Sunday, December 12, 2010

Nanooks Close First Half With OT Win Over Ferris State, 4-3.

What a gritty win over division rival and cluster mate, Ferris State. Several Nanooks stepped up in this series in the absence of senior captain Kevin Petovello, but Nik Yaremchuk took the spotlight on the score sheet on Saturday, notching two goals in the 4-3 OT victory. But it was a team victory overall, as the Nanooks once again had to fight back, despite getting the early lead.

Nik Yaremchuk would start it all off, getting on the board off of Ferris State's Justin DeMartino's minor for interference. The Nanooks were just 1/7 on power play chances the night before, and knocking one in the net on their second chance is certainly a momentum shifter.

And they would carry that momentum with them throughout the period. Ronnie Meyers and his usual antics took the puck the other way off the back check, used the odd man rush to their advantage. Although Ronnie's shot didn't get all the way through, Derek Klassen was right there to clean up the rebound in the crease to lock in a two goal lead heading into the locker room after the first 20 minutes.

That two goal lead was not as secure as one would have hoped. Ferris State came right out of the gates in the 2nd period firing. And it didn't take long before one of their shots beat Greenham, the first of which came from junior forward Aaron Schmit just 1:35 into the first period. And after a series of Nanooks penalties, Ferris got an equalizing power play goal of their own from sophomore center Travis Oulette at 16:13.

Ferris really roared back in the 2nd to tie it, out-shooting Alaska 14-3. But with the score tied at 2-2 through 40:00, its a brand new game for the 3rd period...

And what a game it was, certainly defensive. The 'Nooks got two penalties right out of the gate as Sova and Taranto served back to back minors, but the Nanooks' penalty kill stood tall. Nik Yaremchuk could have actually had a chance at a breakaway for a potential shorthanded goal and a hat trick, but opted to clear to allow him and his teammates to change. Nanooks netminder Scott Greenham had an epic save on a shot top shelf by Todd Pococke. Greenham said "no soup for you" with a vengeance as his sweeping glove caught it right out of mid-air to keep it tied.

With the Alaska penalties over, the Blue and Gold had a power play chance of their own as Ferris State senior winger Mike Fillinger was penalized for bulldozing Joe Sova into the boards with about 8:00 remaining in the 3rd. Sova was a bit slow getting up, likely seeing birds circling above his head. But Joe being Joe, it was 1:14 before his next shift and he didn't miss it.

Now with Fillinger in the box, the Nanooks had a golden opportunity before them to take control of the game. They were generating good scoring chances, and cycling the puck well in the zone, but Ferris forward Matthew Kirzinger picked off a pass just inside the blue line, took it back the other way with a streaking Mike Embach who netted his second shorty of the year from the backhand, the first shorthanded goal the Nanooks have allowed this season.

Now down by a goal, the Nanooks rallied to tie, using strong puck possession and clean passing to maintain pressure. And just 3:00 later, Nik Yaremchuk picked a wonderful time to score his second goal of the evening as Michael Quinn got the puck up to freshman forward Cody Kunyk, skating right with Nik on the rush. Cody took a shot from the right side, which gleaned off of Nagle's pad, but found it's way to Nik's stick, and then to the back of the net to tie the game at 3.

Nearing the end of the 3rd period, Aaron Gens did his part as a defenseman, helping out his goaltender who was sprawling to make a save. Gens made a play to prevent a Ferris player from tipping in a loose puck, but was ultimately called for interference with 87 seconds left in regulation.

Ferris State would call timeout, rally the troops, and try to come up to get a big sweep at home with the power play chance. However, the 'Nooks had something to say about that, limiting the Bulldogs to just two shots on goal before the clock struck 0:00.

With Gens still in the box for 28 seconds, the Nanooks played a good old fashioned game of keep away before it got back to 5 on 5. No shots for either team through the first 90 seconds, then Ferris made a crucial mistake in overtime as a bad line change right in front of the official earned the Bulldogs yet another 2:00 trip to the penalty box, this time for too many men on the ice.

The 'Nooks now with a power play of their own, trying to capitalize, building pressure, getting chances. Granberg shoots one over the goal. Loose puck comes back around, and Matthew Kirzinger cross-checks Andy Taranto out of harms way, but guess what, the official saw that too.

Now the Nanooks, with a 5 on 3 power play chance for 1:03, took a timeout to recompose. As the time ticks away on this golden opportunity, Jarret Granberg gets the puck back to Sova at the point, who blasted one through traffic. Nagle somehow came up with the save, but Taranto was idling in park in his reserved spot when the puck came in his direction. And the reigning CCHA rookie of the year knew exactly what to do with it, finding the back of the net for the overtime game winning goal.

A good game for both teams. The Nanooks clearly laid it all out on the line and truly found what they were made of in that 3rd period. After that shorthanded goal, most guys emotions would go crazy, a serious buzzkill, especially when the game was tied. But that didn't phase them. They kept the jets on, and kept attacking. Clearly not quitting on any shift. Fortunately, that work paid off with 3 crucial points in the CCHA standings, keeping the 'Nooks in fourth place.

The Nanooks now get to enjoy a bit of rest and some time off as they get ready for finals this week, as well as parting to be with family over the holidays. Fortunately, the Nanooks will get to open the series at home for the first time in what seems like forever. January 7th and 8th, Western Michigan will get to visit the frozen north before our guys head out on a two week road trip to Yost Ice Arena to face the Wolverines', as well as a visit to the Joyce Center in South Bend, Indiana for a two game series against the Hunchbacks from Notre Dame.

Stay tuned to the blog during the break for updates on the Nanooks' prospects as well.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ferris State Defeats Alaska for the First Time in 6 Years, 4-2.

Welcome back, oh dear readers. After what seems like the busiest month of my life, I'm finally back. Again, sorry for the lack of preview this week, but coming into the series, the Nanooks are undefeated in the last 15 games against Ferris State, with a 13-0-2 dating back to 2003-2004. If you had a chance to check out my Twitter feed, you might have seen the video put together by a couple of ESPN hopefuls. Assuming these guys can get the pronunciations of... well... anyone or anything not on their own team right, that is. Anyway, on to the recap of the first game with the Bulldogs and the "Nan-nukes", as they call us.

Good to see Andy Taranto and Michael Quinn back on the ice. I guess the bye week gave them a bit of rest to recover. Nanooks captain Kevin Petovello still remains on the injured list, and still in Fairbanks as he didn't make the trip down with the team. Hopefully he'll be back right out of the gate after the break.

With that said, the Nanooks got off to a good first period. Andy Taranto, fresh off an injury that kept him on the bench for 3 games, picked right back up where he left off, backhanding in a rebound off of a shot from the point off of Joe Sova's stick. Add Carlo Finucci to the stat sheet with the secondary assist all at 13:33 into the first period.

But that was the last lead the Nanooks would see tonight...

The first of which came on a well placed screen, as Nate Hennig put the first goal for Ferris on the board to close out the first period.

In to the second period, Mike Embach, the games eventual 2nd star, buried a goal past Greenham off of the left goal post unassisted. And Zach Redmond would also get on the board in the second with a power play goal, which would be the eventual game winner.

The third period would see the Nanooks apply pressure, and eventually Jarret Granberg would crack the defense and net the Nanooks only power play goal of the evening (1 for 7 on the night). That got my blood pumping, as the guys pulled within range to potentially tie things up. With about 1:12 left, Scott Greenham left his crease, and on came a 6th skater...

But, it worked against the 'Nooks, as Ferris forward Jordie Johnston picked off a pass, and took the empty netter in to seal a 4-2 win for Ferris State, their first victory over the Nanooks in over 6 years. Not that it means anything, but a stat that has gone in our favor for some time, so it had to be mentioned.

