Monday, December 10, 2012

'Nooks Take 2 Points in 4-3 Shootout Win vs BGSU

Sorry for the delay on this, I thought I published this Saturday night until a friend said "Hey, where the hell is your post?" Sunday evening. Not sure what happened, I hit publish but apparently Google didn't want to cooperate. So here it is, a day late...

A much better start tonight for Alaska as they banged one in just 59 seconds in as Cody Kunyk took out the trash. Good stick work down low to get free and bang it home. All too often a bounce, or a quick defensive play ousts efforts to get a stick on a free puck, but a good quick whack at the puck put the 'Nooks up early. Nice reaction time, if you ask me.

Into the 2nd, BG controlled play with a power play to start the period. While they didn't score with the advantage, they used it to create some momentum. As Cam Wojtala snapped one home from the back door on a feed from Bobby Shea off the back wall, his 4th point of the weekend.

But about 7 minutes later, Michael Quinn had some antics of his own to share as he planted eyes on the rubber and sent it flying. Somehow, it found its way through a sea of legs and under the glove of Andrew Hammond. After it went in and the horn sounded, I think he was just as surprised as I was that it found the net. One hell of a shot.

Speaking of a hell of a shot, Quinner took one of those from a Bowling Green player behind the Nanooks' net and sort of looked like Manny Pacquiao there for a second. I was a bit worried there for a second, especially for how thin the Nanooks are on defense, but he got up after a quick eval from Doc Keller and trainer Mike Curtin (forever known as MC) and skated off eventually under his own power. And after a few tours on the ice between face-offs to loosen up, he got another shift in towards the end of the period and didn't seem phased. Again, very happy to see that as the 'Nooks defenders are a little thin back there, with only Nolan Kaiser/Justin Tateson able to provide relief. Hopefully JD Peterson will be able to get in the line up after the break, and Richard Coyne will be eligible to join the team after the first of the year so more bodies will be available but with neither Coyne nor Peterson getting any game time, hard to say where they will be at in terms of game shape, but who knows. Coyne might be a phenom hanging in the shadows waiting for his release.

Anyway getting back on track, the 3rd period saw the 'Nooks take advantage of a bad high sticking penalty by Dan DeSalvo getting his stick tied up with Colton Parayko. And when you think about the height difference (5' 8" DeSalvo (really like 5' 6") vs. 6' 5" Parayko), you can really see how high that stick actually went.  In the Nanooks 6th power play opportunity of the night, freshman forward Tyler Morley put one home on a play created by the presence of Trevor Campbell getting the puck in up on the rush. Campbell was very active for most of the game, but he gets his 12th point of the season still tops on the team. A good strong goal from Morley somewhat similar to Kunyk's goal early in the game, even on the same side. A quick play as it looked like the PK unit for BG was expecting Campbell to pass it. But instead a quick release to the goaltender's right caught the defense over pursuing left and Morley was left with only one guy to his side.

That 3-1 lead would soon evaporate as the defense started letting Bowling Green dictate the play. As the game got a bit more physical, a couple of quick penalties to Yaremchuk and Odegard had the 'Nooks looking to kill a 3 on 5 power play chance. But Odegard's penalty wasn't even finished being announced when Bowling Green forward Mark Cooper put in his 2nd goal of the weekend. Kind of an odd play, as the Falcons stacked 3 players above the circles. DeSalvo and Perrier passed the puck between them quickly about 3 or 4 times (DeSalvo in the middle) when Perrier passed it cross-ice to Cooper who blasted it passed Keeney, and the 2 Falcons that were screening him uncontested.

Then at the end, just after Hammond got to the bench, Bowling Green crashed the net as the Nanooks over pursued the forwards versus playing position. As a result, the passing lanes were open and unfortunately the 'Nooks don't have The Flash in goal, and the Falcons were able to tie it with a couple of quick passes up to the point where DeSalvo took a shot, and Berkle got the rebound and put it in the back of the net.

Nothing big to speak of in overtime, and Andy Taranto got the only goal of the shootout as John Keeney was perfect. Which is a good sight after allowing goals on both shootout attempts back in Marquette a few weeks ago.

2 points out of 6 on the weekend for the 'Nooks, seemingly avoiding disaster. I think it goes without saying that everyone was looking for 6. The 'Nooks were certainly capable of sweeping this weekend, but so it goes. The 'Nooks will not play another home series until the 25th of January--7 weeks way! 2 road series against Michigan and Notre Dame to start the new year before getting back to Fairbanks against NMU. Just 3 home series left in this CCHA season before the Governor's Cup... That is... Unless the world ends on the 21st...

Friday, December 7, 2012

Hammond Stops 39 as the 'Nooks Fall to BGSU 3-2

Still curious as to where the Nanooks from October went. I couldn't tell you if I tried. I'm not sure where this slump is coming from but the guys did not seem on their game to start the 1st period. Fortunately, BG only got one in the net as much as it pains me to say that.

A mishandled puck down low as the Falcons were able to get Cahill out of position with the passing lanes wide open. And Bryce Williamson had basically an open net to put it in.

With a bit more jump in their step, the Nanooks started going to work in the second. And the 4th line getting it done as Max Dumond got his first career goal poking it in off of a rebound from Hajdukovich's shot from the circle.

Then a few defensive lapses let in two soft goals in rapid succession from BG forwards Mohler and Cooper put the Nanooks in a 3-1 hole.

Into the 3rd was really when the Nanooks started to pick it up and taking it to Bowling Green. I think the Falcons managed maybe 3 shots on goal to almost 20 for the 'Nooks. One of which was deflected by Chad Gehon into the net.

While the 3rd period surge for the 'Nooks was a long time coming, it came too little too late as BG was able to cling to their lead.

I don't really have an excuse to give for this team, because I really don't understand why the 'Nooks are falling flat as of late. They just look uninspired, some more than others. Maybe it takes a loss to a team like BG, who I hoped just opened their eyes. You can't play down to your competition. If you want to win big games, you have to win the small ones too. You can't blow leads or skate for half a game and still expect to win. It takes 60 minutes of hard work, something I haven't seen quite a while.

Game Day - Nanooks vs. Falcons

Game Day

Alaska Nanooks vs Bowling Green Falcons
7:05PM AKST - Carlson Center, Fairbanks, Alaska

Live | Live Audio: KCBF 820 Sports

Live Video ($7): | Radio: 820 AM Fairbanks

Twitter: @NanookHockey

Bowling Green enters this series in last place in the CCHA, 8 points behind Alaska. But, that doesn't mean they aren't a good team. Last season, the Nanooks went 3-1 against the Falcons, but that lone loss came at the Carlson Center.

The Nanooks at 6-7-3 have struggled to find their stride as of late. A 6-1 win against Western Michigan 3 weeks ago has seemed to sink the 'Nooks a bit as they have not put a W up since that triumphant Friday night. I was hopeful that Taranto's 100-point campaign would ignite the team a bit to rally around him and get the win against Miami. While the comeback started as they cut the 4 goal lead to 2, they failed to score again for the rest of the weekend.

After starting out strong, it's hard to say from my perspective how confident the coaching staff is with John Keeney. After allowing 9 goals in 2 games lost, I can't put all of that on him. Sean Cahill hasn't gotten a look in quite a while, but I think if I were in the coach's shoes, I would keep confidence in Keeney as I think he's capable of Chad Johnson-esque skill, he just needs some time to settle in. But that's not to say that Cahill/Thompson haven't put in the work to get rolling either. And this carousel will continue to spin until one of them starts putting a streak of games together. 

This marks the last series of 2012, as the 'Nooks crest the mountain of the CCHA's last season. As the saying goes, its all downhill from here. Going into the break, 6 points here would put the Nanooks at 20 points, or a bit better off even with 2 more games played than the rest of the field. Points in December count just as much as points in February.

Anyway, the Teddy Bear toss is also slated for tomorrow. It's for a great cause, so bring your stuffed animals (new/clean) to the rink on Saturday and you can throw them on to the ice. You can really make a difference in a kids life... It sure did for me when I was younger.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

'Nooks Blanked 4-0, Swept At Home by Miami

It's a pretty hard deal to recap a game like that, but a much different start to the start of game 2 as the Nanooks took play to the RedHawks for most of the first period. The 'Nooks had a couple of power play chances, but cycling 4 forwards and a defenseman on the unit, they weren't able to get a goal in 3 chances in the first stanza.

In the second period, things didn't start as well. 2 quick penalties to Taranto and Atkinson put the Nanooks down on 5 on 3 and the RedHawks were able to capitalize as Wideman found the back of the net. Miami had a power at goal waved off earlier after it trickled the goal line on the power play as well.

The Nanooks had some chances in the 3rd, but weren't able to capitalize. The Nanooks kept up the pressure, which was going well until Miami started to catch on and it burned them. Czarnik's dive to poke the puck up to Jimmy Mullin for his breakaway goal is a perfect example. 'Nooks got caught with too many guys down low, and left the point open and it was exploited.

Honestly it was a good hockey game, and Miami has a hell of a team. The 3rd period just got away from them. But that's not an excuse for the 'Nooks getting swept at home. 0/7 on the power play tonight, even while running 4 forwards on the power play unit. Something has got to be done there. Not getting a win since  November 16th destruction of WMU? 6-2-1 in that span since the Brice? 0-4-1 in the last 5 says that something needs to change. I'm hoping that Bowling Green can be a good opportunity to get the ship back on the right course. Because not too long from now, the 'Nooks will have Michigan, Notre Dame, and Miami all on the road in the span of a month...

