The story of the night tonight will go to Scott Greenham, who faced more shots than his Lake Superior State counterpart Mahoney-Wilson, but managed to stop all 32 shots he faced, posting his 3rd shutout of the season. Senior forward Dion Knelsen had a career high 4 assists in tonight's game, stepping up to 31 total points on the season, tying freshman forward Andy Taranto for the team scoring lead, and just two points shy of his career high total he put up in his sophomore season of 33. Tonight was Dustin Sather's second career multi goal game, scoring 2 of the Nanooks' 4 tallies of the evening. Dustin also registered his first career 3 point game, also notching an assist on Nik Yaremchuk's goal in the 3rd period.
Scott Greenham also posted his collegiate career high 32 saves without allowing a single goal in the game, earning his 5th career shutout, and his 3rd shutout of the season.
The Nanooks did have a great game, but the first period, Lake State definitely had the edge. As coach Meisner put it, they "dodged a few bullets" there in the first 20 minutes, but the Nanooks netminder was up to the task, stopping all 5 of the registered scoring chances put up by the Lakers. At the end of the period, defenseman Aaron Gens took an [ultimately] good penalty, getting called for hooking as time expired to stop an odd-man rush and a scoring chance. The first period concluded with both teams knotted at zero. Had Greenham not been on his game like he was, the score could have easily been 2 or 3 - 0 at the end of the first.
With that, the Nanooks started the second period down one, but the Nanook penalty kill stepped up and allowed just one shot on goal, a wide opportunity by Lake State winter Will Acton. Two minutes after the expiration of Gens' penalty, Lake State forward Chad Nehring spent some time in the sin bin for tripping. Just 17 seconds later, Dustin Sather connected off of a nice pass from Taranto, beating Mahoney-Wilson before he had a chance to shift. Dion passed up to Taranto from behind the net, and the Lake State defense left Sather alone and clamped on Taranto in the slot, who was able to find Sather, who had a wide open net to shoot at, ultimately knocking in the game winning goal.
This didn't end it by any means. The Nanooks scored two more times(!!) in the second period, all in a span of less than 10 minutes. Just over two minutes later, Andy Taranto would again notch the primary assist as the double team caged in, he fired back to the point, feeding Joe Sova, after Joe lined up for his shot, he blasted a laser from the point and rang the inside of the right post for his 5th goal of the season. A great goal set up by Andy Taranto, but what made this goal happen was Sather's play in front of the net. Dustin was tied up in front of the net with Laker defenseman Kyle Haines, but managed to time his screen perfectly, skating in front of LSSU's netminder to block his view of the puck, a common tactic by strong forwards.
After a faceoff just outside of the Lakers' zone, Bryant Molle was able to backcheck the puck out off a Lake State's players' stick, and found its way up to Dion Knelsen's stick and began a 2 on 1 rush. As Dion lined up for the shot, Mahoney-Wilson bit on it, and Dion saw Sather awaiting on the opposite side, and being the unselfish player he is, Dion saucered the pass to perfection, right over defender Simon Gysbers' stick, and Slats put it home. With that, the Nanooks capped off the second period now up 3-0.
With all credit due to Lake Superior State, they came out and really fought the Nanooks hard in the third period. The Nanooks outshot them 13-9 in the second period, but the Lakers really rallied hard and put up 14 shots that made their way to Scott Greenham, but that doesn't count the number of shots taken. The Lakers, by my count, threw up 31 shots in that period, meaning the other 17 shots were blocked by Nanook defensemen.
Senior defensemen Dustin Molle had a great night in that category, blocking a ton of shots (21 unofficially) and positioning himself well between his man and the goal, not allowing shots to even take place. And it was the Nanook defense that came up big in the third period, helping out their goaltender. It's because of their efforts that Greenham was able to get good looks at the shots, and forcing bad angled shots.
And it was Nik Yaremchuk who was able to capitalize on the flurry of shots there towards the end of the 3rd period that iced the game. Dion did what he was doing best, trying to hold the puck in the zone while your teammates make a line change (he's arguably the best in the CCHA in terms of puck possession and stick handling), but he dumped a shot on goal, and Nik Yaremchuk notched the rebound for his 5th goal of the season.
One thing I would like to give credit to is the Nanooks lower lines. The line of Klassen-Petovello-Brandon Knelsen was seemingly moved down to the 3rd line, but I thought this line did a fine job locking down the defensive zone. Occasionally, they had some struggles on the breakout, and unfortunately, when they did get the chance to rush up ice, they opted for the line change. But it's these lower lines that help their team stay in the game. I think the Nanooks are very well balanced this time of year. All aspects of their game have been tuned very finely, and its their depth that is keeping them in solid contention coming into the post-season.
I thought the coaches comments were pretty right on in tonight's post-game press conference. From now on, I'll upload recordings of it so you can listen in. Download tonight's post-game press conference recording.
Absent from the lineup tonight were Gehon, Bradish, Butcher, Rymut, Cardwell, and strangely enough, Scott Enders also wasn't dressed tonight.
The Nanooks will face off against Lake State tomorrow in their final CCHA game of the regular season at the Carlson Center at 7:05PM AKST. You can catch the game via the free KSUA web stream at http://ksua.uaf.edu, as well as the $7 B2 network video feed, available at B2LiveTV.com