar Robert Morris Colonials in the last 4 weeks, but had a split with Canisius from Atlantic Hockey to open the season. Not sure if this is their best start ever, but it's got to be pretty close.

The Nanooks open up the CCHA season on home ice this weekend. Last year, UA went 8-4-2 at home, and should hopefully improve the scoring this year, and improve that record.

Greenham is still atop the stats list, just behind Faulkner from UNO, who has played about 50 less minutes and faced about 15 fewer shots, and should look to keep a steady defense. The question mark always comes with scoring, but I think that issue has been put to rest, scoring 2 goals on then number 3 ranked Michigan (and notably blanking them). The one fault I see was some issues I saw in the last game against RPI. The Nanooks had some issues with their feet, but they still kept pretty solid out there defensively. With a week to think about it, and all of the line experiments Coach Ferguson did thus far, I'm intrigued to hear of the resulting line combinations for the season. Unfortunately, I won't get to hear of them until I come back next week.

I won't be doing the Twitter updates like I had been this weekend unfortunately because of my trip. But I'll still try to get a recap of some sorts out there next week after I get back.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nanooks Pull in Two More - Recruiting update

The Nanooks recruiting effort has pulled in two more rookies, albeit they won't be joining the team until the start of the 2011 season.

Jeff Earnest signed his NCAA letter of intent (LOI) on October 17th, coming to us from Prince George of the BCHL. The 5' 11" 175 lb 18 year old forward is 16-3-3-6-23 on the stat sheet, and thats all his BCHL stat sheet has to go off of. pulled up no results for the guy either. But, the guy's from Alaska, so he must be good, right?

The other guy, Justin Tateson, a 6' 3" 195lb 17 year old defenseman, who actually signed his LOI back in September, is also in his first year of juniors. Playing for the Drumheller Dragons of the AJHL, he has posted 15-0-2-2-57 stats thus far in his first season. Nothing that really jumps out besides his 57 penalty minutes.....57! That's almost 2 2:00 minors per game! Save for a possible misconduct call or two that I'm overlooking, he looks like he might have a fetish for penalty minutes... Hopefully he'll shape up a bit, but I'm sure our coaching staff had something they liked about him that isn't apparent from his AJHL stat sheet.

For those that found the link that pointed to my blog regarding the 11-team CCHA schedule, I'm sorry but I was asked to remove the post. And understandably so, since I knew about it before the majority of the CCHA members did. Oops. But the scheduling may have to be revised as well for other reasons, so that model may be dumped anyway in favor a newer, shinier one.

Good stuff is on the way too during this off week here on the blog.

As far as games that are happening, ACC plays North Dakota this week, so that should be sufficient humor for the weekend. In WCHA action, Denver takes on Minnesota, who may be looking for revenge after what happened in Grand Forks last week... Michigan also takes on defending CCHA champs BU on Saturday, who got blanked by a different CCHA team last week. Hopefully BU's cranial-rectal inversion went well yesterday...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Shoot out: Alaska Nanooks 1, Engineers 1

Well, I'm going to be extremely honest, the Nanooks didn't come to play until the 3rd period. I thought for the first two periods that we didn't attack the puck as well as we did in our previous games. Our defense played very well but our offense wasn't able to get it past RPI, who decided to stuff every player in front of their goalie,  making virtually every shot irrelevant.

In the first period, shots were basically even. RPI made a total 17 shots, with 4 blocked by the defense, 4 off target, with 9 shots on goal. UA made 16 shots but had 7 shots blocked by the defense, 2 wide, and 7 on goal. No goals were scored by either team in the first, as UA's defense played very well, and RPI's defense sheepishly continued to cram everyone in front of the goal...

