Sunday, February 26, 2012

Alaska Nanooks are Governor's Cup Champions

Say what you want about the shootout, but it's nobody's fault that the Seawolves don't have enough offensive talent to take down the Nanooks. Tonight, and even last night, the Seawolves were outworked, outskated, and outplayed this weekend by this Nanooks team. The 2nd period of Friday's game was a little disappointing. But the guys got the job done on home ice, playing their game for a full 60 minutes. Greenham said earlier this month that the one thing they were missing from the team was a full 60 minute effort, and they got that tonight.

The first period had a lot of action, and a few interesting penalty calls. The most absurd of which came on a Gensy-patented-hip-check, which was miraculously called tripping. I'm not sure how you call a beautiful check like that a tripping call, but sometimes that's how it goes.

Into the second, scoring kicked in as Daniel Naslund knocked one in after Tateson got caught behind the play Greenham was pulled way out of crease and somehow wound up in the corner after Naslund tipped it around Greenham's left pad, his momentum carried him through Greenham with Scott Enders tying him up. It was a good goal on an opportunity that the Seawolves were able to take advantage of.

But the Nanooks kicked it into high gear, and worked the puck down low and Cody Kunyk buried a backdoor feed from Gens to even things up. The play developed very well off of a quick cycle off of the faceoff, and the puck came up a bit towards the point. Aaron Gens was right there, skated the puck down inside of the faceoff circle and found the angle to Kunyk's blade on the backdoor, who rang it home.

A few minutes later, Gensy made the play again. This time finding Andy Taranto streaking in who sniped another one high blocker side on Kamal; a mirror image of the power play goal he scored in Anchorage last night. Taranto is really playing on a whole other level lately, and he's getting rewarded with goals. His work early in the first fighting through players and drew a penalty while shorthanded to end ACC's power play after that aforementioned "penalty" to Gens.

The semi-ironic part is that Henderson would get the final goal of the evening after a rebound, who has probably one of my favorite players to watch over these last few weeks.

Adam has been an unstoppable force in the faceoff circle week in and week out (a bit shy of 50% tonight). He has also really helped make that 3rd line click with Gehon and Meyers. That top defensive line of Gens and Quinn played outstanding tonight as well, and always seemed to be in sync with each other throughout the game. 

Well, the Nanooks have won their 11th Governor's cup in its 19 year history, and have won 8 of the last 11 series. It was great to see the guys skate so well, and get it done on senior night. I made a point to thank each of the 7 seniors tonight. But the season isn't done. The Nanooks travel to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan to take on the Lake Superior State Lakers in the first round of the CCHA Playoffs.

Also, as an aside, congratulations are in order for Bruce Cech, the Voice of the Nanooks for the last 24 years was inducted into the Fairbanks Hockey Hall of Fame during Hockey Week in Fairbanks. Congrats to Bruce, and here's to the next quarter of a century!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Game Day Saturday - Retribution is Bittersweet on Senior Night

Game Day Info 
Live Audio (Bruce Cech - Free)
Live Video (AmericaONE - $8)
Live Stats ( - Free)
Radio: 820AM Fairbanks / 520AM Anchorage
TV: GCI Channel 1 Statewide (Fairbanks tape-delayed)
TV: KFXF Fox 7 Fairbanks (Tape-delay - 10PM start)
Twitter (@NanookHockey) 
Video Highlights Montage (Courtesy of CBS 13's Jaime Schwartzwald)

The Governor is in the house! Sean Parnell is in town, his security detail has been checking the Carlson for a few minutes now. Tonight is also senior night, as the festivities are set to honor our Nanooks who have enjoyed their four year careers in a Nanooks jersey.

Not much to say about tonight, other than the Nanooks need to get a win here to have a chance at the cup through the shootout. If the guys can play  like they did last night, and avoid that 2nd period slump the Seawolves won't have a chance. The Nanooks outplayed them in nearly every facet of the game last night, but the defense gave up a few opportunities that made the difference. With the emotions going into tonight, I don't see ACC having much of a chance.

That said, lines for each team included after the break.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Seawolves Simplicity Leads to Nanooks Demise

The Nanooks played very well, in a game they should have won. They outplayed the Seawolves on both ends, but some key mistakes in the 2nd period was the difference maker tonight.

The 1st period was full of fun. The Nanooks controlled play for a lot of the period, but found themselves trapped a few times after a repeated problem icing the puck. The Seawolves got themselves into penalty trouble after some sustained Nanooks pressure. Warner's first of two for the period.