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Nanooks Fall to Miami 5-2 as Taranto Gets #100

I'm going to preface this recap with the statement that the Nanooks team that I saw on the ice tonight, was not the same team I've watched for the last two months. Coach Ferguson said in the post-game conference that this team doesn't quit. While I agree with that, they didn't even get started until its was 4-0. I was not impressed at all by the defense tonight. John Keeney was the reason that game wasn't more out of hand than it was. Although he did let that 5th one slip under his arm.

A lot of mental mistakes tonight, but there are certainly some positives to head into tomorrow. The big story is Andy Taranto hitting his 100th career point. Sad that it couldn't come with a win, but certainly a special moment for the Nanook senior. Over the last few years watching him play, Taranto is a special player that is going to be exciting to watch where he goes after he graduates. I'd expect the NHL, but at this rate I'm not so sure the NHL will exist anymore...

On to the game, the Nanooks seemed to start well in the first period, but a couple of bad breaks put them 2 goals in the hole. Austin Czarnik scored first with a strong possession, dangling around Nanook defenders and beat Keeney one-on-one. Cody Murphy extended the lead to 2-0 from a shot around the crease on the power play. After that second goal, the 'Nooks just seemed to fall flat.

The second period saw a flurry of scoring, but MU ultimately took advantage and extended their lead and controlling possession for the first 11 minutes. Now with the Nanooks getting in gear, Andy Taranto put the Nanooks on the board with the 100th point of his career on a beautiful shot from the high slot to beat Williams. Atkinson made a nice play to set everything up, and Taranto found some open space in the high slot, and he buried it.

Just 3 minutes later, Huysmans helped close the gap to 4-2 shortly after having his baby picture up on the video board (gotta love some of those promotions). Really just a nice play coupled with a good bounce to keep the puck on his stick as he danced right around Williams.

MU's 5th goal was alluded to in the beginning of the post, but this goal was really created by a 3 on 1 rush off a center ice turnover by the Nanooks. The unfortunate bounce put the freshman goaltender in a bad spot, but nearly had the save but it trickled through just under the arm.

At the end of the second period, Jarret Granberg collided with a Miami player right at the buzzer and didn't lighten up before the hit occurred. To make matters worse, the Miami player didn't see it coming and didn't brace for it. That hard hit equalled an early shower for Jarret and a 5 minute penalty kill to start the 3rd.

The 'Nooks were buzzing and got a number of opportunities on the PK to narrow the deficit, but when one puck went in to the back of the net, the goal was waved off after a brief review, saying that Morley intentionally kicked the puck in. While I don't disagree that it went off the skate, I do question the kicking motion. I don't think it was there... He did change the angle of his skate as he started to slide to a stop. An unfortunate call that I think ended the hopes of the team, and to have it happen there so early in the 3rd can be maddening.

The 'Nooks look to rebound tomorrow and get some points out of this series. I wouldn't be surprised to see coach Ferguson chew into this team during tomorrow's morning practice. They seemed uninspired and ill prepared for a team of Miami's caliber tonight. Hopefully the guys can put this one behind them quickly and get to a new day and a new game.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Game Day - Nanooks vs. RedHawks

Game Day

Alaska Nanooks vs #4 Miami RedHawks
7:05PM AKST - Carlson Center, Fairbanks, Alaska

Live | Live Audio: KCBF 820 Sports

Live Video ($7): | Radio: 820 AM Fairbanks

Twitter: @NanookHockey

I feel as if I've neglected you this week, my loyal readers... Again, sorry for the lack of a pre-series post but life always seems to find a way to interfere. But I think this series is one that doesn't need much of an introduction. The RedHawks come into this game ranked 4th in the country, sporting one of the most dynamic offensive forward lines in college hockey today. Reilly Barber, Austin Czarnik have combined for 29 of the 85 total points that Miami has amassed thus far through 12 games. Coming off of a bye week over Thanksgiving, you have to wonder if the turkey will take its toll.

Historically, the 'Nooks have always fared pretty well against this team. Despite the scoring that Miami has dazzled the country with in recent history, only twice has Miami beaten Alaska in what I would consider a blowout (7-2, 5-0). The Nanooks have a history of splitting with Miami, so time will tell.

The Nanooks will don the gold jerseys tonight for the first time all season. Which is great, because I for one prefer them. The whites are a very nice sweater too, don't get me wrong, but the golds are just awesome.

John Keeney will also get the start in goal tonight. This will be a great challenge for him against Miami's offense. Colton Parayko is out for tonight's game, so Justin Tateson will be in the lineup as well. Watch my Twitter (@NanookHockey) for the full lines a bit later.

Go 'Nooks!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Lead Swallowed in 3rd Period, NMU Edges SO Win

Dallas Ferguson elects to go with John Keeney in goal tonight as the Nanooks look to avoid another loss in the Black Hole... And Coach Ferguson looks for his first win against the NMU Wildcats in his career on his 40th birthday no less. What a great birthday present that would have been.

The first period had some chances as the Nanooks seemed to have the flow of the game in their favor, although the shots were tilted a bit in NMU's favor.

A lot of those shots weren't top quality scoring chances, but with 3 first period penalties on Alaska, all of them called on Tyler Morley. The Wildcats would capitalize on their first of three chances on what turned out to be a nice play as Reed Seckel made a no look backwards pass to the side of the net where Stephan Vigier was waiting. Keeney moved to the other post to cover the wraparound, but wasn't able to swing back to cover Vigier in time.

The Nanooks would answer right back 48 seconds later to tie it though as a strong 3 on 2 rush created by Chad Gehon up to Nik Yaremchuk. Yammer fed Nolan Kaiser who came up to fill the right wing spot and Kaiser rifled it for his first career goal. If you recall, we thought Nolan had his first goal last week in the Western Michigan series in the first game, but it turned out to be Huysmans. That's the downside when you have three Nolan's on the team all numbered sequentially (Kaiser, Huysmans, Youngmun as 23, 24, 25, respectively). This time, no question about it.

Then on NMU's lone penalty of the first period, Jake Baker goes to the box for holding, and just 8 seconds later, Tyler Morley who is well rested at this point gets one on the board from Trevor Campbell (his 3rd point of the series) and Josh Atkinson as the puck cycled the point after the initial faceoff.

Tyler Morley would get his 3rd penalty at 18:24 of the first period, as the Wildcats would get the remainder of that penalty call to start the 2nd period.

Into the second, no scoring came around but certainly some scoring chances on each side. The Wildcats had a strong showing against the Nanooks 4th line with a good extended possession. The Nanooks had some chances of their own with some quality chances on the rush. The Nanooks however unable to extend any of their possessions.

Then with 5:05 remaining, senior captain Adam Henderson puts a big hit on Jake Johnson, which was eventually ruled a 5 minute major and game misconduct for checking from behind. That opened the door for the second coming of the Wildcats infamous second period from a day previous, but the Nanooks definitely did not lean back on that kill. They pressured the Wildcats the entire time and held NMU to just three shots on goal that entire penalty. Taranto had a glorious shorthanded chance that Coreau wasn't able to contain. The rebound popped way up and came right to Tyler Morley who effectively had a wide open shooting lane, but Coreau came WAY out to make the save.

In the 3rd, NMU got a goal right off the faceoff after a media timeout as a defensemen blasted a shot in from the point. Reed Seckel got a stick on it midair and deflected it through the five-hole.

Into OT, the Nanooks had a chance to even the score as Andy Taranto butied what he thought was his 100th point. The goal was initially waved off due to contact with the goaltender. After a lengthy review, it looked like they couldn't get enough evidence to overturn it. From the broadcast replay, it looked like Taranto was pushed into the goaltender, but the officials only have the camera above the goal to look at. Shortly after that, Taranto was called with an extremely weak roughing call on a clean check against the boards. Regardless, the Nanooks were able to kill it off.

In the waning seconds of the Overtime period, Jarret Granberg had the Wildcats dead to rights as he connected with Cody Kunyk on the backdoor with a beautiful pass, but Jared Coreau made the save of the game right there. I couldn't believe that puck didn't go in the back of the net.

Into the shootout, Coreau stopped both Colton Beck and Tyler Morley, and Keeney was unable to make the save on either shooter for NMU.

The Nanooks return back to the Carlson Center for two straight back-to-back home series against Miami and Bowling Green. The RedHawks currently sit in 1st place in the CCHA as the Nanooks only close the gap by 1 point, and are back by just 2 points out of 1st place.

Friday, November 23, 2012

2 Goal Lead Erased By the Black Hole

For the second game in a row, the Nanooks hockey team let a 2 goal lead slip away. A sad but unfortunate truth as the Nanooks let the Wildcats right back into the game in Steve Thompson's first start in goal since the loss against Ferris State. A strong first period put the Nanooks up 2-0 with goals from Henderson and Granberg, but a poor defensive showing in the 2nd period allowed the Wildcats to surge ahead with 3 goals in just 5 shots on goal.

In the first, the Nanooks tilted play heavily in their favor for most of the period. The Wildcats top line logged a lot of minutes, probably 11 or 12 minutes in that period, but the 'Nooks wore them out. At 7:19, the Nanooks had some good cycling and got a shot to the front of the net that found Jared Coreau out of position. The puck found the stick of Henderson, who puts it in to an empty net.  Later at 15:43, looked like Trevor Campbell kept the puck in against the wall above the faceoff circle, and just threw the puck on net, that Jarret Granberg was able to deflect in. I didn't get a good look at the play but that's how it looked to me...

Down 3-2 in the 3rd, the Nanooks turned up the pressure, but a costly penalty at the end by
Morley had me biting my nails. Turns out it didn't matter as Taranto went beast mode and scored shorthanded on a play created by Jarret Granberg with strong defensive play, getting it back to Trevor Campbell with good vision to find Taranto streaking up, who buried the goal shorthanded to tie the game 3-3 with less than a minute to play.

