Sunday, February 28, 2010

Nanooks Claim 9th Governor's Cup Victory, Complete Sweep of Seawolves 3-2

The Nanooks Celebrate With Their Latest Accolade

Well, that was interesting. during my time in Fairbanks, I've never seen a coach throw things on the ice, much less while the puck is in play, and subsequently jump over the boards on to the ice and get into a rage over a call that shouldn't have been made in the first place.

Yes, I know why Shyiak went off. He wanted a penalty shot much like one that was awarded in a similar play the night before to Brandon Knelsen after he was rung down on a hooking call by Sean Wiles. Why was no penalty called? Because no penalty was committed. I was standing no more than 15 feet behind the goal, and had as good of an angle at the play as the referee did. Tommy Grant did not make a shooting attempt, and Sova made a play for the puck, rather than solely roping down Grant for the sake of stopping the shot like Wiles had done.

The big event that led to Shyiak's little tantrum spawned from a penalty shot that could have easily been called, but just could have easily not been called when Bryant Molle knocked down Kevin Clark. Interesting penalty was called for holding, that at least I thought would have been called interference. I suppose if it was interference, a penalty shot might have been automatic. But regardless, both were headed for each other, a collision was going to happen, and the referees could have called it a couple of different ways, including awarding the penalty shot to Clark.

Regardless of the issues that occur on the ice, your coach should express his emotions, but contain them enough so as to not get out of hand, which is exactly what happened. I would expect the WCHA to have a word or two on the subject, just as they have with the infamous Gwoz (Denver University head coach George Gwozedecky) twice this season for similar outbursts. I'll be interested to see what happens with this development.

As far as commentary goes, the saying goes that your team is an image of its coach. I can see exactly how that fits. Anchorage leads the nation with the most penalty minutes per game at 21 headed into this weekend. If the coach can't keep his own emotions in check, how can anyone expect the team to maintain discipline. As a player, Dave Shyiak had 80 minutes in penalties in 36 games played in his final season with Northern Michigan in '91. Nothing substantially outrageous.If the now New York Ranger and ex-Nanook Aaron Voros didn't set the record for penalty minutes (132 in his final season with Alaska), I'd be surprised.

Some contrary attention should go to Coach Ferguson, who not only maintains his own composure when it counts, but leads his team to be the least penalized team in all of division 1 college hockey. The Nanooks have had our own share of bad calls at the hands of the consistently inconsistent officiating that has been made a well known appearance in college hockey. I didn't think the referees made any unfair calls (or no calls for that matter). It is kind of hard to see in the TV broadcast, but the referees called a fair game.

Not to be overshadowed, if anyone saw the hit Brad Gorham put on Justin Filzen at center ice knows a game disqualification will not be enough justice for putting a sizable gash on Justin's face. I specifically looked for Justin during the post-game conference and his face was certainly decorated. The hit was clearly blatent and intentional. Had Gorham not been thrown out of the game, I probably would have thrown my water bottle across the ice and jumped on thrown a tantrum...

On the same note, I also thought the checking from behind call laid on by Dustin Molle was rightful. That had to be called. I don't think Dustin intended for it to happen like that, but Dustin, easily being our biggest player had the size and strength advantage over Sean Wiles. Easy call for the refs to make. Both Hill and MacInchak had their arms up, and an easy 5:00 major. Very reminiscent to Bryant Molle's penalty from Joe Louis Arena last season in the CCHA championships, in the 3rd round against Michigan that sent him to the locker room early.

Anyhow, as far as the game goes, you could definitely tell the game was a different story Saturday. Much more defensive, much more opportunistic than Friday's match. 2 of the 3 Nanook goals were as the Nanooks forced UAA netminder Jon Olthuis to go side to side as Sova, Brandon Knelsen, and Dion Knelsen all scored for the 'Nooks.

Things got a little tight in the third period as you could tell. Shortly after UAA head coach Dave Shyiak was sent packing for a game misconduct and ultimately a 2 minute minor that gave the Nanooks a 5 on 3 power play that took all of 15 seconds for senior Dion Knelsen to capitalize off a rebound and took the score up to 3-1.

With just 2:35 remaining, Dustin Molle took a costly 5:00 major and a game misconduct for checking from behind. UAA got one goal in with the goalie pulled and netted their only power play goal on 6 chances, score now 3-2.

Now, game is tight, with UAA's goalie (and coach) pulled, the crowd rose to the occasion and nearly deafened me as the seconds rang down, and Dion Knelsen nearly got the cross ice empty netter that just went off the post. As the clock struck 0, the horn sounded, and the Nanooks are once again Governor's Cup champions.

This series has a few more implications than just the Governor's Cup. With the sweep, the Nanooks pick up a few more comparison wins and move up to 8th in the PairWise rankings, as teams like Denver and North Dakota merely split with the Seawolves. The Nanooks also become the first team in Alaska to sweep all 3 Alaska championship tournaments (UAA's Kendall Hockey Classic, UA's Brice Alaska Goal Rush, and the Alaska Airlines Governor's Cup) in the same season, earning the "Alaska Tournament Hat Trick", a term which I am coining.

The Nanooks now take a 9-8 advantage in the 17 year history of the Governor's Cup (which the Alaska Governor was absent from presenting....again). I suspect that this may begin another streak of Governor's Cup wins for the Nanooks.

But this win is only a spec on the goal for this years team. They are gunning for a CCHA championship, and potentially a deep run into the NCAA playoffs. The Nanooks now have the second longest unbeaten streak in Division I hockey at 8 games (6-0-2), outscoring opponents 29-12 in that span headed into the first round of playoff hockey. This coming weekend, the 5th place Nanooks will host 12th place Western Michigan in a best of 3 tournament for the first round of the CCHA playoffs at the Carlson Center.

Other notes: With a 5 point weekend, freshman forward Andy Taranto is now second among division 1 rookies with 1.15 Points per game. Goaltender Scott Greenham is now just 53 seconds shy of 2,000 minutes in net. The Nanooks have handed the Seawolves their 20th loss. The Nanooks 7 goal performance is the most since Alaska put up 8 against Air Force back in October of 2006. Despite having a smaller arena, and an even smaller town, the Carlson Center saw 4,459 fans (not quite an official sellout as there are 4,595 seats in the arena), compared to 4,362 fans seen in Anchorage, which by estimate, about 500-600 fans were Nanook fans, compared to about the 30-40 fans in Seawolf gear I spotted at the Carlson Center.

