Fact: Scott Greenham has allowed just 1 goal in 5 of his last 6 starts.
Fact: As a team, the Nanooks are 2nd in the country in scoring defense, allowing just 1.75 goals per game.
Fact: One of the primary predators of wolverines? Bears.
OK, so our record against Michigan isn't so good. But I'm not letting that deter me from writing this post as homerish as I possibly can. Because if there is one team I despise in college hockey, it's Michigan...
|Time for a little target practice.|
Alaska had what most would consider a pair of tune-up games against Bowling Green. It was perfect timing amidst the half way point of a very tough first half of the season schedule. Now, the guys are back against the grindstone against #4 Michigan (then on the road next week against #1 Miami). But let me tell you, if the 'Nooks play as good of a game against Michigan as they did Bowling Green, I can envision some points in the CCHA standings in our future. Even BGSU coach Chris Bergeron said "[Alaska] is strong and better than who we’ve played so far,”. And yes, they've played Michigan already.
Louie Caporusso, David Wohlberg, and Carl Hagelin are the three prime scoring threats for Michigan that need to be watched closely. The top 3 forwards have combined for 9 goals and 21 points this season. Senior blueliner Scooter Vaughn has netted 4 goals from his post already this season as well.
Historically, Michigan has relied on their point men to cycle the puck around the offensive zone, while their forwards scoot around looking for open ice. While these plays are typically successful in opening up shooting and passing lanes, they rely on some cross ice passes to be open to create chances. Getting pressure on the outside men and keeping the puck contained to the outside should keep Michigan at bay.
I remember watching the game against Michigan at the Kendall Classic in Anchorage last year. How many goals did Michigan score in that game? Zero. Our guys played a very defensive game, and Michigan outshot the Nanooks 23-11, yet couldn't get a quality scoring chance because of the defense. As I said before, Alaska is 2nd in the nation in scoring defense and we are going to have to keep it up to shut down Michigan's 3.5 goals per game average. If we are able to do that, keep an eye on their discipline and watch how frustrated their players get and they start taking bad penalties.
Us fans should be in for a solid series of hockey this weekend. Paula Weston, being the Michigan homer she is, picked a split. You'll notice I haven't called games in my previews much this year yet, but I'm looking for another sweep. 2-1, and 3-2 Nanook victories this weekend.