A few seconds later, Daugherty took what Walt Kyle later described as a "dumb penalty" with just 5 seconds left in regulation gave the Nanooks an early start to a power play with Morley out of the box. However, a costly turnover to NMU captain Scott Macaulay caught Steve Thompson on a bad angle, leaving the side open, and Macaulay buried it for the shorthanded overtime game winning goal. Talk about a back breaker.

Aside from a few miscues in the second period, the Nanooks controlled the game. They held Northern to just 18 shots on goal through nearly 61 minutes,  but the four goals allowed mark is what sticks out.

The 'Nooks seek revenge tomorrow, and deserve a better fate. Would love to see the tide change...

How To Win In the Black Hole

The barn in Marquette will be known as "The Black Hole" until the 'Nooks can sweep the Wildcats, and this weekend presents a very good chance for that to happen. Dallas Ferguson in his post as head coach has faced Walt Kyle and the NMU Wildcats 13 times since 2008. The Nanooks are 0-7-6 in that time period. The Nanooks have won 4 of the shootouts, but nearly every game was close. Aside from one game, each of the Wildcats' win was by one or two goals. The only game that wasn't close was last season when the Nanooks surrendered 7 back in Marquette in a 7-3 loss.

But this is a new season, a new roster, and a new beginning. The 'Nooks are off to a great start, but not so much for NMU. The Wildcats are 1-5-2-0 in CCHA play this season, good for 5 points and last place in the conference. To add more turmoil, the Wildcats will miss Erik Higby on Friday's game serving a mandatory one game suspension due to the game disqualification he received for a contact to the head penalty against Ohio State. But, that's just the start...

Junior forward and the team's leading scorer Matt Thurber was ejected from Friday's game for contact to the head, but while he wasn't disqualified, coach Kyle pulled Thurber out faster than a Lamborghini peeling out at a traffic light. Citing a violation of team rules, Kyle said to the press "[Thurber is] out until I say he's back in." Wow... The curious side of me wants to know what exactly happened, but the other sympathetic side of me understands what its like to not have things going your way. Five of NMU's top nine offensive players will be out for this series, and one other player (Higby) will miss Friday.

You can tell their frustrations seem to be mounting as well, Northern has 176 penalty minutes so far this season, or 14.7 minutes per game. Now I know the Nanooks have their fair share too, but the part that hurts the Wildcats is that they're 57th in the country in the penalty kill at 74.5%, averaging out to about two power play goals allowed per game. From an overall defensive perspective, NMU averages 3.08 goals allowed per game total, 2nd worst in the CCHA. This series could be a good chance for the Nanooks 15.5% power play, which has started to click recently, to really find their stride and burying the puck.

Now as far as the actual game is concerned, the Nanooks should have the edge in zone play. Watching tape from the NMU/Ohio State series, the Wildcats have suffered from a poor passing game in the offensive zone. I don't know if its just a lack of vision, or good defensive reads by the Buckeyes. Probably a combination of both, but the Nanooks defense as solid as it is, I don't have too many worries about these guys wreaking havoc offensively, especially with the aforementioned lineup issues.

Where NMU excels is the transition game. Walt Kyle's teams over the years have always been good at controlling the neutral zone, and that's still true with this year's team. They will take advantage of mistakes and turnovers and start it back the other way. A number of their goals this season have come on odd-man rushes created on the backcheck, so making smart decisions with the puck, and clean passing in transition are keys to watch for.

Despite the history between these two teams especially in The Black Hole, the Nanooks are the better team. And if the 'Nooks play their game and keep their offense going, good things are going to happen.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Western Michigan Surges in 3rd Period for 3-2 Win

The Nanooks seemed to pick up right where they left off last night, hanging the shots and scoring chances on the Broncos. A few pressure situations resulted in a couple of penalties to WMU. The Nanooks capitalized, but just missed the power play goal as the player was skating back into the play. Tyler Morley banged one home for his 4th point on the weekend. Good hustle with the stick down around the net to find it, good heads up play.

In the second, the Nanooks seemed to start a bit flat offensively as they couldn't get much going. But later into the period, the intensity picked up quite a bit and a lot of arms were getting raised as the penalty box doors seemed to revolve on each side of the announcers booth.

But one of those power plays, Andy Taranto found Cody Kunyk wide open just outside the slot to capitalize on the power play to go up 2-0, taking the lead to the locker room.

Into the 3rd, last nights roles were reversed as Western rallied off two quick goals to tie it up 2-2. Then with just over 4 minutes, Henderson was flagged for a phantom minor penalty. Western called timeout and drew up the play, and they capitalized right at the tail end of it to go up 3-2.

The 'Nooks then faced another hardship late as Taranto was called for holding with 59 seconds up on the board. So if the 'Nooks were to get it done, it was going to have to be short handed. And they almost did it, but Frank Slubowski played lights out tonight and just flat out robbed the Nanooks tonight. Golden scoring chances around the net abounded again, but Slubowski kept them out of the back of the net. Sometimes just leaving me saying "!" His 40 save performance resulted in a first star performance on the night.

The other story here tonight is the loss of Garrick Perry and Colton Parayko both during the first period. Perry had to be helped off the ice after getting called for tripping, and would not return. I know he's had knee troubles in the past, but hoping those injuries didn't just come back to haunt him again.

Colton Parayko also went off during the first, but not sure why. When he left, I thought it was due to equipment, but my worries increased after I never saw number 4 on the bench again for the rest of the game. When I asked coach Ferguson during the post game presser, he didn't have anything to comment on at the moment, but hopefully it won't keep them sidelined much longer. Still not 100% sure on Nik Yaremchuk, hopefully he'll be available to go to Northern next week. I'll try and check in with the coaching staff this week and see who will be traveling to Marquette.

Speaking of Marquette... Dallas Ferguson's Nanooks are 0-7-6 against the Wildcats in the past 5 years including playoffs. But as captain Adam Henderson said, "that's all in the past"...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Nanooks Go Beast Mode, Trample WMU 6-1

The Nanooks looked pretty sharp in their camo jerseys. Interesting design, but I can dig it. They're up for auction online as well if you're interested in picking one up. Starting bid on those is $250, which seems a little steep but I know those jerseys aren't cheap either.

Well I'll do my best to recap the game based on what I heard from Bruce Cech, and what I'm getting from my followers on Twitter. Big thanks to Amanda McColley for picking up the tweeting for me tonight. Kind of hard to keep fans up to date from 33,000 feet in the air, but with the marvel of in-flight WiFi I wasn't completely left in the dark.

The first period had some chances going both ways, but the Nanooks seemed to have the majority of the quality scoring chances. And perseverance on the play pays off as Granberg's pressure took the puck away and sent it the other way as Granny went stride for stride with freshman Nolan Huysmans, and Jarret put that puck on a platter with a sweet saucer over the defender across the slot, and Nolan buried that chance.

In the second, the referees gift wrapped a few penalties for the Broncos, and put bows on a couple of power plays as early Christmas presents. The 'Nooks would kill the first one, but not the other as Chase Balisy buried his 3rd of the season.

The 'Nooks had the first 3 penalties called on them through the first 27 minutes of the game, but a penalty to DeKeyser at 7:13 of the 2nd period after tripping up Colton Beck would give the Nanooks their first power play chance of the game. However, they were unable to capitalize.

But, just a few moments later, Andy Taranto with a total beauty. Going in 1-on-3 over the blue line waiting on his teammates to come in on a change from the bench, but trying to just keep the play alive, he played the puck off the boards, it came back to TO's stick, and he backhanded a beaut over the glove of Frank Slubowski to go up 2-1 unassisted.

But Kaare Odegard was called for sort of a phantom call on a great hit as the officials flagged him for indirect contact to the head with a high stick. No big deal though as the 9th ranked penalty kill took care of it, and Odie would get even on a play set up beautifully by Nolan Youngmun going around wheeling behind the net, dishing the puck in front of the net back the other way, finding Odie wide open on the point fresh out of the box. Blasted it, and like that, the 'Nooks are up 3-1.

As the 3rd period was starting, the plane I was on was landing in Seattle and I'm trying to get the radio feed to stream in on my phone, but not having a whole lot of luck. I finally get it going shortly after the puck was dropped and all I heard was goal horn. It was an interesting moment of excitement. Shortly after that, I realized the score was now 5-1 after the always entertaining Bruce Cech exclaimed that the 'Nooks buried goals 13 seconds apart in the first 30 seconds of the 3rd period. While that doesn't quite eclipse the 8 second record mark set years ago against BGSU, that is the quickest mark in this current season, and quickest that I can remember in recent history. I remember a game a couple of years ago where two goals were scored 11 seconds apart. It's certainly been a while though.

Those two goals were ratcheted off by Nolan Huysmans (his 2nd of the game), and Nolan Kaiser, the 1st of his career. Also, best wishes to Nolan and his dad, who I understand went through his final surgery this week. Here's to the Kaiser family, hope he's on the road to recovery and doing well. I'm sure getting that goal helped dad feel a little better! Hopefully he remembered to nab the puck. Tape it up and send it home!

Moving on further into the 3rd period with about 9 minutes left on the clock, senior center Jarret Granberg extended the lead to miraculous-comeback levels, now up 6-1 as the 'Nooks now move back up to 2nd place in the CCHA standings once again with the chance to at least get to tie Notre Dame for 1st place as they're off tomorrow after sweeping Michigan at Yost.

Well I'm on my last flight now, up at about 34,000 feet on my way from Seattle back up to Fairbanks. I'll be back in the booth calling tomorrow's game on the PA as usual. Thanks to Ben Nelson for covering for me. Mexico was nice and warm, Fairbanks is not. -27 as of this writing at the Fairbanks airport. But, with the 'Nooks on fire like this, it might just warm up!

