Saturday, January 28, 2012

Nanooks Valiant Effort Not Enough to Sweep Notre Dame

I will say, a much cleaner game tonight... There were a few shenanigans out there, like a lot of laces coming untied, coincidentally all on icing calls. Notre Dame kind of started the routine, but the Nanooks continued it. More funny than anything. Gives me something else to blame the equipment manager for... ;)

The 1st period got off to a good start. Both teams came ready to play, but ND got on the board first at 4:43 on the power play. A bit of broken D as the Nanooks couldn't contain the rebound. Eventually, the 4th chance got through as Nick Larson would get credit for the goal.

The 'Nooks did take a while to get their first shot on net, they used their opportunity wisely and Granberg banged it home on a 2 on 1 break set up beautifully by Carlo Finucci. Their 2nd shot broke through as well as Cody Kunyk stayed up on the play and used his wizardry to pick off the pass and made about 60 moves on Johnson and tucked it around Johnson's left pad.

The first 20 minutes was a sentiment for how the 'Nooks played yesterday. They kept driving and challenging the puck carrier at the point of attack, and remained persistent. Not a lot of shots, but a lot of quality scoring chances.

The second period sentiments didn't go the Nanooks' way, although they did control possession for the majority of the period. But two quick goals put Notre Dame in the lead 3-2, which stayed throughout the rest of the game until a costly turnover with Greenham on the bench sealed the Nanooks fate 4-2.

Long week ahead as the Nanooks head to Kalamazoo Tuesday night. Western Michigan is a tough team to play against, and Lawson is a tough place to play in. But if the Nanooks can keep the same tempo and drive, points should be coming in waves. Until then, Go Nooks!!!

Game Day Saturday - Nanooks Look to Sweep

 Game Day Paradise
Live Video: AmericaOne
Live Audio: KCBF 820 
Live Stats:
Twitter: @NanookHockey

I think I'm not alone in saying that last night was one of the better games our team has played. They need to respond and come with the same energy and keep driving hard. Notre Dame is going to come out firing, and I can tell the guys are ready to take it to them.

Other than that, the line charts are all identical. Should be a very tight game tonight! Go Nooks!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Nanooks Stay Classy in 6-3 Slaughter of Notre Dame

Wow. Just wow. If I was in any way affiliated with Notre Dame, I would be outright embarrassed to have student athletes represent my school in the manner that this hockey team showed on the ice tonight. After every whistle, they're pushing, shoving, and running their mouths about how much of a badass their team is, and that Alaska is a waste of their time. Notre Dame's players showed absolutely no respect for anyone on the ice tonight in a horrid display of sportsmanship.

I hope one of the guys sends TJ Tynan a message tomorrow. While that guy scores a lot of points, he runs his mouth writing checks that his body can't cash. I'm sorry, but your 5' 8" 165 lb frame would get torn to shreds if you really wanted to pick a fight with Andy Taranto. I get it, you're aggressive dude. Just shut your trap and show some respect to the team that paid the way for your spoiled ass to get up here, because they just showed you and your team full of draft picks how to play hockey. It wasn't just Tynan running his mouth either, I could start going through their entire roster and start listing crap, but I won't. I'm just calling Tynan out because he was the most pathetic of the group tonight.

I would like to quote out what Odegard said during the post-game press conference in response to my question about keeping guys like Tynan irrelevant: "It's pretty simple for our defensive corps. We try to worry about what our jobs are, and not necessarily about who we're playing, or what their skill level is at. To be honest, I'm not a big fan of big schools that come up here because they don't give us very much respect, and that's evident by the way that they play." I can't put it any better words than that.

That being said, I will say that I'm pretty proud of our guys staying classy and not letting emotions pull them into doing something stupid to give ND the satisfaction. The guys stood their ground, and didn't let themselves get pushed around. They didn't let Notre Dame have a single inch of the 200 feet of ice all night, and drove it down their throats, as Coach Meisner said during the post-game conference, really took the game to them. They could have just as easily scored 8 or 9 goals with some of the opportunities that they had tonight. When you see that the 'Nooks only put up 22 shots on net, that says something about scoring chances.

I think the Nanooks have found their stride as they rack up the goals on a good team and pick up a solid 3 points thus far. The guys put forth a great effort all around and played the most completed game I've seen all year. Including the power play, which went for 50% tonight scoring 2 goals on 4 chances. Kunyk and Taranto really clicked tonight offensively, with 6 points between the two.

Alaska played their brand of hockey, and forced Notre Dame to submit to their will. Looking to tomorrow, I'm expecting to see the same kind of hard fought hockey game. The Nanooks will need to come out with all cylinders firing if they want to send Notre Dame home with tears, no points, and a sore ass.

