Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Nanook Seniors Sign Professional Contracts

Nanook senior Dion Knelsen has entered the professional ranks, signing an AHL free agent contract with Peoria, the AHL affiliate of the St. Louis Blues today. As of this morning, he has been assigned to play with the Aalaska Aces, alongside former Nanook standout and his freshman year linemate Curtis Fraser. Dion will wear number 9.

Dion's brother Brandon, along with blueliner Dustin Molle both have signed AA contracts in the ECHL, both with the Idaho Steelheads. Dustin will wear number 24, and Brandon will wear number 26.

And wouldn't you know it, Dion has to play against his brother and former teammate tonight. Definition of irony? Possibly. The Steelheads face off against the Aces tonight and tomorrow in Anchorage at 7:15PM

Congratulations to the guys on their future hockey bids. As you may know, the other Nanook senior, Cody Rymut will be graduating with a degree in Petroleum Engineering in May, and will be taking a job upon graduation with British Petroleum (more commonly known as "BP").

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Strong Nanook Effort Not Quite Enough, Alaska Falls To Boston College 3-1

A great effort by the Alaska Nanooks wasn't quite enough to get past the overall 4th ranked Boston College Eagles. Alaska did a great job sticking to their systems, and working the puck around. Boston College had several scoring chances, but Scott Greenham played a tight game and didn't give many second chances, and made some big saves. Boston College netminder John Muse was equally stubborn, stopping 28 of 29 shots and robbing several of our players of quality scoring chances.

But when you are a newcomer, coming into the NCAA national tournament, against a team who has practically been in the running every year for the past 10 years, including a national championship or two, one can expect a very tough fight. The Nanooks started that fight uphill, as Boston College got out to the early lead in the first period, when senior forward Matt Lombardi forced a turnover at the blue line, and Nanook defensemen Aaron Gens was a bit slower to react than Lombardi was and it was a race to the other net, but Lombardi got there first and put it 5-hole on Greenham to get the 1-0 lead. This goal, a shorthanded goal, was the first of its kind the Nanooks have allowed all season.

Shortly after that goal, the Nanooks fell into a lull with some penalties to end the first period, and into the start of the second period, as Filzen, Dustin Molle, and Dustin Sather all paid a visit to the sin bin for various reasons. The Nanooks penalty killing unit was also on its game against the 8th best power play unit in the country in Boston College. Spanning all 10 penalty minutes, the Nanooks allowed just 8 shots on goal through Boston College's 5 power play attempts, not allowing a single goal.

Towards the end of the second period, Boston College got a little stirred and fell into their own slum of penalties. After a brief 5 on 3, and a few failed clearing attempts by Boston College, the Nanooks took it to the Eagles and cycled the puck very well in the offensive zone. As the Eagles wore down, Alaska took advantage. Sophomore defenseman Joe Sova rang the puck down behind the net for Dion Knelsen. With Andy Taranto creeping on to the doorstep, Dion threw the puck on net and the rebound came right to Taranto who buried it to make it 1-1. Taranto had a few similar opportunities moments earlier, but a wide shot, and two great saves by John Muse kept the Nanooks off the board. Not this time. Taranto made a great, quick handed play that Muse didn't have a chance of getting to. The Eagle defensemen left Taranto alone at that point, and Andy made them pay.

That goal clearly sparked the Eagles play, they had a bit of jump in their strides and a few scoring chances went each way, in a back and forth fashion. Some pucks trickled by outside the net, a few hit the post, and a few were great saves by each goaltender. But with about 16:24 left in the 3rd period, Boston College forward Pat Mullane redirected a shot made by Patch Alber in front of the net that bounced in off of the goal post on Greenham's blocker side to make it 2-1. It wasn't a pretty goal, but it got the job done for Boston College who made some interesting offensive adjustments to get that goal, parking two forwards in front of Scott Greenham with a forward, and two offensive defensemen around the perimeter taking shots.

After this, you can clearly tell that the Nanooks were on a mission to get back in this game. Just after that last goal, that far into the period, the Nanooks were being outshot 6-1. Alaska really stepped up and rallied and tried to square up the game but with a few shots off the mark, one of them hitting the post, it came down to the final minute. Greenham skated off and the extra attacker came on, and with a few good chances to put one home, a deflected shot trickled out to center ice as Boston College senior Matt Price picked up the puck and headed down the ice for the empty net with Nanook defensemen Joe Sova in tail. Sova made some desperate moves to stop Price, but not without a price (no pun intended). Sova brought Price down from behind in a breakaway situation, which normally, would have been a penalty shot situation, but since the net was empty, an automatic goal was awarded.

In terms of my views of the game, I think the Nanooks played very well, very strong and kept one of the top teams in the country in check. An inspirational football coach once said "We didn't lose, we simply ran out of time", and how true is that here, as the Nanooks were right at the door to break through with a goal as the clock ticked down. We saw a similar game against the Miami RedHawks up here in Fairbanks back in February where the Nanooks skated with them to a 1-1 tie. A lot of media outlets, for example insidehockey.com and insidecollegehockey.com throw their opinion out there that Boston College played poorly and not up to their normal standards. That wasn't the case at all, and as Boston College coach Jerry York said in the postgame press conference, “I thought they matched us.  I don’t think there’s any stage fright in their players. I thought they were very good. We feel very fortunate that we are moving on. It took a pretty good effort to get by Alaska.” Alaska matched Boston College very well, and it was one hell of a hockey game.

A few players that I think deserve a lot of credit, the obvious being Taranto, Dion, and Greenham, but a few that should get some spotlight are Jarret Granberg and Ronnie Meyers. Jarret was a force for the Nanooks and brought a lot of energy to the table. Granberg took 14 faceoffs and won 11 of them, which is extremely impressive and valuable. Ronnie Meyers was clearly as energetic as ever throughout all 3 zones. His forechecking was outstanding, getting to the dirty areas and getting into battles. Ronnie plays with a lot of energy and that fed to the team, and his play stood out to me and you could tell that he gave it everything he had.

Everybody on the team gave it their all. A lot of people recognized that, and had the game gone the other direction, a lot of teams would have been worried to play us. This tweet comes from a North Dakota blogger, awaiting the UND/Yale game that was about to follow, "S***, I might be more afraid of Alaska than I am of BC. They look good..." The commentators for ESPNU echoed similar thoughts, saying they thought originally this game was going to be a lot more one-sided.

A lot of people in the college hockey community didn't know about Alaska, their strength, or their skill as a hockey team. A lot of opposition came from various places when they found out the Nanooks were in the NCAA tournament, saying they didn't deserve to be there. The Nanooks gave everything Boston College could handle, and it took a valiant effort on their part to get by Alaska. If they didn't know about the Alaska Nanooks then, they sure know about them now.