Game Day - Nanooks vs. Broncos

Game Day

Alaska Nanooks vs. Western Michigan Broncos

7:35PM AKST - Carlson Center, Fairbanks, Alaska

Live Stats: | Live Audio: KCBF 820 Sports

Live Video ($7): | Radio: 820 AM Fairbanks

Twitter: @NanookHockey

Television: Friday: GCI Channel 1 Live at 7:30 p.m. (Anchorage markets only); 
Replay (Statewide) GCI Channel 1 Sat., Nov. 17 at 10 a.m. 

Saturday: GCI Channel 1 Live at 7:30 p.m. (Anchorage markets only); 
Replay (Statewide) GCI Channel 1 Sun., Nov. 18 at 10 a.m. 

The Nanooks come into this series without just 1 loss in their previous 5 games. Last weekend, John Keeney backstopped the Nanooks to a 1-0-1 (SOL) record, earning goaltender of the week honors in just his first conference series starts.

WMU comes into the series with a 5-2-1 record, ranked 9th in the country with a 40th ranked offense, and an 8th ranked defense through 8 NCAA games thus far. Their only win versus a ranked team was a split against the Fighting Irish in South Bend, a 3-2 win Friday before falling 4-0 on Saturday. The Broncos also swept Canisius at Lawson, a team the Nanooks fell short to defeat in the Kendall Classic back in October.

Frank Slubowski remains the Broncos starting goaltender, who was 1-1-1 against the Nanooks last season. The Nanooks had some good results in the last game these two teams played last season, scoring 4 goals in 18 shots, and Scott Greenham with effectively the game of his career, keeping WMU off the board and earning him the player of the game honors with 37 saves on 38 shots.

The Nanooks will also be wearing camouflage jerseys this weekend in light of military appreciation week that the Nanooks athletic department is putting on. After this weekend, the jersey's will be auctioned off online to benefit the team. Each jersey's starting bid is at $250.

Should be an interesting series. Unfortunately, I'm going to miss tonight's game due to travel (I'm actually writing this on my layover in LAX), but I'll be giving a recap for Saturday's game, and I'll try to include some tidbits I hear from Friday. So I invite everyone to use the comments section of this post for discussion to bring everyone up to speed on Friday's game. The Twitter feed will be going, but it won't be me behind the keyboard this time around, so keep an eye on that for live in-game updates tonight.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Nanooks Superior Effort, 3 Unanswered Goals Capitulates Ohio State 3-1

45 shots on goal, and a lot of power plays and penalty kills each way gave a lot of ice for the Nanooks, who looked like the faster team which helped catapult them into second place in the CCHA rankings with 10 points, just 1 point behind Miami who earned the shootout win over NMU tonight.

The Nanooks had some great momentum going in the first period, largely outskating the Buckeyes for most of the period until the officials seemed to take it away. A phantom call on Cody Kunyk as he was playing solid defense down low in front of Keeney, but officials saw him check someone from behind who actually just kind of fell down. If they were going to penalize Kunyk, should have gotten the other player for embellishment.

Shortly after the power play started, Campbell got up close and personal and caught an Ohio State player by surprise against the boards. Officials called that boarding. Needless to say Ohio State scores on the 5 on 3 power play, they're not that bad...

Then at the end of the period, Odegard and an Ohio State forward were getting into it around the net, then the official decided to call Odie for slashing... So the Buckeyes now start the 2nd period with a 5 on 3 power play...

The Nanooks did a good job to kill it, but Ohio State had their fair share of chances. But there for a bit, it seemed that the Nanooks couldn't get much going, until the Nanooks had a goal called as Colton Beck flew into the zone and centered a pass that went off of Kunyk's skate and in. Originally called a goal on the ice, but after going to review, they saw Cody sticking his skate out to deflect the puck which was deemed a kicking motion and waved off.

Now with seemingly noting going our way until Ohio State ran into a bit of penalty trouble of their own. 5 straight calls against the Buckeyes helped the Nanooks get going offensively as the officiating seemed to start to even out. About 11 minutes into the period, Matt Johnson drove Cody Kunyk into the boards pretty hard from behind. A pretty dangerous hit, but the officials saw that one all the way, and called a 5 minute major and a game misconduct for checking from behind.

However, the 'Nooks weren't able to capitalize on that at all as the Nanooks seemed to trail off on that chance and let it slip away. But another call to Martell late in the 2nd for roughing seemed to rev the Nanooks' engine as they seemed a bit more up on the play. A clearing attempt back into the Nanook zone, Colton Parayko noticed Ohio State going for a late change. Parayko ripped a long pass up to Taranto who was waiting at the far side of the blue line. Racing into the zone, TO and Beck worked to crash the net as an Ohio State defender is nipping at the heels just slightly behind the play, and Beck able to make the shot off of the pass through the slot.

In the 3rd, the Nanooks started off about even with Ohio State with some good action going back and forth early, but the revolving penalty box door struck again as Brandon Martell went to the box, then just as that penalty expired, Cody Kunyk was sprung on a breakaway and hauled down by Sam Jardine, and the two went down to the ice funny, and it looked like Kunyk's skate caught Jardine's wrist  just above the glove, who bled pretty bad as he left the ice and the game to be attended to by the medics. Hope he's OK. Never like to see that happen.

But to make matters worse, he was called for holding as he pulled Cody Kunyk down to avoid the score. The Nanooks weren't able to capitalize on any of the power plays per se, but just as Jardine's penalty expired, Trevor Campbell intercepted an attempted outlet pass at the blue line by, who got the puck to Adam Henderson down low. Hendo threw the shot on net, and Granberg was sitting open on the door step who got a beautiful deflection on that shot to tip it up over the shoulder of Collin Olson to go up 2-1.

Now with the lead in hand, Nolan Youngmun nearly gave it away with two back to back penalties, the first a minor for high sticking, the second a 5 minute major and game misconduct for roughing. With just 5:55 left on the clock, most of the final minutes were to be played shorthanded. But the Nanooks superior defense had Ohio State slowing their game as they couldn't get anything going in the Nanooks' zone.

Then a neutral zone interception by Michael Quinn had Adam Henderson springing up his step as he got a shot on goal shorthanded, and collected his own rebound for the 'Nooks first shorthanded goal of the season to ice the victory 3-1.

Another game with the 'Nooks tallying over 40 shots on net, but this time 3 goals find their way to the back of the net, and the Nanooks move to a 5-3-2 record and taking 4 points this weekend to get up to 10 CCHA points thus far in the season. Again, putting them in second place just behind Miami. The Nanooks return home next weekend to take on Western Michigan who also went 1-0-1 this weekend with Bowling Green.

Should be a good flight home for the guys, who have come up with a big win in Columbus this weekend.

Go 'Nooks!

Goaltending Battle Results in Tie and Shootout Loss

I recall a line in one of the Mighty Ducks movies from years ago, where the new coach enters the locker room and poses this question "how long does it take to score a goal?" then throws the puck and sticks it in the bulletin board at the other end of the locker room and exclaims "less than a second". This is the story of the first 15 seconds of the 3rd period in a sense, as plays can turn around so fast. Now, I have to state that I didn't actually see the play, which makes it a little difficult to recap, but what seemed like an innocent pass turned into a speed play the other direction as Ohio State forced a 2-on-1 that the rookie John Keeney couldn't contain.

Speaking of John Keeney, I thought he played outstanding yesterday, but the defense in front of him was very solid as well, unlike the unfortunate outcome against Canisius during his last start. But I thought that our offense played well despite the lack of goal production. The 'Nooks got their chances, but it was a war of attrition out there and it took odd-man chances to get goals around defenses that both played very well.

The Nanooks penalty kill is also playing outstanding. No goals allowed in 8 chances last night, and 35/39 on the year, best in the CCHA and 10th best in the country. Puck pursuit has just been insane. Passes and loose pucks are never safe, and its amazing how many players make big plays when shorthanded. No shorthanded goals yet this season, but not allowing goals is obviously the priority.

In the shootout, Colton Beck missed just his 4th shootout attempt of his career. He's now 8/12 so far for a .667 scoring percentage, making every goaltender cringe. I'll just say what you're all thinking - Hjelle got lucky.

John Keeney will get his third start tonight after his 33 save performance yesterday. A great move if you ask me, and with a little coaching Keeney could emerge as the starter going forward... But time will tell.

Go 'Nooks!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Game Day - Nanooks Seek Revenge in Columbus

Game Day

Alaska Nanooks (4-3-1) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (2-2-2)
Value City Arena, Columbus, Ohio - 3:05PM AKST

Live Video - BuckeyeVision ($)
Live Internet Radio - Bruce Cech -
Live Stats - Game Center

The Nanooks seek revenge against a Buckeyes team that outscored us 8-2 in our previous two game series in Columbus last season about this same time. The Nanooks are a much different team this season however, but so is OSU. Much about the same, in fact. OSU is also running a goaltending-by-committee approach after losing Cal Heeter to graduation. Brady Hjelle and Colin Olson both sit pretty much dead even with each other at 1-1-1 with .927 and .926 save percentages respectively,  and each with a 2.27 GAA. Doesn't get any closer than that. The lone difference being that Hjelle has faced a total of 2 more shots than Olson has between 3 games played. You really can't make that up...

Ohio State also seems to be struggling a bit offensively, only putting up 11 goals in 6 games for 1.83 goals per game. The Nanooks have scored 19 goals in 8 games for a 2.38 goals/game average, but allowing 22 for 2.75 against explains the 3 losses. Of course the 6 goal against game with Ferris State doesn't help that average any.

