Monday, December 10, 2012

'Nooks Take 2 Points in 4-3 Shootout Win vs BGSU

Sorry for the delay on this, I thought I published this Saturday night until a friend said "Hey, where the hell is your post?" Sunday evening. Not sure what happened, I hit publish but apparently Google didn't want to cooperate. So here it is, a day late...

A much better start tonight for Alaska as they banged one in just 59 seconds in as Cody Kunyk took out the trash. Good stick work down low to get free and bang it home. All too often a bounce, or a quick defensive play ousts efforts to get a stick on a free puck, but a good quick whack at the puck put the 'Nooks up early. Nice reaction time, if you ask me.

Into the 2nd, BG controlled play with a power play to start the period. While they didn't score with the advantage, they used it to create some momentum. As Cam Wojtala snapped one home from the back door on a feed from Bobby Shea off the back wall, his 4th point of the weekend.

But about 7 minutes later, Michael Quinn had some antics of his own to share as he planted eyes on the rubber and sent it flying. Somehow, it found its way through a sea of legs and under the glove of Andrew Hammond. After it went in and the horn sounded, I think he was just as surprised as I was that it found the net. One hell of a shot.

Speaking of a hell of a shot, Quinner took one of those from a Bowling Green player behind the Nanooks' net and sort of looked like Manny Pacquiao there for a second. I was a bit worried there for a second, especially for how thin the Nanooks are on defense, but he got up after a quick eval from Doc Keller and trainer Mike Curtin (forever known as MC) and skated off eventually under his own power. And after a few tours on the ice between face-offs to loosen up, he got another shift in towards the end of the period and didn't seem phased. Again, very happy to see that as the 'Nooks defenders are a little thin back there, with only Nolan Kaiser/Justin Tateson able to provide relief. Hopefully JD Peterson will be able to get in the line up after the break, and Richard Coyne will be eligible to join the team after the first of the year so more bodies will be available but with neither Coyne nor Peterson getting any game time, hard to say where they will be at in terms of game shape, but who knows. Coyne might be a phenom hanging in the shadows waiting for his release.

Anyway getting back on track, the 3rd period saw the 'Nooks take advantage of a bad high sticking penalty by Dan DeSalvo getting his stick tied up with Colton Parayko. And when you think about the height difference (5' 8" DeSalvo (really like 5' 6") vs. 6' 5" Parayko), you can really see how high that stick actually went.  In the Nanooks 6th power play opportunity of the night, freshman forward Tyler Morley put one home on a play created by the presence of Trevor Campbell getting the puck in up on the rush. Campbell was very active for most of the game, but he gets his 12th point of the season still tops on the team. A good strong goal from Morley somewhat similar to Kunyk's goal early in the game, even on the same side. A quick play as it looked like the PK unit for BG was expecting Campbell to pass it. But instead a quick release to the goaltender's right caught the defense over pursuing left and Morley was left with only one guy to his side.

That 3-1 lead would soon evaporate as the defense started letting Bowling Green dictate the play. As the game got a bit more physical, a couple of quick penalties to Yaremchuk and Odegard had the 'Nooks looking to kill a 3 on 5 power play chance. But Odegard's penalty wasn't even finished being announced when Bowling Green forward Mark Cooper put in his 2nd goal of the weekend. Kind of an odd play, as the Falcons stacked 3 players above the circles. DeSalvo and Perrier passed the puck between them quickly about 3 or 4 times (DeSalvo in the middle) when Perrier passed it cross-ice to Cooper who blasted it passed Keeney, and the 2 Falcons that were screening him uncontested.

Then at the end, just after Hammond got to the bench, Bowling Green crashed the net as the Nanooks over pursued the forwards versus playing position. As a result, the passing lanes were open and unfortunately the 'Nooks don't have The Flash in goal, and the Falcons were able to tie it with a couple of quick passes up to the point where DeSalvo took a shot, and Berkle got the rebound and put it in the back of the net.

Nothing big to speak of in overtime, and Andy Taranto got the only goal of the shootout as John Keeney was perfect. Which is a good sight after allowing goals on both shootout attempts back in Marquette a few weeks ago.