Friday, March 26, 2010

UAF Chancellor Reaches Out

I've received word that last night, UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers has extended support for UAF students either residing in Massachusetts or nearby states that have either applied, or are attending UAF courses via distance delivery, an offer that, at least I can't refuse. The aforementioned students that can attend the game can get their admission paid on the Chancellor's dime.

I haven't seen a press release, or an official statement that has come out about this, but I thought this was an incredible initiative and extremely thoughtful by our chancellor. So, this is at least a rumor at this point, so for students interested, I have no idea where to go, or what to do. I just wanted to share what I heard.

Alaska Pre-Tournament Press Conference Quotes

A big thanks to Charles Bare, director of Media Relations at the College of the Holy Cross, the hosting school for the NCAA Northeast Regional for passing this transcript along to me. At 12:30 ET, coach Ferguson and team captains Derek Klassen and Kevin Petovello, along with Dion Knelsen participated in the NCAA Pre-Tournament press conference. For your reading pleasure, here it is.

MARCH 26, 2010

Head Coach Dallas Ferguson, Junior Forward Derek Klassen,
Senior Forward Dion Knelsen, Senior Forward Kevin Petovello

Opening Statement:
Ferguson: “We’re excited to be here and for the opportunity to compete in the tournament. From a team standpoint a quick turnaround was really important. We found out Sunday and got down here as quickly as possible to get acclimated. Our staff did a great job with the transition. Travel is something we need to do every second weekend in our league. We are pretty accustomed to getting where we need to be efficiently and preparing accordingly. Tomorrow night will be a big challenge with Boston College, but our focus is on our game and the things that we can control. We plan on going out to compete hard and to work together as a group. We look forward to the challenge and are definitely excited to be a part of it.” 

On the commute from Alaska:
Klassen: “It was actually the shortest travel day of the year.”

On the jet lag:
Klassen: “Everyone feels good getting here. (Leaving on) Wednesday morning definitely helps.”

On being the first Alaska-Fairbanks team in the NCAA tournament:
Knelsen: “It’s such an honor and so proud to be a Nanook to be here part of the first team.  It’s really exciting”

On the campus and community:
Petovello: “Everybody’s excited. We’ve got tons of support from the community and student life up there. So, yeah that definitely is an exciting time for them.”

On being a defensive team:
Ferguson: “It’s something we take a lot of pride in, playing without the puck. Our philosophy is not to sit back and play defense, it’s to play sound without the puck so you get the puck back quicker. Our guys do a tremendous job of working together. When you get into situations like this, defense is really important. I think we create scoring opportunities off a good defense. We are definitely aware of Boston College’s talents and speed up front, but ninety percent of our preparation is focused on trying to control the things we can control. This program has a tradition of success and we are really looking forward to the opportunities and the challenges tomorrow.” 

On the team’s inexperience:
Ferguson: “Our group seems pretty loose. They get excited to play. They just love to play hockey and to come to the rink. You could see that they tightened things up at practice today. There are nerves playing on a new rink and as it gets closer to game time. Our leadership is strong in the locker room. One thing that we talk about is keeping our emotions in check. Good things happen and you need to be able to respond the right way, just as bad things happen and you need to respond the right way as well. It’s a really exciting time. On Sunday when we found out, Fairbanks went crazy, the school went crazy, and our players were very excited. But when Monday rolled around we realized that we need to be ready to go down there and play a hockey game. I’m excited to see how our guys respond to being on this stage. Our guys are ready to play.”

What it means to him personally to have made it to the NCAA tournament:
Ferguson: “It’s great. I’m happier for my players, our community, and our alumni, who have all put so much into the program. Nanook hockey is a very prideful group. I’m an alumnus and now I’m the coach and I’m just happy that we have this opportunity.” 

On being hockey’s best kept secret:
Ferguson: “We are better with the puck than most people know. We are a developing team. Work ethic and commitment are very important to our program and we take a lot of pride in that. Our guys know that they not only need to be committed to themselves, but also to their teammates and the program. I am so fortunate to work with this group of young men.”

On recruiting to Fairbanks:
Ferguson: “I don’t open up with ‘It’s cold and dark, come on up it’s fun.’ We sell our strengths. We develop hockey players and will give you the opportunity to be successful. Over the past seven years, we’ve had three or four guys who have had an opportunity to play in the NHL. We also sell the development of a person. When they leave we make sure that their education is completed. We try to recruit the kids and families that value the same things that we value.” 

On a difficult travel schedule:
Ferguson: “We don’t really talk about it. It is what it is. We are very mindful of their academics when they are on the road and making sure they are prepared physically for the game. Discipline is really important – when we get back from a trip, they need to be ready for class on Monday. The hardest thing to deal with is the time change. As soon as we land, we try to get on a sheet of ice. The most important thing is to not concede to it. We don’t use it as an excuse for our performance.”

UPDATE: Boston College Press Conference Quote
An interesting quote about the Nanook club from Boston College head coach Jerry York:

On Alaska-Fairbanks:
York: “I had to re-evaluate them… My initial calls out to the coaching fraternity were that they were very strong defensively and (had) an excellent goaltender. But watching them on tape I was more impressed with how fast they get up and down the ice… They play very quick, quicker than I thought after watching the tapes. We are going to be matched, I think, with speed back and forth. But their goaltender comes as advertised, a real strong goaltender. I think we are going to play just good solid hockey and prevent their speed from being a factor by negating it with our speed. They’ve got a good club… They are right there.”

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

NCAA Regional Nanooks Television Coverage

If you didn't see my comment in the previous blog entry, or if you didn't see my post on Twitter, the game on Saturday *WILL* be broadcast on KFXF FOX 7 in Fairbanks and on GCI Cable Channel 1 statewide. The ESPN360.com thing still persists, but you can also catch the game on local TV. Huge thanks to Scott Roselius, and all his staff down at TVTV for making this happen, which also includes Seekins Ford for stepping up cash for title sponsorship on such short notice. Seekins has done a lot of great things financially for the program, so a huge shout out for them. Catch the press release below...

Fairbanks, AK- Continuing it’s leadership role in local sports broadcasting, Tanana Valley
Television & Radio announces today it has secured the rights to broadcast the upcoming Alaska
Nanooks’s NCAA Hockey playoff game vs the Boston College Eagles. The game will air
“live” this Saturday, 3/27, on TVTV’s KFXF FOX 7 station at 9:30am AST. 
“After three days of logistical coordination, we are thrilled to be able to bring the Nanook’s first
-ever NCAA Hockey playoff game into the living rooms of Nanook fans all around the state,”
says TVTV broadcast coordinator, Scott Roselius. “It took several days to coordinate this
broadcast with ESPN,” added Roselius. “We weren’t sure we could pull it off at first, but kept
persevering. A big thanks to our engineer, Dave Sala, for technically finding a way to make this
broadcast happen. A big thanks also to Seekins’ Ford for stepping forward to be the title spon-
sor of this 11th hour venture. 
Via TVTV’s arrangement with GCI Cable, FOX7 also will feed the broadcast to GCI for re-
broadcast “live “ statewide on its menu Channel 1. For more information on the broadcast
contact Scott Roselius at 907-374-1511.
 The "live" statement solely means that there will be some transmission delay, as you can expect. Probably not more than 30 seconds or so. Much better than the tape delay ESPNU is airing...