The interesting part about this Ohio State team though isn't in the statistics. It's in the roster. Of 27 guys dressing for the Buckeyes, only 10 are either juniors or seniors. 10 sophomores and 7 freshmen round out this very young roster. And only one of those upper classmen (Alex Carlson) has a goal to their credit.

The Buckeyes played Bowling Green two weeks ago to a 1-0 25-save shutout win for Brady Hjelle before Saturday's 3-3 tie and shootout loss. According to Mark Osiecki, the Buckeyes are pretty battered after three straight road trips to start the season, electing only to practice twice during their bye-week to allow some of the guys to heal and rest up.

On the Nanooks side, the team left for Columbus on Tuesday night, arriving mid-day Wednesday. Not travelling this go around is Sean Cahill, who stayed behind. John Keeney will get the start in net Friday with just his second collegiate start. Steve Thompson will serve as the EBUG. Garrick Perry also gets his skates laced up again in his second game of the season after missing some time due to an injury. Nik Yaremchuk still remains sidelined, although it sounds like Nik might be back sooner rather than later. Time will tell with him. 

This series should be fun to watch!

Here's the lines for the Nanooks 

F1 Granberg - Morley - Taranto
F2 Gehon - Henderson - Youngmun
F3 Beck - Kunyk - Huysmans
F4 Dumond - Perry - Hajdukovich

D1 Quinn - Parayko
D2 Odegard - Campbell
D3 Tateson - Atkinson

G1 Keeney
G2 Thompson

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Comeback Stalls As Lakers Win 4-2

Try as they might, the 'Nooks could not buy a goal tonight. With 50 shots on net, Kevin Murdock probably sealed his bid for goaltender of the week after this series. It was just unreal to watch, the 'Nooks would get a shot on net, get the rebound and it would go nowhere. Rinse and repeat that 48 times and you have tonight's game in a nutshell. At least it wasn't for a lack of trying.

Anyway, the first period started tonight very fast. Both teams were really full of energy and had a lot of jump to their step. Also very offensive as the Nanooks racked up 35 attempted shots, with 19 of them making it on net. The Nanooks had their offensive chances but couldn't break through as Murdock was on top of his game again.

With Max Dumond in the box, Laker captain Domenic Monardo capitalized on the opportunity with a wrister past the blocker of Sean Cahill from the right face off circle. Nanooks had a man advantage opportunity of their own a few minutes later, and was able to put 7 shots on net, but couldn't get one through.

The second period was much the same way. The Nanooks controlled play, got a ton of shots and chances but couldn't buy a goal. Play started to get a bit chippy out there after Lake State got up by 2 goals. 9 penalties in total were called, but most of them offsetting. LSSU did get a goal scrambling in front of the net by Dan Radke.

In the third, Kevin Czuczman extended the lead for the Lakers to 3-0, but the Nanooks weren't done yet. Andy Taranto broke the goose egg with just over 5 minutes left to play. Then with 1:38 to play, Sean Cahill came off the ice for the extra attacker. Then after a timeout, Adam Henderson draws up a beauty of a faceoff play as he feeds Andy Taranto who rips it right off the post and in with his second goal of the night to bring the 'Nooks within 1. But with Cahill still on the bench, the Lakers were able to ice it with an empty-netter by Dan Radke for his second of the game.

A tough loss at home to close out parents' weekend. The post-game social at Tubby's was a little glum, unfortunately I wasn't able to stay long. For those families I didn't catch up with, thanks a lot for coming and supporting your son and the team. I know it means a lot to them, and I hope you had a good time while you were in town.

The 'Nooks hit the road for Ohio State this week, who went 1-0-1 at Bowling Green this weekend, and falling in the shootout. The Nanooks are now in a 6-way tie for 1st now, but again, very early in the season. It's always a race, but getting off to a good start sets the tone later in the season. Hopefully the offense can put a few more up on the board next weekend, but as long as its more than Ohio State can put up I'll be a happy guy. Go 'Nooks!

Game Day - Nanooks vs. Lakers, Round 2

Game Center

Alaska Nanooks vs. Lake Superior State Lakers
11/3 7:05PM - Carlson Center, Fairbanks, AK

Live Video ($7) - AmericaOne Sports
Live Internet Radio - Bruce Cech -
Live Stats -
Twitter (@NanookHockey)

Tonight the Nanooks look to complete their first sweep of the final CCHA season. As I alluded to last night, I'm hoping the Nanooks can put pressure on like they did early in the first period, but it should be a battle. Coach West alluded in the post-game presser last night that Lake State forces you to earn what you get, which is very true. But the Nanooks are the same way. If it weren't for that bounce last night in the first period, Cahill would have had his first collegiate shutout.

I haven't seen the lines yet today, but I would expect that Cahill goes again tonight. I thought he played really well last night, and deserves another start. I know it's gotta be hard on a guy like Steve Thompson, but while standing on your head and taking out two tough teams in Merrimack and North Dakota, then allowing 6 goals against Ferris State it's kind of hard to have confidence as a coach in that situation. 

As I said, it should be a battle tonight. But I think the Nanooks have the better team and should come out on top with a better offense and special teams. But we won't know until the final buzzer. Until then, go 'Nooks! See you all tonight at the Carlson Center.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Last Minute Push Again Pays Dividends as the 'Nooks win 2-1

Well, if you were writing a book, you couldn't write it any better. Two weekends in a row in locations separated by over 3,000 miles, the 'Nooks last minute push gets it done again. This time, Colton Beck buries the game winner with 11.0 on the clock with his parents watching in the stands. It was a great play crashing the net as Michael Quinn put the puck on net and Colton Beck got a stick on it and buried it.

Persistence pays off as the Nanooks took it to the Lakers early in the first period, catching LSSU on their heels. But they couldn't buy a goal if they wanted to. Kevin Murdock played a phenomenal game in the absence of Kevin Kapalka making 37 saves, and had a goose egg going through the first 49 minutes of the game. But it was Chris Ciotti who caught a lucky bounce off of his skate with just the 4th shot on goal on a play created by Domenic Monardo as his puck possession around back of the net caused the 'Nooks D-men to over pursue a bit, as Monardo let an open pass to the front of the net go that just happens to hit Ciotti's skate in the right place. Even after a review, they determined that it wasn't kicked in. That's hockey, and tonight was definitely a defensive battle.

The equalizer came from Colton Parayko pinching down, and it looked to me like it went off a defender's stick. There was a lot of traffic down low so it was really hard to see how it actually developed from the booth down low, but the important part was the puck hit the back of the net. Again, persistence and getting pucks to the net creates scoring chances, or in some cases like this creates a bounce that gets shined upon by the Hockey Gods and results in goals like these.

I thought the 'Nooks got off to a great energetic start, but a lot of that energy seemed to taper off. Early on in the first the 'Nooks took it to the Lakers, outshooting them 13-3 at one point. I'm not sure where that went, but the Lakers didn't seem to be doing anything different. Just the Nanooks weren't hitting some of the passes, and the puck just didn't want to cooperate at times bouncing over sticks and such. I hope they can get back to that groove to start tomorrow and keep putting that pressure on and getting scoring chances. If that pressure kept up early, the outcome of tonight's game would have been a little bit different. On a separate note, Sean Cahill played outstanding tonight. We should see him earn a start tomorrow night after that performance.

Tomorrow, the 'Nooks look to sweep the first CCHA series of the last season in the conference at home after tonight's 2-1 win, which ties them for 1st in the CCHA at the moment. Hope to see everyone at the rink tomorrow. Bring the brooms.

Game Day - Nanooks vs. Lakers

Game Center

Alaska Nanooks vs. Lake Superior State Lakers
11/2 7:05PM - Carlson Center, Fairbanks, AK

Live Video ($7) - AmericaOne Sports
Live Internet Radio - Bruce Cech -
Live Stats -

This weekend, the Nanooks look for revenge against a strong LSSU Lakers team that knocked us out of the playoffs last season. Seems like we've caught the Lakers at the right time as well as their starting goaltender Kevin Kapalka wasn't able to make the trip due to injury. The Lakers are also without some key scorers in Kellan Lain and Colin Campbell.

Coming off a home series split against a tough Michigan State team, you can expect a seasoned well-coached team like LSSU to come in hungry for points. But with Kevin Murdock in goal, I like the Nanooks chances this weekend.

On the Nanooks side, Nik Yaremchuk did suffer a pretty serious injury last week on the road, how long it will keep him out of the lineup remains to be seen. Other the other side of the ice, JD Peterson remains out due to an arm injury, but coach Ferguson remains optimistic that he might be able to get back into the lineup here in the next couple of weeks.

Sean Cahill gets the start in net tonight for the 'Nooks after earning the win in the second night against Ferris State. Will definitely be interested to see him get some reps at home and see how he performs at the Carlson Center. 

It's also parents weekend here, so for those parents that enjoy reading the blog feel free to come up and say hi at the post-game social tomorrow night. I'll be around!

Go 'Nooks!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

'Nooks Grind Out Victory in 3rd Period

Sorry for the delay in getting this up and out there. Shortly after the end of the hockey game, I elected to go watch the Nanooks volleyball team narrowly lose to UAA in a very close 5 set match. But I suppose that's not a valid excuse, is it? Anyway, I was really proud of the way the 'Nooks rallied to come back against Ferris State in the second game. They responded well to Friday and kept pressing in the 3rd period to get the win. And for Tyler Morley to get that goal in the final minute was great, not just for the goal but more for Morley to get rewarded for his hard work last night was good to see.

I think I speak for a lot of people when I say how fun its going to be to watch him develop over the next few years. I go back to an email from a gentlemen in British Colombia who told me that Morley was worth the price of admission alone. And that statement gains more and more truth every week.