Tonight marks win number 299 for Ferris State head coach Bob Daniels. With 300 on the doorstep, the 'Nooks will have to slam the door and lock the deadbolt tomorrow. Tomorrow also features the "Big Chill at the Big House", a Guinness World Record setting outdoor hockey game with over 108,000 fans in attendance. That will be on Fox channel 7 here in Fairbanks for your viewing pleasure. Should be over about an hour before the 'Nooks game starts.

The Wall Street Journal has an article up regarding the Big Chill, as well as the college hockey landscape as a whole. One of the better articles I've read in a long time. Check it out.

And just to help out those two Ferris State guys who did the aforementioned series preview, and for everyone else out there who has no idea how to pronounce our team's name -- it's "Nan", like Nano. "Nooks", like the plural of Barnes and Noble's eReader "nook". Nanooks. There ya go... I'll get to the player pronunciations someday if I have to...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Bye Week Banter: College Football and the BCS

The Oregon Duck running the flag.
For those that don't know me, aside from college hockey, I'm a huge Oregon Ducks and college football fan. I was born and raised in Oregon, and I've been a Ducks fan since birth.

Over Thanksgiving (and coincidentally, the Ohio State vs Nanooks game, hence the limited coverage), I went back to Oregon to visit some family, and check out my Ducks' last two games of their now-perfect 12-0 season, their first in school history. Now that the Ducks have secured their spot among the top 2 in the BCS standings, a national championship is pretty much secured, and likely against Auburn. The BCS title game will likely see online sports betting firms favoring Auburn despite key statistical advantages in Oregon's favor. Running backs LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner spearhead the Ducks' 1st ranked rushing offense, which is averaging an NCAA best 303.8 yards per game.

The first game I went to was the final game of the season at Autzen Stadium, the Ducks' home turf against the Arizona Wildcats. Arizona quarterback Nick Foles had a relatively huge game, but it was just a compromise, as the Arizona rushing game was nowhere to be found. Despite scoring first and leading at halftime, the Ducks lead their usual 2nd half surge for 34 points to tame the then-20th ranked Wildcats 48-29. Box Score

And the second game was the infamous Civil War against Oregon State at Reser Stadium in Corvallis. When I first walked in to the stadium, I thought the fans were confused and thought it was still Halloween with all of this orange and black everywhere. All jokes aside, I was a green-and-yellow clad Ducks fan amidst a sea of Oregon State fans, who were hospitable, but didn't let me forget that the Beavers scored first. Fortunately, the heckling didn't last long, and neither did the Beavers' lead. The Ducks went on to pound Oregon State 37-20, as most of their fans vacated their own stadium shortly in to the fourth quarter. Box Score

With the BCS bowls to be announced in about an hour, the Ducks should be headed to their first ever trip to the National Championship game in Glendale, Arizona. But for me, I'm headed back to Fairbanks (in an airport now, in fact), and getting back to the daily grind, and back to the Nanooks.

Stay tuned this week for previews of the Ferris State series as the Nanooks close out the first half of their season before the holidays.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ice Dogs Forward Tayler Munson Verbally Commits to Alaska

Courtesy FairbanksIceDogs.com
Tayler Munson, a forward for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs and a 17th round entry draft selection for the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL has said that he's made his decision to play for the Nanooks.

Munson, a grinder type forward, has six goals and four assists in 20 games for the Ice Dogs. He's the second Ice Dog to commit to the program next to Jared Linnell, also a future USHLer for Cedar Rapids, who is currently sitting with a 10-7-17 scoring line in 25 games.

Ice Dogs bench boss Josh Hauge told Danny Martin of the News-Miner “Tayler has the opportunity to be a very dynamic hockey player. He has a high-level skills set and the potential to be a very good professional prospect.”


For those that haven't been to an Ice Dogs game yet, Munson is a very good role player, with good positioning. He doesn't score a lot of goals, but he gets it done when he needs to. You'll find him forechecking, and helping out his defensemen in the D-zone. 


It's possible, and even likely that we won't see Munson in a Nanooks jersey until 2012 after a year in the USHL. Munson will play for Team Legwand in the NAHL Top Prospects tournament this weekend.


In related news, Nanook recruit Joe Kalicz, who was slated to participate in the same tournament, has been replaced due to injury.

Nanooks Take 4 Points Out of Ohio State Series

I have to admit, it's kind of hard to write a recap for a series that you didn't watch. Honestly, I couldn't even listen to the games, but if the box score and various recaps around the 'net are any indication, Friday's game was a mere 10 seconds away from victory, and Saturday was a come-from-behind triumph after scoring 5 unanswered goals.

Nanooks leading scorer Kevin Petovello has been added to the injured list. I don't have anything to report at the moment, but that's two skaters off the top line that have fallen to injury. The 'Nooks roster is deep enough though that some of the guys that have filled the lower line roles have stepped up to do quite well. Sophomore forward Nik Yaremchuk was one of those players, as he earned himself a CCHA player of the week honor this week for nabbing four assists and a shorthanded goal in the series.

The Nanooks handed Ohio State their first ever loss at Nationwide arena, who are now 7-1-3 all time in that venue.

Like I said, it's kind of hard to recap games you haven't seen. So here are a few links to some recaps around the net.

USCHO: Weekend work-up (Weston)

USCHO: Friday Game Recap (Boggs)

USCHO: Saturday Game Recap (Boggs)

News-Miner: Alaska Nanooks Give Up Lead in Final 10 Seconds, Lose to Ohio State in Shootout (Martin)

News-Miner: Alaska Nanooks Prevail Against the Ohio State Buckeyes (Martin)

Again, my apologies for really dropping the ball in this series. I should be back in Fairbanks this weekend for the bye week, and I'll post some pictures and such of what I've been up to down here in Oregon.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving in Columbus - Nanooks Take On tOSU

Ohio State, a university known for football and basketball. Not so much for hockey. Their hockey program somewhat feeds off of the success of the others and nobody seems to really know who they are. After their head coach left at the end of last season, so did their top players. The Zac Dalpe and Hunter Bishop type players have departed and now OSU is struggling to find players to step up and start racking up goals. All 6 of the Buckeye's top scorers are all seniors, and just two of them have surpassed the 10 point mark. Sergio Somma, the Buckeye leading scorer this season, failed to gather a single point against the 'Nooks in their two meetings last year.

Both teams are looking to rebound off of a less than impressive outcome in their respective previous series. Ohio State won a nail-biter in overtime against Michigan State last friday, then the Spartans woke up and pounded them down 4-0. The NMU Wildcats continued their unbeaten streak against UA, but Greenham remained sharp as usual, allowing just two goals in the entire series. The 'Nooks just couldn't bury any of their offensive chances. I'm sure scoring was a point of contention during practice this week, and the 'Nooks took an early trip down to Columbus on Tuesday, so they should have had plenty of time to get acclimated for tomorrow.

Friday's game is at 1:45PM eastern time, so 9:45AM for those of you in Alaska. Saturday will be at a more normal 8:05PM eastern, 4:05PM Alaska. No video this weekend will be available, but Bruce Cech will have the call on 91.5FM KSUA, or online at http://ksua.uaf.edu.  Sorry though, no live tweets of Friday's game. I've embarked on a college football tour to watch my favorite team's last two games of the regular season, with the first game going on Friday. I'll have live updates on Twitter on Saturday though. Then I'll have a collective recap posted for both games on Sunday.

Go 'Nooks!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Northern Michigan Continues Streak, Alaska Falls 2-1.

This blog is so much fun when our guys win, but its not exactly easy recapping a loss. Especially when a lot of things didn't exactly go right. Coach Ferguson is pretty good at putting it all out on the table, but I didn't even go to the post game conference this time around (first time this season, actually). After the game was over, I didn't even really know what to think.

