More like Lake....INFERIOR State. OK, just kidding. The Nanook fans really need to rally up for Lake State this next weekend. We're in 4th place now in the CCHA standings, but a lot of things will have to fall in line for Alaska to stay there.
Nebraska-Omaha is done for conference play, so they aren't a threat. If Lake State can channel their rage built up from this weekend against Northern Michigan, and sweep them, or at least hold them under 3 points (save for a shootout loss and a shootout win). Michigan needs to lose at least one point to Notre Dame this week, who is whole-heartedly trying to get a home playoff series, but can't get by the likes of Bowling Green, who took 5 points from the Irish this weekend.
Aside from the CCHA scoring system, the Nanooks are in 11th in the PairWise rankings, which will decide the top 16 teams to get to the NCAA tournament. That ranking, at this point in time....is...BIG! Of course, a lot can happen between now and Selection Sunday, but climbing the PairWise rankings rather than slipping this late in the season is a phenomenal thing for the program
Any how, on to the game recap.
Tonight, was a lot less lopsided then the score might indicate. The Lakers applied lots of pressure, and were able to generate lots of scoring chances. I haven't gotten an official copy of the full box score yet, but I'm willing to bet that Lake State attempted at least 80 shots, of which just 43 made it to the goal, but just one made it in.
Scott Greenham has been completely on top of his game recently. This weekend alone, he has stopped 72 shots of 73, with just one goal against, and a .500 goals against average (give or take for the empty net times), and one shutout speaks a lot. Scottie remained pretty modest in the post game conference, passing the credit on to his team for their defensive zone play. Agreed, the D played very well, but Scottie deserves a lot of credit of his own. As Coach Ferguson has been quoted several times as saying "its a goaltenders job to make all of the saves he is supposed to and a few that he isn't..." and that is exactly how Greenham played this weekend, and will likely get the goaltender of the week honor for it.
Rookie forward Jarret Granberg opened up the scoring on the power play in the first period, catching a nice feed to the center slot from Scott Enders and beating Lake State netminder Pat Inglis top shelf to make it 1 - 0.
Almost exactly 20 minutes later, halfway into the second period, Laker forward Will Acton scored the first Lake State goal of the weekend. An interesting play as well that I was pretty sure was going to get reviewed. A gentleman asked about that very same goal in the post game conference, about why it wasn't reviewed. Personally, I had a bad angle seeing it, but nonetheless, it was then a 1-1 tie.
From there, the Nanooks never looked back. Lake State really pressured hard in the offensive zone, but seemed to be too overzealous in the defensive zone and created a lot of chances for the Nanooks. Obviously, the shots on goal differential is very staggering (43-27 in LSSU's favor), but the Nanooks got all the goals.
Junior forward Dustin Sather later decided during a 5 on 3 power play chance to embarrass Laker defenseman Steven Kaunisto, and used him to deflect the puck into the net. Now, I'm pretty sure Sather was going for the pass to Andy Taranto in the slot, but for the sake of excellence, we're going to say he did that on purpose. But even this goal doesn't get goal of the game honors...
Freshman winger Andy Taranto beautifully picked off the puck out of the defensive zone and raced to the other end of the ice on a breakaway and deked Pat Inglis out of his pads and found twine with 1 second left to go in the penalty to Dion Knelsen for not only his, but the Nanooks first shorthanded goal of the season. And from there, the Nanooks just took off. That goal really propelled the team into the locker room and they took care of business.
Alaska had a few shorthanders last season, two by Dion Knelsen, one by Justin Filzen, Kevin Petovello, and Adam Naglich. But this season, Alaska hasn't had the shorthanded opportunities this year like they have in the past. Keep in mind, this year, the Nanooks are dead last, with the least amount of average penalty minutes per game, so the shorthanded chances haven't been as plentiful as they were in years past. Which, considering, is a great thing.
Down 3-1, the Lakers got a little feisty and pulled their goaltender with about 4 and a half minutes to play in the game. To their advantage, they had been controlling the puck pretty well and getting a lot of shots on goal during that time, but it was Dion Knelsen who broke out off of a steal and a pass from Andy Taranto to set it all up.
Now with their minds back, Pat Inglis gets back in between the pipes, and 23 seconds after his brother scored, Brandon Knelsen extends the lead to 4 off of a great shot fake and pass by Kevin Petovello to make it 5-1 Nanooks.
A great game, and ultimately a great weekend for the Nanooks heading into their third tournament, and likely the biggest in terms of rivalry, the Alaska Airlines Governor's Cup with the boys in green from Skankorage, who are riding a 4 game winless streak compared to our 6 game unbeaten streak. All records and stats go out the window for this next upcoming series, they no longer mean anything. Anything happens, and its going to be a wild ride this weekend, but more on that later on this week.
Congratulations to the team, this is a big win, and its great to see it happen in such great fashion.
Also, the post-game conference is available for download.