Personally, I think the cost of the internet stream yesterday was justified listening to Ferris State's play-by-play guy drop the F-bomb during a break in the first period. But that's just me...

But anyway, Morley didn't win it alone last night. I thought the offense did a great job getting their scoring chances. CJ Motte is a great goaltender for Ferris, whom I think is a little underrated. He faced 82 shots this weekend and allowed 6 goals for a .927 save percentage. He's big, and he's mobile with a quick glove. It's not an easy task to beat goalies like that, and to get 6 goals in says a lot. He stood on his head for a while there last night, and even a bit on Friday to keep the Bulldogs ahead.

I still think goaltending is still a bit questionable on our side, but all three of these guys will improve and get better as they get more game experience. Wylie Rogers has been around with the team, and helping to coach and mentor these guys and share his experiences. Most of the issues at the moment just seem to be nerves. At the start of the game Friday, Thompson just had the looks like he was just shaky. Cahill had some questionable moments too but on the other side of the coin, he made some fantastic saves to keep the game close. It's certainly going to be a battle between the three of them. I'd like to see Keeney get worked into the lineup as well after having been hung out to dry back in Anchorage during the Kendall tournament. I was pretty excited to see him coming in this season, as he's got some great potential too.

As coach Ferguson said, you want to win your games at home and split on the road, and so far, the 3-2-1 Nanooks are doing just that. Next weekend, the Lakers from LSSU come to town off of a home split versus Michigan State. Should be an interesting series, but I'll be missing the Saturday game unfortunately due to travel. I'll do my best to keep everyone apprised though.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Four Unanswered Goals Propel Ferris State

My oh my how a game can change. The 'Nooks started off with a great first period, going up 2-0 in relatively quick fashion as they seemed pick up right from where they left off after sweeping the tournament last weekend. Striking first, Trevor Campbell set up a beautiful play chipping the puck off of the half-wall on the entry after getting tied up on the blue line. Skating the puck down low behind the net, Campbell surveyed the ice and caught Odegard streaking in from the bench to the high slot. Kaare ripped it and drove the puck through traffic into the back of the net for the early lead just 1:17 into the 1st period.

Colton Beck followed up a bit later with a gritty goal in front of the net, as strong puck control and great movement around the ice had Ferris chasing. Beck was left alone on the side of the crease with nobody in sight, and some quick dangles had CJ Motte in desperation mode who got a pad on Beck's first shot. But the Nanooks cycled the puck well down low and Beck got it back and buried it into an open net.

But later on, a quick score followed sharply by a power play allowed FSU to tie it with two goals less than 60 seconds apart. A clutch goal in the final 30 seconds of the 1st period by Andy Taranto batting one out of the air would be the last time the 'Nooks ever would light the lamp.

But for Ferris State, they just got started as they rallied off four unanswered goals in a complete shift from the first period. I don't know what happened, but the Nanooks did not look the same after coming out of the locker room to start the second period. It was just a different team in the same Nanooks sweaters for the last 40 minutes. Especially after Ferris State officially took the lead, the 'Nooks just started throwing pucks on net, not really generating a lot of scoring chances.

Was Steve Thompson to blame for allowing 6 goals? Sort of. Once the Bulldogs sniffed blood, they had no trouble scoring on him upstairs. But the defense also fell short on their end of the deal and left Thompson alone at times. Granted, the 5th goal by Alexander was about 20 feet offsides, but I don't think they can review that anyway. That said, the Nanooks (yes, as a team) still allowed 6 goals. Does that mean we will see Cahill in net tomorrow? Probably, but there are more issues than just the goaltender.

The Nanooks had the Bulldogs on the ropes to start the game before they let the momentum shift away from them. Adjustments to be made, and tomorrow I'm hoping for a different result.

Go 'Nooks!

Nanooks Open CCHA Play Against Defending Champ FSU

Last week, the Nanooks took out a good Hockey East team, along with the number 2 team in the country from the WCHA, and now the Nanooks open CCHA conference play against last season's defending champions. After the sweep last weekend, I hope the 'Nooks are still hungry to go in for seconds!

Ferris State is always a tough place to play. The arena is small, the ceilings are really low, and the crowd makes it really loud. And the FSU players don't make it any easier to play their either. The Bulldogs were 15-4-2 at home last season, with one of those ties coming to the Nanooks this past January.

After Ferris State's big National Championship run last season, a lot of people wondered about their goaltending situation (sound familiar?) with the departure of senior Taylor Nelson. CJ Motte saw action in 12 games last year, with an impressive .925 save percentage and a 1.98GAA, but just barely over .500 at 5-5-2. Seems that the start of this season isn't much different for him as the Bulldogs have yet to really get going after a loss and a tie to RPI, and a win and a tie against Mercyhurst. 

The Bulldogs did lose two key players from last year to graduation, in Jordie Johnston team leader in goals and points (20-16-36). As well as Chad Billins, the big defensive leader who was no stranger to the stat sheet either with a 7-22-29 line. But now in his senior year, Kyle Bonis is picking right back up where he left off in a tie for first in scoring with 4 points.

The Nanooks really do have a lot going for them coming into this weekend. Not a lot of hype around the 'Nooks nationally despite the victory over North Dakota last weekend. Ferris State remains ranked at #18 with a 1-1-2 record (Nanooks are 2-1-1 & unranked). Steve Thompson will get his 3rd consecutive start this weekend, which he has rightly earned.

The interesting part though to the Nanooks goaltending... It's the Nanooks scoring. The top scorers currently on the Nanooks roster are two defensemen, Trevor Campbell and Josh Atkinson each are 1-3-4. Good for them, but I think that also tells that our forwards aren't getting on the scoreboard yet. And with Taranto and Beck still without a point, it could get interesting.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Nanooks Defeat #2 North Dakota 2-1

Efforts like we saw tonight show exactly what the Nanooks are capable of. Tonight they outskated, and  outworked a good North Dakota team. It's amazing the number of excuses that are out there online that the only reason that the Nanooks won was because of the suspensions to North Dakota players. My answer: those players made the choice to have the party, and getting caught was part of the risk and you have to live with those consequences. But that excuse can't be used to cope with the loss, nor take away anything from this victory for Alaska. The fact is UND was outplayed by the Nanooks tonight.

Critics aside, it was a great game all around from both sides. It was very defensive and exciting, and I couldn't be more excited for our guys to get this win tonight. Their hard work, and their effort out there tonight earned the victory and I'm proud of every one of them.

Especially for Steve Thompson, a guy that hasn't gotten any playing time coming into this weekend and after a good showing yesterday, he came up BIG tonight to keep a high powered North Dakota team to 1 goal out of 26 shots. That should serve as a huge boost to his confidence going forward. Great effort on the defense's part as well getting down and blocking shots. Trevor Campbell, Kaare Odegard, Michael Quinn, well... pretty much everybody other there really... but those three really put their bodies on the line out there and get into the shooting lanes and keep pucks out of Thompson's way.

Glad to see Chad Gehon getting rewarded and burying the puck tonight. He's one of those guys that you don't typically see on the scoresheet, but he constantly works hard and never takes a shift off. His last goal was the lone goal in the final 1-4 loss to Miami in last year's CCHA playoffs.

Atkinson also tallied his first career goal tonight on a nice shot from the point during a power play. Morley found him wide open at the point as he was sliding down to the high slot, and the defense just left him alone. Morley passed it, Atkinson slapped it and tied the game up.

Now the big question that came from everybody was why was the first goal from Cody Kunyk disallowed? The answer that I was given was there was an issue with the recording on instant replay, and the officials were unable to review the goal via video and were forced to stick with the call that was on the ice of a good goal. The way that I saw it, Kunyk took a shot that hit the left post and off of the back bar on the inside of the net and bounced straight back out. Some others seemed to agree, others thought that it just hit the post but the fact of it is (and Coach Schmidt summed it up beautifully) "because we didn't need it".

Truly a great win for the Nanooks tonight and they deserved it from their effort. I hope this is the team that we are going to see every weekend, and put forth the same effort because that's what it takes to win. Last year we saw the parity remarks more so than ever that what separates the top teams from the bottom teams is who wants it more. If I recall correctly, all that separated first place and sixth place in the conference was 12 points. Or four wins out of 28 conference games. Every weekend counts, and the Nanooks have to be ready for Ferris State next weekend, who had a 7-3 win and a 3-3 tie against the Mercyhurst Lakers this weekend.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Power Play Rolls as the Nanooks Take Down Merrimack 3-2

A great win tonight not just for the Nanooks, but also the CCHA as the Nanooks take down a very respectable Hockey East opponent. A very tough win that took 3 goals from the Nanooks' power play unit, but a solid 3-2 win puts day one of the 2012 Goal Rush to bed.

The Nanooks had some good momentum to start with in the first period tonight, but Merrimack answered with some momentum of their own. They struck first coming in on the rush as Brian Christie ripped it with a hard shot that went off Thompson's pad and stopped down low just in front of the crease, but Quinn Gould got the second chance that went in.

At the end of the first, Merrimack's Shawn Bates took a swing at Yaremchuk who was thrown to the ground after the final buzzer. Seemed like he would hit the showers early, but only two minutes went up on the board. I was a little shocked to tell you the truth.

After sure ending an early goal 2 seconds after Bates got out of the box, but that seemed to light a fire somewhere under the Nanooks...but with the help of 5 power plays, the Nanooks rattled off three goals. Tyler Morley put one up on the board first with a deflection on a shot by Josh Atkinson, which for Morley was sweet I'm sure (more on that later).

Trevor Campbell (1-1-2), who put up a stellar effort defensively tonight was certainly due for a goal having come up empty last season, and he got it in style. With Jarret Granberg controlling the puck and skating down towards the goal, he made a great feed back and across the ice to Campbell who was right there to put it in and erase the 2 goal deficit.