That penalty would be the difference as the Nanooks power play, which has clicked at 36.4% over the last 6 games, would not be denied. Andy Taranto took it across the blue line and drove the slot on the rush and beat Kamal on a fantastic snipe over the blocker for the 1-0 lead.

But the omens in the 2nd would not be so kind, as the 'Nooks would surrender 3 unanswered in the 2nd stanza. The first goal coming on a good shot by Eric Sheid, who scored the game-winner in the UAA victory over St. Cloud last week.

A bit later, Korey Roy got a clean breakaway chance but was taken down from behind by Michael Quinn, resulting in a penalty shot. The chance didn't phase Greenham, as he had peered into his soul and predicted where the shot was going before Korey did.

Even though Greenham got the save, that was a bit of a sigh of relief moment. But then, right off the next faceoff, ACC took the 2-1 lead.

Then, out of nowhere, an unsuspecting rolling puck came on net and beat Greenham. He didn't look very happy, but you need a short memory when something like that happens, and he shut the door for the rest of the period. It also gave the Seawolves the infamous 2 goal lead headed into the 3rd.

The Nanooks took it to the house in the 3rd period, not allowing a single shot on goal through the first 10 minutes. Eventually, one broke through for the 'Nooks but it took them a while to figure it out. Henderson's shot rung through over Kamal over the glove.  But they had to go to the review to catch it. Immediately upon the shot, I called the goal, it was a great shot just inside the corner.

A glorious opportunity arose for the Nanooks to tie the game with an interference call to Jade Portwood. But a good PK by the Seawolves kept the play around the net minimal. The Nanooks kept the play tight, and chances abounded, but they couldn't connect. And that would be the dagger that would seal the Nanooks fate.

Kamal played very well, and will likely get the call in net tomorrow for game 2 back in Fairbanks. The final shots on net were Nanooks 29, Seawolves 17. Nanooks outshot ACC 13-2 in the 3rd period. More to come a bit later.

Game Day Central- It's Finally Here

Game Day Central
Live Audio (Bruce Cech - Free)
Live Video (ACC - Free)
Live Stats (ACC - Free)
Radio: 820AM Fairbanks / 520AM Anchorage
TV: GCI Channel 1 Statewide (Anchorage tape-delay)
TV: KFXF Fox 7 Fairbanks (Tape-delay - 10PM start)
Twitter (@NanookHockey)

Series Preview (Danny Martin, FDNM)
Series Preview (Yours truly...)
Series Preview (ADN, non-existent)
Series Preview (UAA Blog, non-existent)

After 6 hours worth of mechanical delays and flight cancellations, I've finally made it to the Sullivan arena. I flew in to the Anchorage airport in style, flying with the one and only Eric Estrada, of CHIPs fame. Pretty fun. He's in town doing a benefit for food programs to support underprivelaged local kids. Dare to Care is the name of the program.

Anyway, its business time. It's rivalry week, and I can't stress enough how intense this series is statewide. Even on the flight down, I was getting high-fives and glares left and right from supporters on each side. Coming from Oregon, its on the same level as the Oregon/Oregon State Civil War football game. Like I said in my preview, the student-organized buses should be arriving in Anchorage anytime now. Yes, plural, more than one. This ought to be interesting.

Chris Brooks, the media intern in the Athletic Department sat down with Dallas Ferguson earlier this week for a preview of this series. I've included the video here.

Lines for each team after the break.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Governor's Cup Rivalry Renewed

Governor's Cup History
Photo courtesy of MMF

This week precisely 32 years ago, the United States men's hockey team pulled of one of history's greatest upsets in Olympic history, upsetting the heavily favored team from the Soviet Union to win the gold medal; the first time in 20 years since the US had earned the top spot on the podium. 

Exactly 32 hours from this writing, the puck will drop in the 2012 Alaska Governor's Cup, quite possibly the greatest rivalry in all of college hockey. This series will be hard nosed, and filled with emotion as the Nanooks celebrate senior night on Saturday as their last home game in a Nanooks sweater. 

I'll reserve my thanks and farewells to the seniors after the conclusion of the season, as business still lies ahead. The Nanooks team took off this morning for Anchorage to prepare for the first game. For the Nanooks, its business as usual. This Alaska team has shown character, strength, and perseverance throughout this roller-coaster season; the players have gone unphased with the challenges that have been thrown their way. Neither injury, nor illness will cause a single member of this team to back down from the challenge that lies ahead.

The target this week is an Anchorage team who has largely struggled with the same rigorous schedule, some of the hardest strengths of schedules in all of college hockey has been played by both of these teams; of which has caused them to fall under .500 for the season.

