Saturday, March 19, 2011

An Award and an Early Departure

Stories released late this week to catch you all up on..

Firstly, Nanooks senior captain Kevin Petovello was recognized by the CCHA and the Terry Flanagan Memorial award, recognizing him for his perseverance, dedication, and courage from his recovery from an injury he sustained earlier this season.

During his acceptance speech at the CCHA awards banquet at the Fox Theater in Detroit on Thursday, Kevin lauded the dedication of the coaching staff for getting behind him, and pushing him to success.

"The person of my greatest appreciation is our team strength and conditioning coach and (athletic) trainer Mike Curtin. He never once allowed me to think that finishing the year was impossible. He spent countless hours with me strengthening my knee to where I could play again. It's people like Mike that deserve recognition here tonight. A man who is committed to the success of his program and will put his heart and soul into the team, which is the kind of man Terry Flanagan was."
Kevin's knee injury kept him out of commission for just 3 games before he was able to get back on the ice, with the 4 week holiday break aiding his recovery. After he first returned to action, you could tell that he wasn't getting as much ice time as he was used to, but after a while, you couldn't even tell that he was injured.

I'm really glad Kevin was recognized. For a guy who isn't an epic scorer like the Andy Miele's of the world, Kevin's passion for the game and for his team is unrivaled. To play under those conditions, and play through the pain like that is purely selfless, and his dedication is nothing short of amazing.

Nanooks junior defensemen Joe Sova will forego his final year of eligibility as he signed a free agent contract with the New Jersey Devils yesterday. Joe finished his junior season with 24 points, 2nd on the team and 2nd among all CCHA defensemen. He had 13 goals and 45 assists in 115 career games.

“It's been a lifelong dream to play professional hockey,” said Sova in a press release by the athletic department. “It's exciting and Alaska has played a major role in my development. I've learned and experienced a lot and obviously I couldn't go where I'm going without having been here. I owe a lot to guys I've played with like Vanny (Steve Vanoosten) and Aaron Gens for the past two years, as well as all the other guys around me and the coaching and support staff,” Sova said. “I owe a lot to them and I'm grateful to everyone, especially the guys. I've made some lifelong friends here in the past three years.”

Sova left Fairbanks this past Wednesday to get acquainted with his new coaches and teammates. I suspect that we won't see him dressed for their game against the Islanders on Sunday, but it could happen. In all likelihood, Sova will suit up for their AHL affiliate Albany Devils with former Nanook All American Tyler Eckford later next week.

The Devils have not announced terms of his contract, as per their policy, but we all know money talks. Joe has great talent, and is a good pick up for New Jersey, who have been struggling to find consistency on their blue line of late.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Nanooks Season Comes To A Close

An unfortunate end to the Nanooks' season, as Miami takes another 4-1 victory in a similar situation to yesterday. The Nanooks fought and fought, but could not generate any substantial chances on Connor Knapp.

The Nanooks played a good game, but Miami had a few more bounces and chances go their way and were able to bury them. Miami played a great series, good luck to them the rest of the way.

Stay tuned to the blog through the off-season though. Upcoming season recap and player report card, as well as reports on recruits coming in for next year as they finish up their respective junior seasons.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Nanooks Fall, Miami Forces the Issue & Wins 4-1

The Nanooks played a really good 30 minutes of hockey. Really. After Bryant Molle put the Nanooks up 1-0 in the first period. The Nanooks had a chance to go up 2-0 on a scramble in front of the net early in the second with Reichard sprawled out, but Cody Kunyk's shot was too high and it caromed off the crossbar. Just seconds later, Kunyk got flagged for a penalty as he got his stick involved in a check he put on Alden Hirschfeld. The RedHawks subsequently went to the power play tied the game at 1-1 in the second period courtesy of Chris Wideman.

The Nanooks had another good scoring chance to go up 2-1 about midway through the second as Colton Beck got a terrific shot off from the high slot area, and had Reichard beat, but he rang the post.

After that point, it was all down hill. The 'Nooks looked deflated, and just fell apart. Give credit to Miami, they forced the issue, but the Nanooks lost the drive and the momentum they had going for themselves, and didn't get it back until it was far too late.

The Nanooks were only able to put up 18 shots on goal all game, despite having about 5 and a half power play chances (box score will say 6, one of which only lasted about a minute).

The Nanooks need to rebound tomorrow, similarly to how they did back in November. Now they have to win 2 straight, or its season over.