And Cody Kunyk notched the game-winner with Mike Collins in the box for tripping. With Beck down screening the goaltender, Kunyk unleashed a high wrister that found twine. A very good looking goal if I do say so myself. Of course, when you leave Kunyk alone in the slot with the puck, that's typically what happens.

It's tough to really assess how the Nanooks played 5 on 5 tonight considering there wasn't much of a chance to do that all things considered. But, the power play really sparked there in the 2nd period enough to strike three times on eight chances, the ninth coming in the 3rd. Certainly a physical game that I think the Nanooks controlled very well. I commented on it in the post-game social that turned into coach West disagreeing that Merrimack was taking it to the Nanooks physically. I didn't intend to word it that way (hey, I was tired), but Merrimack certainly turned up the intensity, and got very chippy. Including one incident early in the 3rd period where Adam Henderson was pulled into the bench as Rhett Bly allegedly got into it there on Merrimack's bench with Hendo. Not sure if it was really him or not, but I watched Merrimack's coach grab one of his players by the shoulder pads and just yanked him backwards to the bench.

Another one of those cases where I was certain in my head that someone was going to get thrown out of the game. Just a 2 minute roughing call though, but I don't think the officials actually saw the whole thing go down cleanly.

The interesting story of the night though was Tyler Morley, and how every opportunity that Merrimack got to put a hit on him, they took it. Turns out, according to the Eagle Tribune Tyler Morley originally committed to Merrimack in 2010 before decommitting and coming to play for the Nanooks. Certainly makes that goal much sweeter. Not really sure what his reasonings were for decommiting, but hopefully  tonight's outcome reaffirms that positive decision.

The Nanooks take on North Dakota tomorrow in the evening game after UND just pasted Anchorage 5-0. Jarret Granberg put it well after an adorable little girl asked what the team plans for to beat them, saying puck control is key against a team like that. And I couldn't agree more, but controlling the puck is one thing. Being disciplined with it, and making solid decisions is the other part as passing accuracy and scoring chances will be put to the test. North Dakota is a great team, but they're not invincible. And with an effort like the Nanooks had tonight, it's going to be a great game to watch.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Alaska Goal Rush - Nanooks vs. Merrimack Warriors

Game Central

Wow. So North Dakota just waxed the Seapups 5-0. I didn't expect anything different, but onto the game that matters tonight. Nanooks and the Warriors will hook up for the second game of the Brice Alaska Goal Rush. 

Glad to see Jarret Granberg back in the lineup tonight after missing the second game last week against Canisius. Steve Thompson also getting the start in net tonight.

I don't have a lot of time tonight, so here's the lines!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Look at the 2012 Goal Rush

I love tournament weekends, especially home tournaments. And the field for this years Goal Rush is pretty impressive. In the next two days, the Nanooks will take on two very impressive teams in the Merrimack Warriors, a Hockey East team that matches up very well with the Nanooks. As well as the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux who enter the 2012-13 season without their storied moniker, or a majority of their players after a wild drinking party resulted in emergency phone calls for help, which in turn yields four freshman receiving citations for minor consumption, and 11 suspensions handed out as the team is dressing the bare minimum of 16 players for tomorrow's game against Anchorage.

The interesting headline is North Dakota team assistant captain Danny Kristo, the team's second-leading scorer from a year ago, didn't even make the trip. Team captain Andrew MacWilliam, also suspended for the game against the Seapups. Only one of the team's regular four captains will wear a letter on Friday as Carter Rowney will also don the coat and tie serving a one game suspension. Just a crazy story if you ask me.

Speaking of crazy stories, if you haven't yet heard the tale of Pete Friesema, the WCHA official who is currently not allowed to leave the state of Alaska after cracking a joke at the Anchorage airport last week about a bomb being in his friends' bag. The ADN reported that the Alaska Airlines baggage attendant mistagged Pete's bag with his partner's, which shouldn't have been a big deal, and it probably wasn't with him since they were going to the same place. While I find the whole thing somewhat funny in that he said one of probably the most reveling words you can say in an airport, which after seeing Meet the Parents I think its something you should just know not to do. For what its worth, the WCHA has declined to make a comment on the issue, other than that they've suspended him until they have a chance to review it after he returns. When will he be able to leave the state? Who knows. He is out on bail, but to my knowledge is staying in a hotel.

Anyway, back on topic. Goon's World blog has a nice breakdown of who is and who isn't playing this week for NoDak:

This is the list of UND hockey players that will miss the game for UND against Anchorage Alaska.

1. Danny Kristo – Suspension
2. Corbin Knight – Suspension
3. Andrew MacWilliam – Suspension
4. Carter Rowney – Suspension
5. Brendan O'Donnell – Suspension
6. Michael Parks – Injury

This is the list of UND hockey players that will miss the game for UND against Alaska

1. Danny Kristo – Suspension
2. Connor Gaarder– Suspension
3. Andrew Panzarella– Suspension
4. Stephane Pattyn– Suspension
5. Michael Parks – Injury
North Dakota will have a very short bench, no doubt about that. But they played a lot of the late season last year with a shortened bench due to injuries. So it'll be interesting to see how this team responds in the early part of the season. Interestingly enough, 3 of NoDak's first 4 games, are against ACC...

Merrimack is kind of the unknown here, as I've never seen this team play. The Hockey East conference is no stranger to Dallas Ferguson, who was almost able to upset Hockey East champs Boston College's National Championship run three season's ago in the first round of the tournament in Worcester. As I said in the introduction, Merrimack matches up well with the Nanooks. With a lower tier offense and a top 10 defense last season, the Nanooks will be challenged to score, and challenged to keep the Warriors off of the board.

Josh Myers has been the breakout player so far with 2 goals against Union and an assist in the Northeastern game, who now has almost half of the point total in two games that he had all of last season. The top returning scorer for Merrimack this season is Mike Collins, who has yet to crack the stat sheet, save for one minor penalty.

Rasmus Tironnen, a Finnish goaltender in his sophomore season was tested last week vs. Northwestern allowing 3 goals on 33 shots. Sam Marotta, the junior goaltender for the Warriors started the season's first game against Union in a 4-1 win allowed one in 34 shots. But who will get the start this weekend isn't in stone.

Same goes for the Nanooks. Both Cahill and Keeney each allowed 3 goals against, but Keeney was kind of left hanging out to dry in the game against Cansius. And with Steve Thompson yet to skate in the crease this season so far, who knows what Dallas has in store for the tournament this weekend.

Go 'Nooks!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Photos From Game 3 of the Kendall Hockey Classic

Below are some of the photos from tonights 3-1 loss to Canisius in game 3 of the Kendall Hockey Classic. 

Nanooks Flat in 3-1 Loss to Canisius

The Nanooks looked flat tonight. They seemed uninspired, and thought they would play just enough to try and win, but they were seemingly run over by a Canisius team who came out ready to play. Missed passes, poor breakouts and entries, and failing to get any chances down low, while lapses in defensive coverage in their own zone were the nails in the Nanooks' coffin tonight.

In the first period, the Nanooks came out swinging, but Canisius had plans of their own, getting two early goals on freshman John Keeney, both of which resulted from a coverage mistake, leaving an unguarded forward right in front of the net. Torrey Lindsay caught a nice deflection, and Preston Shupe was left all alone as the Golden Griffins went up 2-0 in a hurry. Honestly, both of those goals Keeney should have had, but at the same time I can't blame the goaltender for a defensive mistake.

The Nanooks were not without pressure, but the 6' 5" Asmundson stood strong, but the Nanooks didn't really get that many quality chances in the 1st period. They got a lot of pressure, and a good cycle going, but not able to get any shots down low near the goaltender at all.

The second period was no different, as the Nanooks seemed to slow down and give up more plays. Including a free rush down the slot for Matthew Grazen who went unchallenged to the net for the 3rd. goal.

The 3rd period, the Nanooks seemed to be a bit more fired up, but still unable to penetrate the 6' 5" wall of Keegan Asmundson, try as they might. Until late in the period getting the shot in up high in a big net mouth scrum, which bounced right back out of the net. After a lengthy review, the goal counted as the Nanooks at least took away the shutout from Asmundson.

Overall, a lot of work to be done before two ranked teams in North Dakota and Merrimack pay the 'Nooks a visit next week.

Photos From Game 1 vs. Air Force

Thanks to Paul McCarthy for sending these my way!

Kendall Classic Round 2 - Nanooks vs Canisius

Game Day

Canisius Golden Griffins vs. Alaska Nanooks
4:07PM - Sullivan Arena

Play By Play Audio (Bruce Cech / KCBF)
Live Video (Stretch Internet - Free)
Live Stats (UAA Athletics)
Twitter (Your's truly, @NanookHockey)

Yesterday's game against Air Force wen't pretty well I thought. The guys played well, but I think Cahill just lacked the confidence you'd expect a goaltender to have. His nerves just got the better of him, which I think is leading to coach's decision to start John Keeney in net tonight. Keeney had a pretty strong outing in juniors before he got moved to Muskegon. A team that lacked in every area of defense looked to a star goaltender to solve all of their problems that I think hurt Keeney's projections. Honestly, he's an NHL draft-worthy goalie that I'm excited to see in action tonight.

Unfortunately, Jarret Granberg sustained an injury during last night's game and will sit out tonight. Fairbanks' own Alec Hajdukovich will see his first collegiate minutes on the fourth line with Friese and Dumond as some of the other lines see a bit of a shake-up.

