Thursday, January 24, 2013

One More Time - Another Shot at the Kitty Cats

A sweep of Michigan at Yost, and a sweep of Notre Dame in South Bend, the Nanooks have started one hell of a run. But then the schedule throws you a curve ball and puts Northern Michigan right back in the path. A team that, again, has seemed to know the Nanooks' hole cards before the bets are placed. After the split with Western Michigan at home, the excursion to Marquette started the winless streak into the Christmas break.

The funny part of it is, after that series NMU went 1-4 themselves, getting swept at Western and LSSU. Now after New Year's, Northern is on an unbeaten streak of their own, including a sweep of St. Cloud and Ohio State as well as a win, tie, and shootout loss to Miami.

For both teams, its going to be about continuing their success this weekend. For the Nanooks, its their first game at home in seven weeks. And nobody is more excited for it than I am.  That said, the 'Nooks home record has left something to be desired currently at 4-5-1 (2-5-1 in CCHA play). The 'Cats are 3-8-1 on the road this season, which was just improved over their sweep at St. Cloud just after their holiday layoff.

Aside from an empty-netter against Ohio State, each of the 'Cats recent wins has been by one goal. NMU has also come from behind to win in a lot of those games as well, often surrendering the first goal. NMU is a determined team and they don't give up. The Nanooks held leads in both games against Northern up in Marquette before watching them vanish into the Black Hole.

If you recall my previous post on this subject, Coach Ferguson has yet to defeat Northern Michigan outright since he took over. Honestly though, I think this is the best chance for that win to come this weekend. With the offense picking up like it has, averaging 4 goals per game since the new year started and getting a huge confidence boost from those road sweeps, I can't envision the Nanooks letting this home series slip away. The pollsters can say what they want to, but the Nanooks are a better team right now than NMU. And this weekend will be their chance to prove it and help get this monkey off of Ferguson's back.

In other news, Chad Johnson was recalled to Phoenix in the NHL tonight after starter Mike Smith was hurt in their win against Columbus. LaBarbera got the start tonight as the Coyotes watched a 3-1 lead over the Sharks with 7:40 left in the game evaporate as they eventually lost 5-3 in San Jose. Chad Johnson has not played an NHL game since the lone loss in the the 2010-2011 season for the Rangers. At the end of last season, he was traded to the Phoenix organization after a pretty good run in the AHL with the Connecticut Whale for the past 2 seasons. I'm hoping the result of tonight's loss for Phoenix may give Johnson another chance at the show when they take on the LA Kings at home on Saturday. I'll definitely be tuned in for that.

As for the Nanooks game, I know the guys are pumped to get this one going. I haven't seen them play in person in seven weeks. And I'm excited to get this party started...

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