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.