Dallas also made a different stride, breaking the mold and taking the entire team out to the post game conference after the win. If you didn't get a chance to listen over the radio broadcast, as I've been doing recently, you can download it here. Included is a little girl's confession of love for Dion, and another great song sang by Jack Townsend. This one is about 20 minutes long, so be ready.

Dion Knelsen was also featured in the CCHA's 10x3 feature. He's the 3rd Nanook player this season to be interviewed.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Nanooks Rally, and Drown the Seawolves in Their Own Barn 7-4

Nanooks Enjoy a Tasty Seawolf Dinner

"What's a Seawolf?" ...... "UA_"...... Whatever cheer you want to go with, in the end, its the final score that matters, and tonight, the Nanooks were the better team. What better team for the Nanooks highest scoring game of the season to go against? Yeah, none. Miami could have been favorable, but sticking it to Spanchorage leaves a delectable after-taste in my mouth... one of... victory.

I give all the credit in the world though to the Anchorage team, I do. They forced us to play their game. They played a hard nosed check-heavy game that the Nanooks stepped up to, and, ultimately, beat them at.

Honestly though, my heart kind of sank when ACC jumped out to the early 0-2 lead, the first of which, you can probably question. But all I could think was "here we go again..." But no. Not this time. The Nanooks battled back. Andy Taranto played a big role in this win, and expect the Seawolves to target him tomorrow (err, tonight, since its after 1AM) and put two guys on him. Any how, I'm getting distracted. Number 29 took off from this point forward and lit his first of 3 lamps tonight off of an interesting play in front of the net on the power play. It looked like Dion had shot it, and Andy picked up the rebound from where I was sitting, so that's what I'll go with, but this is just the beginning. Taranto's first goal was the first of a round of 4 unanswered goals for the 'Nooks.

Just a little over 3 minutes later, it was Ronnie Meyers that knotted the game up at 2, and would be the first even strength goal of the night as Chad Gehon made a very sweet pass in traffic on the rush across the crease. On the same note, I like how Kurt Haider decided this goal went to Jarret Granberg, who wasn't even on the ice. Not to mention his endless mistake with Justin Filzen's last name, who he constantly called "Filzer" throughout the game. I guess an N and an R look a lot alike, right? Not.

But it was Brandon Knelsen and captain Derek Klassen that broke that tie on a 2 on 1, and the Nanooks never looked back. Brandon rotated out on the rush, saucered it right over the defenders stick, and Klassen put on the brakes on at the right time, in the right spot, and it deflected off of his skate into the net.

Skating into the second, just shy of 6 minutes in, UAA winger Sean Wiles roped down Brandon Knelsen on a breakaway chance with one hell of a hooking penalty that spawned a penalty shot. Now Brandon's brother Dion has had a lot of the spotlight in these types of situations, but Brandon, with his first 1 on 1 opportunity, I wouldn't say embarrassed Christianson, but definitely made him look pretty bad as . All of a sudden, Nanooks are now up 4-2.

UAA forward Kevin Clark would end that unanswered goal run, and bring the Seawolves back within 1, making it 4-3. 3:59 later, Dustin Sather would be left completely alone within 10 feet of their goal would catch a nice pass from Dion Knelsen and had an open net to shoot at on the backdoor, and he buried what would eventually turn in to the game winning goal on the power play, which was a work of art. The power play goal would take just 19 seconds to tally up. Which would end play for the second period, which the Nanooks scored twice in, despide having just 4 shots on goal (keep in mind though, one was a penalty shot).

With the Nanooks now up 5-3, Kevin Clark would again bring the game in close. But two goals, numbers 2 and 3 for Andy Taranto just 12 seconds apart from each other to seal the 7-4 victory. Andy Taranto who has got a seriously loaded stick, and showed it again tonight for not only his second career hat trick, but his second hat February just two weeks apart..!!

The Nanooks shamed the Seawolf netminder and forced in 7 goals on just 19 shots. That is a .632 save percentage for Bryce Christianson... Yeah... Expect to see Jon Olthius tomorrow...

Greenham allowed 4 goals on 27 shots, for a .852 save percentage. Not his best outing, but he was definitely solid.

If you weren't in attendance at the Sullivan Arena, the Nanook fans in attendance was seriously magical. A group of about 80 students spread across about a section and a half, the voices of these fans were unreal. I was sitting just above them in section 119, and I couldn't believe how loud they were the whole game, it was unreal.

During the intermissions, I played guest host with premier sports radio commentator Bruce Cech, which I hope to become a regular thing, talking a little bit about the game, but a lot about the atmosphere of the Sullivan, which was a bit more packed in than normal, but a lot of Nanook fans in attendance too, so that probably filled the otherwise empty seats.

One other thing I was pretty disgusted to hear about tonight was the defecation that was the photoshopped version of the Nanooks logo on broadcast television really pissed me off. Some ACC student probably thought it would be funny to alter the logo, but it was extremely rude and distasteful, and I will likely see to it that this issue gets escalated. This is a rivalry, I understand that, but editing our trademarked logo, and broadcasting it that way for the entire game is not a joke. Blowing it up even larger and displaying it on our players roster cards after they scored was also vastly inappropriate and seriously hope that action is being taken.

Regardless of it all, Spanchorage lived up to its name and took a beating. The Seawolves generally play a much tighter game on Saturdays so I expect to see a lower scoring type of game, but in the end, the cup is still coming home to its rightful bearers.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Governor's Cup Prognostications

I noticed Donald posted a video of a bunch of polar bears falling from the sky, mocking the introduction video that has given our team national attention. I tried to find a similar video to post... but since the nobody knows what the hell a Seawolf is, that makes it kind of hard. I found a video about a U-Boat, but that doesn't explain the fugly green piƱata that occupies a mostly empty 6,000 seat arena.

All pleasantries aside, UAA should be a team where we've wiped the ice with them enough where the Zamboni driver's job becomes irrelevant. But alas, these rivalry games prove to be a series to test the mettle of these Alaskan teams.

Alaska is riding a 6 game unbeaten streak headed into this series, ACC is riding a 4 game winless streak, and have won just two of the last eight.

