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.

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