Listen to tonight's post-game press conference

Game Day - And We Are Back

 Game Day Paradise
Live Video: AmericaOne
Live Audio: KCBF 820 
Live Stats:
Twitter: @NanookHockey

I could really get used to having a home series every weekend. It's made the week at work go by legitimately faster, it's been nice. Especially since its been frustrating, to put it mildly. Anyway, with all of that behind us, let's focus on the Nanooks upcoming victory game.

The guys know what they have to do; dig deep and play 60 minutes of hockey. It's all there, the talent, the defense, the offense (as of late). While the power play hasn't been as powerful, the potential is there for some goals to break through.

From a lines perspective, coach Ferguson has paired Beck with Finucci, and Granberg at center. And he moved Taranto back up to the first line with Yaremchuk flanking to the right of Kunyk. The Gehon-Henderson-Meyers line has been restored to its former glory. And Flizen centers the fourth line with Youngmun and Perry on the wings.

Defensive pairings are


Greenham in goal with Cahill backing him up. Summerhays will start in net as Jeff Jackson tries to spite me due to the Katdashian joke in my preview. I doubt that's actually why, but I'm going to say it is.

Anyway. Go Nooks!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold

Welcome back to Fairbanks, Jeff Jackson. Your team is in for a delightful weekend, with temperatures predicted to plummet to -45, and even -50F before you leave with a couple of losses. I hope you brought lots of sunscreen layers. Which is great, because I wish no mercy or sympathy upon your team.

Back in November, I flew myself in to Chicago and picked up a car and drove the 100 mile trek to South Bend. There were several motives for this trip for the inner sports fanatic in me, but to say the least, the main reason was to watch what I had hoped would be a Nanooks road sweep in the newest arena in college hockey. That shrine that the Irish get to play in is pretty unreal in many ways, but nonetheless, I was hoping that the 'Nooks could wipe the ice with that team. Cody Kunyk and Jarret Granberg teamed up in goals and in false hope for this venturous blogger. The first two goals of the game, scored less than 30 seconds apart for the 'Nooks was just crazy. Jaime Schwartzwald from CBS 13 was also on the trip, we looked at each other, and he said to me nearly verbatim "If we could actually cheer up here, I'd be going absolutely crazy right now". In a first period that saw 7 goals scored, 3 of them were scored by 37 Cody Kunyk, an impressive feat of his scoring capabilities.

Sadly, the Nanooks did not win that game, or the Saturday rematch that followed. But that sweep at the hands of the Irish changed the tide of the 1st half of the Nanooks' season for the better, winning four out of the following six games to close out 2011.

Unfortunately, that momentum did not carry over into 2012 after a 34 day respite as the 'Nooks again took a while to find their stride. A long two-week, four game road trip brought the 'Nooks home with 4 points through a couple of shootouts, but no wins to call their own.

Returning home, the Nanooks faced the Bowling Green Falcons for the first series of 2012. A series in which many expected the Nanooks to triumph, a slice of humble pie was served for dessert as Bowling Green rolled raked the team over the coals for a 3-1 win. The next night saw the same kind of rebirth that I saw after the 'Nooks left Indiana the first time, resetting themselves and playing a full 60 minutes of hockey for the 4-1 win.

I'm hoping history repeats itself once again and the Nanooks can start rolling, get a streak started, and start clawing their way back up into the standings. And what better team than the Irish?

Notre Dame's offense sits happy at about middle of the pack in the country, scoring 2.92 goals per game, against a Nanook defense that allows... 2.58 goals per game. While the Nanook offensive average is bottom tier, they have improved their 2.22 average up to 2.83 since the break. A modest improvement, which is great, but the wins haven't been there. The 'Nooks need a complete game from the full lineup to take six points out of this series.

TJ Tynan remains the leading scorer, which I'm sure seems like breaking news to anyone familiar with the Irish hockey program since he came on board. He only leads in points by 10 over everyone else, including leading goal scorer Anders Lee. The kid is impressive, he just outworks everyone, and he just attacks the puck and doesn't stop until he has it. Kind of like holding a ball in front of a dog, eventually the guy is going to jump out, grab it, and probably bite you in the process.

Who parks in net for Notre Dame remains to be seen. Jeff Jackson is about as consistent with picking goaltenders as Kim Kardashian is with picking husbands; relationships seem to last just long enough for them to do something they don't like, then they dump him. Steven Summerhays, the tendy from Anchorage has better numbers, but Mike Johnson has more experience. But it was Johnson that Kunyk and company torched for 4 goals in the first 20 minutes in the last series. Summerhays has started 3 of the last 4, in which he's earned 1 win. Will he be the next Kris Humphries? We'll see tomorrow night when the starters are announced at the Carlson Center. Game starts at 7:05PM.

