Tonight was a great night for the Nanooks, coming out strong and skating right with the Wolverines all throughout the first period. Michigan had 3 scoring chances pass by that they weren't able to capitalize on, but no complaints here, as the Nanook defense holds up as we were outshot 12-3 in the first period.
The second period started off a little different. We picked up offensively, and after some grinding behind the net, at the 10:10 mark, Ron Meyers passed it in front of Bryan Hogan to an unattended Chad Gehon, who shot it past the left side of Hogan for the Nanooks first goal of the game. Justin Filzen also got credit for the assist. After the goal, the Nanooks did not back off, holding UM to just 3 shots on goal all period. A strong defensive and offensive stand for Alaska throughout the second period.
The third period took off right out of the gates with both teams skating hard. But it wasn't even 30 seconds into the period that Klassen was called for tripping. During that penalty, UM was only able to put one shot on goal, as Steve Kampfer got robbed by Greenham on a pretty decent opportunity. With Klassen out of the box at 2:24, the Nanooks got back to work.
Coming off a shot on goal in the Nanook zone, Joe Sova took it down the ice, which set up a 3 on 2. Now let me set this up for you, since the signal cut out so bad. Hogan keyed in on Brandon Knelson to his left, thinking that Sova was going to fake a shot, as he tends to do, and pass it to his forward, who had a stride on Chad Langlais. So Hogan bit to the right, and Sova blasted one past the left side of Hogan just outside the slot area to make it 2-0 (unassisted)(Correction: Credit for this assist on this goal was given to Scott Greenham, who earned his first career assist).
After the next faceoff, there was not another stoppage for the next 13 minutes, as Michigan spent most of the time trying to get past the stingy Nanook defense. That didn't happen. The Wolverines got lots of shots on goal, but not a single one made it through the brick wall known as Scott Greenham. Some were better than others, sure, but that didn't really matter. At the 17:16 mark, UM had a player flagged for interference, which I surely thought was going to be a tripping call for knocking down Dion Knelson near the net, but since Dion was playing for the puck, I suppose thats a better call.
So the Nanooks get a break and go on the power play, and are able to keep it in UM's zone for most of the 2 minutes. Brandon Knelson has a great chance to score a goal that pinged off the right goal post, just an inch to the inside and he would have had it, as Hogan didn't have much of a chance at it either way.
The power play ended with just 44 seconds left, and after UM gains possession, Hogan headed for the bench for the extra skater. But UM came up short, but so did a shot toward the empty net by Kevin Petovello, which was picked up about 5 feet short of the goal line, but Ron Meyers poked it away from Tristin Llewellyn, and back to Joe Sova up towards the point, who wound up for a shot that bounced off of Louie Caporusso, the rebound of which was picked up by Petovello, who swung and missed the puck entirely, as the clock ticked down the final seconds of the game. Once UM got the puck back, there wasn't enough time to even make it back to center ice as the horn buzzed to seal the Alaska's first shutout against Michigan.
Player of the Game honors were rightfully earned by Scott Greenham, stopping 23 of 23 shots for a 100 save percentage, and no goals against. Again, that marks Greenham's 3rd shutout in 5 starts, and becomes the first goaltender in Nanook history to go undefeated in the first 5 starts.
Tomorrow, the Nanooks, with Steve Thompson in goal, will face Mercyhurst in game 2 of the Kendall classic, which, assuming we win there, will likely earn Alaska their second straight Kendall Classic title.
UAA is playing Mercyhurst as I write this, and tomorrow they have high, but misplaced and unlikely hopes to defeat Michigan in the final game of the tournament.
Way to go 'Nooks, you've earned this one.
Preview for the Mercyhurst game to come tomorrow...