After picking up another good comparison point against UAA with Union downing the Seawolves a game earlier, I was anxious to see the 'Nooks take the ice to play for their second consecutive Goal Rush title.
As you can imagine, Colorado College got off to a fast start, but took a quick check into the penalty box, to send Alaska to their first power play. Although the Nanooks didn't capitalize, they did get some chances but for the most part, Colorado College did a good job shutting down the lanes.
But after a few rushes back and forth, Joe Sova caused a turnover after CC got back to waive of their own icing call, Taranto started the breakout, getting it up to Granberg, who was accompanied very quickly by Nik Yaremchuk. Jarret wound up and fired a laser from the slot that Joe Howe got a glove on, but couldn't hang on to the puck and it bounced over the goal line. What partially contributed to this goal was Yaremchuks streak up the right side. He was behind the play, but Yaremchuk must have a Hemi powering those legs of his, he flat out flew up that side to get back into the play and Howe had to acknowledge his presence, which definitely helped Granberg's angle.
Not long into the second, the Tigers would get the equalizer as Jaden Schwartz, the first round NHL draft pick and expected by many to be the WCHA rookie of the year, scored on the power play off a rebound generated by Gabe Guentzel.
Closing out the scoring, Klassen collected a turnover, left it for Finucci who "...just tapped it in" for the game winning goal. Tiger netminder Joe Howe seemingly overcommitted to Klassen and could not get back in time and Finucci burned 'em for the score and ultimately the win.
What I saw this weekend was very solid hockey. The Nanooks are still finding their way for some offensive chemistry, but their defense, currently ranked 5th in the nation, is firing on all cylinders. Every defender played some very solid hockey. Aaron Gens and Bryant Molle each played a fantastic tournament. Unfortunately no points, but no minuses either which is key.
The guys are also playing with confidence, playing aggressively. Yes they are taking more penalties than the previous year, but they are attacking the puck, challenging for possession. Granted, certain penalties we could have done without. Taranto's minor he took in the 2nd probably shouldn't have been called. The interesting part is that I can say that without worrying about anything, but when Andy told that to the official last night, he would sit out for an extra 10 minutes. Maybe that's why the ref's shirts no longer have names on them...
Anyhow, do I think the penalties are a bad thing? Not entirely. Obviously, any time you give your opposition a man advantage situation its unfavorable, but if the penalty killing units can stay solid, then it can work in their favor. Just 7 goals have been scored against the Nanooks so far throughout 4 games. Just 2 of them were scored when we had all 5 guys on the ice, the other 5 goals were scored on a power play. 2 of the 3 goals North Dakota scored were from the power play, 1 of 2 Air Force's goals was scored on the power play. Both goals allowed this weekend from Union and Colorado College were from the power play. Take that how you will.
I thought this was a solid weekend for the Nanooks. A lot of fast paced hockey, with 2 good wins against great teams. Both Colorado College and Union lived up to their expectations, maybe Union a little more than I expected.
In terms of the game itself, since we aren't doing 3 stars yet until CCHA play, again I'll proclaim my own.
3rd star - Aaron Gens
Gens has made himself a force to be reckoned with. The top defensive line of Sova and Gens is the only line that hasn't changed so far this entire season. He's a key component to the Nanooks defense, and in both the power play and penalty killing units. I know he had votes for the all-tournament team, and probably should have been there.
2nd star - Jarret Granberg
Granberg almost had my vote as the unsung hero from Friday if it weren't for Ronnie Meyers, but you can tell Jarret is headed for a good year. He has literally been all over the ice this weekend, and an integral part of generating chances and maintaining possession for that top line. I should getting some video highlights here fairly soon, which will surely include this goal, which you have to see to really appreciate.
1st star - Scott Greenham
The Great Wall of Greenham kept the pucks out this weekend, that's for sure. Didn't quite get shut outs, but only allowed power play goals, one each between the two games. Really a stellar performance. Some of those centering passes from behind the net that Colorado College connected on may have been goals against any other goaltender. It took 2 rebounds around the crease on a power play before Schwartz scored the only goal for CC. Scotty would eventually be named the tournament's MVP as the Nanooks emerged victorious on Saturday. He sure got my vote.
For those interested, next year's Goal Rush will feature Mercyhurst and Nebraska-Omaha, and the 2012 Goal Rush will welcome Merrimack and North Dakota to Fairbanks. Again, next year's Kendall Classic will host Clarkson and Providence.