A much different Alaska team from Friday to Saturday last weekend. A very back and forth style of a game, and the 'Nooks were much more aggressive and almost a complete style shift throughout. As far as skaters go, the Nanooks outplayed Michigan, especially in the 3rd period. The Nanooks failed to convert on a 5 on 3 power play chance, but gained enough momentum to carry through to a potential goal that was later overturned. It's not as if the Nanooks didn't have their chances, they did. The difference was in net.
For the first time since I've watched him play in a Nanooks uniform, Scott Greenham was outplayed this weekend. Hunwick was the difference maker for Michigan, and a clear-cut number one star both nights.
Dallas Ferguson and the 'Nooks will have to come up with a similar plan for Cal Heeter and the OSU Buckeyes this weekend. Despite their current streak, I don't see them stepping up much the same as Michigan just did. Especially with OSU on the road.
With the two losses, the Nanooks fall to 8th place in the standings, the lowest the Nanooks have been since Dallas stepped behind the bench. Last season, the Nanooks fell to 7th un the conference after the mid-season slump and finished with an 8-0-2 run through the first round of the playoffs against WMU.
OSU was on a pretty good run out of the holiday break, but have also struggled these past two series, taking 5 out of a possible 12 points from a surging Western Michigan team, and a tough opponent in Notre Dame.
Nobody has played more time in net than Cal Heeter, the Ohio State junior has registered 1497:11 in 25 games, 40 minutes more with 1 more game played than Scott Greenham. While the stats certainly favor Greenham, the difference the defense in front of each of them.
The Nanooks defense is much more aggressive in front of their own net, and they'll have to stifle a team whose used to scoring an average of 3 goals per game. A task I'm sure the Nanooks are up to.
With the showing the Nanooks put on last week, I'd like to see those scoring chances actually get in the net this week. I think that's been a point of contention all year long, and generally right around this time is when the guys start to play their best hockey. And they're gonna need to bring their A-game down the home stretch to the end of the season to make some moves up the standings.
If the season were to end today, depending on how the 3 way tie for 4th gets sorted out, we would likely host Lake Superior State, and assuming all of the higher seeds win, the Nanooks would travel to Michigan again to face the team who ended the long streak of earning points in every CCHA regular season series last weekend.
Anyhow, back to the weekend at hand. Those who will be in attendance can hear yours truly over the PA this weekend calling the game from the booth. You can also catch my Twitter feed for live in-game updates. You can also listen KSUA 91.5FM online at ksua.uaf.edu, and for $7, you can watch the games online at AmericaOne.com.