The first period ended 0-0, with close to even shots (7-11), as both teams played pretty well on both sides of the puck. The Nanooks were a little on the sloppy side on offense in the first, but the blue liners shut the doors on all of Mercyhurst's chances, who came up with a few quality shots that Greenham came up big to stop.
The Nanooks came out in the second, and did they come out BIG, scoring 4 goals in 20 minutes, scoring twice on the 5:00 major power play that was called on Mercyhurst forward Scott Pitt, who clocked Derek Klassen against the boards to punch his ticket to the penalty box. Capitalizing on the 5:00 5-on-4 the Nanooks come up with 2 goals, one of which was a pretty pass across the front of the crease from Dion Knelsen to Andy Taranto, who redirected the pass right to the back of the net for Alaska's first goal of the evening. Dustin Sather also credited for the assist as well. 1:33 later, the Nanooks netted their second goal on the power play opportunity as Cody Butcher blasted one from just outside of the right faceoff circle off a pass from Andy Taranto. Joe Sova is also credited with an assist.
After the conclusion of the power play, the Nanooks up 2-0, some penalties are exchanged, but a bad penalty call against Andy Taranto for goaltender interference, as he got shoved into the crease and subsequently into the goalie by Scott Pitt. Bad bad call on that one. Taranto pleaded his case, but the ref was late for his optometrist appointment, and didn't hear anything Taranto had to say.
With Andy Taranto in the box, Dion Knelsen had a great poke check to steal the puck at the Alaska blue line, and had a shorthanded breakaway opportunity that, sadly, came up short. Great heads up play by Dion, but Ryan Zapolski sniffed his dekes out and saved the breakaway shot.
But, just 47 seconds later, and back at full strength, Dion made Zapolski pay for blocking his shot. Coming off a pass from Taranto off the boards, Dion skated about 12 feet in front of the crease from right to left, then after taking a quick look at the goal, he looked away, and backhanded the puck past Zapolski's right side at the 12:31 mark into the 2nd period. A truly sweet goal by the 20 year old senior.
After that goal, the Nanooks played strong, and time finally dwindled down, but an icing call on the Lakers brought the faceoff back into their zone with just 4.5 seconds left in the 2nd period. Then, as Robin would have said it, "Holy snipe, Batman!" as Ron Meyers made a hell of a backhanded shot off of the faceoff win that Max Strang wasn't quite ready for. Although Filzen technically won the faceoff, the goal was tallied unassisted at the 19:59 mark of the 2nd period. Needless to say, the center ice face off was all that was left of the 2nd period, with a 4-0 score.
The third period started, and you could definitely tell a bit of a jump in their skates, and skated quite hard. Once they got the puck into the Nanook zone, their grinding efforts paid off, albeit with a garbage goal. At the 3:11 mark, Mercyhurst's Kevin Noble took a shot that went high over the left side of Greenham, but Laker forward Derek Elliot caught the pass with his chest, who in true garbage fashion, lunged his chest forward to put the puck past Greenham. The play went under video review, then after looking at it for a minute, the referee called it a goal. Not sure of the official rulings in the case, but I know you can't use your hands. As far as I'm concerned, Scott got another shut out.
But in any case, with the score now 4-1, the Lakers start feeling a sense of urgency, and start challenging the Nanooks defensively, having 3 shots on goal bundled together by the Lakers that Greenham came up big to stop. But Alaska ended their hopes at the 9:20 mark with a goal from Scott Enders from just above the left face-off circle off of a clearing pass from Dion Knelsen. A very nice precision shot with a lot of bodies in front of Mercyhurst's goal, the puck flew through the air and met twine with nothing in its path to lead by 5-1, which will be the final score.
So Cody Butcher gets the game-winning goal in the second period, and Andy Taranto will earn the Player of the Game honors. Across both games, Nanook goalie Scott Greenham comes up with a total of 43 saves on 44 shots against for a total of .977 save percentage and 0.5 goals against average of both games in the Kendall Classic.
After the 3rd goal by the Nanooks, head coach Dallas Ferguson changed the lines up a bit, to get a good look at our rookies, and did we ever. Both of these guys I didn't get a chance to really cover in my initial impressions after the Blue/Gold game, but their showings this weekend really calls for a few comments on these two guys.
The leading goal scorer in the USHL a year ago, Andy Taranto really showcased himself tonight, netting a goal and 2 assists for his first 3 point night with the Nanooks. He really has a hockey players instincts. He had two other goal scoring opportunities in this game that came up just short. He was inches away from an uncontested goal early in the 3rd and Max Strang fell over outside the crease, but he fanned it unfortunately. Taranto nearly came up with a hat trick, but came up just short, but he has plenty of chances to really prove himself.
Holy cow this kid has wheels. Though he was held off the score sheet in the Mercyhurst game, the Nanook freshman scored the initial goal in the game against Michigan. He has a lot of potential for the Nanooks this season. His speed and his vision will definitely come in handy this season. I've see a lot of good things from him so far, he was skating against Louie Caporusso at one point yesterday. Remember, Caporusso had nearly 50 points last season, and was a Hobey Baker award finalist, and our freshman forward didn't give him any space to work with and, obviously since Michigan didn't score, Caporusso was held without a point, which is very much a rarity.
So I'm listening to UAA get destroyed by Michigan as I write this. It actually makes me feel fuzzy inside. A team that Alaska shut out yesterday is dismantling UAA currently with a score of 5-1 early in the 3rd period. Barring an absolute miracle of UAA scoring 9 unanswered goals, the Nanooks will come back home with their second Kendall Classic title.
Good luck to UAA blogger Donald Dunlop justifying this loss...