It's not like the 'Nooks didn't have their chances. With 42 shots on goal, chances were plentiful, but Reid Ellingson and the Wildcat defense stifled the 'Nooks offense all night. “We had some quality chances, but we just couldn’t get them in the back of the net,” Coach Ferguson said. Couldn't have put it better myself. Every chance we got up to the doorstep, Ellingson shut the door. Ronnie Meyers (who had a hell of a game, as per usual) had an excellent chance to bury one on a breakaway, but Reid Ellingson and that quick glove of his stopped The Cowboy cold.


It wasn't until 59:58.1 into the game that Bryant Molle buried the only Nanooks goal of the game, and his first goal of the year off of an outlet pass from Kevin Petovello, that was tipped to Molle as he was pinching down by Erik Slemp, who earned his first collegiate point. “Peto got the puck to the middle and it kind of deflected off somebody,” said Bryant Molle, “and I just kind of gripped it, and it looked like there was a little bit of space on the left side and I just shot it there.” I'm sure Ellingson wished he could have held on for the shutout. Close, but no cigar.


Northern's goals came from Andrew Cherniwchan, who waited for an opening through traffic and got one past Greenham. Justin Florek would get the eventual empty net game winner from behind his own blue line. Cherniwchan got his second point of the night, taking the puck away and getting it to Florek, who fired it down the ice, unimpeded for the score.


The Nanooks head down to Columbus for a chance to rebound against last place Ohio State. The Friday game is ridiculously early, at 9:45AM. With Saturday's game at 4:05PM. Alaska will then enjoy a week off, followed by another trip down to Big Rapids to close out the first half of the season against Ferris State.

The Nanooks are now tied for 4th in the CCHA standings with 16 points alongside Northern Michigan, 5 points behind 3rd place Miami. 


The Wildcats have extended their unbeaten streak against Alaska to 7-0-5-0. The Nanooks have won all 5 shootout tiebreakers in conference play. Shootouts, of course, are not observed by the NCAA at large...







Saturday, November 20, 2010

Lines For Saturday - Taranto Out, Slemp Steps Up

Andy Taranto has officially been added to the Nanooks injury list, citing a "lower body" injury that has become so commonplace in college sports these days. Erik Slemp has moved up to the top line with Petovello and Kunyk. Dustin Sather and Adam Henderson are back in the lineup, and Hohl has traded his jersey for the suit for the evening.

Back to Slemp for a moment... This kid has impressed me with his development so far this season. His speed and his puck handing have gotten exponentially better this season. It's good to see coach Ferguson reward him with top line honors. Hopefully we'll see him earn his first points of the season tonight.

#12 Alaska
F1 Kevin Petovello (C) - Cody Kunyk - Andy Taranto
F2 Colton Beck - Jarret Granberg - Carlo Finucci
F3 Nik Yaremchuk - Derek Klassen - Ron Meyers
F4 Ryan Hohl - Erik Slemp - Chad Gehon

D1 Joe Sova - Aaron Gens
D2 Bryant Molle - Scott Enders
D3 Kaare Odegard - Cody Butcher

G1 Scott Greenham
G2 Colin Rundell
G3 Steve Thompson

Injured:
Justin Daigle
Michael Quinn
Andy Taranto

Northern Michigan

Good lineup matches on both teams. Northern didn't do what I was expecting with their top scorers on the same line, which intrigues me a bit. The Nanooks lineup tonight is relatively unchanged. Some defensive line shuffles, along with the 4th line shift. Other than that, it's pretty consistent with these past couple of weeks.

#12 Alaska

F1 Kevin Petovello (C) - Cody Kunyk - Erik Slemp
F2 Colton Beck - Jarret Granberg - Carlo Finucci
F3 Nik Yaremchuk - Derek Klassen - Ron Meyers
F4 Dustin Sather - Adam Henderson - Chad Gehon

D1 Joe Sova - Aaron Gens
D2 Bryant Molle - Scott Enders
D3 Kaare Odegard - Cody Butcher

G1 Scott Greenham
G2 Colin Rundell
G3 Steve Thompson

D-men Justin Daigle and Michael Quinn are both still listed as injured.

Northern Michigan

F1 Justin Florek - Mike Maltese - Phil Fox
F2 Gregor Hanson - Erik Higby - Andrew Cherniwchan
F3 Stephan Vigier - Jared Brown - Tyler Gron
F4 Brian Nugent - Nicholas Kosinski - Jake Johnson

D1 Kyle Follmer - Scott Macaulay
D2 Wade Epp - CJ Ludwig
D3 Erik Spady - Austin Handley

G1 Reid Ellingson
G2 Jared Coreau

The Black Hole Gets Blacker, Nanooks Tie NMU, Win Shootout 2-1

The Nanooks, now 0-6-5 in their last 11 games against Northern, and 0-1-4 in their last 5 regular season games. I don't know what it is about Northern, but they always seem to have our number.

Regardless, our guys skated a good game. The first few minutes were a little rough, got down in some penalty trouble early and had to battle out of it. Shots were 7-1 in favor of NMU at one point in the first, but the 'Nooks dug deep and got things started offensively, and it paid off with a power play goal from Joe Sova off of a good feed from Kevin Petovello to go up 1-0 with about 6 minutes to go.

The 2nd period was a lot tighter, a lot faster, and a lot cleaner than the first. Passes were clicking and the flow of the game really picked up. Neither side could really bury any chances though. Greenham had a few spectacular saves (as per usual), but so did Reid Ellingson, including a real close chance between Carlo Finucci and Nik Yaremchuk on a 2 on 1. Ellingson had to be incredibly sharp with that glove, and he stood on his head and made the save.


The third opened up a bit, but both defenses were really keeping tight pressure, keeping the puck to the outside and staying in the lanes. The Wildcats were able to take advantage of a bad change on the 'Nooks part, and NMU leading scorer Tyler Gron took a centering pass from Kyle Follmer to tie the game at 1-1, which would be the eventual final heading into the shootout.

The Nanooks would take the shootout as well, with goals from Petovello and Beck to seal the deal, earning the extra point in the CCHA standings, keeping them in 4th place for the time being.

For those watching or listening to the game, you likely recall Andy Taranto skating off the ice early in the first period and into the locker room. Coach Meisner indicated a lower body injury for Andy that doesn't sound serious. He may be good enough to get back in it tomorrow.

As an update on the status of Quinn and Daigle, coach Meisner indicated that they were taking it week by week. "[Michael] has been skating on his own this past week. Hopefully that means he'll be back soon." Coach said that Daigle "...will be a little further out". Best of luck to these guys. Coach Meisner pointed out and said that a lot of guys aren't playing 100%, with Kaare Odegard just to his left, who look like he had shoulder pads made out of ice bags.

The 'Nooks hit it again tomorrow at the Carlson Center at 7:35PM. Don't forget about the Teddy Bear toss, either!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lines for Friday

Good lineup matches on both teams. Northern didn't do what I was expecting with their top scorers on the same line, which intrigues me a bit. The Nanooks lineup tonight is relatively unchanged. Some defensive line shuffles, along with the 4th line shift. Other than that, it's pretty consistent with these past couple of weeks.

#12 Alaska

F1 Kevin Petovello (C) - Cody Kunyk - Andy Taranto
F2 Colton Beck - Jarret Granberg - Carlo Finucci
F3 Nik Yaremchuk - Derek Klassen - Ron Meyers
F4 Ryan Hohl - Erik Slemp - Chad Gehon

D1 Joe Sova - Aaron Gens
D2 Bryant Molle - Scott Enders
D3 Kaare Odegard - Cody Butcher

G1 Scott Greenham
G2 Colin Rundell
G3 Steve Thompson

D-men Justin Daigle and Michael Quinn are both still listed as injured.