Also, if you can't get enough of the media rolling up to the game, check out this weeks rendition of Inside the CCHA. Dallas Ferguson makes his presence known, conversing with host Fred Pletsch about the Nanooks first bid to the "Big Skate".

NCAA NE Regional Game One: No. 17 Alaska vs No. 3 Boston College

I sit here with less than 2 hours left in Florida, and I'm writing this preview. With about every ounce of effort and research I could pour into it, I couldn't muster a way to get to Worcester in time to make it for the game for less than $2,000. Unfortunate. I will watch the game from home.

The Nanooks ended CCHA post-season play broken hearted with two back to back losses to Northern Michigan, the first time the 'Nooks have dropped two consecutive games this season. For those that are here looking to find out about what Alaska is all about, they battle. Stout defense and an opportunistic and skilled offense is the name of the game. I tracked down some video from the Northern Michigan games online, and the Nanooks nearly had the first game, outshooting the Wildcats 31-20, but again, that first period came back to bite them. Marquette has never been a place where the Nanooks have been able to win. Something like 1-20-3 now there all time now, not a very bright past. "The Black Hole" might be appropriate...

Anyhow, the NCAA, in conjunction with the US Government, has opened Eagle season for one day only. Here's to hoping the 'Nooks can take advantage.

Andy Taranto was a little banged up in the last game. No word has made it to me yet on exactly what his condition is or if he will play this weekend. He skated a few times after he got injured, but he didn't appear to be very effective. Played very safe, very passive. Hopefully the extra week off helped him rehabilitate and get his game back, if he's healthy, he's definitely a key to victory alongside his center linemate, senior Dion Knelsen.

The BC Eagles aren't without their fair share of firepower. Forwards Cam Atkinson and Brian Gibbons are their pair or 40+ point getters, with Atkinson as their leading goal scorer with 24. Brian Gibbons is not exactly a stranger to the ice as he is to the penalty box, as his 100 penalty minutes nearly doubles our most penalized player.

The question for BC is who they will start in net. Like Miami, the Eagles have a one-two punch with their goaltenders. The freshman, Parker Milner, leads the nation in winning percentage among all goaltenders with a 10-2-1 record for a .808 winning percentage. Junior John Muse is right behind with a 15-8-2 and a .640 win percentage.

They say defense wins championships, and you can debate that all you want, but the Nanooks will have to find a way to stifle the 3rd best team in the nation in terms of scoring offense. Boston College averages 3.87 goals per game, far higher than our 36th ranked 2.82 goals per game average. Alaska is 9th in the nation in terms of scoring defense, average just 2.37 goals per game. BC doesn't fall far behind though at 2.5 goals allowed per game.

But, as the saying goes, games aren't played on paper. Boston College is, like us, a smaller team in average height. They are a very fast team that generate a lot of chances from the slot, as well as from the blue line. They get shots down low, and force the goaltender into a mistake to get the goal. Scottie will have to be sharp, and not give a lot of rebounds and keep us in the game. The difference will not only come down to defense, but likely on special teams, as well as, obviously, raw offense. I think the Nanooks can take control of this game, especially if they can stay aggressive.

I'd like to hope that the 'Nooks don't get star struck by the national tournament bid. Since this is the first in program history, I'd hate to see that be a factor in the game. This is a great team and these guys deserve to be there, even to the chagrin of a lot of media and fans of other teams that didn't make it in. How do you think it felt for Nanook fans last year when we beat Ohio State in the playoffs in the second round, went to the Joe, and didn't make the tournament, but Ohio State did? I'll save you the effort and tell you it left a sour taste in my mouth. Especially after how poorly OSU represented the CCHA and lost like 8-1 or something like that in the first game.

The Nanooks should already be in Worcester. They landed in Seattle last night at about 9PM, and traveled through the night to get to Worcester. So they'll have a few days to get acclimated and get ready.

I almost refuse to make a prediction, based on the strength of the opponent. Someone mentioned to me the other day that back in 1991, UAA took down Boston College in two games in a best of 3 in a huge upset. BC threw up something like 84 shots on goal and got just 4 in over the course of the two games. I'm unsure of the outcomes other than UAA won both. I think Alaska has that same potential. But, notice how I said almost?

Alaska wins 5-3.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Minor Details

As far as media coverage goes, the game will be syndicated on the ESPN network, meaning local affiliates can pick up the game for their local markets, likely putting the Nanooks game on ESPN/ESPN2. The game will be tape delayed to 5:30AM on Sunday morning on ESPNU, so those of you with satellite/cable TV can set your DVRs to record and watch it when you wake up.

If you have a way to get on campus, or are a university staffer with a VPN account, you can stream the game live through ESPN360.com. I have sent an email to GCI to see if they will become a partner with ESPN360, or if they knew if our ESPN region will be picking up the game. I've also received information that KFXF, Fairbanks' local FOX TV affiliate is in contact with the NCAA/ESPN to pick up the game. No official word on coverage yet though, more on this to come...

I don't know if any other reader has looked at travel plans to get to the DCU Center in Worcester, but looks like the only travel plans are to fly into Boston and rent a car and drive yourself, or front $8 to a bus company, Peter Pan, and take the trek from Boston to Worcester. Nothing against Worcester, or Holy Cross per se, but this is definitely a bad thing. This town is the only host of the 4 regions without a sufficient airport to fly directly into. There is an airport in Worcester, but it is only serviced by one airline. The Nanooks already have to fly about 5,000 miles to get there with at least 10 hours of total travel time, tacking on another hour with a bus ride sucks. Word has it that the UAF athletic department is working out travel and lodging information for those that want to go, which includes me, so I'm interested to see what they come up with. I'll update again after I find out that info...

Nanooks Punch Their Tickets To Their First NCAA Division I Tournament

The Nanooks made the NCAA Division II semi-final round in the 1983-84 and eventually lost to Bemidji State. They also made the NCAA Division II tournament in the 1982-83 season, and lost in the quarterfinal round against St. Thomas College (Minnesota).