The 17th annual Governor's Cup series is currently tied 8-8 since its inception, with the Seawolves holding on to the cup for the last 3 seasons. The Nanooks hold the longest consecutive cup streak at 5.

I will say the Nanooks and the Seawolves could not be farther separated in any statistic like they are penalty minutes. The Nanooks are 58th of 58 teams in Division I college hockey, at 9.4 penalties in minutes per game. Spanchorage? 1st in the NCAA with 21.0 per game. That is over an entire period without a player. I know they got a little heated down in Denver a few weeks ago, and I think the teams short tempers play a contributing factor.

OK, so where are the teams at? The Nanooks are currently ranked 17th in the USCHO/CBS College Sports poll, which is the second week in a row being ranked since dropping out on January 11th. The Nanooks have been ranked in the top 20 13 times out of the 19 polls that have been released so far, and have been mentioned in the other teams receiving votes category for the remaining six polls. Not factoring in the PairWise (because it means exactly nothing until March 24th), looking strictly at RPI and KRACH (arguably my favorite comparison tool), the Nanooks sit 17th and 15th respectively. The Seawolves at 31 and 36. Now, I'll give credit where credit is due, ACC has the 4th most difficult schedule in all of Division 1 hockey. Getting so much as a single win all season is nothing short of a miracle. The interesting thing is, schedule difficulty is gauged directly on the strength, not only of the teams you are playing against, but also the win-loss record of your previous season. I've heard tons of Spanchorage fans use their schedule difficulty as a crutch, but with a team that has finished under .500 for over 10 years, playing Robert Morris every game could potentially be the most difficult schedule ever, especially since Robert Morris already beat the Seawolves early this season.

The Nanooks defense is pretty stout again this year, allowing just 2.31 goals per game, good for 2nd in the CCHA and 6th in the NCAA. The Nanooks penalty kill is an efficient 84.8 percent, which is 15th in the nation, allowing just 20 power play goals all season. The Seawolves scoring defense, is again, on the exact opposite end of the spectrum, at 6th worst (or, if your half full glass type of person, 53rd best) at 3.73 goals against per game.

I could go through every stat in the book and spell out in oblivious detail that the Seawolves team is sub par, but I won't, this series should prove my point for me. Here's the tale of the tape.

Tale of the Tape

Alaska vs. Alaska-Anchorage / February 26, 2010



Alaska logoAlaska-Anchorage logo
Goals85 / 2.6672 / 2.40
Goals Against74 / 2.31112 / 3.73
Power Play18.5%12.6%
Penalty Kill84.8%80.3%
Avg. Height / Weight5' 11.37" / 191.96 lbs.6' 0.89" / 191.56 lbs.
Avg. Age22y 4m22y 11m
CoachDallas FergusonDave Shyiak
Latest Results 2/20 vs. Lake Superior ... 5-1 W

2/19 vs. Lake Superior ... 4-0 W

2/13 at Ohio State ... 3-3 T

2/12 at Ohio State ... 4-1 W

2/20 at Minnesota State ... 3-4 L

2/19 at Minnesota State ... 2-5 L

Injuries Brad Gorham (knee)

Team Scoring Leaders
A. Taranto13-21-34
D. Knelsen16-16-32
D. Sather9-11-20
N. Yaremchuk5-15-20
J. Sova5-14-19
K. Clark17-13-30
T. Grant7-14-21
S. Wiles9-8-17
J. Lunden7-7-14
K. Lafranchise2-10-12
Team Goaltenders
S. Greenham14-9-9 2.17
S. Thompson0-0-0 3.53
J. Olthuis7-12-2 3.60
B. Christianson3-6-0 3.75
D. Sidor0-0-0 6.00

I would like to stay here and extensively ridicule Anchorage, but I don't have to, they take care of all of that for me. I will, however, close with a comment spotlight, taken from the comments from some of my recent posts.

Alaskan_XL said...

From the "Tradition" link on UAA's pathetic website:

The Seawolf
UAA’s athletics teams were originally known as the Sourdoughs, but the university adopted the Seawolf moniker in 1977 when it elevated its program to the NCAA Division II level.
The name Seawolf represents a mythical sea creature that, according to Tlingit Indian legend, brings good luck to anyone fortunate enough to view it. The exact nature or shape of the Seawolf, however, is left to the imagination, thus the creature has been depicted in many forms throughout the years.
The Seawolf logo of today was designed and introduced in 1985 by Clark Mishler & Associates in cooperation with a university committee. It represents an adaptation of a more traditional Alaska totemic-like characterization of the mythical Seawolf.


So --

"Brings good luck to anyone fortunate enough to view it". This infers, then, that it does not bring luck to itself, but rather to not itself; thus, it brings luck to everyone else. Everyone else, by definition, includes the Nanooks.

Thanks for the good luck, Spanchorage - not that we'll need any with you pansies on the ice --

Warbird said...

Hey diddle diddle,
Lookit' ACC piddle,
Seawolf defeat will come soon,
The Nanook fans will laugh to see such sport,
As we engulf them like a typhoon!

I love it. Now I can finally go to bed. I'm headed out early in the morning and heading to Los Anchorage for this one. I've been told that the bus full of students is 100% full, so expect them to be louder than the rolling tumbleweed that is the Anchorage student section.

If you aren't making it down to Anchorage, hopefully you'll make it over to the Princess Lodge for the dinner and wine tasting, as that may be your only available option to see the games live.


Friday 4-1 W
Saturday 5-0 W

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

ACC Blog Finds Hard Work, and Training Impossible

Many of my readers also take a gander or two at the ACC Fan Blog, and word got to me that a recent posting by my esteemed blogging cohort to the south has taken a stab at some of the Nanook players. If you'd like to read his article before I continue, feel free to do so.

Now, I could go on and retaliate by doing the same thing about the Seawolf players (trust me, the numbers are there), but I digress. Knowing and watching these players over the years, it's pretty obvious to me that they train very hard. I don't think any school is an exception, obviously, they all train, and even more obvious, every athlete develops differently.

When Dustin Molle left UAA (after going 6-27-3) and came to Fairbanks for his sophomore hockey season, he was only mildly intimidating. Now, standing next to him, he scares me. Everything that Donald said in his blog comes directly back to hard work and dedication on and off the ice.