Slowing Their Roll - Taking Down Miami

Series Notes:

Friday, March 11 at 7:35 p.m. EST (3:35 p.m. AKT)
Live TV: KFXF Fox 7 (Fairbanks)/ONN (Ohio)
Live Radio Broadcast: KSUA 91.5 FM (Fairbanks)
Live Twitter Feed:
Live Internet Radio Broadcast:
Live Internet Video
Live Stats: Game Tracker

Saturday, March 12 at 7:05 p.m. EST (3:05 p.m. AKT)
Live TV: KFXF Fox 7 (Fairbanks)/ONN (Ohio)
Live Radio Broadcast: KSUA 91.5 FM (Fairbanks)
Live Twitter Feed:
Live Internet Radio Broadcast:
Live Internet Video Broadcast:
Live Stats: Game Tracker

Sunday, March 13 at 7:03 p.m.  EST (3:05 p.m. AKT) - if needed
Live TV: KFXF Fox 7 (Fairbanks)/ONN (Ohio)
Live Radio Broadcast: KSUA 91.5 FM (Fairbanks)
Live Twitter Feed:
Live Internet Radio Broadcast:
Live Internet Video Broadcast:
Live Stats: Game Tracker

The Nanooks find themselves heading to Oxford, Ohio to take on the 3rd seeded Miami RedHawks after Bowling Green emerged from the shadows for a first round upset that nobody ever predicted, nor has anyone ever seen before. No last-place seeded team in CCHA history has won the first round of the playoffs before last weekend, and I'm fairly certain nobody predicted it to happen this year, either. But Bowling Green's good fortune redirects the Nanooks' fate to Ohio and MU.

Miami enters the weekend on a 9 game unbeaten streak (6-0-3) which includes a series sweep of Michigan just a few weeks ago. They ride on the success of their top forward line, which all 3 sit in the top 10 in scoring in the nation, combining for 155 points thus far.

The Nanooks are coming off what I would call their most consistent series of the season, full of energy and pace against the Michigan State Spartans in the first round of the CCHA playoffs. And in order to take the RedHawks down, pace is key. Earlier this season, in a trip to Oxford, the Nanooks split the series with a 4-0 loss and a 3-2 come-from-behind win on Friday and Saturday, respectively. When you look back at that first game, the first thing you notice is the style. Miami plays an aggressive, fast-paced game and they like to dictate the flow by getting the puck in to open space and skating with speed.

Defensively, the Nanooks have to key in on those open spaces and shut them down. But not playing back and staying aggressive, especially on the forecheck and not allowing Miami to transition to offense is a big deal. I don't think I have to say it, but its hard for Miami to score when they don't have the puck.

When Miami has the puck, they don't really do anything fancy. They use their speed and drive the net, take shots and line up for rebounds. I wouldn't expect that to change much this weekend either. Expect Miami to take a lot of shots, and hope for Greenham to limit the rebound opportunities and keep everything in front of him.

Miami has played just 2 games in the past 30 days, so expect them to be rested, too. With last weekends' extended games, I would hope that the Nanooks would have a slight edge in conditioning, but we'll see.

The Nanooks have a real shot here this weekend to advance. Neither team has swept the other in nearly a decade, and if history continues to repeat itself, it should come down to which team plays with a greater sense of urgency. Should be a fun weekend.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Dash of This, A Blast of That

Just a few things...

First, Scott Greenham was honored this morning by the CCHA, earning All-Conference Second Team honors. Scott sits behind Ferris State's Pat Nagle, who has slightly prettier stats. The aggrevating part is, the only other guy from the Nanooks' roster that was mentioned at all was Joe Sova.

When you look at overall scoring leaders, and you look at strictly defensemen, Joe was 2nd among all defensemen in the conference with a 4-20-24 line. Aaron Gens was tied for third with Second Team selection Jon Merrill from Michigan. Granted, Jon had more goals, but Jon also got 3 first place votes. How many votes did Aaron Gens get? 0. Granted, Sova got 3 first team votes, and essentially was the number one honorable mention, but only two players got votes at all? That's kinda shady. Granted, Miami's top forward line that's combined for about 3,203,634,784 points kind of hog the page, albeit deservedly. Here's the full release if you haven't checked it out yet.

Also worth nothing, freshman forward and the Nanooks' top scorer Cody Kunyk earned an honorable mention for the CCHA All-Rookie team announced on Monday. Cody just missed the list, with the final forward spot going to WMU's Chase Balisy. Full release.

Earlier this week, Nik "Yaremclutch" made his way on this week's episode of Inside the CCHA, chatting it up with CCHA Associate Commissioner Fred Pletsch. During the interview, Fred coined the nickname "Nik Yaremclutch" after his back-to-back OT game-winning goals this past weekend against Michigan State. I found it post-worthy. Download this week's show and listen in.

Lastly, I've gotten a few emails over the past week asking for my take on the whole Rick Comley situation from last weekend, and I've got nothing to say, really. I wasn't at the arena, I didn't witness it, all I know is what's been posted elsewhere. I do know that the conference is reviewing the situation, so I guess we'll see where it goes from there. My esteemed cohort Danny Martin over at the News-Miner has a few write-ups regarding the situation, and in my opinion, he documents the scenario just as well as I could. I've already written a little bit about this from last week's game recaps, but hopefully this additional reading will shed some additional light.