I'll have a pre-game post up about an hour before the game starts. I will, of course, include links to where you can watch/listen to the game. Also, be sure to follow yours truly on Twitter for pure gold tweets during the game and throughout the week. I'm rapidly approaching 1,000 followers, so spread the word! Tomorrow is Follow Friday (#FF) after all...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Nanooks Reset, and Rebound for a 4-1 Win

Tonight's game had a much better start for the 'Nooks. Even coming out for warm-ups, they had a bit of jump in their step. Taranto put it well after the game, "...we played desperate from the drop of the puck in the first period, and that's something that we need to do a lot more of." And they did. I kind of felt that my recap from Friday's game may have been a little harsh, but it probably wasn't anything that they didn't hear already. But as coach said last night, they needed to take it in, reset, and come back and take it to them, and that's exactly what happened. Although they did surrender the first goal, they didn't let that deflate the momentum or change their attack. Cody Kunyk and his usual wizardry put the Nanooks even at 1-1 after picking off a pass and driving the net. He had Nolan Youngmun in toe across the crease, but Kuny was going for a shot all the way, and he didn't miss.

The Nanooks had a bunch of momentum at the end of the period, and a glowing 5 on 3 power play chance that they weren't able to capitalize on. The play seemed to be there, but the shooting lanes just weren't. The power play still seems to be a weak point of the team, although it really seems to be improving. I really like the motion that the coaches are implementing. The goals haven't been there yet, but they're headed in the right direction.

The second period saw a lot more action as Kunyk picked up his 2nd goal of the evening after Beck picked off the outlet pass in Bowling Green's zone. Beck and Kunyk combined for the go-ahead (and eventual game winning) goal just 41 seconds in.

Finucci had a very nice looking wrister a bit later in the period to make the win that much more of a statement. The guys did a great job staying aggressive on the forecheck to create the play and driving the net, forcing the Falcons to play the pass. Odegard set the play up by being aggressive and staying up at the blueline and picking off Bowling Green's outlet pass. 'Nucci got the puck and buried it high near side as the goalie was sliding left,  giving the Nanooks the two goal lead headed into the 3rd.

They say the two goal lead is the hardest lead to keep in hockey, but I was quite impressed though with the Nanooks drive. They didn't sit back, and kept taking it to Bowling Green, playing much of the 3rd period in the Falcon's zone. Bowling Green then started to look flat, and just started taking the beating. But they showed flashes of brilliancy and getting a few quality scoring chances. Greenham looked like he was back to his normal, stellar-goaltending self. After their goal in the 1st period, Scotty put up a wall in the crease and didn't let anything through it. As the 3rd period progressed, and Bowling Green remembered that there was a hockey game going on, they started causing some havoc in front for Scotty, screening him and backing him into his net. They had a few shots that I couldn't see how he made the save, but he did.

After Bowling Green pulled Hammond late in the period, Justin Filzen made them pay with a shot right on the money from just outside the blue line. I think a lot of people were secretly hoping that Kuny could have gotten his hat trick, but I'm glad to see that Justin got the goal. He's a good center that works hard, doesn't get a lot points, but makes plays on both sides of the ice. You'll notice he never thinks twice about grinding in the corners, or taking the body. That's why you see him paired with Meyers, as they seem like they're wired the same way. Good to see him rewarded with that opportunity.

A solid 60 minutes of hockey for the Nanooks tonight results in a win. That's the best way to put it. I think last night was a blessing in disguise, as the guys kick things into high gear to drive into the seemingly difficult second half of the schedule. They know what it takes to win, it's just a matter of executing.

The guys' stay at home this week as they prepare for Notre Dame. It's been awhile since they last met, but I think the 'Nooks still have that sour taste from the losses in South Bend back in November. With the Irish coming to our barn, vengeance seems to be in order. Until then... Go 'Nooks!

Listen to tonight's post-game press conference

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Game Day - Nanooks Looking to Rebound

Game Day Central
Live Stats: 
Twitter: @NanookHockey

After last night, I would hope that the guys tonight will go all out and pound the Falcons into oblivion. Adam Henderson should be returning to the lineup after serving a one game suspension handed down from the league after a game misconduct earned at the end of regulation last Saturday against Ferris State. Stats aside, Henderson adds a lot of energy to the lines that he centers, and has been one of the most consistent faceoff men on the team. I'm hoping to see Granberg back in the lineup again, but I don't know what his status is health wise.

I would also venture to say that Greenham will be back in net tonight. Last night's substitution didn't quite work out as planned with Thompson. I'm happy that Cahill got a look, but I don't think we'll see him get a start in the near future. 

I'm hoping that the 'Nooks can earn their first win of the year, and get some much needed points. Tonight's game starts at 7:05PM, as always.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Nanooks Night Off Gives Bowling Green 3 Points

Couldn't think of a better way to put it as the Nanooks put up about 45 minutes of uninspired, flat hockey. No drive, no fire, no motivation. Not a good game to bring back to the fans in town. Two soft and completely stoppable goals by Bowling Green got past Thompson. I'll give 'em one, but the other two I have no sympathy for.

