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.