Northern Michigan

F1 Justin Florek - Mike Maltese - Phil Fox
F2 Gregor Hanson - Erik Higby - Andrew Cherniwchan
F3 Stephan Vigier - Jared Brown - Tyler Gron
F4 Brian Nugent - Kory Kaunisto - Nicholas Kosinski

D1 Kyle Follmer - Scott Macaulay
D2 Wade Epp - CJ Ludwig
D3 Erik Spady - Austin Handley

G1 Jared Coreau
G2 Reid Ellingson

Pound The Wildcats

The final home game of 2010 invites another team that we should beat, but its not that easy. Northern is the dark horse that our guys can never seem to cleanly beat. That needs to change this weekend...

The Wildcats lost their leading scorer from a year ago, Mark Olver, as well as top scoring defensemen Erik Gustafsson, to the pros. But notably returning are 30+ point scorers Gregor Hanson, Justin Florek. However, neither of these scoring machines have even topped 10 points this year. In fact, only one player on their roster is a point per game scorer. Tyler Gron scored 20 points all of last year, and he's over half way there to match that total with 11.

The most interesting aspect of the Wildcats that stands out is their penalty to points ratio. NMU's cumulative points total between all players is 75. 27 goals and 48 assists for 75 points. How many penalties? 77 penalties, for 220 minutes in 11 games, which averages out to 20.0 minutes per game, 2nd most in the country. So if statistics ring true, the Nanooks' power play units (3rd in the CCHA at 17.8%) should have plenty of chances to bury a few...

The Nanooks and Wildcats offense are tied for 7th in the CCHA at 2.25 goals per game, the difference is defense. Alaska has allowed just 2.25 goals per game (3rd) in the CCHA versus 3 goals against per game for Northern (9th). Taking advantage of that defensive lapse will be key. The 'Nooks history against Northern is not what anyone would consider "great", but Alaska is 3-0-0 against unranked opponents this year, and this is just the 3rd unranked opponent the Nanooks will face this year.

Be sure to check out the coach's luncheon tomorrow at the Carlson Center at noon in the Pioneer room. Coach Ferguson and coach Kyle will both speak over some good turkey.

Friday is also Skate with the 'Nooks. So for all the parents out there, get the skates out, lace 'em up, and bring them to the game on Friday. It really is a good time for the kids to get out there, hang out with the players and build lasting memories.

Since Saturday is the final home game before Christmas, its time for the annual teddy bear toss. This program is actually quite personal to me, and you can be sure I'll have a bear in hand to chuck over the glass.

Also, as a bit of unfortunate news, I won't be live tweeting the games as I have been all season. I'll be holding down PA duties this weekend, so if you're there, you'll get live scoring updates from me by using your ears instead of your phones! Don't forget to tune in to Bruce Cech calling the game on 91.5FM KSUA, or online at http://ksua.uaf.edu. You can also get live video of the games from AmericaOne (B2).

Predictions? Nanooks sweep. 3-1 Friday, 4-2 Saturday.

Monday, November 15, 2010

RoadRunners Captain Michael Hill Will Be a Nanook

Hill buries one stick side. Courtesy: Michael's father.
Topeka RoadRunners (NAHL) top scorer Michael Hill has inked a deal to put on the Nanooks sweater next season.

After getting a bit of a rough start with the Wichita Wildcats, he made his way to the RoadRunners and instantly became their leading goal scorer, teeing up 31 goals last season, an impressive stat that helped the team make their decision to name him the captain for the current season, and he's still rolling.

This season, he has a 16-13-29 scoring line in just 18 games, good for 5th in the NAHL overall. He's averaging 0.89 goals per game and 1.61 points per game, but he's a -1 player thus far. Considering his scoring, that makes things interesting. However, our defensive masterminds behind the bench shouldn't have a problem coaching him up a bit in the defensive side of the game.

You might remember the RoadRunners name as Aaron Gens' former stomping grounds. In Gens' final year with the RoadRunners (their first in Topeka, after moving from Santa Fe), he posted more than a point per game as the team's top scoring defenseman with a 12-46-58 line in 53 games before coming to Fairbanks. Now, Gens graces the top Nanooks defensive line with linemate Joe Sova.

The Topeka RoadRunners website has put together a pretty nice press release. Here's a snippet, but please jump on to the full release for more:

RoadRunners Head Coach / GM Scott Langer says, "Michael's every day work ethic is contagious. Most people see him for his ability to score goals, but he brings so much more to the ice than that." He added, "The coaching staff at UAF is well respected and will do a tremendous job in helping Michael grow as a player."

Hill plans on majoring in either physical therapy or kinesiology. With his junior resume, he had a few options to consider but chose UAF. "It wasn't easy", Hill said of the decision. "In the end, it was just like when I chose to return to Topeka. They really made me feel wanted and appreciated."
Full story.

Be sure to look for Hill in next month's NAHL Top Prospects tournament.

UPDATE: After the received comment of the Topeka Capital-Journal erroneously labeling the previous photo, Michael's father sent me a few and I swapped it out for the one now included above. The additional photos are included below as well.

 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Nanooks Rebound and Down Miami 3-2

Now THAT was a hell of a hockey game...

The Nanooks responded very well to Miami's physical play from a night before and took it to the Redhawks. Overall, the guys not only played physical, but played very smart. They didn't just run and try to hit someone, they made hits when it counted, but played the puck well and didn't get caught in a bad spot. Our guys did an excellent job plugging the shooting lanes with bodies and creating turnovers.

Credit to the Nanooks defense, as they didn't allow a single even strength goal. On the flipside of that, the 2 power play goals Alaska allowed on 6 chances actually amounted to quite the special teams effort. Miami has a great power play, and giving them 6 chances they're bound to get at least one.

On the first penalty to Kaare Odegard, Miami forward and NCAA leading scorer Carter Camper once again found himself in the right place at the right time, on the opposite side of a pass across the crease from Pat Cannone to go up 1-0.

Just after that, the Nanooks answered right back with an even strength goal. Nik Yaremchuk caught a nice pass from Ronnie Meyers on the rush to get the Nanooks first goal of the weekend, as well as the first goal ever on Connor Knapp.Credit to Ronnie Meyers for causing the turnover leading to this scoring chance that Yaremchuk was able to find twine with.

The second period wouldn't feature any scoring, but two very worthy plays worth noting. One was an absolute masterfully crafted hit by Kaare Odegard. He was called for charging, but I thought it was a perfectly clean hit as he flattened Alden Hirschfeld, who played the part of a ragdoll very nicely. The other would be a similar play but the other way. Ryan Hohl gave a little shove to Steve Spinell, who retaliated with a minor shove, and Hohl played it perfectly and grabbed his face and fell backwards drawing the penalty. Spinell went to the box for holding. Seriously Ryan, if this communications degree isn't working out for you, I'm sure the theater department would be glad to take you in. At the end of the 2nd, Petovello and Smith would get offsetting minors as the 'Nooks defended their goaltender. I like Miami's commentators comments on Bryant Molle's removal of Andy Miele from the back of Greenham: "Molle just ripped Andy Miele off of Scott Greenham like you would pull a weed out of the driveway". OK, its kinda dry, but funny nonetheless.

The 3rd period started off 4 on 4 for 1:21, but Andy Taranto would get called for interference after winning the faceoff, as he effectively prevented Carter Camper from doing... anything. Just 10 seconds into the box, he'd come right back out as Wideman blasted one from the point to go up 2-1.

But the Nanooks effort didn't cease, upping the pressure, getting pucks low, taking shots, and it paid off. Aaron Gens wound up and fired from the point which was blocked by a defenseman in front of the net. Cody Kunyk batted it out of the air back in front of the net and found Kevin Petovello by himself, who beat Knapp to tie it at 2.