2 points out of 6 on the weekend for the 'Nooks, seemingly avoiding disaster. I think it goes without saying that everyone was looking for 6. The 'Nooks were certainly capable of sweeping this weekend, but so it goes. The 'Nooks will not play another home series until the 25th of January--7 weeks way! 2 road series against Michigan and Notre Dame to start the new year before getting back to Fairbanks against NMU. Just 3 home series left in this CCHA season before the Governor's Cup... That is... Unless the world ends on the 21st...

Friday, December 7, 2012

Hammond Stops 39 as the 'Nooks Fall to BGSU 3-2

Still curious as to where the Nanooks from October went. I couldn't tell you if I tried. I'm not sure where this slump is coming from but the guys did not seem on their game to start the 1st period. Fortunately, BG only got one in the net as much as it pains me to say that.

A mishandled puck down low as the Falcons were able to get Cahill out of position with the passing lanes wide open. And Bryce Williamson had basically an open net to put it in.

With a bit more jump in their step, the Nanooks started going to work in the second. And the 4th line getting it done as Max Dumond got his first career goal poking it in off of a rebound from Hajdukovich's shot from the circle.

Then a few defensive lapses let in two soft goals in rapid succession from BG forwards Mohler and Cooper put the Nanooks in a 3-1 hole.

Into the 3rd was really when the Nanooks started to pick it up and taking it to Bowling Green. I think the Falcons managed maybe 3 shots on goal to almost 20 for the 'Nooks. One of which was deflected by Chad Gehon into the net.

While the 3rd period surge for the 'Nooks was a long time coming, it came too little too late as BG was able to cling to their lead.

I don't really have an excuse to give for this team, because I really don't understand why the 'Nooks are falling flat as of late. They just look uninspired, some more than others. Maybe it takes a loss to a team like BG, who I hoped just opened their eyes. You can't play down to your competition. If you want to win big games, you have to win the small ones too. You can't blow leads or skate for half a game and still expect to win. It takes 60 minutes of hard work, something I haven't seen quite a while.

Game Day - Nanooks vs. Falcons

Game Day

Alaska Nanooks vs Bowling Green Falcons
7:05PM AKST - Carlson Center, Fairbanks, Alaska

Live | Live Audio: KCBF 820 Sports

Live Video ($7): | Radio: 820 AM Fairbanks

Twitter: @NanookHockey

Bowling Green enters this series in last place in the CCHA, 8 points behind Alaska. But, that doesn't mean they aren't a good team. Last season, the Nanooks went 3-1 against the Falcons, but that lone loss came at the Carlson Center.

The Nanooks at 6-7-3 have struggled to find their stride as of late. A 6-1 win against Western Michigan 3 weeks ago has seemed to sink the 'Nooks a bit as they have not put a W up since that triumphant Friday night. I was hopeful that Taranto's 100-point campaign would ignite the team a bit to rally around him and get the win against Miami. While the comeback started as they cut the 4 goal lead to 2, they failed to score again for the rest of the weekend.

After starting out strong, it's hard to say from my perspective how confident the coaching staff is with John Keeney. After allowing 9 goals in 2 games lost, I can't put all of that on him. Sean Cahill hasn't gotten a look in quite a while, but I think if I were in the coach's shoes, I would keep confidence in Keeney as I think he's capable of Chad Johnson-esque skill, he just needs some time to settle in. But that's not to say that Cahill/Thompson haven't put in the work to get rolling either. And this carousel will continue to spin until one of them starts putting a streak of games together. 

This marks the last series of 2012, as the 'Nooks crest the mountain of the CCHA's last season. As the saying goes, its all downhill from here. Going into the break, 6 points here would put the Nanooks at 20 points, or a bit better off even with 2 more games played than the rest of the field. Points in December count just as much as points in February.

Anyway, the Teddy Bear toss is also slated for tomorrow. It's for a great cause, so bring your stuffed animals (new/clean) to the rink on Saturday and you can throw them on to the ice. You can really make a difference in a kids life... It sure did for me when I was younger.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

'Nooks Blanked 4-0, Swept At Home by Miami

It's a pretty hard deal to recap a game like that, but a much different start to the start of game 2 as the Nanooks took play to the RedHawks for most of the first period. The 'Nooks had a couple of power play chances, but cycling 4 forwards and a defenseman on the unit, they weren't able to get a goal in 3 chances in the first stanza.