Canisius and UAA last night left a lot to be desired. Just sloppy play overall gave the feeling of juniors game. A friend of mine texted me and asked if this was really a D-I hockey game, to which I responded "I don't know, I haven't seen this much icing since that episode of Cake Boss I watched last week." And not just by one team, but both ways. Not really much of a defensive battle as it was a lack-of-offense battle. Neither team got anything going in either zone and relegated a lot of the play through the neutral zone. Surprising, really. But Canisius' line of Law-McCrank-Wiseman really stood out in their play, and they worked hard every shift. I don't think its their top line, but they got a lot of minutes last night and they will be the line to watch for tonight.

I suspect coach Ferguson had a few screws to tighten in this morning's pre-skate, but all of the elements of a good hockey team were there. Cahill saved a few lapses in defense, but as I said, seemed to lack confidence in his play. For Keeney, I'm pretty confident that he's got the skills to compete at this level, but it might take him a little while to get settled in. I'm hoping the 'Nooks can get a goal early to help his mindset a bit. I think he'll play better with a lead. Seemingly less pressure that way.

Anyway, here are the lines for tonight...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Nanooks Tie and Win Shootout Against Air Force in Cahill's First Start

Congratulations to Sean Cahill for putting on a strong showing tonight in a 3-3 tie against Air Force. The numbers won't tell the whole story with 3 goals allowed and a 0.789 save percentage, but he made some pretty strong saves tonight. 1 of the goals was a tip in, another looked like a deflection down low, but not 100% sure on that one. And the other goal was a lost scramble effort in front of the net. Overall, he played well, but we'll see who goes tomorrow against Canisius. But on to the recap...

The first period saw some interesting action as the Nanooks got on the board first with Nik Yaremchuk putting it in right in front of the net, catching a feed from Jarret Granberg after Josh Atkinson got the puck down low. A well set up play that paid off, as they caught the Falcons playing the perimeter. Atkinson got some pressure up on the point and made a good read down low to find Granberg perched to the goaltenders right as Yaremchuk was sneaking down the slot. Feed. Bang. Beautiful. 1-0 Nanooks.

But the lead wouldn't last long as Air Force came right back to tie it just 48 seconds later, as the Falcons came back down the ice with a vengeance. Jason Fabian took a cycle to cover the point after the defenseman left his post, so Jason took a point shot of his own just above the right face-off circle over Cahill's glove as he allowed his first goal of the season.

A bit later, with Colton Parayko in the box for tripping, a big net mouth scramble in front of Cahill as he fell backwards resulted in a power play goal for the Falcons. With just two seconds left in Parayko's penalty, Adam McKenzie made a feed down to John Kruse, who took the initial shot. That one to me looked like it went in, but apparently McKenzie got a stick on it and they called it his goal with a secondary assist to Kyle DeLaurell, who brought the puck into the zone at the beginning of the play.

And just as I thought that nothing was going our way, Parayko made a BEAUTIFUL shot on the rush after the feed from Quinn to take it in. He couldn't have made that shot any prettier. Quinn caught him coming in to the zone as he was breaking coverage and Colton took it to the house for his first collegiate goal. Tape it up, mark it, and put it on the shelf! Maybe even consider bronzing it, I don't know...

The teams skated to the locker room at the end of the first tied 2-2, but the Falcons really had a lot of momentum as the 'Nooks couldn't get anything set up. They took 19 shots, but about 1/3rd of them were blocked, and a bunch went off target.

In the 2nd period, the Nanooks fared a lot better, outshooting the Falcons 11-4, and getting much more pressure down low and getting the offense going as Air Force elected to refresh their goaltender putting in Jason Torf, but that didn't seem to create the momentum that Air Force was hoping for. But they did hold pretty solid defensively. Until a key turnover in front of the net as Yaremchuk caught an outlet pass attempt right in perfect position. It couldn't have been placed any better, and Yaremchuk had no problems burying that golden beauty. And the Nanooks took over the lead with 11:35 remaining in the 2nd, and would hang on to the lead as they skated back to the locker room.

In the 3rd, the Falcons came out pretty fast, and I think they caught the Nanooks sleeping a little bit. A few turnovers at the start of the Nanooks breakout and zone entry sent the puck going the other direction. On one unfortunate occassion, the Falcons got in an odd man rush, going 3 on 2 with the Nanooks. And a good feed from Scott Holm across the net mouth to Demers to even things up at 3 a side.

Into OT, neither team really got any breaks early and couldn't really set up, until the Nanooks really got some late pressure. A few chances then started to break for the Falcons, but Cahill stood strong.  But with no team actually putting goals on the board, the game officially goes in the books as a tie. But in the sense of tie breakers, we went to a shootout. And the Nanooks are no strangers in that department. Both Beck and Taranto put pucks in, as De Laurell's goal for Air Force just wasn't enough.

Kendall Classic Game 1: Nanooks vs Air Force

Game Day

Air Force Falcons vs. Alaska Nanooks
5:07PM - Sullivan Arena

Play By Play Audio (Bruce Cech / KCBF)
Live Video (Stretch Internet - Free)
Live Stats (UAA Athletics)
Twitter (Your's truly, @NanookHockey)

Pretty nice day in Anchorage! Right at 40ยบ, sunny, and we're inside getting ready to watch a hockey game. Should be an interesting game tonight between the Nanooks and the Air Force Falcons. I'm also pretty excited to stick around and check out Canisius and get a better look at how they operate.

But, as predicted, the two Nanook lines I mentioned this morning are intact. However, it looks like Sean Cahill will get his first collegiate start tonight between the pipes. And I know he's pumped!

Anyway, as always you can follow me during the game on Twitter (@NanookHockey) for live updates and commentary. It's a bit different seeing the game from up top versus in the announcers booth... It's been a while!

But without further ado...

Headin' South - Nanooks Look for Another Kendall Title

Well, with the ACC Fan Blog no longer in production, I suppose its up to me to break down the Canisius Golden Griffins, and the Air Force Falcons. If Seapups fans want to read this, feel free. I can't stop you. But it's not going to help your team any...

Anyway, this weekend's action should be pretty exciting. Both of the visitors to the Kendall are Atlantic Hockey members, and the Falcons have pretty much owned that league for the past five years or so. Of course, Air Force is no rookie to the Alaska tournaments. Cansius is the newcomer to the tournament, and the first game between these two teams in over 20 years.

Each of these teams come in to Anchorage fresh off of two punishing losses to Canadian teams: Canisius falling 2-5 at the hands of Ottawa, and Air Force dropping one 2-4 to British Columbia. Air Force's game was not without its fair share of excitement though. 

With a little over a minute remaining and down 2-1, Air Force pulled their goaltender, only to have an unassisted empty netter scored just seconds later. Not giving up on the game though, Air Force kept their goaltender out and kept pressing with the extra attacker and Cole Gunner scored with 22 seconds left on the clock. Of course, still not losing hope, the Falcons still with the extra attacker was able to win a few battles, but eventually allowed the 4th goal with 7 seconds left on the clock, and no netminder to stop it…

Air Force is returning a LOT of of their scoring for a year ago, boosted by a strong senior class this year to help. Kyle De Laurell and John Kruse are both top returning seniors this year having lead the team in scoring a year ago. And the 8 sophomores who contributed well last year for the Falcons all return to the team more experienced. The interesting part is that a few of the Falcons players have ties to Alaska, including George Michalke who played with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs in his junior career. A number of other Falcons have also played with other Alaskan NAHL teams as well. 

Canisius took a 2-1 lead to the locker room at the end of the second period, but a defensive collapse, and a rookie goaltender in Adam Harris allowed 3 goals in the final period (plus an empty netter) to take the 5-2 gut check. Canisius really seems to like a collapsing style defense, with all 5 skaters pitching in allows them to take some more risks and chances, but their system isn't very polished. From the film I've seen, an efficient cycle will bait the defenders into chasing the puck, which create passing and shooting lanes. We'll see how the Nanooks prepared this past week and see if the passes get any more crisp. 

On the offensive side, the Golden Griffins return a large part of their scoring from a year ago. Their top 4 were all sophomores last season, and return to the lineup for their junior year. Both Tyler Gibbons and Taylor Law were about as identical in stats as you can get, both putting up 11-15-26 scoring lines, but with Law having 3 more games played last season. Truth be told, I haven't reviewed any of their scoring plays but I've been told they can be pretty dynamic offensively. They didn't put too many goals in the back of the net last season, but it sounds like head coach and Ohio State alumnus Dave Smith allows his forwards to be free and creative in the attacking zone.

I would expect that these teams will at least challenge the Nanooks a bit. I've been talking a bit about these teams returning a lot of their scoring personnel, but if you calculate it out, the Nanooks are returning 95.6% of their scoring from last season. Hopefully, the Nanooks will be adding a bit more in that category as well, but time will certainly tell. Huysmans and Morley were two players that coach Ferguson was particularly impressed with, and so was I. But headed into the NCAA season this weekend, we'll see how these guys react to a stronger and faster team.

That's really what this weekend is all about, getting two solid games under the belt and make some adjustments before North Dakota comes to Fairbanks next week to give the 'Nooks the best chance to win.  Two wins would really bolster the confidence of the team, which is a big thing too.

As far as the Nanooks roster goes, I would expect Steve Thompson to start the first game coming off of his one-game suspension against Regina last week for a violation of department rules. But don't be surprised if Keeney or Cahill make their presence known this weekend as well. The Beck-Kunyk-Huysmans line seemed to click quite a bit, so I'd envision them to stay together. Also Morley-Granberg-Taranto were in good stride, and keeping them together as well makes sense. Defensive pairings may be shaken up as well, but we'll see what Coach Ferguson has in store for us this weekend when I get the roster sheet tonight. I'm actually writing all of this on the flight down to Anchorage this morning. Should be a fun weekend for hockey!

Go 'Nooks!