I know I've only been at this whole blogging thing for a little less than a full season, but during this time, I've had a chance to get to know a lot of people affiliated with the program, including a vast majority of the players. All of the players I have spoken with all exhibit the same drive to succeed.

One team member I think deserves a lot of credit isn't actually a player. The Nanooks' strength and conditioning coach, Mike Curtin employs a no-nonsense eat right, train right philosophy (one that I should probably follow myself) and pushes the players as much as he can. I've talked with MC several times, and although he is an extremely friendly guy, I know he means business.

Donald alludes in his post that the coaches have cut corners and lied in their weight reports, which also shocks me. Sure, UAA has the tallest team/5th heaviest team, but how well has that served them? Not very well at all. It has been well over 10 years since the Seawoofs have posted a winning record, and now at 10-18-2, their hopes for breaking that streak have been extinguished. Some will argue that its because they play in the "most elite conference in college hockey". Save it. CCHA teams are 13-11-4 against WCHA competition this season.

But in the end, the only result that matters is your overall record. Dallas and his coaching staff, for lack of better verbiage, have lifted and elevated the level of the Nanook program, and took a 9-21-5 team in 07-08, and improved to 17-16-6, and things are looking better this year, including a potential run into the NCAA tournament, which would be the first ever in school history. Coach Shyiak? At an overall record of 50-104-21 in his 5th season with the program, maybe that is improvement?

I'm usually not one to spew trash talk, but I think in this case I will probably make an exception. Further GovCup postings to come...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Nanooks Nearly Sweep Players of the Week Awards

Dion Knelsen                           Scott Greenham                         Andy Taranto
Player photos courtesy of

After the dust has settled, the CCHA has named 3 of the 4 player of the week awards to Nanook players. Likely the first in school history

Offensive Player of the Week:
Dion Knelsen, Alaska
Sr., F (Three Hills, AB)
Knelsen had a goal, four assists and a +3 rating as Alaska swept Lake Superior. All four of Knelsen's assists came in Friday night's victory.
Defenseman of the Week
Matt Bartkowski, Ohio State
So. (Pittsburgh, PA)
Bartkowski had an assist in each game for Ohio State against Western Michigan, including the assist on Friday's game-winning goal.
Reebok Goaltender of the Week
Scott Greenham, Alaska
Fr. (Addison, ON)
Greenham made 74 saves on 75 shots faced in Alaska's weekend sweep of Lake Superior. Greenham earned his third shutout of the season Friday night.
CCM Rookie of the Week
Andy Taranto, Alaska
F (Woodridge, IL)
Taranto had a goal and four assists for five points on the weekend against Lake Superior. His lone goal was a short-handed marker, the first of the season for the Nanooks.
It's unfortunate that they based the defenseman of the week based on their offensive production. Either of the Molle brothers, Gens, or Sova easily could have won as well. If I had my choice, Dustin Molle would have gotten the honors, but that's how it goes. Matt Bartkowski is a great defensemen for Ohio State, who probably deserves the award, but hey, I can be selfish, right?

Congratulations to not only the players that were recognized, but to everyone on the team. As any one of the three mentioned above would say, it was a team effort this weekend that produced those results. That's exactly what it's going to take to get through the CCHA, and potentially the NCAA tournaments and prevail.

The Nanooks climbed the USCHO and INCH polls to 17th and 18th respectively at the end of CCHA play in a 2 game sweep of Lake Superior State University.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Nanooks Sweep Lake Superior State, Scott Greenham with 42 Saves

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! 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.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


I wanted to take some time today to write a bit about tradition. If you listened to the post game conference on the radio, or via my recording in the last post from last night's game, a gentleman asked the coaches "...what is your initial reaction to some of your most passionate fans getting kicked out of the Carlson?"

After the conference was over, I was approached by three individuals asking about the incident that occurred. After pursuing some information, it came to my attention that a few students (somewhere between 2 to 4 students, this info wasn't consistent) were ejected from the Carlson Center for...banging on the boards...

A very nice gentleman, a retired UAF professor and a long time Nanook hockey fan approached me and expressed his disdain for the situation. He stated that he had been coming to Nanook hockey games for several years, and banging on the glass with your hands  had never been a problem, it had always been hitting the glass with your feet that got you in trouble. Apparently the same adage doesn't ring true today.

Now, I understand that the boards are old, and I'm sure they might be prone to breaking, but I have a bit of a problem with the students, dubbed the Carlson Crazies, not being allowed to hit the boards, especially with two of the biggest games of the season occurring in that building in the next 7 days.

Don't get me wrong though, I'm not advocating that the students try to make it their personal goal of breaking the boards, they need to make it through the end of the season. But at the same time, I don't want the student section to turn in to a church.

I want to see the boards live to the end of the season, but I also want to see them hit. I don't believe the Carlson Center staff should be kicking students out for being passionate about their school and the sport of hockey. The sport of hockey in general has a tradition of loud and rowdy fans. The Carlson Crazies, arguably louder than any arena out there (yes, I've been to Yost, we're louder, but they're more vulgar), need to come out in full force and cheer on their team. The Nanooks need three more points tonight, and the fans can be a big help getting them.

Nanooks Drown the Lakers 4-0, Greenham, Sather, and Dion Knelsen with Career Nights

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, as well as the $7 B2 network video feed, available at

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!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tuesday News Day

Lot's of stuff going on this week in the world of Nanook hockey.

First off, the Nanooks are back in the top 20 in the USCHO/CBS College Sports poll, conveniently enough, in the number 20 spot. Inside College Hockey pegs the 'Nooks on the bubble, just outside of the top 20 spot, instead going with Northern Michigan in the 20th spot, who faced the Nanooks 4 times, going 1-0-3-1 against Alaska, winning a game, and winning one of the 3 shootouts (again, NCAA rankings don't count shootouts, so officially, Alaska is 0-1-3 against NMU this season). Alaska is tied with defending national champion Boston University in the Pairwise rankings, sitting just outside the tournament at #18. Don't count anybody out though. Lake Superior at the Carlson this week, at the culmination of hockey week in Fairbanks is set to be a big game for the Nanooks. It's their last of the regular season, and ultimately, this series could determine who gets the coveted fourth place spot in the CCHA, and could determine who gets home ice for the second round, and a first round bye.