Here is your brackets:

Midwest Regional
Fort Wayne, IND
Miami vs Alabama-Huntsville
Michigan vs Bemidji State

Interesting in the fact that two teams from two separate conferences are in this one. Will probably be a rematch between Michigan and Miami to get to Detroit in the Frozen Four. Watching Michigan play these last few weeks, I'm pretty sure Red Berenson is playing the role is Elwood Blues on a mission from God. Michigan has played phenominally, no doubt about that. Miami will be looking to exact revenge, so that will be a pretty epic battle, nevermind that they are conference mates. I don't think the first round will be a challenge for either of these teams, but as we saw last year, don't underestimate Bemidji State. This may be Alabama-Huntsville's only chance to really prove themselves worthy of being in the CCHA, so they will be looking at Miami very very carefully.

East Regional
Albany, NY
Denver vs RIT
Cornell vs New Hampshire

Denver gets to travel to New York, and get the opportunity to play two teams from New York state back to back, so they may have to play in a more hostile environment. Cornell owns the longest win streak in college hockey, and I expect that to roll through at least the first round. Denver versus Cornell would be another epic battle, and a battle of defense. Marc Chevrie and Ben Scrivens are two very elite goaltenders, both of which are top 10 Hobey Baker finalist. Scrivens has marked out 3 straight shutouts, so keep an eye on this bracket.

West Regional
St. Paul, MN
Wisconsin vs. Vermont
St. Cloud State vs Northern Michigan

Wisconsin, at least in my opinion, have the deepest team in this bracket, not only on defense, but also on offense. Wisconsin comes out of here without a lot of opposition.

Northeast Regional
Worcester, MA
Boston College vs Alaska
North Dakota vs Yale

This is an interesting bracket for Alaska to be in. That's a 5,000+ mile trip for them to make, and the BC Eagles are clearly the home team, at a grand total of 190 miles from their home arena. Nanooks will have to bring their best game, but I think they have a shot against the Eagles. I'll elaborate a little more later on in the week. Each game will be on ESPN 360 at ESPN360.com, which basically means, the only way you are going to watch it, is if you go onto campus, as all of the local internet provider's don't offer that partnership. I'd be interested to see if a campus org quickly organizes something to be able to watch this game, though.

As previously mentioned, this is the Nanooks first trip to an NCAA tournament in their history playing Division I hockey. So getting there is unprecedented, winning will be even more special. Bemidji State was the underdog in virtually every game last year, and they made it to the Frozen Four. Can the Nanooks do the same? We'll see.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Nanooks Nab Some CCHA Hardware

I don't normally do this, but I'm going to copy and paste from CCHA.com. I think, because I've given them credit, that it makes this okay... Good, I've absolved myself...
Alaska forward Andy Taranto became the first Nanook to be honored as the CCM/CCHA Rookie of the Year. Taranto led all rookies in conference scoring with 12 goals and 19 assists for 31 points. Taranto also finished the CCHA regular season ranked third in the nation in rookie scoring with a 16-23-39 line.
Alaska senior forward Dion Knelsen was named Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Knelsen, a business administration major, holds a 3.984 grade-point average and was named to the chancellor’s list all seven semesters at Alaska. The 21-year-old also finished tied for eighth in the CCHA in scoring with 14 goals and 14 assists for 28 points.

Knelsen also received the Mike and Marian Ilitch Humanitarian Award as the league’s top citizen, based on his contributions off the ice, as well as on, to his team, his program, his school and his community. The Three Hills, Alberta, native has volunteered his time to a multitude of causes, including "Nooks for Books" (a program where Nanook student-athletes read to children at local elementary schools), Sports Night at the Denali Center (an assisted living home for senior citizens in Fairbanks), and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Knelsen also sponsors a child in the Dominican Republic and is co-sponsor with his teammates for another child there.

Congrats to those guys, as well as to Scott Greenham, who nabbed the Perani Cup for Alaska, as the Nanooks highest cumulative "3 stars" points totals. Awesome guys! Well done!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dion Knelsen Passed Over for NCAA Frozen Four Skills Competition

What the hell? How in the world did the NCAA selection committee pass up the best field of players for the skills competition? For the first time in a long time, I'm actually pretty pissed off.

Now, on the same note, before you read my rant, only seniors who have exhausted NCAA eligibility are qualified to make the list. This list is also dependent upon a coaches nomination, and I have no idea who Dallas, or any of the other coaches for that matter picked for their nomination.

The forwards selected to the skills competition for the west men's team are:

Cody Chupp - Ferris State - 8-21-29
Zach Harrison - Mankato - 8-16-24
Steve Kampfer - Michigan - 3-16-19
Kyle Lawson - Notre Dame - 4-18-22
Tony Lucia - Minnesota - 11-16-27
Chris McKelvie - Bemidji State - 8-10-18

I don't get it. There are much better candidates that, I don't want to say are more deserving, but have skills better fit for a skills competition of this magnitude. Now, this is a subjective list based on players that I have actually seen play this year, and just one player from each team... Read it and weep:

Rhett Rahkshani - Denver - 20-29-49
Blake Geoffrion - Wisconsin - 23-18-41
Dion Knelsen - Alaska - 19-23-42
Jarod Palmer - Miami - 17-27-44
Ryan Lasch - St. Cloud - 18-26-44
Kevin Clark - UAA - 23-14-37
Mike Testwuide - Colorado College - 21-10-31

Am I the only one that feels this way? I hope not. Last year, the competition was filled with more capable scorers. The respective committees did a good job selecting the goaltenders. Too bad they won't have much of a challenge...

Just for contrast, here are the forwards and their stat lines for the east men's team:

Sean Backman - Yale - 21-14-35 (currently injured, probably won't participate)
Bobby Butler - New Hamshire - 27-23-50
Owen Meyer - Army - 13-18-31
Neil Musselwhite - Oswego State - 22-13-35 (D-III)
Ben Smith - Boston College - 12-17-29
Brandon Wong - Quinnipiac - 19-22-41

Average point totals:

West - 23
East - 37

Since this is a format of West VS. East, I'd say the teams look a little slanted, especially since more viable candidates were out there for the West team. East coast bias strikes again, I suppose.

Shaken, Not Stirred

Depressing weekend for Nanook hockey fans. Would have loved to have seen a comeback in both games, but it wasn't in the cards. As expected, Northern leapfrogged Alaska in the PairWise rankings.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to watch the games this weekend. My superstitious side says "that's why they lost". I was going to try to manipulate my flights to actually spend Friday and Saturday in Marquette to watch the series live, but it didn't work out. I'm writing this entry from arguably the nicest hotel I have ever seen, much less have ever stayed in, and spent $8 for an internet connection to write this post.