Some of those frustrations have cause rifts in the Seawolves team. Earlier this season, both leading scorer (at the time) Mickey Spencer, and one of their better younger defensemen Wes McLeod left the team for undisclosed reasons. Instability in the locker room can really drain the emotion from any team, and looking at the numbers you have to assume that could have been the case here.

But the Pups to the south have seemingly received a breath of offensive fresh air in Eric Scheid, who leads the rookies on the team with 13 points in 24 games. Junior forward Mitch Bruijsten leads the team in points with 16, and shares the lead in goals with 8. The guy I've repeatedly pointed out as a bit of a goon Brad Gorham (who is fortunately a senior) still leads the team in penalty minutes. He has to be on pace to set some kind of record at this point, but I refuse to look. 

Goaltending and scoring defense leaves much to be desired for ACC fans, but therein lies the seemingly vulnerable target the Nanooks will look to exploit. Both Chris Kamal and Rob Gunderson share the basement in save percentage, and a few spots from the bottom in goals against average in the country. But watching the SCSU series, they seem very uncomfortable defending in their own zone. They over pursue, and they get of of position very easily with good passing. A vulnerability that got the best of them in Saturday's game after the Huskies figured things out, and ran away with the game, scoring 4 goals in the final 10 minutes of the game for the 8-3 win. All of which were on good sequences created from the cycle, and the defensemen just get mesmerized by the puck carrier and lose the open guy on the back door. After surrendering the 8th goal, Gunderson came to the bench. Rumor has it, not because his coach told him to, but because he gave up, he didn't want to be out there anymore. Honestly, they weren't his fault. The 6th goal he may want back, but you can credit them all to defensive errors.

But like the Nanooks, you can't count out this team from any game. They are seemingly better than their 8-20-2 record shows. They have a few weaknesses that the Nanooks will look to capitalize on, but this is a rivalry game. Honestly records, stats, and previous games mean nothing. Looking at stats, the Nanooks should run away with this, but its always a hard fought series and anything goes.

Both games will air on TV tape delayed on Fox 7 in Fairbanks. The game will be aired live on GCI channel 1 statewide outside of the Anchorage area on Friday, and live again on Saturday statewide outside of the Fairbanks area. You can listen to Bruce Cech call the plays live on, and stream the game live from for free on Friday, and from for the Saturday game live here at the Carlson Center. I'll be flying down myself tomorrow morning, so you can catch my tweets live during the game! I'll be posting pictures and such to the blog as well.

UA students have pulled off a pretty amazing feat as well, arming themselves with two full tour bus loads of students and energy drinks delivered to the front door of the Sullivan Arena. There will likely be more Blue and Gold than any other color at the Sullivan Arena tomorrow, so this home and home thing will be pretty much moot. The last few years, only one bus was used, and our student section butchered the rest of the entire crowd. That will be doubled this week, and ACC's efforts to increase student interest in this rivalry will be a point of humor for Nanooks fans in the stands on Friday. Over 4,000 tickets have already been sold for Saturday's game in Fairbanks, so expect a sellout-plus crowd at the Carlson. 

Buckle your seat belt, Dorothy, because Kansas is going bye-bye.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Nanooks Can't Shake Spartans' Senior Night

A bit of an offensively challenged evening for the 'Nooks as the guys finish their last CCHA regular season series. Senior goaltender Drew Palmisano got the call in net for the Spartans, and he was very sharp with the 27 save shutout. I almost feel like some kind of higher power prevented the puck from going in for the 'Nooks tonight, but that's the way the game goes sometimes.

The 'Nooks really started outworking the Spartans midway through the 2nd period, and were controlling play, but they weren't developing any quality scoring chances. They would cycle well, but as soon as an angle to the net came open, the shot would get taken and wouldn't get through. MSU's defense did not leave many passing lanes open, so it was really up to the puck carrier to make a play with it, and their 3-2 box defense kept the play to the outside.

Chelios' goal, the first for the Spartans, was a series of slaps taken at a puck that Greenham had trapped along the left post. After the first shot, Scottie tried to keep it out but couldn't get his glove on it, and the defense wasn't in a position to clear it. Sadly, it was eventually driven home and the Spartans never looked back from there.

The Spartans also did well to keep traffic away from Palmisano's crease, an objective that the Nanooks weren't able to accomplish at the other end. Michigan State often stacked at least two guys in the box to screen Greenham, and had the other three cycle the puck around. All three goals came in this exact play. Coincidentally, all of the goals also came to Greenham's left. Both Sorenson's deflection, and Reimer's one-timer were up high. I think the deflection actually wound up going over Greenham's blocker, but Reimer's power play goal in the third beat Greenham clean to the glove side. Again with traffic in front, but the lane was cleared too late, and Greenham couldn't see it in time.