Retiring Michigan State coach Rick Comley under scrutiny for alleged shoving match

Michigan State hockey coach allegedly shoved fan after Friday's game

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Nanooks Move On, Move Past MSU 4-3 in Double OT

After 80 minutes, I can only imagine how the guys felt coming out of the locker room for the second overtime. When I was playing football years ago, we had a game in the playoffs go into triple overtime, and it took every ounce of energy to keep going.

Needless to say, the guys looked gassed, but coming out of the locker room into the second overtime, the guys seemed to have caught a spark and definitely outhustled the Spartans through the first 3:18, and that's all they needed. Nik Yaremchuk, again with an overtime game winner, after pulling the puck off the boards, he danced around a sprawling Michigan State defenseman pulling the puck back in protection, and wristed a shot that beat Yanakeff to end the game.

With the victory, the Nanooks in the Dallas Ferguson era remain undefeated in post-season play at home. The Nanooks are 5-1-0 since Dallas took the helm.

The Nanooks now advance to the second round of the CCHA tournament, where they await the result of game 3 between Northern Michigan and Bowling Green. Should the Falcons pull the upset, the Nanooks will head to Oxford, Ohio next weekend to take on the Miami Redhawks. Should Northern get the W, it's Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

It Was a Good Goal - End of Story

After the end of the game yesterday, a lot of one-sided conversation arose about how Nik Yaremchuk's goal should have been disallowed, and it obviously wasn't. Nor should it be, nor will it be. Last night, Drew Palmisano even posted on Twitter calling for officials to review the situation. So I picked up the phone this afternoon and had a pleasant conversation with the CCHA Director of Officiating, Steve Piotrowski, who concurred with the officials on-ice and video review decisions.

Looking at replay tape from the broadcast camera, yes you can tell that the net came up, but was never displaced, and immediately returned to its proper position in place before the shot was taken. In the NCAA rulebook under rule 6, section 18-Goals and Assists "A goal is scored when the puck, initially propelled
legally by a stick of a player of the attacking team, passes between the goal posts, entering from the front and below the top of the net, and completely crosses the goal line, with the goal frame in its proper position."

Moving further down to 6-18-c-12 "If the goal cage has been moved or dislodged. The goal frame is
considered to be displaced if any portion of the goal frame is not in its proper position (e.g., frame must be completely flat on the ice surface, goal posts must be in proper place and affixed securely in place with its pegs)."  This rule definition applies when the goal is scored. Before the puck was shot in, the net did come up, but it was not displaced. The cage returned to its proper position before the shot was taken. When the officials reviewed the call, they determined under this ruling that the net was in its proper position, flat on the ice, when the shot was taken, and a goal was then awarded. Steve mentioned that from the overhead camera, you could clearly see at the time of the goal that the cage was in its proper place.

Officials have the ability to make a judgment call that if the integrity of the net is compromised, or if the cage has come off the ice in such a way to inhibit play, or compromise safety. Frequently at all levels of hockey, you'll see the net get jostled around a bit, especially in goal mouth scrambles. Just because the net moved a little, doesn't mean it was displaced. In this case, the net quickly returned to its proper position, just before the goal was scored.

Rick Comley can argue with the officials all he wants. It was a good goal, and the Spartans lost, fair and square. UPDATE: The guys over at The Pipeline Show have posted a story about the post-game altercations that took place between Rick Comley and and some Nanook fans that occurred during an interview with members of the media. Head on over to their blog for the scoop.

Game 2 takes place tonight at 7:05PM AKT at the Carlson Center. I have a feeling MSU will be gunning for us. Hopefully things don't get too chippy.

As always, you can follow my Twitter feed for live in-game updates and commentary. Bruce Cech calls the game on KSUA 91.5FM, or via the internet at (free!). Video streams are also available for a fee at (direct link to CCHA playoffs)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Last Minute OT Antics Earn Ferguson 50th Win as Nanooks Top MSU 3-2

Congrats to the Nanooks in their victory over Michigan State. This win marks the 50th victory for Dallas Ferguson in his head coaching career in just three seasons, just the second Nanooks bench boss to accomplish that feat. The other would be now-Gophers head coach Don Lucia.

The first period had some good back and forth action, as the Nanooks dominated the first half of the period, but a penalty to Carlo Finucci sent the Spartans to a power play that started to change the tide. At that point, the Spartans didn't even have a shot on goal, and they got 4 in right at the tail end of it, and really tested Greenham's rebound control. Scottie was definitely on top of his game to keep it 0-0. The Nanooks were able to turn it around with about two minutes left in the first period, but weren't able to get one to the back of the net. Kaare Odegard had some great offensive chances, which is good to see from a defensive defenseman. He had some nifty moves in transition to get past a couple of defenders and even found himself pinching down to help out. Probably the first time I've seen such moves from the sophomore defenseman.