Just a few minutes later, the Nanooks have a power play courtesy of Alden Hirschfeld, working the puck around the offensive zone. Just as the penalty expired, Beck wound up and took a shot on net that found its way in front of the crease past Connor Knapp, who didn't know Finucci was waiting for it on the opposite post who directs the puck nicely into the net, followed by a perfect rendition of "The Monkey", rubbing it in the student sections face, which I couldn't be more happy about.

With only one minute remaining, that quickly lapsed and the only thing left to do was for Greenham to raise his arms in triumph over Miami's student section, who had been harassing him for the entire evening.

A great game by the Nanooks, now 7-4-1, and 4-3-1 in CCHA play which puts them in 4th place with 14 points, just 1 point behind Miami and 3 points removed from 1st place in the conference standings.

The guys return to the Carlson Center next weekend to take on the Northern Michigan Wildcats, who have been somewhat inconsistent, but maintaining 5th place in the CCHA standings. A pair of losses to Miami, a sweep of Ohio State, followed by a pair of split series between Lake Superior and Bowling Green have earned them 12 points. Currently, the Wildcats have no victories over ranked opponents. Stay tuned to this blog further into the week for a more in depth preview of next weekend's series.

That's all for now. Good job to both Lance West and Brian Meisner for assuming the coaching duties this weekend and rallying the troops to pull off the split tonight. I appreciate your relief efforts in Dallas' absence. Again, my condolences to the Ferguson family.

Nanooks Shut Down, Shut Out by Miami

Some days, the bounces just don't go your way. Pat Cannone's pass gleans off of Klassen's skate and gets past Greenham. How do you stop that? Greenham didn't even see the deflection until it was too late, and Klassen couldn't do anything about it.

I give a lot of respect to Miami and their program, but our guys can play with this team. They just can't hang back and wait for Miami to make a mistake to start attacking, because lets face it, Miami doesn't make a lot of mistakes. They've got to up the offensive pressure, continue to get chances and bury a few. They had some good pressure during the third period, especially during the last power play in the 5:00 major to Matt Tomassoni. They maintained possession, and forced their will upon the Redhawks. Sadly, they still couldn't bury a goal despite the chances. Props to Cody Reichard as well, Fairbanks fans know from his time in Junior A for the Ice Dogs how good of a goaltender he is. Cody didn't leave many rebounds to do anything with. If he did, his aggressive style sent him diving left and right to cover up.

The Nanooks outshot Miami 10-2 in the third, with Miami playing a bit more conservative. Today, its going to be about keeping it out of our offensive zone and controlling possession. The guys will have to play a very clean game, and make few if any mistakes.

Assuming Miami does the usual goaltender rotation, the Nanooks may have more to worry about. Connor Knapp has played two games in net against Alaska, and has never allowed a goal. I prefer not to think about that statistic, but he's just as good of a goaltender as Reichard with a history of success against the Nanooks. I would expect to see him in net this afternoon.

Today's game, once again is broadcast live on Fox 7. This one starts at 3:05PM instead of 4:05PM  as it was yesterday. Of course, you've got the always reliable Bruce Cech on 91.5FM KSUA, as well as on the KSUA online webstream from http://ksua.uaf.edu

If you're out of town, you can catch video from muredhawks.com as part of a subscription deal with CBS College Sports TV.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Game Day

Also note that Quinn and Daigle are injured for Alaska...

Sadly, I haven't gotten any lines or releases yet from either side. Tomorrow, I'll be a bit more proactive and get an email to Miami's sports information director and see if he can send some information sent my way for my loyal contingent of fans that follow this blog.

Both games this weekend will be televised in Fairbanks on KFXF Fox 7. You've always got the radio on 91.5FM KSUA with Bruce Cech, as well as the free internet webstream available at http://ksua.uaf.edu.

For those out of town, you can stream the games from MURedHawks.com. They are also a part of the CBS CSTV All-Access program, so if you shelled out $10 for the month of service to watch the Michigan State games back in October, you will also be able to get the games this weekend against Miami as well (using the same login, in fact).

Lastly, I did want to extend my heartfelt thoughts and prayers to head coach Dallas Ferguson and his family in their time of need. It isn't really my place to share specifics, but I think I can speak on behalf of all of Nanook hockey fans, and the UAF and Fairbanks communities collectively in saying that we all wish them well and nothing but the best. It is my understanding from folks in the community that coach did not travel to Oxford this week. 


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Scouting #4 Miami

Outside of college hockey, I follow college football somewhat closely. One of the things I always find humorous is the Miami confusion. University of Miami from Miami, FL and... well... the other Miami.

I'm sure our team would much rather be on the beaches in Miami, but playing some hockey against another top five team might be just as appealing (well, almost)

In case you haven't noticed, Miami scores a lot of goals. An average of 4 goals per game to be exact, led in scoring by senior forward Carter Camper who has led a fantastic offensive barrage, leading Miami's top line, and all of college hockey with a 9-15-24 scoring line, good for an average of 2.4 points per game, which is best in the nation with a minimum 10 games played (3rd overall). But that's not it, Camper's senior linemate Andy Miele is 2nd in the nation, not too far behind either with a 6-13-19 line.

Generally speaking, these high scoring teams play a little more open and allow a few more goals than others, but no. Not Miami. Their 2.2 goals against per game nets them the 9th best scoring defense in the country, almost just as stingy as the 'Nooks 1.9 goals/game, good for 6th. Make no mistake, defense will be a key for this series.

Add emotion to that fact as Miami was pushed around in Big Rapids last week against Ferris State, who left Miami with just 1 point on the weekend for losing the shootout. Props to Ferris State though, hopefully our coaches got a copy of the video of that game. That said, you can imagine Miami might be a little peeved and poised for revenge.

Our entire roster will have to play a fast and positionally disciplined game. Miami makes a lot of passes in the offensive zone to get the defense confused. Combined with a strong rush, our defensemen will given a workout. The 'Nooks D has been pretty solid negating the rush and keeping their forwards from driving the net, and keeping the play to the outside. Once the forward has it in the slot area, Greenham will have to be up to his usual self to make the save.

With a limited number of guys on the blue line with Daigle and Quinn out, hopefully they don't play it too safe, but don't get injured at the same time. Coach Ferguson indicated that Daigle could be out until after the new year. Sounds like Quinn is progressing and has passed his medical tests, but coach didn't expect that he would be ready to make this trip.

If our defensemen can throttle their top line, I can see this series going our way. But if Miami's offense blows it wide open, it could turn into a shootout. This will be likely one of the marquee matchups of the weekend. Notre Dame and Michigan will be quite interesting, as will North Dakota and Wisconsin, but Miami and Alaska is the one a lot of eyes will be watching this weekend. Both games will be aired locally on Fox 7 in Fairbanks. You can stream the games online through MURedHawks.com (if you paid to watch the games at MSU, then you can still use that subscription to stream from Miami). And of course, you've always got Bruce Cech calling the action on KSUA 91.5FM, or on the internet stream from ksua.uaf.edu.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Nanooks Fall to Michigan 2-5

Joe Sova defending the rush
 It's unfortunate the score leads you to believe it was a blow out. It really wasn't, the game was really close, but unfortunately, officiating kinda got in the way. Instead of getting close with the 3rd goal by Scott Enders, the officials got a little trigger happy with the whistle and blew it dead. Had that gone well

Michigan clearly came out of the gates a little quicker than they did yesterday. They got on the board first with a goal from Louie Caporusso off a pass from behind the back red line from Kevin Lynch. I think Scott Greenham might have gotten interfered with a bit on that one, but the goal counted nonetheless.

Kunyk and Petovello cause a turnover.
The Nanooks were put on the rails a bit after 2 back to back penalties by Bryant Molle and Erik Slemp both went off for boarding, but Alaska would remain perfect on the PK for the weekend. With 31 seconds remaining, Chris Brown would go to the box for interference, a power play time that would carry into the second.