I've said it before, it's another game where I thought the Nanooks deserved a better fate. They played well for most of the game, but seemed to lack offensive aggression and production to put a goal on the board. Honestly though, congratulations is due to Palmisano. He played a hell of a game and earned the shutout tonight.

In other news, it is now Governor's Cup week! On Friday, the Seapups earned their first win at St. Cloud since 1987 (yes, older than anyone on their team), a 25 year streak which was broken after a 3-2 win in Overtime. Tonight, the St. Cloud players essentially said "here's to the next 25 years!", gave them the middle finger, and stomped them 8-3. The game really was pretty close after ACC scored to make it 4-3 St. Cloud, until a monumental collapse on Anchorage's part threw it away, giving up the last 4 goals in a span of about 8 minutes late in the 3rd period.

Certainly a lot of talk is going to happen around what I consider the greatest college hockey rivalry. DU and CC have the Gold Pan, BU and BC have the Beanpot, but the Governor's Cup is really in a category of its own. Fortunately, the final game is in Fairbanks this year, so the cup can be awarded to the 'Nooks on home ice after the sweep.

On a completely unrelated note, every once in a while a big fight breaks out in college, but due to the rules and regulations at this level the anger level really has to rise pretty high for the gloves to go off. But since pretty much anything goes at the junior level, fights like the Sioux Falls/Sioux City full line brawl tonight happen. As the saying goes, you can take the kid out of juniors, but you can't take the juniors out of the kid. That will be tested as the key fighter here, Joe Lordo is a commit to Penn State's inaugural season, of which their first games will be against the Nanooks and Seawolves in 2013 up here at the Brice Goal Rush. Mostly I just wanted to find a reason/connection to link the video here, because it is highly entertaining.

Game Day - Last Regular Season CCHA Game

Game Day Info
Live Audio (play by play with Bruce Cech)
Live Video MSU AllAccess ($ - see below)
Live Stats (MSU GameTracker)
Twitter (@NanookHockey - Yours truly...)
After last night's gut-check loss, the Nanooks seek revenge against the Spartans. Last night, the Nanooks bested the Spartans for most of the game, but two quick goals late in the 1st period opened the door for Michigan State to come back. And I'm sure that bounce in overtime that found Perlini's stick is in the mind of every player dressed tonight.
As far as lines go, just a couple of changes for the 'Nooks. Garrick Perry will sit this one out as Matt Gates will suit up in his first game in some time. Justin Tateson is also in for Cody Butcher, flanking Scott Enders on the blueline. Full lines included after the break.

Friday, February 17, 2012

That's Hockey - Costly Miscue In OT Costs the Nanooks

Talk about lucky bounces, as the bouncing puck leaped over two Nanooks' players sticks and settled down right on the stick of Brett Perlini who had no problem burying the game winner. Talk about your all-time backfires, but that one stings a bit. Honestly though, the Nanooks weren't looking to hot in OT either. MSU came out firing, and the Nanooks didn't have an answer. The Nanooks did get one scoring chance, Greenham had to be extremely sharp in the early going to keep the Nanooks in it as the Spartans took it to them early.

The Nanooks did look good though for the better part of the game. The Nanooks scored first, as Scott Enders got his 1st of the year from the point, and they did a good job crashing the net, getting screens and creating chances. One of those chances resulted in a goal for Colton Beck just as he came out of the penalty box that was eventually waived off because of a Nanooks player in the crease. Video replay clearly shows that they were pushed in, but apparently that's irrelevant. It also didn't appear that the goalie was interfered with, but there were a lot of bodies in the way of the camera angle they showed online that didn't give a clear look if someone was interfering with him or not.

But 6 minutes later, Brent Darnell popped in two quick goals just 35 seconds apart. The first on a lucky bounce down low off of the dashers, the 2nd on a play as every player in blue put their eyes on Torey Krug as he was pinching in. Greenham also came way out to cut down Krug's angles, but Torrey found Darnell in the slot for a shot at a wide open net that Greenham could do nothing about.

After that, the 'Nooks kept grinding and grinding, and eventually tied it up in the 2nd as Kunyk's shot found twine through traffic from the high slot. A beautiful snipe from Kunyk evened things up and really set the stage for a dramatic finish.

But a scoreless 3rd period sent the game to a 3rd consecutive overtime period between these two teams, but this one had a bit of a different ending. Nik Yaremchuk was out there, and his motor was turning, but he couldn't break the tie despite a valiant effort.

