Thursday, February 18, 2010

No. 20 Alaska Nanooks Take on Lake Superior State

The Lakers come back to town this week for the last series of the season for the Nanooks, which ultimately, will determine the fate of the team in the standings. This will be the last 6 points for the Nanooks to nab. The Nanooks sit in 5th place, tied with Northern Michigan, with UNO sitting in fourth place. Fortunately for Alaska, UNO plays Miami this week. Although I won't rule the Mavericks out, they are facing the number one team, not just in our conference, but in the country.

The theory is, if everybody above us doesn't get a single point in their respective remaining games, and the Nanooks get all 6, Alaska finishes 2nd. Where the reality is, well who knows. One could speculate a lot of things, but chances are possible that we get a first round bye and 2nd round home ice, but chances are better to get home ice for the first round. If we finish 5th, we get, more than likely, Bowling Green, which would be a welcome member to the Carlson Center...

But anyhow, let's get to this weeks' visitors, the Lake State Lakers....

Since the second half started, LSSU has had an issue with consistency. With a sweep of Robert Morris and Nebraska-Omaha to their name, they have failed to earn a W against the likes of Notre Dame, a team that has struggled to compete this season up to par with their previous runs. Besides getting downright embarrased by Miami (who now has scored 12 or more goals in two consecutive weekend series), they have had some interesting weekends, including a split with Ferris this past weekend. Their last 6 games, Lake State has amassed 11 goals, just under two goals a game, that includes two back to back 4 goal performances, one in a win over Ferris, one in a dramatic loss to Miami 4-10.

The Nanooks split with the Lakers early in the season, but the tides have changed and the circumstances are definitely different this time around. The Nanooks are now riding a 4 game unbeaten streak, where as Lake State is coming off of a fresh loss to Ferris State. Some argue that streaks can state advantage. I somewhat disagree, but I'll take the advantage if there is one.

Alaska is 17th in the nation now in penalty kill (83.9%), Lake State is 34th (17.9%, 1 place above Alaska at 17.3%) in the power play. What really separates the two teams this weekend is going to be scoring margin. Alaska sits in the positive, Lake State is in the negative, meaning more goals have been scored against them than they have scored. Not a good category to be in. Alaska is teetering on that line as well, but for now, we are on the plus side at +0.1 (Lakers are at -0.12 (also, just for good measure, Anchorage is 53rd of 58 at -1.29)).

On the whole, I see Lake State as a team that Alaska should sweep. LSSU is always a respectable team, but a lot is at stake here. Here is my predictions for this weekend.

Friday:      3-1 W
Saturday:  4-2 W

UPDATE: Tonight is also skate with the Nanooks, the last one of the season, so if you haven't had a chance to get out and meet the players, tonight is the last night to do so. So if you wanna bring your skates and lace 'em up with the guys, come down after the game and hang around. The Face Off club is said to have a cookie supply brewing, so bring your sweet tooth!

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