Friday, October 25, 2013

'Nooks Rally From 3 Goal Deficit to Win 5-4

Good comeback for the'Nooks tonight. I'll admit, even I had doubts after Mercyhurst went up 4-1 in the second period. I was a little beside myself to tell you the truth. Passing was terrible, and the breakout was nowhere to be found for a lot of the game. But the 'Nooks beared down and went to work, overcoming the odds to equal the largest defecit overcame in regulation under coach Ferguson. 

After jumping out to an early 1-0 lead, the Nanooks seemed to not be ready for Mercyhurst to pick it up. The Lakers started coming and the 'Nooks just didn't bring enough to stop 'em at first. 

Give Mercyhurst credit. They played with a lot of intensity and clearly used their flight time to study up on some video. They had the Nanooks breakout read pretty well, and feeding on turnovers like their mothers owned a bakery. I couldn't believe what I was watching. 

However, the 'Nooks shook it off and started to play tough, grind-it-out hockey and just flat out went to work. And in the 3rd period, it was the Beck and Kunyk show that was on full display. Beck rattled off two including a shorty, both from Kunyk. And Kunyk nabbed the game winner from Beck with 1:39 to go. 

Overall, a solid effort in the comeback from a situation the guys probably shouldn't have been in. But with perseverance and grit, the boys came back and earned the win. 

John Keeney will start in goal for the 'Nooks tomorrow, which was planned from the beginning to rotate the two this weekend. Look for the two of them to push each other all season. 

Western Recap, Mercyhurst Preview - It's Hybrid Post Friday

So I didn't realize that I didn't post the wrap up right after the game on Saturday, so this will be an abridged wrapup of the Goal Rush, and a preview of the Mercyhurst series. My apologies for the oversight. Fortunately most of the Western game that's written below was saved from Saturday

Saturday night, the first period kept the same pace the Nanooks exerted Friday. Good, fast energy with good intensity. Getting the benefit of the early power play that the Nanooks would capitalize on as both teams would ultimately exchange power play goals throughout the first period. Kunyk with a wrister down low over Slubowski's glove. Huysmans made a nice play down low around the net to get the puck through the crease to Kunyk who was left alone. Oops. 1-0.

Hargrove for Western with a slapper from the top of the faceoff circle high over Jones' blocker to tie it 1-1. A hard shot even for a veteran goaltender to stop with that much traffic in front. But another goal on the power play for Western on the weekend.

The 2nd period had some more great hockey riddled with some unfortunate penalties that seemed to swing the momentum both directions. Quite honestly the officiating in all 4 games this weekend was questionable at best. Nonetheless the second period went scoreless, and Hargrove put another one past Jones on a costly turnover behind the net.

Now behind 2-1, the Nanooks would play call and answer for the remainder of the period as Nolan Huysmans knotted it back up just over 2 minutes later. This was one of those plays that you know, as a fan, that a goal is coming. You can just feel it. I was a little worried for a minute, but the 'Nooks had Western chasing their own tails as they couldn't stop the puck from moving. Michael Quinn got the puck from Kunyk on the point and he took a shot on net that Huysmans got a tip on just in front to tie it again.

Conveniently right as Huysmans scored the goal, CBS 13's Jaime Schwartzwald was conveniently standing next to Nolan's dad Harry in the stands. Right after the celebration starts, you'll see Jaime pan to him as he's applauding his son. Cool moment. Nice work Jaime. That's just before the 2 minute mark in this highlight video that Jaime put together.

I met Nolan's parents last season for the first time during the Governor's cup series, really nice family. I'm glad they were able to come watch their son bag a goal.

After Berschbach scored for Western again to go up 3-2, Tyler Morley's line with Perry who deked through the Western defense so fast, they didn't even see what was coming.  Perry got the initial shot that looked like it would have gone in anyway, but Morley added the insurance, tapped it home and probably owes Perry some form of liquid refreshment after that.

Both defenses played well in overtime. I thought Western had a couple of good chances that developed early in the extra frame, but Jones stayed solid. Parayko wristed the lone goal in the shootout for the Nanooks to win the tournament, as both Western and Alaska were tied at 1-0-1 records on the weekend. This marks the second year in a row that the Nanooks have won their own tournament, and have won four times out of the six total the Nanooks have hosted.

If you didn't hear the news, Air Force and Penn State will be next year's field for the Goal Rush tourney alongside Alaska and UAA. The Hockey Classic in Anchorage next season will feature Wisconsin and Maine facing off against both Alaska teams. But there's a lot of games between now and then.

Two of those games comes this weekend against Mercyhurst which will be hosted at the Patty Center due to the AFN convention in town, which has the Carlson Center AND the Big Dipper booked solid through Sunday. Should make things interesting as every advertisement I've seen has had "sold out" appended to it, as the Patty Center can't even accommodate all of the season ticket holders, let alone an actual student section.