Like I said, it sucks, and its a loss that stings me as a fan. It's a game that the Nanooks seemingly should have won, but that waived off goal seemingly took the energy away from them as Michigan State took advantage to get right back in it, and get ahead. Sad days, but the 'Nooks get another shot at the Spartans tomorrow night. Keep in mind, the game starts an hour later.

Game Day - Nanooks vs. Spartans

Game Day Info
Live Audio (play by play with Bruce Cech)
Live Video MSU AllAccess ($ - see below)
Live Stats (MSU GameTracker)
Twitter (@NanookHockey - Yours truly...)

As a correction to my previous post, MSU will be streaming the games live on their site through MSU AllAccess (linked above). The video stream requires a membership, which is billed per month. So once you sign up, remember to cancel on Monday so you won't get charged again!

As the game progresses today, I'm kind of interested to see how Torey Krug plays in to the Spartans game plan. As their top defenseman, Krug is 2nd on the team in points. He has a tendency to get involved in plays and really become a 4th forward at times, but he's also incredibly effective from the point, so he can be a real wild card.

Lines for this weekend have been posted for the Nanooks. I don't have lines for MSU, so I'm sure we'll learn as the game goes on. Lines after the break.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Nanooks Look To Spoil Senior Weekend

The Nanooks have ventured to East Lansing, Michigan to face a Spartans team that they have not encountered yet this year, and wouldn't you know it, it's Senior weekend in Spartanville. The Spartans have a nine-member senior class that endured a coaching change that, at least I thought would have a very sour ending with the hiring of Tom Anastos, the former captain of the CCHA who jumped ship as the boat was sinking. But unlike Francesco Schettino, Anastos won't be spending the next couple of milleniums in jail.

The Spartans biggest strength is their scoring depth, with 12 players with at least 10 points. Fortunately, Michigan State's power play isn't incredibly great, but their penalty kill is ranked 2nd in the nation at 89.4%. Of course, the same didn't bode well with Lake Superior last weekend who's percentage dropped from 89.3% to 86.2% after the 'Nooks put up four power play goals on the Lakers last weekend. So as you can tell, the Nanooks' blatent disregard for how good teams statistics should be will be very interesting going into this weekend.

Unfortunately, media coverage will be scant. Friday looks like we will all be completely in the dark from a video perspective, however Saturday's game will air live on Fox Sports Detroit, as well as tape delayed on KFXF Fox 7 in Fairbanks due to some other "sport" where cars drive in circles for 3 hours. If the NASCAR race gets rained out, we'll get to see the game live on TV, but if not it should be on at about 6PM local time. If you've got satellite though, FSD should get you the game live. Channel 663 on DirecTV or Channel 430 on Dish Network.

AmericaOne isn't broadcasting the games, and it doesn't appear that Michigan State offers any live video streaming for us. So be sure to listen in to Bruce Cech on, his pre-game show will start at 2:45PM AKT tomorrow, and 3:45PM on Saturday due to the one hour game-time change.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Nanooks Rebound and Sink the Lakers 3-2 in Last CCHA Home Series

The Nanooks came out to lay down pure domination in the first period, rocking the Lakers with two quick power play goals by Granberg and Beck. Great shots too, and both of them beat Kapalka clean.

The Lakers decided that Kapalka's effort wasn't up to snuff, so they benched him to start the 2nd period and went with Kevin Murdock. I guess Lake Superior does t recruit goaltenders NOT named Kevin. Kind of prejudicial if you as me.

But anyway, the infamous two-goal lead got the best of the Nanooks as Lake State came right back, capitalizing on an early 3 on 5 power play chance after Kunyk and Meyers were flagged for a couple of no-nos. Zach Trotman got the goal on a blast from the point. I think Monardo actually got a tip in front, but we shall see what the video says.

Just about 6 minutes later, Ciotti got the goal on a scramble in front of the net, which went on the board as the only even strength goal at that point.

But the 2-2 tie set the 3rd period up for some of the best hockey I've seen in a while. But the horrible officiating crew decided that a clean check by Trevor Campbell on a player with the puck was illegal and deemed interference. It was a hard hit, Monardo got shaken up a bit, but it was clean and perfectly legal. That pathetic call could have nearly been the turning point of the game, as Greenham had to be sharp. Lake State got there chances there but the 'Nooks got more shots and scoring chances while shorthanded then the Lakers did with the man advantage. Almost like it was giving the refs a big middle finger for trying to take the game away.