Secondly, lets talk Governor's cup.

If you ARE going to Anchorage for the game down there, you can get a room at the Hampton or Hilton Garden Inns. The rates are $109 + tax on Thursday and $99 +tax on Friday night.  The Hampton Inn direct number is (907) 550-7000 and The Hilton Garden Inn is (907) 729-7000, just mention that you are there for the UAF/UAA game when you get in-house reservations.  Both of these hotels are located on the corner of Tudor and C Streets.

Nanook fans generally sit in the odd numbered sections at the Sullivan.  i.e., sections 109, 111, 113, 115, etc if you can get tickets down low, or 209, 211, 213, 215, etc. if you can't get closer.

The Alumni Association is also hosting a pre-game social at the Lonestar Steak House (also near the corner of Tudor and C Streets.

KFXF FOX-7 is doing a promotion to send two fans to the Governor's Cup in Anchorage. It includes Airfare for two, Hotel and game tickets. To enter the contest go into Kendall (formerly Auto Service Co.) on Johansson and Danby and sign up, once a day, every day. The drawing will be held this Friday
afternoon (20th).

If you can't make it down to the first Governor's Cup game Friday in Anchorage, you are invited to attend the 5-Course dinner and/or wine tasting at the Princess Riverside Lodge. The hockey game will be televised live during the dinner.  The dinner is from 6-8 p.m. And includes - Chile & lemon shrimp with crispy beet slaw, hearts of romaine with goat cheese dressing & crispy prosciutto, Chorizo stuffed chicken breast with sherry vinaigrette served over sauteed asparagus spears, grilled pork medallions & braised red cabbage with apples & onions served over grilled mushroom polenta, and, Raspberry trifle with white chocolate ganache.  Each course will include an accompaning Townshend wine. Cost of the Dinner is $100 per person.

Or if you want to come for the wine tasting from 7-9 p.m. You can enjoy the game and a variety of appetizers while sampling a fine wine selection provided by Specialty Imports.  The cost of the Wine Tasting & Hors d'oeuvres is $35 per person.

Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Patty Center ticket office (8:30 - 4:30 daily) by calling 474-5977 or at Gavora's fine wines at 250 3rd St. (Wine Tasting only).

Monday, February 15, 2010

Nanooks Skate to a 3-3 Tie, Drop the Shootout 1-0

Could Carlo Finucci find a better time to score? Likely not. His 3rd period game-tying goal capped off a 2 goal rally for the Nanooks, taking the game to overtime.

A lot of credit is due for Ohio State. They really upped their game Saturday, and the Nanooks were on the responding end all night. After Ohio State went up 3-1, I thought for sure it was going to be a mirror opposite of Friday's game (including the 1st responding goal, which I found slightly humorous).

After OSU scored goal number 3, the Nanooks took that as a kick in the pants and got in gear. I don't think they came out flat. Often times, if teams don't get a great start out of the gate, bloggers and beatwriters alike will accuse their teams for skating flat. I don't think that was the case. I think OSU came out very strong, and I think the Nanooks were caught a little off guard. OSU started very physical and got a pretty early goal. Alaska responded just 32 seconds later, but that deadlocked the two teams at 1 a piece for the next 30 minutes of hockey.

Well into the 2nd period, two unanswered goals gave OSU that coveted two goal lead, but the Buckeyes have recently been notorious for giving up two goal leads, as they have done so in their most recent 4 games after they've lead by 2 or more. Dustin Sather had a pretty sweet goal, beating netminder Dustin Carlson over the glove.

Then, with three minutes to go in the 3rd, on a crucial power play chance, Carlo Finucci buried one off of a rebound from Scott Enders to knot the game up at 3, which would take the game to overtime.

Shots were basically even in overtime, but that doesn't really tell the story. UA's two shots on goal weren't very quality chances, where as 2 of OSU's 3 shots on goal were pretty decent scoring chances. Fortunately, Greenham stood tall.

Coach Ferguson opted for a varied shootout lineup from his typical combination, electing to go with Petovello (who had a good shootout chance a few weeks ago), Dustin Sather, and Carlo Finucci. Dion has been struggling in that area in recent shootouts (save for the one against MSU, Palmisano just made a great play) and its good to give other guys some chances to shine and go one on one.

After the Nanooks' first 4 point weekend on the road, Alaska sits in 20th place on USCHO/CBS poll. INCH puts Alaska on the bubble, hovering just outside of their proprietary college hockey power rankings.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Nanooks Stifle Ohio State 4-1 as Taranto Gets A Hat Trick

I gotta say, I love the production value of yesterday's game. The Big Ten network definitely talked up the Nanooks and didn't make excuses for Ohio State. Rather than recap the game, BTN did the job for me. Check out the video below.

So they did get some facts wrong. Taranto may not have had a multi-goal game streak going in to the weekend (Dion scored all 3 last weekend against MSU), but Taranto's hat trick marks the first hatty since Curtis Fraser netted 3 goals in a losing effort against Bowling Green back in 2006. That year, there were actually 3 hat tricks scored, Fraser had the last one, and Kyle Greentree had two hat tricks that season, one against Nebraska-Omaha, and one against Lake Superior just 3 weeks apart.

What BTN didn't show at the end of that video was a very unselfish move as Dion Knelsen had a clear shot at the empty net, but aware of his surroundings, Taranto was on his wing, Dion passed it out to him towards the wall, and Taranto shot it in for his 3rd of the evening.

A great night for #29. His parents made it out to Value City Arena for the game yesterday, and watched their son go to town on the Buckeyes. If they were wearing hats, I'm sure to bet that they weren't wearing one as they left that night.

Although yesterday's game was on Big Ten Network, today's game will not be. Hockey will get bounced in favor of collegiate basketball. If you'd like to follow the game, you may listed to Bruce Cech's always reliable radio broadcast on 91.5FM in Fairbanks, or streaming online at - I will also be Tweeting most of the game on my Twitter feed as always, but may not be able to tweet the entirety of the game due to other obligations.