An unfortunate bounce and a missed defensive play behind the net allowed Cam Sinclair room behind the net to work the puck in front to Wojtala for the score high blocker side on Bowling Green's first shot on net of the game early in the first. Give BG credit for that one as Thompson couldn't make up for the defensive mistake there. One of just four shots the Nanooks would allow in the first period though as they helped out Steve Thompson a bit better. The positive stat there though was that goal was Bowling Green's first against Alaska in the last 147 minutes that these teams have played against each other. I had to look that up after Greenham's shutout sweep against the Falcon's earlier this year. Not many other positives in here though...

The Nanooks struggle to score continued through the second as Bowling Green started pulling away early with their second of a face off in the Nanooks zone just 25 seconds into the 2nd. A good quick shot by Berkle right off the face off caught Thompson sleeping. Oops.

The slump didn't stop there as a cross-checking minor to Nolan Youngmun opened up the wound, and Marc Rodriguez added the salt with their 3rd goal as Thompson over-pursued the puck and found himself tied in knots before the puck went in the back of the net.

Fortunately the bleeding stopped in the 3rd period as we got our first look at freshman Sean Cahill, who should have poked fun at Andrew Hammond as he got the only shutout. Mind you he wasn't tested much as the 'Nooks started getting back into their swing. Too little too late though, as Aaron Gens' power play goal came a bit too late to really change the outcome of the game.

Not much good to say here, I know. But there isn't much good a guy like me can say about the worst game I've see a Ferguson-coached team play. I'm probably going to get the stink-eye from a few people tomorrow, but I speak the truth. I hope this gut-check starts the fire in the team as they look for 3 points.

Game Day Glance - Back at Home vs. Bowling Green

Game Day Central
Live Stats: 
Twitter: @NanookHockey 
You have no idea how excited I've been to see a hockey game in the Carlson Center again. It's only been about 50 days, but it feels like forever. Just walking back into the rink again this evening gave me the chills. Maybe it was the excitement, maybe it was the -30F weather, who knows.

Anyhow, this series should be a good test of the will of this Nanooks team, who are a bit deflated after a long road trip, coming back with an 0-2-2 record. As a result, a bit of changes for tonight should make things a bit interesting. Trevor Campbell, the freshman defenseman from Kansas City, who was a converted forward during his pre-collegiate years is switching back to the forward line at right wing on a line with Nolan Youngmun, and Matt Gates at center. Steve Thompson also gets the start in net relieving Greenham after allowing 17 goals in 4 games. Thompson's last start came at Notre Dame in which the team responded very well, sparking the 4-1-1 run after the strong effort he displayed in South Bend. 

Conversely, not a lot of differences seen from Bowling Green. Andrew Hammond will start in net tonight as the Falcons will look for their first win since November 12th. The last time they faced the Nanooks resulted in getting swept on their own ice. Which was the first road sweep in some time for the Nanooks, as they rolled to 3-0, and 2-0 shutout wins. We'll see if the outcome is any different after a fairly significant delay during Seattle's Snowpocalypse, which is coincidentally holding up the officials for tonight's game. I'm told that everything has been worked out, but we shall see who has been selected before too long. 

Sorry for the lack of a more detailed preview, but with the first week of classes here in Fairbanks, by the time I even get home, I was just exhausted mentally. I'll make it up to you next week!

Go 'Nooks!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Nanooks Fall to Another Comeback 4-3 to Ferris State

Although the outcome wasn't as great, the game started off as well as anyone could have hoped. An inopportune penalty to Ferris State's Travis Ouellette just 1:17 into the 1st, didn't even take the Nanooks power play unit, who is now at 75% on the weekend on a goal from Jarret Granberg in the slot, who picks up his second goal of the weekend, with assists from Yaremchuk and Enders.

Ferris State's goal scorer Jordie Johnston tied the game about 2 minutes later off a faceoff in the Nanooks zone. A nice play from Kirzinger who won it clean that caught the 'Nooks by surprise.

However, 4 straight penalties throughout the second half of the period to the Nanooks forced the penalty kill to get some extra work, but the special teams unit prevailed for the Nanooks in the first period, and throughout the series really.

The 2nd period took some interesting turns, but Chad Billins was the difference maker with a goal after he weaved his way around Finucci and beat Greenham low glove side and off the inside of the post. The Nanooks looked to get the equalizer as a tripping call to Scott Czarnowzan gave the Nanooks just their 2nd power play chance, but it was a bit short lived as FSU's defensive pressure forced a turnover at the blueline as Garrett Thompson poked the puck ahead, and a faux slashing penalty was called on Yaremchuk for touching him with his stick. Impressive decision for a call on the hands on the officials that appears to be clearly biased for the FSU alum Keith Sergott.