Shortly after, the Lakers had a goal waved off after not only kicking the puck into the net, but also taking Greenham down as the puck was coming in. For some reason, goaltender interference wasn't called (shocking, I know), but after Greenham was plowed over intentionally by Andrew Dommett earlier in the 2nd period, I suppose the Lake State players thought that it was open season on the Nanook netminder.

But that only fired up the 'Nooks that much more, and the hardest working player on the ice tonight according to me, Andy Taranto dug in and crashed the net and was rewarded with a great goal after Beck's initial shot had Murdock in desperation mode, and T.O. was right there ready to cash in.

Hard work, getting to the net, and getting those second and third chances is the recipe for a goal in any league. The guys are getting that done, but the Lakers are a very solid team defensively. Taranto's goal was the only one scored at even strength all weekend, which is an impressive stat if you look at the 29 shots the Nanooks put on net tonight while 5 on 5 or shorthanded.

This week, the Nanooks head to East Lansing, Michigan to take down the Spartans in the last CCHA regular season series of the season, and sadly the last regular season series our seniors will get to partake in before coming back home to retake ownership of the Governor's Cup.

Game Day - Last Home Stand

Game Day Info

Tonight marks the last CCHA regular season home game for this year. With 3 points on the table tonight, and 6 more next weekend, the Nanooks need to kick it in to high gear to get a remotely possible chance at a home playoff bid. Those chances are pretty remote as it is.

Kapalka is in net again, and the Nanooks are going to have to find another spot to attack on him because they are not going to get much by him in the glove side. Not a lot of room stick side, but he doesn't get his blocker up as fast, so there could be some chances there.

As far as lines go, they are the same as yesterday for each side, except that Tateson is out and Butcher is back in, paired to the left of Enders.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Lakers Top Nanooks 4-2 in a Battle of Close Calls

Close, but no cigar seems to epitomize tonights game, as the chances came, but the goals didn't follow. Credit to every player who played their hearts out tonight, but that's hockey.

First period featured a lot of back an forth action, with the Nanooks seemingly controlling play early. A quick power play goal scored by Taranto woke up the Lakers, who got it back quick, about 35 seconds later. From there, the Lakers took over, turning up the offensive pressure and consistently finding passing lanes and dodging checks.

The 2nd period saw their fair share of chances for either side. A quick pair of penalties gave the Nanooks about 40 seconds of 5 on 3 power play time, but couldn't capitalize.

The Lakers broke through with a power play goal after Nik Yaremchuk took a penalty, and Monardo ripped one under the crossbar past Greenham. A pretty shot, honestly.

Yaremchuk pulled the 'Nooks to within one on a power play goal early in the 3rd, but couldn't get the equalizer.

Later on, two back to back penalties called on Filzen and Gens gave Lake State the dagger through the chest. Honestly, if those penalties were killed/never called (both calls were a bit weak...) that game ends much differently.

The Nanooks had their chances tonight, pucks were on the doorstep, but nobody was home to bury one. I'm sure this has never been said before, but Kapalka is a good tendy. He's a major reason why they won. Robbing Taranto on a breakaway is no easy task, and he made it look simple.

Tonight's win for Lake State catapults them from tied for 8th to tied for 3rd. If anything, that shows you just how much every win means. While its still mathematically possible, home ice for the playoffs is decreasing in probability.

Well, the Nanooks will look to keep those hopes alive tomorrow against the Lakers. Game 2, same time same place. If you're wanting a little more hockey action, Nanooks alumni, including Dallas Ferguson will suit up tomorrow for the annual alumni scrimmage at 3PM at the Carlson Center. Cost is free, so come on out!

Game Day - Game Info, Preview, & Lines

Game Day Info

So I didn't even get a preview out this week, and believe me I feel pretty horrible about it. A lot going on with work, and teaching a class this semester just puts a guy over the top. 

But anyway, Lake State comes to town this weekend on a bit of an up and down swing, but are 2-0-2 in their last 4, but 3-2-2 in the last 7, which most recently includes a 4-3 win in an exhibition against the USA U-18 team.

Domenic Monardo, a forward who may be all to familiar with the likes of Scott Greenham, having played quite a bit together in juniors, leads the Lakers in scoring. Familiarity with him is pretty high, a strong power forward who hits the net hard. He's got a good stick, and his shot has really improved over his collegiate career. He's scored quite a few points in seasons past, but I'm fairly certain he's never lead the team in scoring, especially this late in the season.

LSSU really seems to be a team that started off strong, but has fallen behind after starting 11-3-2. They're still playing well, but this weekend will be a deciding factor as to where the Nanooks sit on the scale, and which team is playing better hockey at this point in the year.