Here are a few other recaps from yesterday's contest.
Big Ten Network
Danny Martin's Recap - DNM

Expect a different look from OSU tonight. The Buckeyes went with Cal Heeter in net yesterday, and I don't expect that decision to stick today. The Nanooks have really tightened up their game, and its going to take every bit of skill that OSU has to beat UA tonight.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Nanooks vs. Buckeyes - Last Road Test of the Season

Sorry for the late posting on this, but better late than never. This weekend, the Nanooks do battle against the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus in yet another crucial series for the Nanook's hopes for a first round bye. In a Thursday-Tuesday series against Bowling Green, Michigan eked past Alaska into that coveted 4th place spot, leading by two points (37-35). Michigan takes on UNO this week, who also has 35 points, as if every weekend in the past few weeks hasn't been interesting, this one will be especially.

Ohio State, just second to last place Bowling Green, has allowed a whopping 76 goals this season, for a 3.455 goals against per game. That isn't exactly what I would call a tight defense. On a related note, the Nanooks sit in 5th place, the highest of any CCHA team who has allowed more goals then they've scored. The fact that we have 7 CCHA ties, and winning 4 shootouts, has helped us earn crucial standings points.

Last week, against MSU, Coach Ferguson stressed puck support, not leaving any Nanook player alone battling for the puck. That worked very well against Michigan State to maintain puck possession. The one point of the game coach is stressing this week, neutral zone play. In the Michigan State series, the Nanooks had a hard time maintaining puck possession in transition, coughing it up to a strong Spartan backcheck.

Make no mistake, Ohio State may be in 10th place, but their team can score goals. Two OSU players have the 1 and 2 spots in the scoring lead atop the CCHA, and Zac Dalpe is a force to be reckoned with. The Nanooks have our own stars. Last weekend, Dion Knelsen scored 3 goals, rocketing him to a 13 goal total, tied for the CCHA conference goalscoring lead. Andy Taranto is still leading the rookie scoring race in the CCHA, topping Michigan's Chris Brown by 4 points.

Paired against OSU, under Dallas Ferguson, the Nanooks have a 5-3-1 record against the Buckeyes. The two met 5 times last season, which the Nanooks exited the season with a 3-2 record, including two shutout performances by now-NHL netminder Chad Johnson. OSU goalie Dustin Carlson is 3-4 against Alaska in his career, however, sources point to the possibility, and ultimate probability, that the Nanooks will see Cal Heeter for the first time in net at least once this weekend.

This is the last of the Nanooks 50,858 miles worth of travel this season. The race for 4th is still really tight, and the Nanooks are still in it. Technically, 2nd and 3rd can be thrown in the mix too, but MSU and Ferris would have to fall on their faces to fall out of the top four. There are still 12 points to be had in the CCHA. After OSU, the Nanooks return home for their final CCHA bout before the playoffs, taking on Lake Superior State, at the culmination of Hockey Week in Fairbanks.

My take for the weekend? The Nanooks earn a precious 6 point sweep, just their second of the season.

Friday:      3-1 W
Saturday:  3-2 W OT

This weekends games are being broadcast on the Big Ten Network. So, if you're like me and don't have a dish, you can check out the games in the Nanook Lounge inside the Patty Center on campus, or you can kick back with a basket of kick ass hot wings at Tubby's BBQ, and watch the games in HD.

Since OSU has a stuck up relationship with Big Ten Network, they refuse to allow a B2 feed, nor give the video feed to any of our local stations to show the game in town. So unless you have a dish with the sports package, if you want to watch the game, you're out of luck unless you want to go to one of the aforementioned places.

But, as usual, you can always count on Bruce Cech for the radio play by play in Fairbanks on 91.5FM, or streaming online at

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Governor's Cup - Calling All Students

UAF students, if you want to go to Anchorage to watch the demolition of the UAA hockey program, $30 gets you a bus ride to Skankorage and back, a ticket to the game, some type of Anti-UAA t-shirt, and a noise-maker or two. UAF Student Activities has reserved a section of 100 seats at the Sullivan Arena right behind the Nanooks bench, and for those that want to sit in that section, you can contact Cody Rogers with UAF SAO at or by phone at 474-6026 to purchase a ticket for $10, much less than face value. Granted, once you get to Los Anchorage, you have to provide your own housing, and transportation to and from the game and your housing location.

The bus will leave Friday morning, likely pretty early, from the UAF campus. When I spoke with Ms. Rogers this afternoon, I neglected to ask for the bus schedule, but rest assured that you'll leave Friday with plenty of time to get to the game, and you will leave Saturday morning with plenty of time to get back for the game in Fairbanks.

One note to add, when you get off of the bus in Anchorage... you are no longer affiliated with a UAF program.

Okay, maybe two notes to add. The Seawolf picture included above is quite old, however, it since been re-spotted...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Nanooks Tie the Spartans 1-1, Drop in the Shoot Out

The Nanooks skated a hard 60 (+5) minutes of hockey tonight. They had great shifts, and never fell into a lull. Michigan State battled very hard, put a lot of pucks on goal, but the difference maker there was the defense and Scott Greenham stood very tall and, as coach Ferguson has been quoted as saying, its a goaltenders job to block all the shots he's supposed to, and some that he isn't supposed to, and Greenham did exactly that this weekend.

MSU more than doubled their shots on goal tally from the previous game, throwing up 33 shots. Greenham was up to the task, stopping all but one of them, a slap shot from the point by Petry off of a rebound with a man advantage. MSU had a couple of scoring chances, including one going off of Greenham's mask, and a blistering shot from the slot that likely chipped paint off of the crossbar.

Dion's goal was very opportunistic. He reeled in a pass from Dustin Sather, and very quickly wristed the shot top shelf over the blocker side of MSU goaltender Drew Palmisano.

The key point to this evening though was defense. Coach Ferguson stated during the post game that the Spartans were very skilled at breaking out and getting the puck across the ice. Well, sure, but once you get it there, it's kind of hard for a team to set up in the offensive zone when you've got 2, maybe 3 defenders collapsing in and moving the puck the other way.

One thing I'd like to give credit to is UA's special teams. We are one of the only schools left in NCAA Division 1 to yet allow a shorthanded goal. Granted, we haven't scored a shorthanded goal yet this season either, but Taranto, Dion Knelsen, and Derek Klassen all had shorthanded scoring chances tonight. Our power play and penalty kill aren't the best in the nation, but respectable in their own right, and very much improved over last season.

A lot of MSU's shots were forced I believe and not very opportunistic. A lot of the shots they took were either bad angles, or they just threw it on net simply because there were bodies and traffic in front. They had a few good flurries of shots that forced Greenham to change into desperation mode as they got in tight, but he got the job done.