Students will have the added benefit of the Nanooks Tailgater going on next door at the Student Recreation Center, where the game will be projected on a huge screen with food and drinks, but without the benefit of harassing the visiting goaltender. Life is about sacrifices, sometimes.

The Patty Ice Arena serves as the Nanooks' practice rink during the week, but that is where games were actually held full time until the Carlson Center opened in the early 90's. Between the seating and the standing room on the balcony, the Patty seats about 1,300 people at totally packed shoulder to shoulder maximum capacity. Which is less than half of the average attendance at the Carlson Center and not even the number of season ticket holders. So expect things to be a little... strange.

But the good news is, when that building is packed. It is LOUD. And since we won't have a goal horn, or much of a sound system, we need the crowd to be loud!

Since the guys are playing in the old building, I suppose it would be appropriate to wear throwback jerseys. And that's exactly what the boys are doing. Essentially the current  jersey with replaced decals in the old styling. Looks pretty good if I do say so myself.

Should be a fun weekend of hockey. While I think the guys can sweep Mercyhurst, they shouldn't overlook them by any means. I just hope the walls of the Patty don't fall over in the process.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Game Day - Nanooks versus Western Michigan

Game Day

Brice Alaska Goal Rush, Day 2, Game 2

Alaska Nanooks vs Western Michigan Broncos
7:07PM AKST - Carlson Center, Fairbanks, Alaska

Live | Live AudioKCBF 820 Sports | 820 AM Fairbanks

Live Internet Video ($9): AmericaOne | Twitter: @NanookHockey

Kind of nice to have a true championship game in one of these tournaments to be honest. Not having to worry about tie breakers, and all of that nonsense. 

But the Nanooks have another tough test tonight after Western demolished Anchorage in a penalty-ridden 6-2 win yesterday. Frank Slubowski is a monster in net and the 'Nooks have seen him before. After hanging 5 goals on him in just over 2 periods last season, the guys should know that he's not unbeatable.

For the 'Nooks, hard to say what the gameplan is. The Nanooks' staff has elected to withhold line charts until the required release time. Likely a game time decision to be made for somebody. 

Be sure to keep up on Twitter for live coverage during the games. It promises to be a good one tonight.

Nanooks Take Down Denver 3-2 in OT Thriller

As a fan of the sport of hockey, that was a fantastic game to watch. Good effort and pace all the way around tonight by both teams. Denver has a very complete team and play very well in all zones and in all situations, but the Nanooks were the better team tonight. 

The flow of the first period was very fast, and the 'Nooks had a lot of offense generated. Even though the shots favored Denver, the chances favored the 'Nooks. But Denver capitalized on a costly defensive mistake around the net. Good on Jones for earning the start tonight, but you can't leave your rookie goaltender out to dry like that against this type of team. Those opportunities won't be missed. 

But the guys didn't get down at all, they kept attacking and created some great chances but couldn't find the back of the net. But they forced Levin to take a penalty in the last minute and start the 2nd with an advantage. 

In the second, the Pioneers capitalized on another favorable bounce as the puck took a long ricochet off the linesman's skate and collected for a goal. The 'Nooks had the clear and were set to make an odd man rush up the ice until the linesman failed to hop it. 'Nooks were caught up 3 on 1 at that point and they took advantage. 2-0. 

But the Nanooks were awakened. They responded and turned the game right around, started pressing harder and asserting their play. Then with less than 15 seconds in the 2nd, Tyler Morley made a nice play in front of the net not just to force the puck free, but to tie up two defenders to give Basara a chance to bury it, and he did. Nice goal for the freshman.

Then on the power play, on an extended shift, Colton Parayko finds Cody Kunyk near the back door on the power play. Coach Ferguson said in the post game conference that he was screaming at the guys to get off the ice. Nice patience by Kunyk as well letting Sam Brittain get down and get the shot high to tie the game.

Then Garrick Perry's overtime game winner seemed to cap the apparent theme for the night: perseverance. The Nanooks stuck with it all game, even down two goals, they stuck with it and kept fighting. Perry did the same thing, his first shot went in to the skates of the defender, and the puck was fortunate to settle down right in the slot and Perry beat Brittain low blocker side.

Tomorrow, the 'Nooks take on Western Michigan who pasted Anchorage 6-2. Not sure how to gauge them, because quite honestly, Anchorage played a terrible game. Hoping the 'Nooks get the laces tight tomorrow and takes it to the Broncos.