At this point, its do or die if the Nanooks want to host playoff hockey for the 4th year in a row. Sitting 8 points removed from a home playoff berth with 12 points remaining on the table, and the other teams with 2 games in hand. Chances are there, but slim. The Nanooks need to win out against LSSU and MSU next week for firm chances at home playoff ice. And it starts with the offense, which has been producing well once they've gotten in the right gear. 

Greenham is playing well, exactly how you want him to see him play. Consistent and solid, and the defense will take care of business. The offense has shown that it can get it done, but plain and simple it comes down to who wants it more. Lake Superior State has it now, the Nanooks want it. So let's watch 'em play for it.

Lines after the break.
Alaska Nanooks

F1 Colton Beck - Cody Kunyk - Andy Taranto (A)
F2 Nik Yaremchuk - Jarret Granberg - Carlo Finucci
F3 Chad Gehon - Adam Henderson - Ron Meyers (C)
F4 Nolan Youngmun - Justin Filzen - Garrick Perry

D1 Michael Quinn - Aaron Gens (A)
D2 Justin Tateson - Scott Enders
D3 Kaare Odegard - Trevor Campbell

G1 Scott Greenham
G2 Steve Thompson

Lake State Lakers 

F1 Chris Ciotti - Ben Power - Kyle Pobur
F2 Nick McParland - Kyle Jean - Domenic Monardo
F3 Fred Cassiani - Dan Radke - Colin Campbell
F4 Stephen Perfetto - Kellan Lain - Buddy Robinson

D1 Matt Bruneteau - Andrew Perrault
D2 Kyle Haines - Zach Sternberg
D3 Kevin Czuczman - Zach Trotman

G1 Kevin Kapalka
G2 Kevin Murdock

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Nanooks Crank It Up, Take Down WMU 4-1

Nanooks come up big and get their 3rd win on the road, and a solid 3 points as they vie to crawl up the ladder to get home ice for the 1st round of the CCHA playoffs.

A very open 1st period, as the Nanooks power play clicks on the first chance as Chase Balisy was forced to sit on a tripping call in the their offensive zone. Michael Quinn with a hell of a snipe from the blueline beats Slubowski's blocker through traffic as the Nanooks take the early 1-0 lead. Western began throwing every puck they had at the net, but couldn't get anything past Greenham.

The 2nd period was the same story, the Nanooks were controlling quite well, but had to step up their defensive pressure, as Western did a pretty good job getting pucks down deep, and getting chances, but Scott Greenham denied everything that the Broncos could muster. Then after an extended offensive possession by Western, Quinn caught the Western's defense sleeping, getting an outlet pass out to Finucci, who had Yaremchuk and Granberg step for step in a 3 on 1 as Matt Tennyson was left alone helplessly. Finucci saucered it over the defender, and found Granberg who didn't even hesitate. Perfect pass, perfect shot, no chance for Slubowski.

Into the 3rd, the Nanooks still playing a great containment game, attacking the puck while staying solid positionally. The story of this game was the Nanooks forechecking and backchecking efforts, playing extremely well without the puck to disrupt every play.

The Broncos tried throwing everything that they had at the Nanook in the final stanza, but could not get a goal through. On one of the dump ins, Slubowski came out to play the puck behind the net as Quinn picked off his passing attempt and found Henderson in the slot fresh off the bench after a change to get his second 3rd point of the game. Then with over 5 minutes remaining, Andy Murray does his best impression of Dave Shyiak and pulls his goaltender for the 6th skater. Needless to say, the Nanooks scored, but it took a little while to get it done. Nik Yaremchuk missed a wide open opportunity, putting it off the side of the net. Finucci's shot just outside the blue line bounced and went just wide right. But eventually, with just under a minute left, Cody Kunyk forces a turnover on the Broncos' entry and gets it ahead to Beck, who buried his 11th goal of the season.

The drama didn't end their, as Greenham's shutout bid was ended by Matt Tennyson with just 25 ticks left on the clock, pinching down to find a loose puck on a rebound, a goal that's about as useless as a one-legged man at an ass-kicking contest. Greenham did play as close to flawlessly as one could, blocking damn near everything, enough to earn him the first star of the game.

Nanooks return home next week for the final CCHA regular season home series against Lake Superior State. Look for the preview a bit later this week.

A Shot at Redemption - Nanooks Shoot for Points in Kalamazoo

 Game Day Info

Not much is changing for the 'Nooks tonight. Odegard will sit out tonight as Cody Butcher will get another taste of the ice as the senior looks for more game time after sitting out most of the first half of the season due to injury. He's been back in the lineup on and off as he gets back into game shape. After a big hit near the end of the 1st period, Odegard will sit out tonight. It seemed like a hard but clean hit to me, but coach must be sending a statement here as the Nanooks look for every point they can get over their last 5 CCHA regular season games over the next 3 weeks.