After the game went into the shoot out, I thought the Nanooks had an excellent chance, winning the majority of the shoot out opportunities so far this season. Ryan Hohl nailed the hard wrist shot over the glove, and actually hit Palmisano's glove, but it bounced up and in. Taranto had a good chance, tried to squeeze one through Drew's legs, but, that hole closed very quickly. Dion and his dangling wizardry attempt was thwarted as Palmisano poked the puck as Dion made his deke. I caught up with Dion after the end of the game, and he didn't seem all to happy with the outcome of that opportunity, but you win some and you lose some. Big kudos to Dion too, out of 14 faceoffs handled, he won 11 of them. Definitely a great stat to have.

This weekend series ended with the Nanooks earning 4 points in the standing, moving them from 7th place, back up to tied for 4th place with Nebraska-Omaha. Don't let that fool you, or go to your head, because the difference between 4th place and 10th place is 4 points... Who is in 10th place? Why, that would be our next weeks opponent, Ohio State. Every game, and every point counts as the season comes to a close in a rush for a playoff round on home ice, and potentially a first round bye.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Nanooks Take 3 Points, Shutdown and Shutout High Powered MSU Spartans 2-0

A valiant effort tonight was demonstrated at the Carlson Center, and the Nanooks get back into a 2 way tie for 4th place in the CCHA standings, right up with Michigan, who have 3 games in hand against UA, with 11 conference wins.

MSU took an interesting stance and did not start their starting goaltender, Drew Palmisano, and went with Bobby Jarosz, who is finishing out his senior year. He appeared pretty solid, and the two UA goals, he didn't really have a chance at.

I could summarize the goals, but I think Dion does the best job, as said in the post game conference; "Both of my goals, I was just in front of the net with my stick on the ice. I had a couple of really nice passes from Andy and Aaron". When asked about the close call for the hat trick, Dion commented that he had broken his stick, and he was using Nik Yaremchuk's stick, so that was his excuse. I can understand that. His shot was only off by just a few inches. The Easton S19 that he typically skates with is a pretty specialized and fine-tuned stick. If he was slashed and it broke, I'd be yelling at the guy that did it to foot the ~$250 bill for a replacement.

Assistant coach Brian Meisner said during the conference that the team has been focusing on aggressiveness, keeping the hammer down in recent history, which is exactly what I think is key for this team. If you saw the end of that game against Northern Michigan last week, you would have seen at the end of the 3rd period exactly the kind of pressure that the Nanooks can put on a team. During that period, all 5 guys on the ice were working together and working hard. In unison, the team worked together and very nearly came back from a 3-0 deficit to tie the game at the end. The Nanooks played like that all game. They kept pucks out of the middle and to the outside, gave Greenham the easy looks, kept the Spartans out of the crease, and out of Greenham's vision. More importantly, they generated a lot of chances.

Playing like they did tonight, it would be very tough for even the best of teams to beat the Nanooks. If Alaska can keep up this drive, and use their motivation to keep that same mentality alive, the Nanooks will be a very difficult team to beat in the playoffs.

Tomorrow, UA better come to play. This was the first time this season that Michigan State has been shutout, and I'm not so sure they are going to lay down and take it. Who knows, maybe they will. But another three points this weekend will do nothing but help the Nanooks as this race through the standings is incredibly tight, as these three points earned tonight catapulted Alaska from 7th to 4th.

Tomorrow's game will be televised nationally on several networks, so be sure to check your local listings for all of you out of state folks. The game will also be on B2 networks, so you can watch the game there online, for $7. KSUA internet streaming radio is, of course, always available as a free alternative.

And as always, you can follow my Twitter feed to get live updates during the game. One of my followers even said I was faster than the internet streamed radio. Also, just a big thanks to all of my readers here and my followers on Twitter. It's the Nanook community that makes this worth my time. I don't make money for this, I do it to give some more exposure to the team that we all love.

I'll see you at the game tomorrow.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Dion Knelsen Named as a Hockey Humanitarian and Lowe's Senior CLASS Awards Finalist

Image credit:

Dion Knelsen, one of the greatest characters I've met in recent history, has been named a finalist for the prestigious Hockey Humanitarian Award, which awards those who demonstrate character by reaching out and helping the community in some way. The Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award is presented each year to the outstanding senior NCAA Division I Student-Athlete of the Year across nine different sports. The acronym “CLASS” stands for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School™.


During his first six semesters at Alaska, Knelsen has made the Chancellor’s List five times.  He maintains a 3.98 grade point average.


Knelsen regularly attends a Wednesday night Christian group called Remnant Christian Fellowship (an evening get-together service for young people).  He has led and plans to continue leading the music fellowship.  In addition, Knelsen attends Bethel Christian Fellowship and participates weekly in Bible study with other athletes that include UAF hockey alumni and some of his current teammates.  Coach Dallas Ferguson says, “He has tremendous values that represent integrity, honesty and loyalty.  With respect to his character, it is second to none.”


Knelsen has participated in “Nooks for Books” by reading at local elementary schools to young students.  He has volunteered with Sports Night at the Denali Center, which is Fairbanks’ assisted living home for senior citizens.  Other community efforts include volunteering time with Big Brothers Big Sisters and going to work with Habitat for Humanity.  In 2008-09, he was a volunteer with Connie Seekins’ therapeutic riding program that offered handicapped individuals the opportunity to ride horses on a weekly basis.  Additionally, he served as a co-sponsor of a child in the Dominican Republic.  Coach Dallas Ferguson says, “Dion is always the first guy to volunteer in any situation that he can.”


In 2008-09, Knelsen played in all 39 games and led Alaska in scoring as a junior with 22 points.  He was CCHA Offensive Player of the Week for October 13th after he earned MVP honors of Alaska Anchorage’s Kendall Hockey Classic D1 Tournament.  During Knelsen’s sophomore season (2007-08), he played in all 35 games and led Alaska in scoring with 33 total points.  Knelsen had a very successful freshman season as well.  He was one of only a few collegiate hockey players to be named to Canada’s 2007 World Under-18 team that competed in Tampere and Rauma, Finland.  Knelsen was named Player of the Game on April 14, 2007 after scoring two goals and two assists in Canada’s 9-1 win over Latvia.  Back with his Alaska teammates, he was named Alaska’s Top Rookie and an honorable mention CCHA All-Rookie team selection.  In addition, he was named Rookie of the Week on October 16, 2006, with two goals and three assists in an 8-4 win against Air Force.  Knelsen accomplished all of these feats his freshman year while he was the second youngest player in the CCHA and second youngest player in NCAA Division I hockey. 

