The Nanooks are now 3-1 in their last 4, making a positive note on their way to a home series against the Michigan Wolverines to close out the first half of the season. Tonight's 2-0 victory marks the first series shutout sweep on the road in Nanook history, and just the second time that the Nanooks have posted back-to-back shutout performances under Dallas Ferguson's command with Scott Greenham between the pipes. A 5-0 blasting of UConn on October 11th in Anchorage for the Kendall Classic, and another 5-0 rout of Mercyhurst on October 17th in Fairbanks to open the Brice Alaska Goal Rush back in 2008, which was Greenham's freshman year.
That's also just the Nanooks' third series shutout sweep in program history. The first coming against the Korean national team in a series played back in 1983, and the other against UNO in 1999. Both of those series however came at home. Tonight also marked Greenham's 11th shutout of his collegiate career, but only 16 pucks made their way into Greenham's crease tonight as the defense in front of him really stifled the Falcon's offensive plans.
Granted, in Bowling Green's defense it is really hard to do anything in the offensive zone when you commit 44 minutes in penalties. Both of the Nanooks' goals tonight came with a man advantage (which is kind of good when you consider how many chances we had). But with no shortage of chances, Andrew Hammond was certainly busy. His diving save on Colton Beck mid-way through the 1st period was something to behold. Aaron Gens ripped a shot right the right side and the rebound came out, right on to Beck's stick. Colton ripped off a laser as Hammond was jumping to the other side and got his blocker up to stop it.
A couple of bad decisions on Bowling Green's part resulted in 11 penalties and two injured Nanook players. Nolan Youngmun was down on the ice for some time after taking a hard high stick to the neck. He skated off on his own power, but that just didn't look good. Jarret Granberg was also on the ice for a period of time as the Nanooks were on the power play, taking a hard hit into the boards from Ryan Carpenter behind the net. Like Nolan, he was able to skate off on his own power before the play died, but he didn't look good doing it. I didn't see many shifts from him as the game wore on, and his time was mostly filled by Adam Henderson, who's been doing a great job centering the 3rd line and creating chances for those guys. Hendo was rewarded too during the 2nd major penalty at the start of the 2nd with his positioning in front of the net, taking a rebound from a shot by Finucci and sending it up high while he was being pushed down, and got it over Hammond's shoulder for the eventual game winner.
Cody Kunyk got a juicy redirect goal on the power play chance near the end of the 2nd period on a booming shot by Gens. Cody was checked quite tightly, and I didn't think he was going to get his stick on it, but he did and it was definitely highlight reel worthy.
BG called timeout with about 1:30 left to play, and pulled Hammond for a 6th skater. Andy Taranto took an unfortunate penalty with about 40 seconds left trying to regain the puck, but wasn't able to get it done and got flagged for high sticking. But the Nanooks held on for the win, and sent BG looking for goals elsewhere, as the 'Nooks would have none of it.
Alaska returns home next weekend to end the first half of the season with a home series against the Michigan Wolverines. If the Nanooks can play like they did in these last two weeks, I think we're in for some damn good hockey.