Ron Meyers also got penalized for charging the goalie as Nelson intentionally got in his way to block Ronnie from getting to the puck to create a play. In true double jeopardy fashion, if I had his jersey on I would show them a real charging call. Tack on another soft call on Quinn for roughing after the whistle, and at this point, you have 7 penalties on the Nanooks, compared to just 2 for FSU.

 In the 3rd, the Nanooks got a big goal after FSU was forced to ice the puck. Coach Ferguson elected to send in his fresh first line, as Kunyk won the draw back to Taranto, who beat Taylor Nelson like a rented mule. And like that its tied at 2-2.

 A bit later, Nanook freshman forward Garrick Perry hooked up Ronnie Meyers on the back door as the Nanooks get the go ahead goal. A beautiful pass leaves Nelson with nothing that he can possibly do to stop it as the Nanooks go up 3-2.

A few minutes later, Matthew Kirzinger got the hook up pass in the neutral zone by Garrett Thompson. Kirzinger used his feed to his advantage, crashed the net and got the puck past Greenham for the tie. Then with 5:30 remaining, and Andy Taranto in the box for hooking, Ferris State broke through the wall that was the Nanooks PK unit as Garret Thompson directed the puck in front of the net for the go ahead goal.

With 1:33 remaining, and the timeout called, Greenham was pulled to go 6 on 5. After a strong offensive stand, Ferris State's top scorer of the weekend in Matthew Kirzinger gets flagged for delay of game for knocking his own net off the moorings. Now with 6 on 4, the Nanooks continued to pressure, and get shots on goal. Although a little frantic, the Nanooks kept getting shots off with traffic in front and just hoping something would stick. Unfortunately, nothing did and the Nanooks fell to a deceptively good Ferris State team 4-3.

The Nanooks return head back to Fairbanks tomorrow as school prepares to start this Thursday. The team takes to the ice in the friendly confines of the Carlson Center next weekend against Bowling Green to start a two week home stand.

Highlights From Friday, and Lines for Saturday

Here's the video for the highlights from last night's 5-4 shootout win over Ferris State. Game two starts in just under 30 minutes. Here are the lines for tonight's game. Don't forget you can tune in to Bruce Cech online at or on 820AM in Fairbanks. You can pick up a video feed from

Friday, January 13, 2012

Nanooks Play a Back and Forth Battle, Win 5-4 in a Shootout

Two shootouts between the two series on the road, and the Nanooks prevail again with a 1-0 victory in the shootout on the lone goal scored by Adam Henderson, which bumps the game score to 5-4 for CCHA scoring purposes, but it will go as a tie in the NCAA's book.

But anyhow, the Nanooks got some more chances, and for the large part, controlled a lot of the game, but again giving Ferris State a lot of chances on miscues, especially on the Nanooks end of the ice. Nik Yaremchuk opened the scoring in a bit of a back and forth first period to notch his 8th of the year with helpers from Granberg and Odegard, which prevailed as the lone goal to the end of the 1st period. The 2nd started off with a bang as Jordie Johnston, the opportunity shark for the Bulldogs put one home just 23 seconds removed from the starting faceoff. A good rush and attack with speed, which kinda caught the 'Nooks by surprise.

But this only started the swarm of scoring in the 5 goal 2nd period, as Nolan Youngmun, the freshman out of Anchorage scored his 2nd career Nanooks goal, and just like the 1st, this one also goes into the books unassisted. A bit of an interesting stat there!

Garrett Thompson got Ferris State up to tie it again on a power play goal, but that didn't last long as Granberg buried a beautiful redirection off a slapshot from the point to put the Nanooks up 3-2 on a power play goal of their own. But a good opportunity arose on a takeaway by Derek Graham off a costly defensive zone mistake on the Nanooks as he found Justin Buzzeo for the score to make it 3-3 headed into the final period.

Now, unfortunately I missed Kyle Bonis' goal there in the 3rd, so perhaps someone can fill us in there, but that goal gave Ferris their first lead of the game, at this point 4-3. But two quick penalties to Aaron Schmit and Garrett Thompson gave the Nanooks a golden 5 on 3 power play that they wasted no time on. 21 seconds after it started, Enders let one loose from the point that hit a body in front, but Henderson found the rebound in front and knocked it in for his 2nd of the year. And man has Henderson been playing well lately. He's only got a pair of goals this season, but is contributing a lot to the special teams units and really adding a lot of energy to the line up. With his style of play, he'll definitely start to get rewarded more with opportunities.

Now headed in to overtime, the Nanooks did not even surrender a shot on goal. They came close, and it probably could have been a shot, but it did not count as the Nanooks had two quality scoring chances to close out the extra period.