Checking out the PairWise standings, Alaska sits solidly in 13th place. With Bemidji State finishing 3rd in the CHA (?!?), Alabama-Huntsville (12-17-3) will take the automatic bid into the NCAA tournament, extending its season as the only team with a losing record in the NCAA playoffs. Good luck with Denver. The point is, with the Atlantic Hockey division winner and the College Hockey America division winner sucking spots, only the top 14 will be admitted into the tournament. Good news is, New Hampshire is out, so they shouldn't be able to leapfrog us. Bad news is, Vermont is still in, and so is Maine.

Alaska wins the comparison with Vermont, solely because of a higher RPI (first tie-breaker). Right now, I'm a big Boston College fan. BC plays Vermont next weekend in the semi-final round for Hockey East's tournament. According to my calculations, Vermont will have to win two games to boost their RPI enough to trump us. I would not like that to happen. They already have the point for the record against Teams Under Consideration (TUC), but with a higher RPI, the Nanooks win that point, and the comparison.

Maine, I don't think will be able to catch us. We have the common opponent point, and their RPI is about one one hundredth lower than ours. If they win out their conference, the highest they can get is 14th (but they would obviously get the auto-bid).

I've already toyed quite a bit with USCHO's PairWise Predictor, predicting the outcomes of the respective tournaments, and subsequently calculating the PWCs, and Alaska ends up in 12th by my picks, even with Maine winning out their conference.

We're in right now if it ended today. The next 2 weeks will be interesting. This is not a time to be rooting for the underdogs... I'm also rooting for Ferris State, solely on principle. The drought in the black hole continues...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Nanooks Drop Game One to Northern, 4-3

When the plane I was on was on approach into Florida, I realized "Hey! I can get cell phone reception now". So naturally, I pulled up the CCHA scoreboard, and saw the 4-3 final. Then, the plane touched down hard, which is exactly how I felt inside.

The Wildcats were able to hold off the surging 'Nooks after jumping out to a 4-0 lead. Somehow, the Wildcats got 3 past Greenham with just 9 shots on goal in the first period. Very uncharacteristic, but, not having  seen the game, I have no idea how those shots looked.

I got an email from a fan who watched Andy Taranto limp off the ice. Word is, he got hit square in the ankle with a slap shot. No word yet on the severity of the injury, though. He got some ice time further into the game, but sounds like he was very limited. Kudos to coach Ferguson, he replaced Taranto with Petovello on that first line, which is exactly who I would have promoted.

NMU's Mark Olver decided in favor of penalty minutes instead of points was a good idea. Heh. Good thinking. At the end of the night, he was the most penalized player in CCHA hockey for all games on March 12th. 0-0-0 with 3 minor penalties, for 6 minutes. Sounds like a first team forward to me...

Although the 'Nooks were able to rally for 3 unanswered goals, including 2 from the power play, they weren't able to bag the 4th to tie it. Goals from Sather, Yaremchuk, and Bryant Molle weren't quite enough to take care of business.

The Nanooks will have a chance to tie the series and force a game 3 today at 7:35PM Eastern Time. Northern knocked us back to 12th in the PairWise rankings, staying in the top 14 will be essential, since Bemidji State is no longer in the running for an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. I, for one, am rooting for Alabama-Huntsville.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Game Day

Gotta love Fridays. Nanooks take to the ice tonight in Marquette, Michigan at 7:35PM ET (3:35 AKT) to face the Northern Michigan Pussycats. I hate to say it, but this will be one of the few games I won't be able to cover. I was hoping to try to swing my flights for my business trips around so I could have a layover in Marquette, but, that didn't work out. So, for everyone that I told that I was going to be able to get to the game, I couldn't get flights in on time, so its not going to work out. So anyhow, I'll be 30,000+ feet in the air the entire time the game is going on, so for about 2 hours, I'll be anxiously awaiting landing to catch the score of the game.

So for my faithful Twitter followers, tonight won't be Tweetcasted as normal. Unless they have Wi-Fi on the plane, which would be awesome, but for Alaska Airlines, I won't hold my breath just yet.

For the folks that don't have plane and game tickets to Marquette, you can catch the radio broadcast for free online at http://ksua.uaf.edu, or, you can check out the B2 broadcast for $8 (playoff games are $1 more than their normal $7 cover charge).

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tuesday News Day

Another day of news...

Dion Knelsen was named to a list of 12 CCHA scholar-athletes, each school faculty representative works with the head coach to name one nominee from the team. With a 3.98 cumulative GPA, I wouldn't expect much different. The CCHA Scholar Athlete of the Year will be named at the CCHA awards banquet on March 18th in Detroit.

The 'Inside the CCHA' radio show podcast features Nanook Captain Derek Klassen, as the host interviews him and talks about the recent success and the upcoming series against NMU.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Northern Michigan - Just Another Step on the Warpath to Gold

This week is going to be the longest week I've experienced in a while. The Gangchorage games provided some anxiety, but not as much as this Northern series is for me. Perhaps its the 'Nooks current win streak? Perhaps its the implications of an NCAA tournament bid? Or, perhaps its due to my personal desire for Alaska to give a fresh zam of the ice with Wildcat blood?

All three? Check.

The Nanooks have the only pair of 40 point scorers in the conference in Andy Taranto and Dion Knelsen. In the last 10 games, the Nanooks are unbeaten (8-0-2) outscoring opponents 37-13 in that span. Andy Taranto has two hat tricks in that span, and Dion Knelsen has had 2, 4 point games, and has scored at least one point in 11 out of the last 12 games.

The Wildcats have one major (read..minor) offensive threat in Mark Olver-rated (yes, I said it, he's over-rated). His most impressive feat this season was a 4 point weekend against Miami in a losing effort. In four games against the Nanooks so far, he has 2 goals, and no assists for 2 points. Hardly amazing. But seriously, Olver irritates me almost as much as Sidney Crosby does, and that is saying a lot.

Let's not forget about Brian Stewart. Poor guy's got more holes than a golf course, and its not entirely his fault. Compared with Greenham, Stewart has played fewer minutes, faced more shots, and allowed more goals. Sad story too...almost. Good to know a 4 foot by 6 foot slice of swiss cheese will be occupying the crease this weekend. Wouldn't expect much from nothing more than a safety school. But, I suppose one could lay part of the blame on a defense that hasn't exactly been spectacular, but I won't.

Wildcats had a good run, but it ends this weekend. Light 'em up, 'Nooks.

Our guys left about an hour ago, bound for Marquette. Word on the street is Western Michigan is still in Fairbanks. Sounds like their travel agent couldn't get them out until Wednesday.

3-1 W Friday
4-2 W Saturday

Realistically, it might go to 3 games. Optimistically, 'Nooks take it in 2.

This ought to get the trash talk started...

Nanooks In The News

Nanooks moved up in the polls this week after a sweep of Western Michigan.