And with that time, the Nanooks capitalized and evened the score off of a blast from Sova, fed by a cross ice pass from Aaron Gens, to knot it 1-1.

Greenham makes the save.
While Luke Moffatt would get a score to go up 2-1, it wouldn't get on the board without a bit of review from the officials, who clearly didn't know what was going on. The new NCAA rules dictate that if the puck is deflected off a skate/body, the goal stands, however, if the puck is directed in, its no goal. This replaces the old kicking the puck rule, to include intentional direction. The play clearly showed Moffatt intentionally placing his skate in the path of the shot, and pushing outward to redirect the puck. It is a bit of a judgment call on the officials, but its one that they missed.

Greenham steers another one wide.
the best play of the second period wound up being a great feed from Bryant Molle to Nik Yaremchuk on the penalty kill to set up a 2 on 1 chance with Andy Taranto streaking down the right side. Nik made a terrific saucer pass that Andy was able to bring down and do what he does best. Needless to say, its again knotted at 2-2.

After that, the rest is kind of a blur. Something about three unanswered Michigan goals, including a Louie Caporusso empty netter, topped with a few bad calls (waved off goal included).




Nanooks travel to Oxford next weekend against a tough Miami team that only was able to take 1 point from Ferris State. I'll have to get some additional commentary up a bit later, but for now, enjoy the rest of the weekend.

More Photos from Friday

Ronnie Meyers forechecking Chad Langlais

Greenham stood tall all night long.

Taranto occupying Michigan's defense while Kunyk buries one off a deflection from Sova.

Derek Klassen provides the preamble to a Carlo Finucci goal.

Bryan Hogan was peppered all night long...

Michigan players helping out their goaltender. He obviously needed it.

Taranto again is found in his usual hangout while Sova rings one in past Hogan's blocker.

Michigan kept applying pressure, yet Greenham remained perfect.

Scottie gets the shutout in a 3-0 victory, even as Carl Hagelin tries to get UM on the board.

Photos courtesy of mmf. Check out more like this from his fantastic online gallery.

Saturday Gameday

The Nanooks have now lost a second defensemen. Sophomore Justin Daigle, who was on the line charts from last night, has officially been listed as an injury scratch for this evening. The lines for the 'Nooks are identical to last night. Greenham will get another start tonight, and Bryan Hogan is also listed as the starting goalie for Michigan, but one could imagine giving Shawn Hunwick a crack at the start tonight, but apparently not.

#14 Alaska

F1 Kevin Petovello (C) - Cody Kunyk - Andy Taranto
F2 Colton Beck - Jarret Granberg - Dustin Sather
F3 Carlo Finucci - Derek Klassen (A) - Ron Meyers
F4 Nik Yaremchuk - Justin Filzen - Erik Slemp

D1 Joe Sova - Aaron Gens
D2 Bryant Molle (A) - Cody Butcher
D3 Justin Daigle - Scott Enders

G1 Scott Greenham

G2 Colin Rundell

#5 Michigan


F1 Carl Hagelin - Louie Caporusso - Kevin Lynch

F2 David Wohlberg - Matt Rust - Luke Glendening
F3 Luke Moffatt - A.J. Treais - Chris Brown
F4 Scooter Vaughan - Ben Winnett - Derek DeBlois

D1 Greg Pateryn - Kevin Clare
D2
Tristin Llewellyn - Brandon Burlon
D3 Chad Langlais - Jon Merrill

G1 Bryan Hogan
G2 Shawn Hunwick 

Nanooks Blank the Wolverines Behind the Great Wall of Greenham, 3-0.

"Remember, remember, the 5th of November..."



Congratulations to Scott Greenham, who is now tied with Chad Johnson and Wylie Rodgers for the career shutout record with 7. Tonight also marks the second time in program history that the Nanooks have held the goose egg  against Michigan, and the Great Wall of Greenham was between the pipes to record both of those shutouts. "It's an honor to be in the same bracket as those two guys. They were both great goalies when they were here, and they're both having really good professional careers as well. It's great to be in the same category." Greenham said after the game.

Cody Kunyk off the faceoff leaves it for Kevin Petovello
After about 30 seconds of feeling out the Wolverines, the Nanooks took it to them. Pass after pass was intercepted off the forecheck and in the neutral zone, and the 'Nooks would just take it back and start running the offense again. Like I said on my preview, Michigan heavily relies on passes through the middle, and the 'Nooks just plugged those lanes with guys and took the puck away from them, and kept it in the offensive zone. The Nanooks attempted 29 total shots in that period alone, with 11 getting to the goaltender, and 1 finding twine from Cody Kunyk.

The second period wouldn't be much different. The Nanooks were causing turnovers, getting chances, and just 49 seconds into the 2nd period. Finucci did an excellent job forechecking the puck from Chad Langlais in the corner, and Derek Klassen picked up the puck just inside the blue line, got it back to Carlo Finucci just behind the back line, who skated right out in front of an aloof Bryan Hogan and buried his second goal of the year. "I was just the first guy there, and I just put some pressure on him" Carlo said during the post game conference. "I just finished my hit on him, and didn't know what had happened behind me, but I saw [Derek Klassen] had picked up the puck and I was just yelling at the top of my lungs. I don't think Hogan saw me behind him, and I was able to walk around him.".

Carl Hagelin hagglin' with the puck.
Carl Hagelin would be the next UM player to go through the seemingly revolving penalty box door for hooking. During the power play, the Nanooks were able to get the puck in the net...I thought. However the official said no goal, but

After Michigan's A.J. Treais went to the box, Cody Kunyk  made a pass from the slot area back to Joe Sova who blasted one from 70 feet out at the blue line above the left side faceoff circle that seem to pinball its way to the net. Not long after, the Nanooks first two penalties of the game came just 19 seconds apart, and Alaska's special teams were tasked with 1:41 of 5 on 3 penalty time to kill. I'll tell you what, the Nanooks defense stood tall. They blocked shots, literally occupied every shooting lane. When Michigan was able to find ways around them, Greenham was there to close the door.

Jarret Granberg gets the puck back on the forecheck.
Michigan would continue to pressure through the 3rd period, outshooting the Nanooks 10-6 through the final stanza. But again, most of the shots they took in the 3rd period (33 total) were either blocked by the defense, or shot wide.

Defense was the name of the game.
Michigan is a forceful type team, who seem to have a comfort zone of play. They rely on certain things to happen for their game to work and when a team like the Nanooks disrupt those types of things like strong neutral zone defense, and a strong forecheck leads to turnovers to Michigan's disadvantage. Their opportunistic style and strong skills make for a team that usually can dictate the flow of the game. Not tonight. Scott said afterward "a team like Michigan really likes to run and gun, and they like to dictate the pace of the game, so if you get on them early, and forecheck like we did, and get an early goal like we did, that kind of sits them back on their heels. They don't really like playing when they're behind, and if they get that first goal, then that's when they're really comfortable, and they start getting the pressure."


Tomorrow, expect Michigan to be a little angry. I would expect a more physical game from them, but who knows. Tonight was Bryan Hogan's first loss, and also Michigan's first CCHA loss of the season. With other top CCHA teams in Notre Dame, and Miami both losing tonight, the Nanooks are now in a three-way tie for first place in the CCHA standings. This shutout also puts the Nanooks in the number one spot in the country for team defense, at 1.56 goals per game. Scott Greenham owns the same average and is now 3rd in the country among all NCAA D-I goalies for goals against average (among goalies who have played a minimum of 33% of total team's playing time).

Again, this is a big win for the Nanooks tonight. Tomorrow's game will surely have a lot on the line, as Michigan makes some adjustments to try to get a win. The 'Nooks job is to not let that happen.

