This weekend, the Nanooks roll up to Ann Arbor for their last stop of their traditional two week road trip. After getting the carriage moving behind the horse last weekend against Notre Dame, it's full speed ahead with the crosshairs aimed right at Yost Ice Arena.
When the last time Michigan and Alaska squared off back in early November, Friday's game was a real treat for fans to see, as the Nanooks completely ripped apart Michigan from end to end. One may say Michigan had a down game, which is why they came back and had, what looked to be, a rout on their hands in Saturday's 5-2 win at the Carlson Center. I completely disagree.
I've seen our team play at such a high level earlier this season, and it sort of peaked at that first Michigan game. Fans have told me they've never seen an Alaska team play with that level of prowess on both sides of the ice in their varying history of observing the program. The unfortunate part is, they haven't seen it since. But if last weekend's series against Notre Dame was any indication, it may be coming back.
And who better to be on the receiving end than Michigan. Yost Ice Arena is a historically detestable place to play in, but the guys will have to block out the crowd and play some hockey. The Michigan team is largely the same as the last time we saw them, sans Jacob Fallon and Tristin Llewellyn who were ceremoniously removed from the roster. While Llewellyn will forego graduation for a pro contract in the ECHL, the Wolverines move on without him.
With 17 CCHA games under their belt, Michigan is leading the way in scoring defense, allowing just 33 goals in conference matches. That stat doesn't bode well for the Alaska offense, but hopefully it can provide some motivation for this weekend.
From a standings perspective, the 'Nooks have the opportunity to make a move in the conference with Ferris State just 2 points ahead. Michigan is also sitting in 6th in RPI at .5539, and 5th in the PairWise. With a strong performance, the PairWise implications could be huge and potentially bring the Nanooks back in range for an at large berth for the big dance at the end of the season.
You can watch this weekend's games on television, as Friday's game will be on KFXF Fox 7 in Fairbanks, as well as Fox College Sports Pacific (GCI channel 303), as well as Fox Sports-Detroit in other areas. Saturday's game won't be televised, but you can catch it live streamed on BigTenNetwork.com for something like $8 for a month subscription.