Great attendance and energy for the fans tonight, let's hope it gets rockin tomorrow. Go 'Nooks!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Game Day - Brice Alaska Goal Rush - Nanooks vs. Pioneers

Game Day

Brice Alaska Goal Rush, Day 1, Game 2

Alaska Nanooks vs Denver Pioneers
8:07PM AKST - Carlson Center, Fairbanks, Alaska

Live | Live AudioKCBF 820 Sports | 820 AM Fairbanks

Live Internet Video ($9): AmericaOne | Twitter: @NanookHockey

Back at home, the 'Nooks look to recover from the 4-1 loss to Quinnipiac back on home ice as they take on Denver, a 2-0 team coming off of a sweep against Merrimack last weekend in non-conference play. As I posted last week, I thought the 'Nooks had good effort in the loss but it took a rough 1st period for the guys to realize that the team that they watched play Anchorage was not the same team that played them Saturday night. Watching the game a second time from different angles makes that even more apparent. 

The guys have Denver to contend with tonight, and the Pioneers are no joke. Gwozdecky may have been fired, but its not like Denver is in a bad spot. Their head coach Jim Montgomery even thanked Gwoz at this afternoon's Face-Off Club Luncheon. Multiple times.

Can't blame the guy, after nearly two decades of leading that team to a number of NCAA tournaments, including 2 national titles in 2004 and 2005. 

The last time Denver visited Fairbanks was back in 1992, when the Nanooks split with them at home with a 7-2 win, followed by a 7-3 loss.

A few line changes for tonight as the Morley brothers get split for the first time this season, centering their own lines. Brandon is flanked by Perry on the left and Erickson to the right. That should be a good gritty line. Tyler has Larson on the left and Basara to the right. The top line goes unchanged while Friese and Davies join the lineup for the first time centered by Hochhausen.

Atkinson and Campbell, as well as the Parayko and Quinn pairings are back to intact. Kaiser and Peterson round out the defensive corps.

The roster sheet also has David Jones starting ahead of John Keeney tonight. Not sure if that's accurate or not, but make sure to follow me on Twitter for tonight's starters and in-game updates.

Go 'Nooks!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Nanooks Fall 4-1 to Quinnipiac

That's going to be a tough one to swallow. Poor play by the 'Nooks early in the game buried them down two goals before they could get their legs under them and pull themselves up. Quinnipiac did not look like they did against Anchorage, but if the 'Nooks played their game it was very winnable.

First period was pretty sloppy from my perspective. I don't have the greatest angle on things here, but the 'Nooks couldn't create plays at all in the offensive zone. Quinnipiac took every passing lane away, forcing the puck carrier to make plays and couldn't.

The 'Nooks started getting more creative with their play, and got some chances late but as soon as momentum started to swing in the Nanooks' favor the official calls Tateson for a high sticking minor as he was checking the puck carrier, who was a clear 6" shorter than he was. Then Kunyk gets called for elbowing and now its 5 on 3 for the Bobcats and they get another power play goal. Then another call for Atkinson for interference on the final faceoff of the period as the timer expires.

If it weren't for the effort in the second period, this would be a lot less nice of a post. I'll at least be honest with you. Not like I wasn't before, that is...

Anyway Nanook boys played a tougher game in the second, bagging a power play goal as Huysmans put away his second of the year. Parayko with the initial shot on goal as the goalie couldn't cover it. Huysmans found it and poked it home to cut the lead to one, but a mental mistake on the Nanooks part as the puck was cleared near the net  to the left wing side as Connor Clifton pinched in from his defensive spot to bury a slapper to put the lead back to two. But the 'Nooks certainly played more disciplined hockey that period, no question.

Third period lead out with the Nanooks setting the pace early. A couple of quick chances early had the Bobcats on their heels before Colton Beck was called for a slash. But that didn't slow the 'Nooks down, they sped up. Quinn had some strong stick work at the blue line forcing a turnover and got a stride on Matthew Peca who fell asleep at the wheel. Quinn's rush in the zone forced Peca to trip him up, which equalized it 4 on 4.

Back to 5 on 5, the 'Nooks had some chances to close the gap again as Parayko, Morley, Beck, Kunyk, and Larson all had chances around the net, but none could find their way in. And after another Brandon Morley penalty, the Bobcats poured some more salt in the wound and put home another power play goal to close the scoring 4-1. But in 6 periods of hockey played this weekend, the 'Nooks have committed 73 minutes in penalties, nearing a total of 4 periods worth in just two games. If they stay out of the box, its a different game.

Don't get me wrong, Quinnipiac beat the 'Nooks tonight. They exposed some holes in the Nanooks' transition game that I'm sure will get addressed in practice. But that was not the same team that played Anchorage last night. They were much more sound defensively and played much better around their own net.

As far as the tournament goes, if Air Force beats Anchorage by less than 8 goals, the 'Nooks win the tournament. But Anchorage has to lose, not tie the Falcons. Should be interesting.