INCH: 11
USA Today: 12

Andy Taranto was also announced as the only unanimous selection to the CCHA All-Rookie team. Andy was named CCHA CCM Rookie of the Week 3 times this season, as well as two CCHA rookie of the month honors, as well as two HCA NCAA Division I National Rookie of the Month honors. Freshman forward Nik Yaremchuk was listed as an honorable mention. I was hoping Kaare Odegard would at least get a mention, as he finished with just 5 points, but finished the season at +11, the highest among all Alaska defenseman, worthy of a spot, at least I thought. Check out CCHA's press release.

I'll have a post after the season is over, analyzing all of our rookies, as well as a end of the season report card. Here's to hoping our season doesn't end any time soon...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Photographic Evidence

For Friday's game, I recruited a friend to come to the game and try out his new camera. With a little convincing, he obliged and got some pretty good shots during the game. Here are a few selections, check out the full gallery for more.

Of other local fame, I had a chat with Alaska sports photographer Paul McCarthy the other day, and conversed about potentially posting his photos he has taken up on the blog here, which he seemed grateful and happy about doing. He sent me a couple this morning to post from recent games. Once he gets the gallery up for this weekends series against WMU, I'll link that up here as well.

And to relive the moment...

Nanooks Buck Broncos 4-1, Wildcats Next

At 10 games unbeaten (8-0-2), the Nanooks now own the longest streak in college hockey after Denver fell last night.

The Nanooks once again put up 40 shots on goal, and Riley Gill posted a .900 save percentage, rightfully named one of the 3 stars for the game.

It's unfortunate for Gill that he doesn't have a better defense in front of him. He's a very solid goaltender, but the defense collapsed and left players open, that ultimately, turned into Nanook goals. Klassen's goal in the first period is a testament to that. Petovello made a nice centering pass when two Bronco defenders, namely Collins and Levundusky both collapsed on him, but they neglected Klassen in the slot. Big mistake. 1-0 'Nooks.

Not long after, Western broke the wall off Greenham and got their only goal of their last 120 minutes of the season. Kudos to them, I suppose that can be a high note to end on.

I will honestly say, regardless of the score, I couldn't be more disappointed with the way the Western team conducted themselves this weekend. Look, I know your coach is out the door, and that's kind of an unfortunate situation for any team to be in, but as a player, yelling the "F" word as loud as you possibly can so the mother in front of me in the stands apologizes to her child for what she heard is inexcusable. I don't want to say they played cheap, but they certainly took a few cheap shots. I think a lot of our penalties were instigated by Western players. In my career here, I don't think I've ever seen Dion called for unsportsmanlike conduct. I'm honestly surprised it happened. I don't know exactly what he said, or what Jared Katz said after that incident in the faceoff circle (Katz slashed Dion's stick before the puck was dropped. Katz got a penalty for slashing, then the words were exchanged), but I'm pretty certain they weren't discussing dinner plans.

As I said in the beginning, the streak is now at 10 games, with the Nanooks now outscoring their opponents 37-13 in that span.

On another tangent, I wanted to touch on something that was said in the post-game conference. During the crowd questions, a fan asked Coach Ferguson how he prepares the team for a game against another team that is "much weaker on paper", which is a great question that I never really thought about asking. But Dallas's response was even better. "These guys want to be a great hockey team, they want to be successful... They want to be great, they don't want to be just average, they don't want to be .500..." Coach has gone on record several times this season talking about goaltending, with his coined remark "You want your goaltender to stop all of the shots he's supposed to, and a few that he isn't supposed to", and the same could be said for the games themselves. A great team needs to get the wins they are supposed to, and a few they're not. Though, the Nanooks, while working in a few new faces in the lines, got off to stellar start, but kind of fell shy of their expectations towards the end of the first half of the season, such as the series in Kalamazoo against Western Michigan. Now, the Nanooks are surging. They definitely weren't supposed win, yet alone shut out Michigan State last month, but they did. Feel free to download the recording of the post game conference to hear it all.

The Nanooks saw the number one team in the country come in and shut them down in their own barn. Since that incident, Alaska has responded with their own run of dominance, and looks well prepared to take on Miami in the CCHA championship game, and even beyond.

Standing in their way, the Northern Michigan Wildcats. The Nanooks are a much different looking squad than they saw earlier this year. Look out Marquette, the Nanooks are coming to town... again...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

White Out Shut Out - Nanooks Blank WMU 4-0

Well, that went well.

Simply put, the Broncos were outplayed in every facet of the game. There were a few shots that Western could likely have capitalized on, but with 44 shots on goal, the Nanooks weren't going to be stopped. It was well over 7 minutes into the game by the time Western got their first shot on goal, at which point, the Nanooks already had 6 with 2 good scoring chances.

Easily, the best goal of the night was the first one. Kevin Petovello caught a nice pass from Brandon Knelsen from down low, and with Peto in the circle, there wasn't much to shoot at, but he got it in there, tucked it and rang in off the far side post, 1-0 Nanooks.

Although the second goal was officially credited to Dion Knelsen, the goal was really scored by Tyler Ludwig, who tried (and subsequently failed) to knock the puck off the play of a streaking Dustin Sather, who was in prime position to get the goal. If I find video replay footage, I will most definitely post it. As Dion's shot went cross-crease, the puck tipped up a bit and Ludwig tried to knock it wide, but instead, knocked it right under the blocker side of Gill. "Oops, sorry, didn't mean to do that". Yeah yeah, it's OK, we didn't need the help anyway.

With goals coming from Gens and Yaremchuk in the subsequent periods, Western got a little rough. Gotta say I wasn't too impressed with their players composure. Sure, eventually you get tired of losing, but keep it together, and channel your emotions into your play. I thought some of the Broncos players made some pretty cheap plays that weren't called (in fairness, there were a lot of calls on both sides that went unnoticed), some of it being holding the stick, interference, just to name a couple.

Off hand, I don't remember the player, but one of Western's guys got clearly frustrated and took the butt of his stick and blatently stuck it under the mask and into the chin of Joe Sova, knocking him down. They called it contact to the head, high sticking. Easily could have been a 5:00 major, which the referees were rightfully handing the Bronco goons left and right.

Regardless, it was a game dominated by the 'Nooks. There were some small fundamental mistakes in terms of positioning, and some turnovers that I know coach Ferguson and his staff will look at before tomorrow. Those kinds of things can't be happening that often going forward.

As far as commentary goes, I was very disappointed with the crowd tonight. A lot smaller, and a lot more disengaged than in recent history. The box score posted on USCHO showed just 2012 fans in attendance for the game. Honestly, a little saddening, considering the near sellout we had for the UAA game.