Photos courtesy of Paul McCarthy

Download a copy of tonight's post-game press conference.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Gameday

The coaches lunch went well this afternoon. Unfortunately, Red Berenson and Dallas Ferguson both were unable to make it, so it was kind of an informal speech with assistant coach Brian Meisner, and Bruce Cech. But a lot of interesting things to talk about no less.

Michigan vs. Alaska / November 5, 2010

 

Michigan

Alaska

 Michigan logoAlaska logo
Record4-1-35-2-1
Head-to-Head0-0-00-0-0
Goals28 / 3.5020 / 2.50
Goals Against19 / 2.3814 / 1.75
Power Play21.4%18.2%
Penalty Kill83.3%82.9%
Avg. Height / Weight5' 11.69" / 189.23 lbs.5' 11.26" / 190.67 lbs.
Avg. Age20y 8m22y 5m
CoachRed BerensonDallas Ferguson
Latest Results 10/30 vs. Ferris State ... 3-2 W
10/29 at Ferris State ... 2-2 T
10/23 vs. Nebraska-Omaha ... 6-1 W
10/22 vs. Nebraska-Omaha ... 2-4 L
10/30 vs. Bowling Green ... 4-1 W
10/29 vs. Bowling Green ... 4-1 W
10/23 at Michigan State ... 1-4 L
10/22 at Michigan State ... 1-1 T
Injuries

 
Team Scoring Leaders
 
L. Caporusso2-6-8
C. Hagelin3-5-8
J. Merrill1-6-7
S. Vaughan5-1-6
D. Wohlberg5-1-6
K. Petovello5-5-10
A. Taranto3-4-7
C. Kunyk4-3-7
J. Sova0-6-6
C. Beck1-3-4
 
Team Goaltenders
 
B. Hogan3-0-0 1.67
S. Hunwick1-1-3 2.68
S. Greenham5-2-1 1.73
 
More Info
Radio1050 AM WTKA91.5 FM KSUA
 NetcastNetcast
 RosterRoster
 StatsStats
 ScheduleSchedule
Recent Team vs. Team Result History


The lines from last weekend are pretty much the same. The 4th line is being rotated through, with some speed thrown in down there. Coach talked about the line ups this weekend during the luncheon, and how they translated from last weekend. Justin Filzen, who had a pretty good weekend with Erik Slemp will be paired again together tonight on that line with Nik Yaremchuk, so some good speed through there. Cody Butcher will be in on the blue line once again, and Justin Daigle will make another appearance. All 7 healthy defensemen will dress tonight in place of the injured Michael Quinn, with another potential injury mounting, the coaches will make a game time decision of who to start back in the blue line. Unfortunately, I don't know who that guy is, but after the game starts I should have a better idea.

#14 Alaska

F1 Kevin Petovello (C) - Cody Kunyk - Andy Taranto
F2 Colton Beck - Jarret Granberg - Dustin Sather
F3 Carlo Finucci - Derek Klassen (A) - Ron Meyers
F4 Nik Yaremchuk - Justin Filzen - Erik Slemp

D1 Joe Sova - Aaron Gens
D2 Bryant Molle (A) - Cody Butcher
D3 Justin Daigle - Scott Enders

G1 Scott Greenham

G2 Steve Thompson
G3 Colin Rundell


#5 Michigan

F1 David Wohlberg - Matt Rust - Chris Brown
F2 Carl Hagelin - Louie Caporusso - Kevin Lynch
F3 Jacob Fallon - A.J. Treais - Luke Glendening
F4 Scooter Vaughan - Ben Winnett - Luke Moffatt

D1 Chad Langlais - Jon Merrill
D2 Mac Bennett - Tristin Llewellyn
D3 Brandon Burlon - Greg Pateryn

G1 Bryan Hogan
G2 Shawn Hunwick 

Nanooks and Wolverines Square Off in Fairbanks

Fact: The Nanooks have won 11 straight games at home coming into this weekend.

Fact: Scott Greenham has allowed just 1 goal in 5 of his last 6 starts.

Fact: As a team, the Nanooks are 2nd in the country in scoring defense, allowing just 1.75 goals per game.

Fact: One of the primary predators of wolverines? Bears.

OK, so our record against Michigan isn't so good. But I'm not letting that deter me from writing this post as homerish as I possibly can. Because if there is one team I despise in college hockey, it's Michigan...

Time for a little target practice.
If our guys can come out of the gate and take it to Michigan like they did against Bowling Green, I think they've got the upper hand. Michigan had a bit of a struggle in a home and home series against Ferris State last week, getting a close win and a tie.

Alaska had what most would consider a pair of tune-up games against Bowling Green. It was perfect timing amidst the half way point of a very tough first half of the season schedule. Now, the guys are back against the grindstone against #4 Michigan (then on the road next week against #1 Miami). But let me tell you, if the 'Nooks play as good of a game against Michigan as they did Bowling Green, I can envision some points in the CCHA standings in our future. Even BGSU coach Chris Bergeron said "[Alaska] is strong and better than who we’ve played so far,”. And yes, they've played Michigan already.

Louie Caporusso, David Wohlberg, and Carl Hagelin are the three prime scoring threats for Michigan that need to be watched closely. The top 3 forwards have combined for 9 goals and 21 points this season. Senior blueliner Scooter Vaughn has netted 4 goals from his post already this season as well.

Historically, Michigan has relied on their point men to cycle the puck around the offensive zone, while their forwards scoot around looking for open ice. While these plays are typically successful in opening up shooting and passing lanes, they rely on some cross ice passes to be open to create chances. Getting pressure on the outside men and keeping the puck contained to the outside should keep Michigan at bay.

I remember watching the game against Michigan at the Kendall Classic in Anchorage last year. How many goals did Michigan score in that game? Zero. Our guys played a very defensive game, and Michigan outshot the Nanooks 23-11, yet couldn't get a quality scoring chance because of the defense. As I said before, Alaska is 2nd in the nation in scoring defense and we are going to have to keep it up to shut down Michigan's 3.5 goals per game average. If we are able to do that, keep an eye on their discipline and watch how frustrated their players get and they start taking bad penalties.

Us fans should be in for a solid series of hockey this weekend. Paula Weston, being the Michigan homer she is, picked a split. You'll notice I haven't called games in my previews much this year yet, but I'm looking for another sweep. 2-1, and 3-2 Nanook victories this weekend.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Nanooks Experience Déjà vu, Clip the Falcons 4-1

With an identical outcome, the game looked completely different. The Nanooks came out and completely dominated the first period, and ultimately the entire game, outshooting, outplaying, and most importanly outscoring the BGSU Falcons.

Goals for Andy Taranto, Adam Henderson, and Aaron Gens put the Nanooks on the board, with two of the three goals coming even strength, while the Nanooks defense allowed just two shots through to Scott Greenham, who might as well have been working on homework for the first 20:00. The Nanooks attempted 41 shots, getting 25 of them to the goaltender. Just a complete domination in the 1st, resistance to the Nanooks offensive pressure was futile.

Bowling Green sat in the box on three separate occasions, in which the Nanooks capitalized once off of a blast from the point by Aaron Gens. Overall the power play looked very good. 14 shots of the 25 that made it to the net were with a man advantage. The puck was moved well, and passes were connecting as guys were finding the open man. Words really can't describe the beating that the Falcons received through the first 20:00.

The second period would be about the same, but found a different aspect of the game to take control of. Physical play was dominated by the Nanooks, collectively throwing their bodies around, and making their presence felt. For the second straight night, Kaare Odegard jacked Ryan Viselli right into next week. Tonight, it was perfectly clean. Last night it was very close to clean, but Kaare caught a little bit of Viselli's head, which is exactly what these contact to the head rule changes this season are trying to eliminate, which led to Kaare's early shower. Cody Butcher had a few nice hits as well tonight, unfortunately though one of them would lead to an open area between the faceoff circles that Samuels-Thomas was able to squeeze a puck in to Camden Wojtala to cut the lead for Alaska to 3-1.