Henderson, who I had pegged as my 3rd star of the evening buried the only goal in the shootout as Greenham denied them all to give the Nanooks the extra point in the standings. Granberg finished as the stud of the goal with a goal and a pair of assists for a 3 point night, fairing well for him after missing some action. I guess he's got some catching up to do! Also in the multiple point category, Enders picks up a couple of helpers as he fed his centers in front of the net for goals. Nik Yaremchuk also with a goal and an assist on Granberg's goal.

Overall, a good outing for the Nanooks. They certainly got their chances, and gave a few up to Ferris State which they were able to capitalize on. I certainly hope tomorrow doesn't fare like last Saturday did for the Nanooks in Marquette after winning the shootout, but time will tell as the Nanooks will take on the Bulldogs again tomorrow afternoon, looking for their first win in 2012.

Nanooks Look to Grow & Take Down Ferris State

So, history prevails as the Nanooks escape the horrid black hole in Marquette with 2 points. Although Northern is a team that they can beat, that arena is haunted or something. But if there is anything that can bring a team together, its a long road trip. Fortunately school doesn't start up here until Thursday, so the guys can use this opportunity to build more relationships without the pressure of school, or the lethargic-inducing cold of Fairbanks (of which, I've heard forecasts for temperatures as low as -51F).

Despite this past weeks loss, there's enough evidence after rewatching the game that the opportunities were there for the 'Nooks. My initial recollection after the game is still intact in that staying focused offensively took away from the defensive aspects. But historically as a defensive team, I don't think it will take long to get back on the right foot. When you look at history, and you look back on how the 'Nooks have fared in their road trips, it's not always been great. But generally speaking, it revs the engine up to get the team into the next gear down the stretch.

The opportunity to start that is now. This will be Ferris' second straight home series after sweeping Colgate by a collective 7-4. But before January, the Bulldogs faced some struggles posting a collective 1-5 record through the month of December. In saying that, I'm not so sure that the C.J. Motte/Taylor Nelson rotation is really working out for the team like they would want it to, but Nelson did start for both of the Colgate games, so we'll just have to follow that story and see where things go from there. Nelson is the better goaltender, but I think some of his miscues have come a lack of reps, but he may be getting them now, I don't know. The new year is young, I'm still learning things here!

But when you look at the Ferris State stats, and you look at their roster, all you see is depth. You look at a guy like Jordie Johnston, despite how the team does you can almost always find him on the score sheet. However, when the Bulldogs came to town in November Jordie's name was nowhere to be found. If the 'Nooks can stop everyone else, our fate may be better this time around. From the other perspective, the Bulldogs had Nelson in goal for their loss, but beat the Nanooks with Motte in goal the second night with both allowing two goals.

Now regardless for how the individual matchups play, I would really like for 'Nooks to come out with wins this weekend and start the home game stands headed in the right direction. They were playing high level hockey in December up until that break until that heartbreaking loss against Michigan in OT. Did that have an effect on the team through the break? Maybe. After watching the first game against Northern, I'd say for the better. After going down 2-0 in the 2nd, the 'Nooks seemed determined to not let that game slip away. It took the 'Nooks a bit, but they came back to rally in the 3rd and showed some grit and fight in there game, and that's the kind of thing I like to see.

Hopefully, the 'Nooks don't find themselves chasing the lead for 60 minutes and can solidify themselves and earn a few wins this weekend. History prevailed last weekend, let's watchthe 'Nooks successful history in Big Rapids prevail this weekend!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Mistakes and Frustrations Mount as Nanooks Fall 7-3

The game got off to a great start, as the Nanooks continued what they started last night controlling play and the flow of the game. As a result, they got quite a few chances but were unable to come up with the 2nd and 3rd chances to beat Jared Coreau who got the start in net tonight. But the wheels started to fall off the bus after Garrick Perry allegedly slammed a Northern player into the boards from behind in the epitome of a delayed penalty. Both referees didn't call it, include Berkebile who was right there, but about 2 minutes later, after a conference with the linesman, Perry was issued a 5 minute major and a game misconduct for checking from behind. An NMU reporter indicated that the video replay showed that Perry raised his shoulder into the back of the player's head as he was finishing the check. I didn't get to see the same replay, but if it was as described, I can see why it was called.

9 seconds in to the major, Andrew Cherniwchan puts the first goal on the board, but that would be the only goal on the major that the Nanooks would allow as they took the 1-0 deficit to the locker room. In the second, with renewed energy, the Nanooks seemed to be eager to tie it up, and just over 2 minutes into the 2nd, Aaron Gens ripped one for his first goal of the season on a laser set up by Finucci.