As mentioned previously as well, I thought WMU's players were pretty goonish. Kind of sad to say that, but their players behaved very poorly, without class in the 3rd period, which the Nanooks threw up an astounding 22 shots on goal in those 20 minutes. Penalties flew on each side, and it really was a sad site to see.

Not sure why Dion got that penalty in the 3rd period. All he did was take a whack at the puck before the whistle was blown, and then some Western goon tries to shove him around for trying to score. Trying to instigate fights with our players is not acceptable in my book, or by the standard of college hockey. For that fact, I sincerely hope we run the score up even higher on them next game. End their season on the lowest possible note, say, an 0-12 loss to the 'Nooks. Lofty goal? Whatever, they deserve it.

Some other game notes, tonight, the Nanooks tied their program best 17 win season. Scott Greenham tied the school record for career shutouts for a goaltender (6). And the Nanooks are now part of a 3 way tie for 5th place in the PairWise rankings, the system that tries to most accurately predict the contenders for the NCAA tournament. Not sure on this, but I'm going out on a limb to say that its likely the best performance out of this teams history.

To listen to tonight's post game press confere, you can download the audio track.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Andy Taranto Named HCA NCAA Division I Rookie of the Month

Photo courtesy AlaskaNanooks.com
For the second time this season, Nanook standout rookie Andy Taranto, has been named the HCA National Division I Rookie of the Month.

Full press release says it all:

Farmington Hills, Mich. -- [snip]Andy Taranto, a 6-foot, 213-pound forward for Alaska, has been named the HCA National Rookie of the Month for February. This is the second time he has earned the honor this season.

Taranto helped lead the Nanooks to an unbeaten February (6-0-2) with a 7-7-14 scoring line, including two hat tricks. He finished the season ranked first in the CCHA and third nationally in scoring among freshmen (16-23-39), which is also good for fourth overall in the conference. The Chicago native posted a +12 rating during Feburary with four multiple-point games. Taranto helped Alaska earn the right to host the fourth CCHA playoff series at Fairbanks in Nanooks history.
Taranto, who led the USHL in goals last season with 34 for the Fargo Force, was named CCHA Rookie of the Week on March 1 and Feb. 25 after registering five points each weekend to lead Alaska to a pair of series sweeps. He tallied a goal and four assists, including helpers on both game-winning goals, as the Nanooks took two from Lake Superior (Feb. 19-20). Taranto followed up that performance with a 3-1-4 line in a victory over Alaska-Anchorage, 7-4 (Feb. 26). His first hat trick lifted the Nanooks to a 4-1 win during a visit to Ohio State (Feb. 12).
Going into this season, a national player of the month selection was unprecedented. Taranto has since been selected twice this season. Unbelievable.

Friday Game Day

The Nanooks take to the ice at 7:05 PM tonight in Game 1 in a best of 3 CCHA playoff series against Western Michigan.

Ticket Prices:
$20 - Reserved seats
$15 - General Admission
$3 -  UAF Students w/ valid PolarExpress

The Nanooks are attracting attention from some national sites, featuring home page shout-outs from USCHO.com and CollegeHockeyNews.com

As always, follow @nanookhockey on Twitter for live updates from the Carlson Center.

See you at the Carlson Center.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Road To "The Joe" Starts With Western Michigan

The Nanooks first series of the CCHA playoffs falls against Western Michigan. Sucks to be a Bronco. The Nanooks are coming off of a serious high, taking back the Governor's cup from Anchorage, and with an 8 game unbeaten streak, I'm not so sure Western has what it takes to down the 'Nooks.

The Broncos will be coming out with everything that they have. Their head coach, Jim Culhane, is out the door after this season, so his players will have some extra motivation to stick it to Alaska. Not to be sexist here, but Western's AD is female, she can change her mind...

Western has a hot goalie right now. Riley Gill has given this team a chance, and although they haven't actually won a game recently, they've had three back to back to back ties. Their last six, Western is 0-3-3. For not having a defense, goaltender Gill's numbers are quite astounding. He's been peppered with well over 900 shots, and allowed just 76 goals, with a .925 save percentage.

Greenham is no slouch either. He has been very strong in net these last few games. There may be a goal or two that he may like to have back, but where Greenham gives up on defense, the team responds more than two fold on offense.

These last 8 games the Nanooks have played, Alaska has outscored their opponents 29-12 in that span. Thats an average of 3.625 goals scored per game, with just 1.5 goals against per game.

Make no mistake, Western can surprise you. Just ask Notre Dame, who was swept by the Broncos in Kalamazoo by a combined score of 11-3 early February. Western probably should have taken all 6 points from us back in December, but a last second goal by Joe Sova on the power play took the game to overtime at 3 a piece. The Nanooks would end up winning that game in a shootout. But underestimating the Broncos is not an advisable idea. Sure, they may be last in the conference, but with 8 wins, they've beaten somebody, one of those wins was against us, even.

The difference maker is going to come down to defense and goaltending. The Nanooks offense is red hot right now, but the Broncos have an equally hot goaltender in Riley Gill. And with Western playing with perhaps a little extra motivation, Alaska will get at the very least a run for their money.

As far as predictions go, I'm going to stick with a Nanooks sweep in two games. Call me overly optimistic all you want, this is how it ends!

Friday,       3-1 W
Saturday,   2-0 W

The Best College Hockey Highlight Reel... Ever...

Big thanks to Thomas for cutting this one together oh so superbly well. The music and video are timed together perfectly.

I'm still basking in the glory of the Nanooks rout of Anchorage. Post for the playoff preview to come, I promise.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Andy Taranto Named CCHA CCM Rookie of the Month

Photo courtesy AlaskaNanooks.com

Andy Taranto scored a grand total of 14 points (7 goals, 7 assists) and a plus/minus rating of +12 in 8 games in February, including two hat tricks, cruising to his current point total of 39, the most of a Nanook player since Kyle Greentree left Fairbanks 4 years ago.

He finished the season with a 16-23-39 scoring line, good for fourth overall in the conference, first among rookies. He also has the 4th overall best scoring line among Division I rookies.

This award is his second this season, he was named rookie of the month for his stellar performance in November as well, and went on to earn the HCA National Division I Rookie of the Month. I suspect that may happen again as well.

Although Mark Olver won the overall player of the month award, honorable mention went to Nanook senior forward Dion Knelsen. I was hoping he would have an in too this month since he has also put up great numbers. Dion did a great job alongside Taranto this month, just a bummer that he also wasn't recognized.

Great work, and congratulations Andy!

A Look Back at the Standings - Playoff Picture

As we sit in the week-long limbo between the end of the season and the first round of the playoffs, I sit at my desk, home sick from work, digging through some old posts. I opened up the preseason polls release by not only the media and the coaches, but also my own version.

Just for kicks and giggles, here are the three preseason polls (coaches, media, mine), along-side the actual season results.