The second period got much of the same back and forth action, but found Aaron Gens going to the box, and the Spartans once again getting a momentum swing in their favor, and Jake Chelios tallied a power play marker down low from a pass from the point by Tory Krug. But the Nanooks didn't take too long to respond, tightening up on both sides of the puck and really started forcing the issue. Watching the game, you couldn't tell that the score was as it was, the Nanooks really were skating circles around the Spartans at that time. And finally, 9 minutes later, the Nanooks defensemen Michael Quinn led a strong breakout up the boards to Enders, then over to Yaremchuk on the right side, and over to Meyers who brought it into the zone, found Yaremchuk down low, who found Quinn trailing in on the play streaking down the slot, who was left all alone by the Spartan defense and buried his first career collegiate goal. Good to see him get rewarded, too. He's been really stepping up these last few games, and getting a bit more ice time and experience. He's aggressive, which has gotten him behind the play a time or two, but it paid off here.

In the 3rd, each team also notched a goal. MSU got what I would call a lucky one, after a puck ricocheted off the post, it trickled in the crease as Greenham kind of lost track of it. The Spartans got bodies down in front of the net jamming at it, and Tim Buttery was able to get his stick on it to go up 2-1.

But the Nanooks again were able to answer the call, again off of a good transition. Nanooks captain Kevin Petovello caught Carlo Finucci streaking in, who maintained some patience and found Jarret Granberg cutting in front of the cage, who got a stick on the airborne puck to deflect it past the blocker of Palmisano to knot it all up 2-2.

After 60 minutes, the teams went to the locker room to arm themselves for period number 4, a sudden death 20 minute overtime. And it took 19 minutes and 40 seconds of it for the game to come to an end, as Sova hit Yaremchuk in the chest. " kind of hit me in the chest, and fell in front of me, and I didn't even look, I just shot the puck and it just went in" Nik said of his goal during the post-game conference.

Definitely a long tiring game, but the adrenaline must be pumping through the guys veins as they are one win away from advancing to the CCHA quarterfinals, likely against the Michigan Wolverines. Look for the guys to keep the throttle open tomorrow, and grind out another victory over the Spartans.

Looking at the other scores around the CCHA, both Northern Michigan and Lake Superior posted dominant victories over Bowling Green and Ohio State, respectively as all 3 home teams won the opening game of the first round series.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

MSU Coach and Writer Whines About Travelling Back to Alaska

Now this is funny. Spartan head coach Rick Comley called a local Lansing news blogger Tim Staudts who posted a  tear-filled rant about his team having to make another trip back to Alaska in a 3 week span, claiming "Alaska has no business being in this league". Since Michigan State could only place one spot from the bottom of the barrel, they're on the road the rest of the way. Since their fate was sealed this past weekend, they needed a plane with 32 seats available. The only plane they could get themselves on was out of Chicago, which involved a 3 and a half hour bus trip. Wow. My heart is full of sympathy already. Pathetic.

I'm all for teams complaining about the travel, whatever, but when they say we have no business being in this league, that pretty much pisses me off. Don't like it? For starters, you could try finishing better than 10th place. I'm not saying MSU is a bad team, but finishing in 10th doesn't exactly earn the right to choose where you want to play in the playoffs. I've seen our team in that spot several times in years past. Home ice for the playoffs hasn't exactly been the norm until recently.

Our team travels more than any other team in the country, I've covered this subject before after some Notre Dame fan whined about the same thing. I could ask Coach Ferguson next week what he thinks about the long trip for the quarterfinals, but I know what his response will be, and it won't be a complaint. Basically its the same story, different chapter. Maybe Michigan State isn't tough enough to make those long trips? I guess I know the real reason why Adam Henderson transferred. Too much man for a single Spartan uniform. Funny, 'cause I don't hear him complaining about travel.

Topeka Blueliner Trevor Campbell Commits to Alaska

Topeka Roadrunners 5' 10" 190lb defenseman Trevor Campbell will join teammate Michael Hill in donning a Nanooks jersey next season. The 20 year old blueliner is third among RoadRunner defensemen in points with a 2-8-10 line and a +15 rating. Trevor will join a Nanooks squad complete with 4 senior defensemen to learn from. Essentially, he'll have a season to get up to speed.

I was saying this before when the Nanooks and Justin Daigle parted ways earlier this season, but with Bryant Molle graduating this year, the Nanooks will have 7 defensemen next year (with the addition of Campbell), with 4 of them being seniors. I suspect after the season is over, the team may recruit a few more defensemen in, probably just one for next year. I can see the team rotating 8 defensemen realistically with a pair of rookies.