In the second period, things didn't start as well. 2 quick penalties to Taranto and Atkinson put the Nanooks down on 5 on 3 and the RedHawks were able to capitalize as Wideman found the back of the net. Miami had a power at goal waved off earlier after it trickled the goal line on the power play as well.

The Nanooks had some chances in the 3rd, but weren't able to capitalize. The Nanooks kept up the pressure, which was going well until Miami started to catch on and it burned them. Czarnik's dive to poke the puck up to Jimmy Mullin for his breakaway goal is a perfect example. 'Nooks got caught with too many guys down low, and left the point open and it was exploited.

Honestly it was a good hockey game, and Miami has a hell of a team. The 3rd period just got away from them. But that's not an excuse for the 'Nooks getting swept at home. 0/7 on the power play tonight, even while running 4 forwards on the power play unit. Something has got to be done there. Not getting a win since  November 16th destruction of WMU? 6-2-1 in that span since the Brice? 0-4-1 in the last 5 says that something needs to change. I'm hoping that Bowling Green can be a good opportunity to get the ship back on the right course. Because not too long from now, the 'Nooks will have Michigan, Notre Dame, and Miami all on the road in the span of a month...

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Nanooks Fall to Miami 5-2 as Taranto Gets #100

I'm going to preface this recap with the statement that the Nanooks team that I saw on the ice tonight, was not the same team I've watched for the last two months. Coach Ferguson said in the post-game conference that this team doesn't quit. While I agree with that, they didn't even get started until its was 4-0. I was not impressed at all by the defense tonight. John Keeney was the reason that game wasn't more out of hand than it was. Although he did let that 5th one slip under his arm.

A lot of mental mistakes tonight, but there are certainly some positives to head into tomorrow. The big story is Andy Taranto hitting his 100th career point. Sad that it couldn't come with a win, but certainly a special moment for the Nanook senior. Over the last few years watching him play, Taranto is a special player that is going to be exciting to watch where he goes after he graduates. I'd expect the NHL, but at this rate I'm not so sure the NHL will exist anymore...

On to the game, the Nanooks seemed to start well in the first period, but a couple of bad breaks put them 2 goals in the hole. Austin Czarnik scored first with a strong possession, dangling around Nanook defenders and beat Keeney one-on-one. Cody Murphy extended the lead to 2-0 from a shot around the crease on the power play. After that second goal, the 'Nooks just seemed to fall flat.

The second period saw a flurry of scoring, but MU ultimately took advantage and extended their lead and controlling possession for the first 11 minutes. Now with the Nanooks getting in gear, Andy Taranto put the Nanooks on the board with the 100th point of his career on a beautiful shot from the high slot to beat Williams. Atkinson made a nice play to set everything up, and Taranto found some open space in the high slot, and he buried it.

Just 3 minutes later, Huysmans helped close the gap to 4-2 shortly after having his baby picture up on the video board (gotta love some of those promotions). Really just a nice play coupled with a good bounce to keep the puck on his stick as he danced right around Williams.

MU's 5th goal was alluded to in the beginning of the post, but this goal was really created by a 3 on 1 rush off a center ice turnover by the Nanooks. The unfortunate bounce put the freshman goaltender in a bad spot, but nearly had the save but it trickled through just under the arm.

At the end of the second period, Jarret Granberg collided with a Miami player right at the buzzer and didn't lighten up before the hit occurred. To make matters worse, the Miami player didn't see it coming and didn't brace for it. That hard hit equalled an early shower for Jarret and a 5 minute penalty kill to start the 3rd.

The 'Nooks were buzzing and got a number of opportunities on the PK to narrow the deficit, but when one puck went in to the back of the net, the goal was waved off after a brief review, saying that Morley intentionally kicked the puck in. While I don't disagree that it went off the skate, I do question the kicking motion. I don't think it was there... He did change the angle of his skate as he started to slide to a stop. An unfortunate call that I think ended the hopes of the team, and to have it happen there so early in the 3rd can be maddening.

The 'Nooks look to rebound tomorrow and get some points out of this series. I wouldn't be surprised to see coach Ferguson chew into this team during tomorrow's morning practice. They seemed uninspired and ill prepared for a team of Miami's caliber tonight. Hopefully the guys can put this one behind them quickly and get to a new day and a new game.