Rank:Coaches PollMedia PollANHB PollCCHA Final Standings
2.Notre DameNotre DameMiamiMichigan State
3.MiamiMiamiNotre DameFerris State
4.Ohio StateOhio StateNorthern MichiganNorthern Michigan
5.Northern MichiganNorthern MichiganAlaskaAlaska
6.Nebraska-OmahaAlaskaOhio StateNebraska-Omaha
7.AlaskaNebraska-OmahaMichigan StateMichigan
8.Ferris StateMichigan StateNebraska-OmahaOhio State
9.Michigan stateFerris StateWestern MichiganNotre Dame
10.Lake SuperiorWestern MichiganFerris StateLake Superior
11.Western MichiganLake SuperiorBowling GreenBowling Green
12.Bowling GreenBowling GreenLake SuperiorWestern Michigan

As you can see, everyone was way off. Now, not to toot my own horn or nothing, but I more accurately predicted positions than the other 2 preseason polls. The only thing is, nobody envisioned the field that the CCHA is in now. Everybody picked Michigan first. Did anybody think they were going to fall to 7th? NO! Same with Notre Dame, all of the polls had Notre Dame in the top 3. Where did they land? 9th!

All of this just proves the point I'm trying to make that these pre-season polls really do mean exactly nothing. Michigan State was ranked 9,8,7 respectively, and ended up in 2nd. Just because your team is expected to fall in the standings, definitely doesn't mean that they will.

After making a bout to take the NCAA crown last year, I knew Miami would be blood-thirsty to get there again, and with just 2 losses in conference, and with just 5 overall, I wouldn't be surprised if they make it there again.

But first, they will have to make it through the Nanooks. As far as I'm concerned, Alaska is the team to beat right now. Currently on an 8 game unbeaten streak (second longest in NCAA, behind #1 ranked Denver), the Nanooks have outscored their opponents 29-12 over that span. Freshman Andy Taranto, paired right along side senior center Dion Knelsen and junior winger Dustin Sather, this line has produced 17 of those 29 goals over the past 8 games.

The Nanooks have been nothing short of spectacular on defense. They opened up a little bit during that first game in Anchorage, allowing 4 goals for the first time since that weekend against Miami. But including that Anchorage game, the Nanooks have only allowed 12 goals in 8 games, an average of 1.5 per game, while scoring 3.625 goals per game. The defense is ultimately led with the goaltender, Scott Greenham. Scottie has been stellar in net mostly all season. He's had some bumps in the road, but only in his sophomore season, Greenham has 1999:07 worth of playing time between the pipes thus far, 53 seconds shy of 2000 minutes, 2nd most of any goaltender in division one college hockey, and with number one, Bryan Hogan of Michigan out with a groin injury, if Scottie plays every game against Western this weekend, Greenham will be number one in this category.

I, for one, am extremely excited for post-season hockey. The Nanooks are on a huge roll right now, and there is not a better time for that to happen. With the Nanooks at the top seed for the first round, the road to "the Joe" is a little longer than it was last year. With the work that they've put together thus far, and the prowess that they've demonstrated on both sides of the puck, its going to get interesting.

With the Nanooks headed into the CCHA playoffs sitting inside the fold of an NCAA tournament bid (first in program history), its a great time to be a Nanook fan.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Monday Highlights

Thanks to Thomas, over at news 13 for cutting up these highlights for the games this weekend. He got some great shots of several key plays and goals from the game on Friday. He is still putting together highlights from Saturday's contest, but when those get out there, I'll post them here as well.

Also, the Nanooks are now ranked 14th in the USCHO/CBS College Sports Poll, 15th in the Inside College Hockey Power Rankings, tied for 8th in the PairWise rankings, 11th in KRACH, and 13th in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll.

Just to restate the players that are also up for some national awards…

This morning, it was announced that Nanook Senior Forward Dion Knelsen has been named among 6 other finalists (7 total) for the 2010 Hockey Humanitarian award for his excellence in community service.

As I've mentioned here before, but deserves further promotion, Dion is also in the running for the 2010 Lowe's Senior CLASS award, and currently is in 2nd place among the fan votes. Fans can vote up to once a day on their website, or by texting H5 to 74567 from your cell phone.

As I've also mentioned, Dion Knelsen, Andy Taranto, and Joe Sova are all in the running for the annual Hobey Baker Memorial Award, college hockey's highest honor. Fan voting proceeds through the 15th of March, you can vote here.

Also, the CCHA's players of the week have been announced. UA Defensemen Scott Enders and UA rookie forward Andy Taranto named CCHA Defensive and Rookie of the Week respectively. Full release available from CCHA.com Would have been nice to see Dion get another bid in there after having a 6 point weekend, but a huge congratualtions to both Scott and Andy. For Andy, this is his second straight rookie of the week appearance. Monthly award releases expected early this week. I would expect a bid for Dion and Andy for either CCHA or even NCAA nominations...

Update: In response to the events that happened on Saturday with UAA and head coach Dave Shyiak (aka "WaterBottleGate"), Anchorage Athletic Director Dr. Steve Cobb has issued a public statement reprimand of Shyiak for his behavior and his actions. The WCHA still has the ability to make their own response. The deal is, they must wait for the 3 day appeal process to complete before they will say anything. Much like what happened to St. Cloud's Aaron Marvin. Marvin delivered an open-ice check to Wisconsin captain Blake Geoffrion in that game, and Marvin’s shoulder appeared to make direct contact with Geoffrion’s head. After the appeal process completed, the WCHA made a press release today (hit happened February 20th).

There is also a trickling feeling that I have that something may come down the line for UAA Player Brad Gorham for his blatent and intentional hit to the head of Justin Filzen. In the game, he received a 5 minute major, and a 10 minute game disqualification. If you saw Justin after the hit, after the game, he didn't look like that was just a minor hit. I'm glad Filzen is okay, but that crap needs to stop. Including the stats from this last weekend, Gorham is among the top players on the team in terms of penalty minutes per game with 47 minutes in penalties with 11 games played. So he seems kind of notorious for penalty issues. Interesting...

I don't really want to post this, but here is the hit that St. Cloud's Aaron Marvin laid on Wisconsin's Blake Geoffrion...

I don't have a video of the hit that Filzen caught from Gorham, but it looks very much identical in terms of how the hit was delivered. I think Filzen is very lucky the hit wasn't worse than it was. I hope, and not simply because he is from UAA, that Brad Gorham gets a lot more from this than just a game disqualification. Aaron Marvin got a three game suspension, extending into the playoffs for that hit. As it stands now, Gorham will be out of the next game against Minnesota-Duluth due to the Game Disqualification that he received. I would suspect that Gorham will get an additional game off because of the hit, but that's just me.