Aaron Gens and Andy Taranto would collaborate and regain the three goal lead, as T.O. buried a rebound left side from a hard shot by Aaron Gens to close out the scoring for the game.

The overall flow that the Nanooks were able to generate tonight was absolutely unreal. Fluid motion in the offensive zone, great cycling in the offensive zone, and great puck movement led to the 48 shots on goal, stemming from 94 attempted shots, and of course the 4 goals on the board. The special teams units this weekend were able to double their season stats this weekend, rising back to prominence.

A lot to be proud of  in a home sweep of Bowling Green, extending the Nanooks home unbeated streak to 11 with #4 Michigan coming to town next weekend.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Lines for Saturday - Finding Consistency

For the first time all season, the top three lines have remained identical. The 4th however got an overhaul. I thought Filzen, Gehon, and Slemp had some excellent chances and did some good work in the offensive zone last night. There were some lapses on defense, but nothing too bad. But, it is parent's weekend, so rotating some guys is good for the guys parents.

#18 Alaska

F1 Kevin Petovello (C) - Cody Kunyk - Andy Taranto
F2 Colton Beck - Jarret Granberg - Nik Yaremchuk
F3 Dustin Sather - Derek Klassen - Ron Meyers
F4 Ryan Hohl - Adam Henderson - Carlo Finucci

D1 Joe Sova - Aaron Gens
D2 Bryant Molle - Cody Butcher
D3 Kaare Odegard - Scott Enders

G1 Scott Greenham
G2 Steve Thompson
G3 Colin Rundell

Bowling Green

F1 James McIntosh - Camden Wojtala - Brett Mohler
F2 Jordan Samuels-Thomas - Marc Rodriguez - David Solway (C) 
F3 Chad Sumison - Jerry Freismuth - Brennan Vargas
F4 Mike Fink - Andrew Wallace - Ryan Viselli

D1 Max Grover - Ryan Peltoma
D2 Andrew Krelove - Jake Sloat
D3 Ian Ruel - Bobby Shea

G1 Andrew Hammond
G2 Nick Eno

Photos from Friday's Victory Over Bowling Green

The following photos are courtesy of mmf. See more in his online gallery.

Nick Eno sprawling to make a save on chance by Nik Yaremchuk

Nanooks captain Kevin Petovello scores his first goal of the evening.


Dustin Sather comes close on a semi-breakaway. This play would eventually lead to a power play chance for the 'Nooks

Nanooks staying sharp in front of Greenham
Kevin Petovello nets his second goal of the night, to seal the Falcons' fate 4-1













The following photos are courtesy of Paul McCarthy, Alaska Sports Photography

Chad Gehon maintains possession in the offensive zone.

Sova and Yaremchuk work on McIntosh on the backcheck.

Scott Greenham makes a save and covers up a shot by Jordan Samuels-Thomas

Nanooks Ground the Falcons 4-1

For a pair of special teams who didn't have exemplary stats coming into this weekend, it was Alaska who capitalized tonight. Three of the Nanooks four goals tonight were with a man advantage, and the Nanooks didn't let in a single goal on Bowling Green's 7 chances.

But... on to the recap...

The Nanooks got off to a very agressive start tonight. I said it before I saw the team play tonight that I liked the line changes, and I think it certainly paid off. The Nanooks put the offensive pedal to the floor tonight and didn't let up for the whole game.

The Nanooks would eventually get a goal on their 7th shot, as freshman Cody Kunyk took a centering feed on the rush from Andy Taranto, and Kunyk buried it, low stick side to go up 1-0. Cody Butcher would get an assist for leading the breakout on that one as well. It was a good goal on the rush, that was very good looking.

Not long after, Kaare Odegard would get an early shower however, as his hitman instincts kicked in and flat out leveled Ryan Viselli right in front of the Nanooks bench. That hit would earn a 5:00 major and 10:00 game misconduct accolades, sending Bowling Green to a power play that was outshot 2-0 over those 5 minutes. That's right, the Nanooks shorthanded unit pounded Bowling Green's power play, not even allowing a shot.

Turn that right around, and the Nanooks would score just 9 seconds in to their first power play, with just under a minute left in the 1st period. Kunyk won the faceoff, back to Joe Sova, who got it low to Taranto, who got a shot off that was blocked by Eno, and Petovelo buried the rebound.

Scoring chances abounded in the second period, but none found their way to the net. Shots in the second indicate that the Nanooks were getting it low, but unable to put one in. The Nanooks somewhat avoided their second period slump, but gave a few chances the other way. 3 penalties would be called on each side during the 2nd, yet, no goals were scored.

The 3rd period would change that, however.

Jarret Granberg got his stick in perfect position and caught a shot low from Scott Enders, and tipped it high about 10 feet in front of the goal and went right over the glove of Eno. This was one of my favorite plays of the night, coming from the point, and finding that shooting lane. Eno is a good goaltender. 4 goals allowed is not an accurate testament to how well I thought he played. Had he played average, the score may have been 6 or 7 to 1.

While BGSU would get the next goal and break Greenham's goose egg, the Nanooks weren't done...

Nanooks captain Kevin Petovello would get his second goal of the night off of a precision pass from freshman Cody Kunyk, and another quick power play goal, would seal the deal 4-1.

Special teams play was all the rush tonight, the Nanooks would move their overall totals from 9.7% to over 17% on the season.

Tonight's win extends the Nanooks home unbeaten streak to 10 games. And Kevin Petovello's first power play goal ties the program's fastest power play goal (9 seconds) in program history.

Good win for the guys, very convincing. Hopefully the 'Nooks can come out and do it again tomorrow. See you at the Carlson Center.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Lines for Friday

Tonight's lineup has a very intriguing personnel shift from weeks past. I'll leave your imaginations up to who you think that may be. I honestly really like the lines for tonight. This roster has a lot of potential and aside from a modification or two I would make, this has a lot of promise. A lot of scoring talent on these lines. Check it out:

#15 Alaska

F1 Kevin Petovello (C) - Cody Kunyk - Andy Taranto
F2 Colton Beck - Jarret Granberg - Nik Yaremchuk
F3 Dustin Sather - Derek Klassen (A) - Ron Meyers
F4 Chad Gehon - Justin Filzen - Erik Slemp

D1 Joe Sova - Aaron Gens
D2 Bryant Molle (A) - Cody Butcher
D3 Kaare Odegard - Scott Enders

G1 Scott Greenham
G2 Steve Thompson
G3 Colin Rundell

Like I said, a lot of potential here. We've seen the top line combine a few times so far on some special teams units, and they have been able to get some scoring chances. I thought Granberg and Taranto had some good chemistry starting to develop, but Kunyk and Granberg will swap spots. Chad Gehon and Justin Filzen will find their way back into the lineups. Justin had some solid play with a killer faceoff win percentage last season. Hopefully we'll see some good things out of him this weekend that should keep things going strong for him for the rest of the season.

On the defensive side, Cody Butcher will get a go tonight in place of the injured Michael Quinn, who is out with a "lower body injury" as coach Ferguson put it today in the coaches luncheon. Butcher has a hell of a blast from the point, clocked at nearly 100mph, should help get some pucks on net and will more than likely get some juicy rebounds.

Bowling Green

F1 James McIntosh - Camden Wojtala - Brett Mohler
F2 Jordan Samuels-Thomas - Marc Rodriguez - David Solway (C) 
F3 Chad Sumison - Jerry Freismuth - Bryce Williamson
F4 Mike Fink - Andrew Wallace - Ryan Viselli

D1 Max Grover - Reed Rushing
D2 Andrew Krelove - Jake Sloat
D3 Ian Ruel - Bobby Shea

G1 Nick Eno
G2 Andrew Hammond