|Credit: UAF Memes|
Anyway, I think the big question on the board for the Nanooks this offseason was goaltending. The loss of Scott Greenham leaves some big skates to fill, and the few looks at Steve Thompson last year had a lot of fans wondering if he was the right guy. While I don't know that this question has been completely answered tonight, it may have became a bit clearer. Honestly, if it was my decision Sean Cahill would get the start. And that's in no offense to Steve Thompson whatsoever, but overall I was more impressed with Cahill's presence in the net. He's a smaller guy, a bit like Wylie Rogers was so he's got more space to fill in the net. But I liked him. Typically those type of goaltenders have to go into desperation mode to make some saves earlier, and thus are out of position to make those second or third saves. And while Cahill had those situations a couple of times, but a combination of poise and the defense in front of him resulted in no goals allowed tonight. Thompson still looked good, but allowed two goals on one of the best shooters in the CCHA.
John Keeney also looked pretty good too for his first look in net. Really, what we have is a set of three solid goaltenders that are going to push each other each week to get better. I'm not sure if Coach Ferguson is willing to go to a committee-style goaltending situation, as he's historically went with a consistent goaltender week to week. I think it helps with the confidence of the goaltender, but a lot of other factors to consider when the starter is officially ironed out.
Elsewhere, I enjoyed the plays that each offensive team were setting up. They were easily countered by the defense, but that's not saying a whole lot considering they all know the plays that the other is running. That being said, plays only get you so far; line chemistry accounts for a great percentage of scoring throughout the season. You can defend and coach against designed plays, but its very hard to account for a line that knows exactly where the other is going to be at any given time. And Beck and Kunyk have not lost a step in that area. The freshmen seemed to jive pretty well in the systems that are running. Only one power play during the game, but the power play nearly connected.
As far as the freshmen individually go, we've got a pretty stout class this year. I think a lot of these guys are underrated, and didn't get a lot of hype as they probably should have. Colton Parayko being the exception, as he got the hype especially through the draft. But guys like Nolan Huysmans, Tyler Morley, and Josh Atkinson were the three freshmen that particularly caught my eye. I really like the fact that they aren't scared. All too often you see freshmen (on any college team) that have the size and strength, but don't have the courage to either take a hit, or make a hit and try to tip toe around defenders. I don't see that being a problem with these guys. I saw Huysmans skate right at Kaare Odegard with the puck and wasn't afraid to get his clock cleaned. Granted, it's a scrimmage, you just don't try to kill your teammates. Fortunately Kaare allowed Nolan to stay in one piece. But with some coaching and time, we'll see that effort turn into more quality scoring chances throughout the season.
Morley was another surprise. I didn't see a lot out on the web in terms of highlights or anything like that, but I did receive an email from a fan of the Surrey Eagles, the BCHL team he played with in juniors who said he was all over the ice. And if the scrimmage is any indication, he wasn't lying. He's got some wheels. However, he does have a bit of work to do to reign some of that in a bit to stay in coverage. But he's definitely going to be a bit of a playmaker.
And for everyone of the readers who keep telling me the team has never been the same since Joe Sova left, the offensive defenseman you've been yearning for has been signed, sealed, and delivered. Colton Parayko is going to be a great addition to our lineup, and I'm excited for this guy's career. He's a big guy (6' 5"), with phenomenal stick skills and great vision. I see him being used to run a lot of plays and allow him to direct the flow from the point to create lanes and get more pucks on net. Keep in mind, Sova's last year with the Nanooks he led the team in shots taken. I wouldn't be surprised if the same held true for Parayko this season.
I still can't believe I saw Tateson and Kaiser fire 100MPH shots down range during the hardest shot competition. The Nanook record (at least that I have recorded) was Kelly Czuy at 101MPH back in 2005. And the only other mark on the board in triple digits was Kyle Greentree, also at 100MPH. In other words when you see these guys wind up... Look out.
Still no word yet on captains for this season. I understand its a big team decision, so things will come out in their own time. I'll have the info here when it comes out, possibly before the Regina game this Friday! More to come later this week.