The second period started off okay, the UA offense still couldn't get anything going their way, but had a real close call off of a rebound. Freshman Andy Taranto had a decent chance just to the left of RPI goalie Allen York that gets deflected out to just out side of the right face off circle that Joe Sova blasted and hit the post. That's pretty much the story of the 2nd period, missed opportunities. Andy Taranto had a wide open net to shoot at that gets deflected just wide, Dion Knelsen had a shot at the rebound that also came up short. The Nanooks attempted 18 shots in the 2nd, with 8 blocked by the defense, 3 off target, and Sova's shot pinged off the post. Compared to RPI's 15 attempted shots, with 5 blocked by the Nanook defense, 2 off the mark, and 8 on goal, with Greenham making 7 of the saves as #16 Brandon Pirri for RPI comes up with RPI's only goal of the evening. But the tale of the tape shines for Alaska, as they held RPI to just three shots in the last 8 minutes, foreshadowing their 3rd period performance.

As the 3rd period started, The Nanooks came on with the fire on, outshooting RPI 18-2 in the period. But it wasn't until the 18:24 mark that Joe Sova blasted one from the right point that the Nanooks were able to tie it up with a man advantage.

OT went much of the same. RPI got 5 shots on goal compared to UA's 3, needless to say, none of them found twine, and much to the crowds pleasure, it goes to a shoot out. How did the shoot out go? See for yourself...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Alaska Nanooks 4 - Robert Morris Colonials 2

A great offensive effort for Alaska tonight, somehow managing to get 49 shots on goal. Obviously, some were better than others, but hey, they got the job done.

The first period went well. Not a lot of opportunities on either side. UAF amassed 15 shots in the first period compared to RMU's 8. Not a lot of those shots were really any good. 11 of the 15 shots came from the Nanooks' 5 on 3 advantage they had for just over 1:40. Some came really close, but a lot of it was a shoot it from the point and let the guys up front get it. Well, it almost worked, as Dion Knelsen had a great chance, but pinged off of the right post. Hate it when that happens. But unfortunately, the Nanooks' failed to capitalize and RMU returned to full strength, deadlocked at 0. There were a lot of things I didn't like seeing in the first period, namely missed passes and poor shots. Normally I would say look for the pass before the shot, but in the first 20:00, it wouldn't have mattered. They got the pucks to the goal, but couldn't  get it past the.....ya know....the guy with all the pads in front... Oh yeah, the goalie.

Luckily for us, our sharp-minded coach must have said some things in the locker room during the break. Nanooks came out of the gate with a mission...Get a goal. Didn't take long for that to happen either as captain Derek Klassen scored a perfect looking goal just 45 seconds into the game. Seriously, it doesn't get better than this. Klassen takes a pass through the slot from Brandon Knelsen on a 2 on 1, and taps it around out of the reach of Ostergard. He didn't have a chance. Nanooks go up 1-0.

Those Colonials didn't like that very much. Right off of the next face off they got aggressive, really challenging the puck and played a nice transition game. Maybe too aggressive... #25 Furman South of RMU took a 2:00 trip into isolation for tripping up Kevin Petovello at about the 5:00 mark. Unfortunately, the Nanooks couldn't capitalize on this man advantage either. In these two minutes, Alaska put 8 shots on goal, with only one of them having any merit. Nanook freshman Andy Taranto had a great shot at it, but missed the net by about a foot. With RMU back at full strength, they scored about two minutes later on what actually was a pretty good goal.

RMU forward Cody Crichton scored on the same thing that Dion Knelsen tried just minutes earlier. Crichton took a pass from Nathan Longpre, then went behind the net to pull an apparent wrap around, but quickly put the brakes on, came back around, and beat Greenham to take the game to 1-1 at 9:50 of the 2nd period. With all things right in college hockey, that should have been Greenham's 1st goal against of the season... But alas, garbage goals count too...

Good thing though, because that's exactly what happened next. Not even two minutes later, Alaska answered again with the first of two goals on the night from freshman Jarret Granberg. Granberg, who had 42 goals and 44 assists in his last season with the Brooks Bandits (he was Co-MVP of the AJHL that year too, ya know) scored his first goal of his NCAA career at the 11:11 mark of the 2nd period. Coming off a shot from Dustin Sather, Granberg skipped the puck just over Ostergard's right blocker to put the Nanooks back up front 2-1.

