Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Long Goodbye

Well, its a tough way to end the season. To play as well and as desperate as they did, I'm incredibly surprised that the Lakers defense held up like it did. But give Kapalka credit, he played a phenomenal game.

That said, tonight was the last time any of us saw our seven seniors suit up in a Nanooks uniform. It's even a little hard to write that, but Aaron Gens, Scott Enders, Scott Greenham, Justin Filzen, Carlo Finucci, Ron Meyers, and Cody Butcher have taken off their Nanooks jerseys for the last time. I've said it a number of times already, but thanks to these guys for four great years. During that time, we've seen three Governor's Cup wins, three home playoff series victories, a trip to the Joe, the program's first NCAA tournament appearance, along with enough highlight clips to keep us all on our toes excited for next year.

To the seven of you, thank you for your spirit, leadership, and your hard work. I'm looking forward to following your hockey endeavors wherever your talents take you, and I wish you nothing but the best of luck.

As far as next year goes, the Nanooks have a lot of good recruits to give them a breadth of young energy to add to this roster. After their respective junior seasons conclude, we'll look at the freshmen and how next years Nanooks team is shaping up.


Jason said...

Tough end to a tough year. Winning the GC was about the only bright spot, although it was nice to see Taranto get back to his old ways and Henderson come alive during the latter half of the season.

Next year should be interesting. The biggest hole to fill, in my mind, is Greenham. I would guess Steve Thompson will slide into that spot for next season as the #1, but he is still relatively untested.

In terms of point production, losing Gens and Finucci will hurt but Granberg, Yaremchuk, and Henderson should nicely fill those slots of 15-to-20 points over next season.

Keys to success next season?
1. Continue to develop the D-core and get better in front of the net. Too many times this season it seemed like it was hunting season on Scott Greenham in the crease.
2. We need a big senior year out of Taranto, and Kunyk and Beck to continue their offensive ascents. If one or two of those guys gets to the 40-point plateau we'll be in good shape. In 2010 part of the reason we went as far as we did was because of Dion and Taranto both getting 40+ points.
3. Goaltending has to be solid. Greenham leaves big shoes to fill but if Thompson and Cahill can tag-team and keep save percentages north of 90% that will be important.

All in all, I think we have the pieces in place to bounce back next year. Our top three point-getters are all returning barring any unexpected pro deals, and we should have a good leadership core.

Give this year's team (and our senior leaders) credit...they came to play almost every night this year despite being buried in the standings. A lot of weaker teams (and, dare I say, Nanook squads of yore) would have thrown in the towel after Christmas after that kind of start. I'm proud of them.

Anonymous said...

This is a year where most of the fans and prognosticators about the Nanooks were correct. As the season began, just about everyone prefaced their optimism with "If we can score goals...". Turns out we couldn't. At least not on a consistent basis. It wasn't a lack of effort, or poor coaching, just not enough of right type of scandinavians (Finish). Jason is right on about Taranto, Kunyk, and Beck. If even 1 or 2 of them start to bury the puck on a consistent basis this team will be solid. The good coaching and committment to team defense will make sure of that.

Jason said...

The coaching on offense is good...we won the SOG battle most nights. I think in recruiting we need to get guys who are proven goal scorers. Taranto and Kunyk have that in them, but most teams that do proper scouting know to laser in on them and dare the rest of the team to score. Some nights it works, and some nights it doesn't, which speaks to our inconsistency. Like I said, the pieces are there, but we need some additional guys to step up and be a force to win consistently.

Anonymous said...

I agree we need to put the puck in the net more often and there must be more solid D-play as well. I'm pretty sure Steve Thompson will be the go to next year he has waited his turn and turned in some good performances for the team when Scotty was not playing this year.

Also we need to have more consistent special team play from the beginning of the year. Furthermore about goal scoring, it looks like we are going to have a lot of fresh faces next year that could bring some scoring touch to our lineup and the one freshmen this year Maxime never got to play due to injury and I heard he was supposed to be a speedster. Here is a look at our incoming class next year (its quite big ) along with a few guys for the next year too:

Josh Atkinson-LD 2/19/12 Lloydminster (AJHL) 6' 180 11-2-92
Justin Woods-LD 2/13/12 Fairbanks (NAHL) 6'2 200 -94
Matt Friese-LW 1/28/12 Lincoln (USHL) 6'1 170 4-17-92
Richard Coyne-D 1/20/12 Langley (BCHL) 6'2 189 7-22-91 43-2-7-9-60
Tyler Morley-C 12/17/11 Surrey (BCHL) 5'8 170 12-19-91 53-17-19-36-61
Marcus Basara-RW 12/16/11 2013 Westside (BCHL) 5'10 165 2-27-93 56-12-16-28-30
Alec Hajdukovich-F 11/16/11 Fairbanks (NAHL) 5'11 175 11-14-91 44-15-24-39-36
Nolan Huysmans-RW 11/14/11 Spruce Grove (AJHL) 6'1 205 10-8-91 59-30-30-60-50 36-3-6-9-20
Davin Stener-LD 9/20/11 2013 Drumheller (AJHL) 5'10 185 1-7-94 56-2-19-21-89
Chase McMurphy-RW 9/19/11 2013 Calgary Mustangs (AJHL) 6'2 180 2-15-94 57-10-22-32-52 2011 All-Rookie team
Colton Parayko-D 7/10/11 Ft.McMurray (AJHL) 6'4 180 5-12-93 42-3-9-12-12
Tayler Munson-RW 11/29/10 Fairbanks (NAHL) 6'1 175 3-2-93 53-18-30-48-32
Sam Lawson-RW 1/15/10 Drumheller (AJHL) 6' 178 8-31-93 8-0-2-2-4 54-9-8-17-56
Jared Linnell-LC 7/15/09 Cedar Rapids (USHL) 5'11 165 4-14-93

Anonymous said...

Also is a great sign to me that this coming years recruits includes 5 Alaskans in it, Linnell, Munson, Hajudukovich, Friese, and Woods.

Jim said...

I's also like to point out that the new second phase of the new locker-room expansion is happening this summer I think too, which should always help bring in more recruits to the Nooks. Probably one of the only teams in the new WCHA that will have a great practice facility with locker-rooms and a even better game day rink that also has great locker-rooms.


Anonymous said...

Are there no goalies in the recruitment class? I was really looking forward to another in the string of excellent goalies that we've had the last five years or so. I hate to be a pessimist, and please correct me if I'm wrong, but the coaches didn't have the confidence in Thompson to rotate him in at all except for a very few token appearances ...I didn't see it in the few times he played. I really hope I'm wrong (and believe me, I've been wrong about both players and coaches, in spades!), because this team needs goal tending second to none in the CCHA; average won't do it with the goal scoring talent we muster.

Jason said...

We do have a new goalie recruit, from the USHL no less. John Keeney, 19 YO from California originally. See Woody's hockey blog in the ADN for more.

As for goal-scoring, the talent is there. The problem is that good teams know to lock down certain guys (see: Andy Taranto) and dare the rest of the team to beat them. Beck and Kunyk are very legitimate threats; if those two can have a big season next year I bet Taranto goes out with a bang in his senior year.

Jason said...

I hope our guys watched the national championship last night. Ferris State is living, breathing proof that a "not worthy enough" program can be successful. If they had won, it would have been the ultimate eff-you to those ass-clowns in Denver, North Dakota, Miami, etc.

Congrats to BC though, they definitely earned it.