Sunday, January 13, 2013

Nooks Sweep Michigan, Win 4-1

A big sweep on the weekend by the Nanooks, the first over Michigan in program history. Coming into the weekend, Alaska had just 3 wins in Yost Ice Arena...ever. Add two to that number, and the 'Nooks improve back over .500 on the season. And at 22 points, the 'Nooks 3 points out of the top 4 in the conference.

In the first period, Alaska really dominated the play on both sides of the ice. The shots showed 10-5 after the first 20 minutes, but the 'Nooks nearly tripled Michigan in just shots attempted. Some wide, some blocked, but the important piece was that two of them ended up in the back of the net.

Cody Kunyk got the 'Nooks on the board first by patrolling the slot. And if you were watching that shift, you can see him cheating up that way throughout that power play opportunity. But in that particular moment, the Wolverines collapsed to the crease and left the lane open to Kunyk, who had no problem burying the puck low stick-side with Janecyk blinded by the bodies in front.

The Wolverines had a couple of power play opportunities in the first period, but the great special teams on the weekend held true, allowing just one shot on goal in four shorthanded minutes in the first period.  Their patience and poise down the rest of the period forced Jacob Trouba to take a tripping penalty late in the period, giving the Nanooks another power play chance to close out the first period, and squander it they did not. A power play goal coming from a point shot by Josh Atkinson, but again with Janecyk screened in front, Adam Henderson got his stick on it to tip it just enough to redirect it past the netminder. Not the cleanest deflection, but it certainly got the job done. Another factor of success of the first period was the success in the faceoff circle as well, winning 12 of 16. 

The second period was an absolute disaster. The Nanooks could not stay out of the penalty box. Some were good calls. Others left me scratching my head wonder what the hell Mark Wilkins was seeing out there. At 14:14, Adam Henderson was called for what Paula Weston referred to as "playing hockey". We agreed that the last few calls there in that period left something to be desired. But on that Adam Henderson penalty, Jacob Trouba the Team USA defensive star at the U20 World Juniors in Russia just 10 days ago, ripped a shot from the blue line and nailed the corner perfectly above Keeney's right shoulder.

Later on, Wilkins called Jarret Granberg for hooking a ghost. I rewound that play on TV a few times with the replay on Fox 7 looking for it, and Granny wasn't even near anybody. He might have intended to get Yaremchuk for hooking low behind the net, but Sergott was looking right at the play just a few feet away and didn't call it, but Wilkins called it from center ice? Really? They'll call that, but they won't call Guptill taking down Yaremchuk, or Merrill pulling Henderson and holding him down behind the net. 

But a cleaner 3rd period allowed the Nanooks to get back in the swing of things and play 5 on 5 hockey. And 9 minutes into the 3rd, Cody Kunyk wristed one of the prettiest slappers I've seen in a while. Michael Quinn created a turnover at the center red line. Coming in off the entry, both defenders cheated towards Quinn, so he slid it to Kunyk at the top of the left faceoff circle. With a little wind up, Kunyk let it fly and buried it high glove side, popped the water bottle and lit the lamp. 

Then just a couple of minutes later, Adam Henderson stabbed the dagger through the Wolverine's chest with a hard shot on the rush that Janecyk thought he smothered, but it just squeaks past him and inside the post to ice the game 4-1.

The guys will camp out in Grand Rapids for a few days and get some practices in before heading down to South Bend for the Notre Dame series next weekend. Both of those games will be broadcast live on Fox 7 here in Fairbanks. I presume the games will also be streamed online from Notre Dame, but the details aren't up just yet. Stay tuned this week for more on that series.

Go 'Nooks!

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