Saturday, January 30, 2010

Alaska Nanooks 2, Northern Michigan 3

The first period couldn't have gone as well as one would have hoped. The Nanooks really had problems keeping the pucks on their sticks. Northern got the early lead with a blistering shot that eeked under the crossbar. Referee behind the net waved no goal, video review said otherwise. Then defensive breakdowns storied NMU's next two goals, including a back-door type play that had our defensemen nowhere to be found. Mark Olver found himself with a lucky bounce as Greenham initially had him shut down, he tried the centering pass and it bounced right back to him with the empty net.

2nd period went MUCH better. Had some turnovers in the beginning of the period, but a much better period defensively. Yaremchuk connected with Meyers after he spun away from his defender and centered it to Ronnie who was tied up, but had a beautiful tip in, as Ronnie was able to put that puck on the top shelf. The Nanooks were able to come back and retake the shooting lead, but Stewart able to stop all but one of them.

3rd period began very balanced, but the Nanooks had the momentum going their way. It was back and forth for much of the period, but when it came down to the final minutes, coach Ferguson pulled Greenham and it was a flurry of shots from the Nanooks and Dion Knelsen netted his 100th career point with just seconds left. With Greenham still out of the net, the Nanooks poured on the pressure and came VERY close to tying it up in the final seconds.

After the Nanooks fell over in the first period (quite literally, in some cases), Northern Michigan lit the lamp 3 times in a short span, which woke up the Nanooks. Sadly, a 3 goal hole was too deep for UA to dig out of. Sadly, the lack of points caused us to not catch idle Lake State, who had a week off. Instead of moving back into 4th, the Nanooks fell back to 6th.

The situation just gets tougher and tougher for the Nanooks, who are having a tough time getting goals and standings points in the second half of the season. Granted, we still have garnered a point in every series so far this season, but that doesn't mean a whole lot unless we start taking more than one point, which is exactly what we have earned each weekend for the last 2 series, and got just two points in a series against Michigan, 3 against UNO. So out of 8 games, and a possible 24 points, the Nanooks have earned just 7.

The second half of the season is notably more difficult, but in order to succeed, you have to win, not tie, not lose. Win. Big series against Michigan State back in Fairbanks next weekend, and the Nanooks need to get some points in the standings.

Horrible first period negated a great effort in the second and third periods. Had the first 20 minutes gone a little differently, UA might be in a different position right now. But, that's the way the puck bounces.


Jason said...

Tough loss but a good gut check. Sadly enough, though, we're fighting more for a home playoff series now than we are a bye.

GoNooks314 said...

Very true. It would suck to see the playoffs on the road, despite getting the first round bye and home ice a season ago, despite worse scoring and considerably better defense and goaltending. I was thinking a few weeks ago how regardless of how the rest of the season goes, how much of a threat we can be in the playoffs. But the start of the second half has really gotten me concerned with our ability to win, especially when it counts. Tonight, they showed that they still have fight and it's obvious it's going to come down to the wire here at the end of the season.

Jason said...

We need to take care of business this weekend, but the following two series will pretty much decide the fate of our season. Luckily we have LSSU at home. I was proud of the guys for battling back both nights. If we can keep that resolve we will be in good shape. Hosting (and winning) a home playoff series would be a solid building block for next year.