Now with the game tied, a monumental mistake results in a turnover in the Nanooks defensive zone as an outlet pass landed right on the stick of Tyler Gron who had Matt Thurber on the backdoor for a 2-on-0 chance which resulted in what was described as "the easiest goal ever seen with the goalie in". That wasn't quite the turning point, but it was close. Northern seemed to take over a bit there, and notched another one, Cherniwchan's second of the evening for a 3-1 lead.

At that point, the Nanooks seemed back into it, getting aggressive, and eventually got a power play chance as Jake Baker was called for holding, then during the delayed penalty, Mitch Jones was also flagged for holding, resulting in a 5 on 3 power play for the Nanooks that Cody Kunyk was able to capitalize on, redirecting a shot from Colton Beck over the glove of Coreau to cut it to 3-2.

Into the 3rd, the play was back and forth quite a bit, each team generating some pretty good scoring chances, but defenseman Mitch Jones got his 3rd of the year on a pretty fast play that seemed to develop quickly. The shot deflected off of Greenham's left shoulder and went in just under the cross-bar.

5th goal just came minutes later as Thurber notched his second of the game, seemed to be catching the defense napping a bit, as the Nanooks were getting quite a bit of pressure, but a rush the other way, and a few passes, then boom, the horn sounds.

While Michael Quinn gave the Nanooks a glimpse of hope with an unassisted blast from the point, a laser that had eyes found the inside of the post and went in. I honestly love the sound of the puck hitting the post, and watching the light go off. At least I have that good moment to relish. But anyway, a great shot by Quinn, who still has bragging rights on Gens as the top goal scoring defenseman on the team.

After getting another power play opportunity, the Nanooks pulled Scott Greenham electing for a 6th skater on 4, but Matt Thurber intercepted the puck towards the point and fired it the length of the ice into the empty net for his third goal of the game, which goes in the books as a short handed empty net goal. Then with 4.2 seconds remaining, not to be outdone, Andrew Cherniwchan seals his hat trick with a goal off the rush.

While Scott Greenham did allow a career-high 6 goals against, I can't put everything on him. The 'Nooks seemed to be playing too offensively, and didn't keep the defensive aspect of the game in focus. Couple that with a few mistakes in their own zone and you about have the recipe for a night like tonight.

The Nanooks certainly had their offensive chances, but give Coreau credit, he's good. And in case you didn't know, he's 6' 5". He barely needs to move at all to stop shots. I'll give the team credit here though, the Nanooks' offensive effort was valiant. And generally, with 3 goals scored, you could generally say that couple with a normal defensive outing from this team, a win would be earned. The guys were missing that tonight.

The Nanooks will stay on the road throughout the week and make their way down to Big Rapids to take on Ferris State. As always, stay tuned for coverage!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Nanooks Rally and Take Down Northern 3-2 in a Shootout

The posting of this recap is a bit delayed due to an extended power outage last night. Our power utility sends their apologies.

So say what you want about the shootout, its here and tonight it helped the Nanooks earn another point in the CCHA standings in a race where the tortoise seems to be catching the hare. The standings gap is narrowing as just 11 points separate 2nd and 10th places. With 15 games yet to be played, there are a lot of points still on the table.

Speaking of points, the Nanooks took two out of a very difficult arena in Marquette as the Nanooks rallied from two goals down going into the 3rd period to tie the game and force overtime. Pure determination and a will to win is the real story here. I said in my preview that a lot of the guys were battling illnesses, but you just couldn't tell. You also couldn't tell that they hadn't played a game in 34 days. If I can say anything about the game, its that the guys came ready to play and they made Northern earn their single point. The Wildcats had a bit of momentum generated in the 2nd period getting that power play goal which seemed to change the tide a bit. Northern continued to cram bodies in front of the net, often having three skaters stick their butts into Greenham's face to keep him from seeing the play. His positioning, staying square in front of the puck resulted in a few saves, but two eventually found their way to the back of the net about 3:30 apart in the 2nd.

Trailing, the Nanooks didn't even look the slightest bit rattled and by every definition, started kicking ass. While controlling play, they countered Northern's offensive attack with a strong back check and not allowing the Wildcats to even get set up. The deficit was narrowed at 7:41 into the 3rd with an impressive play by Taranto who made a beautiful saucer pass across the crease over Ellingson's stick and found Cody Kunyk on the back door to cut Northern's lead to just one. Aaron Gens will also get credit with a helper setting up Taranto from the point.

Colton Beck notched the Nanook's lone power play goal on five chances with helpers from Enders and Gens. I didn't get to see the actual goal, but the power play chance was created by Garrick Perry who was really going to work. In his first game back since mid-November, Perry was a forward on a mission as his quick feet created a small breakaway chance for the freshman as NMU defenseman Scott Macaulay tripped him up before he could get away.

With the pedal to the metal, the Nanooks kept firing away, trying to win this game outright. The Nanooks caught a break as Andrew Cherniwchan missed the puck shooting at an open net with just seconds remaining in the 3rd. Headed into overtime, the Nanooks outshot the Wildcats 11-4 in the 3rd period.