I can't argue with these nominations in any way. Dion is not only a great skater, but a great person. I highly encourage all of my readers to go out and vote for Dion for the Senior CLASS award. 
The Hockey Humanitarian award is named by committee, but get out there and vote and get the word out. Dion, along with Andy Taranto, and Joe Sova are still in the running for the Hobey Baker award as well, college hockey's highest honor.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Michigan State - A Foe to Test the Nanooks Might

So, we have officially nailed down a playoff spot. That, at least, is in the books. The defining moment is going to be, what can we do when we get there. This weekend is going to be our chance to step it up. There are 6 games left this season, we currently have 31 points, tied for 6th with those guys from Ann Arbor. If we can win 6 straight games, we will be sitting happily with 49 points, which, coincidentally is 2 points less than Miami already has.

Regardless, getting into the specifics of the game, its going to be another interesting matchup. Andy Taranto has had a less than stellar second half of the season so far. He has kind of fell into a scoring slump after the break, and he was having penalty problems there in a couple of the games. If any time is a good time for him to have a breakout performance, its this weekend. Michigan State is ranked 12th nationally, and I expect that no matter how much I may ask them too, Rick Comley and his squad won't take it easy on us.

MSU beatwriter Alex DiFilippo posted an article last night, and he, like every other team, whined about the travel. I've mentioned it before, but the Nanooks travel farther than any other team in college hockey, Anchorage included. I always say, if you can't take the travel, quit recruiting sissies. Oh well. Kudos to coach Comley for saying that the travel doesn't matter. Besides, they get a bye week after this series anyway.

The Spartans have a few scoring threats as well, namely junior forward Corey Tropp. I've watched video of him, this kid has a hell of a shot. But, the Nanooks can contain him. Of course, the Alaska defense can contain any team, I have no doubt about that. It's the coverage breakdown and the lack of positioning that gets us in trouble. But, I suppose that is true of any team. Hopefully that can change this game. I would love to see that.

I have a hard time predicting how this series will turn out for the Nanooks. I always try to remain positive, and I'll remain doing so, but, the reality is, we have just one season sweep to our name this season, and that goes to 2nd ranked Ferris State who left Fairbanks with exactly no points, and hadn't lost a single game until they visited Miami. Michigan State has also been kind of on a downhill decline as of late, compared to earlier in the season anyway.

Friday: Alaska     W 3-2
Saturday: Alaska W 4-3
Optimism at its finest...

I couldn't leave this post without sharing this gem.

This video is of an event known as Cedar Fest. Don't know what Cedar Fest is? It's OK, I didn't at first either. Here's some insight from the Wikipedia article on the subject:
Cedar Fest is a celebration held in East Lansing, Michigan. The event which started in the 70's was originally a semiannual party that occurred during the months of October and May. The event was held in Cedar Village, a densely populated student neighborhood boarding the Michigan State University campus. The event took off in the 80's and was regularly attended by thousands of people. Several riots ensued from the parties and property owners along with the city decided to put an end to the event. By 1987 the event was banned by police, and for many years it was not held.
I'd ban it too. But guess what, that ban lasted exactly all of 20 years before MSU's disregard for authority led to 2008, which is in the video above. Here's some more tantalizing information.
Cedar Fest saw a revival in 2008, 20 years after the city had officially banned the event. The revival, which began as a campaign on Facebook as early as January, promised a "weekend long party" that would take place "throughout all of Cedar Village." It drew up to 4,000 party goers and was officially declared an unlawful assembly as police launched 24 smoke grenades, 20 flash bangs, 20 stingball grenades and 13 rounds of tear gas to disperse the out of control crowd. Some revelers heaved bottles, cans and bricks at police officers, while two city vehicles had their windows broken and at least four fires were set. East Lansing police Chief Tom Wibert remarked that the event "got to the point where I don’t see how we could have dispersed that crowd without tear gas." In fact, Wibert said after the police used flash bangs and smoke bombs, some students began to chant for tear gas.The "riot" cost close to $10,000 in damages and resulted in 52 arrests, 28 of them being MSU students. Police estimated that about 5% of MSU's student population was at the event.
 I'm seriously glad Fairbanks doesn't have this problem. During my very brief time in Anchorage, I've seen these types of parties kind of take off at the beginning of the semester, but even Alaska Community College students can contain themselves. Michigan State needs an ethics class or two tacked on to their degree requirements. That is, unless being a rioting idiot is part of the curriculum.

Just in case that info above didn't tell you enough, here's some stats.
  • Oct. 28, 1983 First “official” Cedar Fest; 1,000 attend, 37 arrests
  • May 19, 1984 5,000 attend, no major incidents
  • Oct. 27, 1984 5,000 attend, more than 30 arrested
  • May 18, 1985 6,000 attend, 14 arrests, 10 injured, approximately $2000 in damage
  • Oct. 26, 1985 4,000 attend, no major incidents
  • May 17, 1986 500 attend, 25 arrests, 22 injured
  • Oct. 25, 1986 5,000 attend, 35 arrests, 24 injured
  • Fall 1987: Permanent injunction makes it illegal to be at a Cedar Fest event in May or October.
  • May 16, 1987 200 attend, 44 arrests, no damage or serious injuries
  • October 1989: While not an official Cedar Fest, 3,000 rioters at Cedar Village Apartments burn furniture, bicycles and a moped and attack bystanders after MSU's football team loses to the University of Michigan.
  • February 1990: A federal appeals court rules that an ordinance allowing police to barricade Cedar Village when officials suspected a party forming was unconstitutional.
  • April 5, 2008: 4,000 attend, 52 arrests
  • April 4, 2009: 2,000 attend, 61 arrests, 3 couch fires set but no major incidents following Final Four victory over University of Connecticut
  • April 6, 2009: 1,700 attend, 21 arrests, no major incidents after NCAA Championship Game loss to UNC.