Then it happens, UA goes down a man as Aaron Gens gets called for hooking. Not really a huge deal, considering the Nanooks killed it off without a problem, but here's the gold nugget of this paragraph. As the penalty expires, Ostergard starts hitting his stick against the ice, as goalies tend to do, but shortly after his second whack.....he broke his stick...right off the handle. All of a sudden, I look down at him from my seat to see his stick flapping as he held it. He ripped off the broken part, which was a good 16" of the top handle, not leaving him much to hang on to. I thought this was a good opportunity to capitalize on the now crippled stick side, but alas, no goal.

But that's OK, 30 seconds later, RMU forward Cody Crichton would take a 2:00 trip to dunce-ville for tripping. Oops. Penalty was called at the 19:29 mark of the 2nd period. Nanook freshman Andy Taranto scores just 8 seconds later. Looked like Crichton was ready for a good break too, but that didn't last long. The goal scoring play started with Sova blasting the puck at the goal from the left point, catching the rebound was Dion Knelsen, but his shot gets deflected wide, but as its trickling towards the far faceoff circle, Taranto picks it up and puts in the net to pull the score up 3-1 with just 23 seconds remaining in the second. But that brings the high scoring second period to a close, as UA lit the lamp 3 times.

The 3rd period started, and Robert Morris didn't look very happy. They attacked the puck and started making some pretty hard hits. But one got away from them not long into the period as Jarret Granberg puts up his second goal of the night. It turned out to be a "right place at the right time" kinda goals, as Carlo Finucci passed it across the crease, and Granberg made a skilled back hand shot top shelf for the score.

Again, RMU wasn't very happy with that, and they came after it hard. Just 25 seconds after Tom Brooks came out of the box the first time from his 2:00 minor for checking from behind, he gets right back in after he's called for charging. He's actually lucky that it didn't turn into a 5:00 major, or a game misconduct, like UAA and RPI exchanged in the early game.

But, UA couldn't capitalize on these either. As much as I don't want to talk about the late goal that RMU scored, here it is anyway. With 53 seconds left, Denny Urban scored. There. But seriously, our defense got a little too relaxed in the closing minutes of the game, and gave up that late goal. Meanwhile, I'm crossing my fingers that Ron Meyers was going to take a shot on goal in the closing seconds to bring the total shots on goal to 50. Oh well, would have been cool to see.

Sadly, UA came up a dismal 1 for 8 on the power play. Oh well, makes that loss stick in more while we add a bunch of minuses to all of their stat sheets.

But anyhow, Nanooks take their first game of the Brice tournament 4-2 over Robert Morris. UAA currently owns the tie-breaker, should that become necessary. 1st tie breaker is goal differential, with UAA at 3, and UA at 2, UAA either has to lose or we have to make sure that we crush RPI tomorrow night...

Third Star: Carlo Finucci
Second Star: Derek Klassen
First Star: Jarret Granberg

I'll also throw Andy Taranto in here as an honorable mention, as he took my vote.

Notably missing from the Nanook line up tonight were sophomore Cody Butcher, sophomore Adam Cardwell, freshman Justin Daigle, and sophomore Derek Bradish. I was also under the impression that Thompson was going to get the nod for the start, considering the warmups, but apparently not...

I definitely think some adjustments to the roster can be made. Cody Butcher really should be put on the power play D line. Both of his goals on the season are from the point on the power play, that of a true sniper. Sova looked good, but a lot of his opportunities went either wide or were deflected.

Interesting fact of the night. This is the first time since we dismembered Wayne State 8-2 in 2002 that we have put this many shots on goal...

Any how, tomorrow's game against RPI should be a good one. Be there at 6:35.