Now into overtime, the Nanooks kept control and kept taking it to Northern, with Ellingson standing on his head to keep the puck out of the back of the net. With Northern chasing and their frustrations mounting, defenseman Wade Epp was flagged for boarding Andy Taranto after he got around Epp trying to get to the net. Now with the power play with 2:27 left in OT, coach Ferguson took a timeout and I really liked the call here. Electing to skate 4 forwards and 1 defenseman on the power play is a bit of a gamble, but one that nearly paid off. A shot from the point by Finucci set up Kunyk off the rebound, but Ellingson made a flashy glove save on the shot. Taranto just missed a shot wide at an open corner, and Kunyk had another glorious chance that went high, but the hard shot took a funky rebound off the glass and nearly ended up coming back in front of the net, but the puck stayed on top of the goal.

After the shift change, defenseman Michael Quinn had a good chance at the net as Yaremchuk found him pinching in, but his shot hit the right post. With the power play over, the Nanooks kept possession and working the puck with traffic in front, but with 50 seconds left, Colton Beck was flagged for goaltender interference after being pushed into the crease. Now down a man, the Nanooks stayed in the lanes and didn't allow Northern to generate any chances as time expired. After getting 4 quality scoring chances on 4 shots, the Nanooks didn't allow a single puck to reach Greenham, but with Beck still in the box, he would not available in the shootout.

Nik Yaremchuk scored the lone tally for the Nanooks, which with Greenham between the pipes is plenty to earn the win. Nik had a great fake left, and was able to bring the puck back to the other side to  get it between Ellingson's pad and the post. With the last shot for Northern, Reed Seckel needed to score but Greenham didn't even let him shoot as he reached his stick out and poked the puck off of Seckel's forehand to end it.

The Nanooks ended Friday with 2 points in a shootout win, outshooting the Wildcats 32-23 through 65 minutes. The rematch comes Saturday at 3:30PM AKDT.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Year, New Start as the Nanooks Look to Topple Northern

The Nanooks are on the road in Marquette looking to take on the Northern Michigan Wildcats this weekend in an arena where history seems to permanently favor the home team, regardless of effort. It seems that everytime the 'Nooks venture to that area of Michigan's upper peninsula, something seems to happen. This time around, it appears that the flu has made its way through some of the players, who have been on the road now for about a week and a half.

The Nanooks are also preparing to face one of the hottest goaltenders in December in Jared Coreau. The sophomore went 3-1 and posted a 1.35 GAA and a .956 save percentage over the course of this past month. Conversely, Northern has their own problems to worry about, as Scott Greenham is just as good. In the final game of the first half, Greenham had a 42 save shutout brewing against the Michigan Wolverines going into overtime when a shot took a couple wacky bounces and ended up in the back of the net in a game that really could have gone the other way.

More interestingly, neither Greenham nor Dallas Ferguson (as a head coach) have ever earned a win against the Wildcats, and the Nanooks have just one win in Marquette...ever. While that would normally spell bad news, but with the extra time the team has taken on the road, and the level of hockey that they were playing at the close of the first half, I think the 'Nooks will fare just fine.

With more intriguing news, the extended time off has lifted the injury bug from some of the players, as Garrick Perry, Jarret Granberg, and Cody Butcher (!!!) will all dress and play tonight. Hard to say what their shift situation will be, but I would imagine that they're all good to go. This will be Butcher's second game of the season after taking that hard hit against St. Cloud the first game of the season down in Anchorage. I know he's been excited to get back into action, and he'll be skating tonight paired with Scott Enders. I suspect Coach Ferguson will change up a bit of the defensive pairings as he's been known to do throughout the game. Butcher was paired with Gens in game one, and I suspect that they will reunite presuming that Butcher is still up to speed.

I really want to see Justin Florek and Tyler Gron stifled. Their two top scorers are really good players on both sides of the puck and are really good about finding space to work with. I'd say Florek is the better defender and Gron the better forward, but with 15 and 17 points respectively either one is going to be a scoring threat. As I said before, Jared Coreau is probably the main worry for the Nanooks scorers. Northern's defenders are pretty conservative too, and play it safe more often than not. To neutralize this, the Nanooks need to pass the puck with precision and often to get the Wildcats out of position and create scoring angles off the cycle. Maintaining puck possession was a bit of a momentum killer against the Wolverines, but the Nanooks solid defense kept them in it, despite the difference in shots. Extended possessions against the Wildcats should earn wins. However, we'll find out the results in just a few hours.

The games are today and tomorrow at 3:30 from the Berry Events Center in Marquette, MI. You can catch video of the games on AmericaONE or stream audio of the games from (820AM in Fairbanks). You can also follow Live Stats or follow me on Twitter.