Taranto is also suited up, as the misconduct called at the end of yesterday's game won't cost him a game tonight.

Good luck to the guys as they take on WMU for a shot at redemption tonight in Kalamazoo, looking for 3 points in a tough environment on the road.

Nanooks equipment manager Scott Eastman passed me a few photos to share of an inside look at the Nanooks locker room at Lawson arena. Check those out after the break.

First Period Slump Too Much to Overcome

The Nanooks didn't start the way they wanted,  and coupled with some "interesting" officiating tonight in Kalamazoo, the end result did not favor the Men in Blue, but they finished strong. Seems to be the story of a lot of this season, as the guys just can't get that extra goal in the net when it matters the most. In the first period, the 'Nooks gave up several costly penalties, playing much of the period shorthanded. With the efficiency of the Broncos power play, they took advantage and went up 2-0 quickly. But a major penalty taken by Kaare Odegard for contact to the head (contact was initiated shoulder-to-shoulder), seemed to be both a hardship, and a blessing in disguise as it kind of woke the guys up, and they started to get a bit of jump in their step.

But I'm sure a stern speech during the first intermission helped clear the cobwebs a bit, because even with a good chunk of power play time leftover  to begin the 2nd period, the Broncos didn't even get their first shot on goal until about 14 minutes in. The Nanooks kept grinding, and grinding, and getting chance after chance until finally Western had enough of it and called timeout. Talk about your all-time backfires as Colton Beck was able to get his stick on a puck from Andy Taranto to bring the Nanooks within a goal just seconds after the puck was dropped again. But missed opportunities abounded, as shots missed open nets, and Slubowski's glove is cited for multiple counts of robbery. I'm not kidding when I say that guy is good. If you don't consider him one already, he's one of the top goaltenders in the country, and he's just getting started in his freshman year. He was kind of left alone behind a Broncos defense that seemed flat compared to the first period. The Nanooks looked better offensively for sure, but the Broncos just didn't adjust until about five minutes were left on the clock in the second.

Both teams came out firing in the third, each team trading shots, getting rushes and driving the net, but the goaltenders kept coming up big for each team, making the stop when it counted to finish the scoreless period with Western's one goal advantage. The key difference was the early penalties from Campbell and Kunyk that gave Western the early 5 on 3 for the score.

The calls tonight were really inconsistent. The calls that were made were actually there, but some of the smaller stuff was whistled while some of the bigger stuff was let go. I know that's how the cookie usually crumbles, but I just wish for things to be more balanced and consistent. Is that really too much to ask?

Apparently Taranto got himself a little involved at the final whistle and found himself with a misconduct. I have no idea what happened as I turned the game off pretty much right as the game was over, so maybe someone can fill me in. But if I understand the rules correctly, Taranto will not be suited up tomorrow as the suspension will carry over into the next game.

Anyway, redemption is tomorrow night. I know this team has the game to bring down the Broncos, it's just a matter of executing for 60 minutes. In the end, its going to come down to whoever wants it more.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Revisiting Glory - Nanooks Take Down WMU 5-2

Back in 1993, when guys like Dallas Ferguson, Tavis MacMillan, Wayne Sawchuk, Dean Fedorchuk, and Wade Klippenstein were wearing Nanooks jerseys; and a time before many in the state of Minnesota had any idea of who Don Lucia was, Don's Nanooks took it to the Western Michigan Broncos after dropping game one Friday night at the Carlson Center.

This week's edition of CCHA Rewind takes a look back at this 5-2 Nanooks win as the two are set to play again this weekend in Kalamazoo. Can the 'Nooks pay a tribute to their coach and get it done on the road? Time will tell. For now, enjoy your trip down memory lane. The guy in hoisting the big megaphone at about the one minute mark is a good friend of mine that I work with now at UAF. He's a good guy, and has held season tickets for several years.

Recruiting Update - Slacking...

As the week kind of wore on, I tend to get more and more restless, especially as the weeks of the semester start whizzing by. Working full time, and teaching a class along with keeping up with hockey about leaves time for nothing else. I know this season I've been lacking on updating all of my loyal readers with recruit information. We've had quite a few if you follow Chris Heisenberg's handywork. But this one I couldn't just pass up. I also teamed up with the Lincoln Stars blogger for a bit of a interview to give some insight into these guys.