Game Day - Nanooks vs Quinnipiac Bobcats

Game Day

Kendall Hockey Classic, Day 2, Game 1

Alaska Nanooks vs Quinnipiac Bobcats
4:07PM AKST - Sullivan Arena, Anchorage, Alaska

Live | Live AudioKCBF 820 Sports | 820 AM Fairbanks

Live Internet Video ($9): AmericaOne | Live TV KFXF Fox 7 Fairbanks

Twitter: @NanookHockey

Line Charts: Alaska | Quinnipiac

Yesterday, the Seapups got the better of the Bobcats in a fairly gritty affair. I thought Quinnipiac played a cleaner game. Better changes, better plays, but ACC outplayed them in effort. Can't blame QU too much, considering the game ended at about 3:00AM EST. 

The Nanooks had a good night against Air Force, but in a bit of a weird way. The result obviously favored Alaska but they weren't as dominant as the score showed. I'm obviously a biased guy in that sense, but Air Force couldn't contain the Nanooks in the offensive zone. They had chances to clear, but the skill players took over and made the difference.

A few lineup changes tonight as J.D. Peterson, Trevor Campbell, and Nolan Youngmun will sit for the 'Nooks tonight as Justin Tateson, Nolan Kaiser, and Alec Hajdukovich will get in for the first time against the 10th ranked Bobcats.

Brandon Morley and Jared Larson will switch sides on Tyler Morley's line. Linnell and Perry will also swap lines, as Perry will join Erickson and Basara. The Nanooks were down to 10 forwards late in the game yesterday, which was kind of a blessing in disguise as coach Ferguson was able to mix and match some players together to see how they fit together. 

Basara had some good work up with Kunyk and Beck but there might be a bit of a learning curve for Basara to get used to the compete level at this level of hockey. Basara was a stud in juniors but I'm not convinced that he's fully up to speed yet. But I think he'll shape up to be a stud before the season is out. 

 For the Nanooks as a team tonight, they need to be better on offensive zone possession. They did well building chances on the rush, but too many times possession ended after the initial shot. Sound positioning to get rebounds, and making smart decisions with the puck to prevent turnovers. If they can keep it away from the Bobcats, they will lure them out of position, get them frustrated and force them to make bad decisions. They over-pursued Anchorage forwards yesterday, just hoping they make the same mistakes today. 

Go 'Nooks! 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Nanooks Ground the Air Force Falcons 6-1

The first period tonight was a bit of a weird one in my opinion. When the Nanooks had possession, they did rather well as the 3-0 lead would indicate, but with a total of 19 minutes in penalties in the first 20 minutes--5 and a game (10) assessed to Brandon Morley on a hit that was shoulder to shoulder but could have been called boarding at best--doesn't bode well for puck possession.

Obviously starting off quick with a goal 12 seconds in gets things started off on the right foot. Huysmans was good to stay where he was as the Air Force player recovered the puck from the crease and tried to clear it to himself but Huysmans was right there, snagged it and bagged it. Love the positioning there. He's a good compliment to Beck and Kunyk now that Taranto is scoring goals for the Aces these days.

Then Cody Kunyk with that magic wand that others call a stick made a few waves as Air Force defenders couldn't seem to touch him. Every stick lift and poke check they made, Kunyk kept it on and put on a show. Then buried it. Great play, great hands, should be a fun highlight to watch later.

Then with the Morley major, Michael Quinn hooked up with Jared Larson on a breakaway shorthanded goal with some nice mitts to get the goalie to bite before sliding it around his pad for the 3rd of the period.

2nd period much the same as the Nanooks kept the foot on the gas. Although it took a while to break through, Kunyk had one of the most beautiful high-to-low deflections that I've seen in a while. Parayko ripped one high from the point and deflected it just inside the faceoff circle to the goaltenders left. A phenomenal goal.

This was Kunyk's 9th multi-goal game of his career, and his 5th goal in the Kendall Classic tournament.

But Air Force answered just 23 seconds later as a crowd formed in front of Keeney, and Michalke got Air Force on the board with essentially an open netter. Then the 'Nooks answered right back 17 seconds later as Garrick Perry buried a rebound off of Parayko's shot on the rush. Goalie had to sprawl to stop Parayko's shot. Had no chance at Perry's.

Basara capped the scoring in the 3rd with his first goal of his collegiate career. Another crowd in front of the goaltender as he found the loose puck and buried it for the goal. In the books as an unassisted goal.

A bit of a weird game in the end. It was the most major penalties I've seen called in a single game. A lot of people have asked me in the arena about the Atkinson hit at the end, and I don't think that was intentional at all. He intended the hit after his pass was picked off. But Timar saw it coming and ducked  to the side just before impact. They went leg to leg, and Timar needed some help off the ice. Hope that he's okay. I wouldn't wish injuries on even my worst enemies.

Good on the Nanooks for staying disciplined defensively, Air Force had some good chances to get some goals but the Nanooks had 18 blocked shots on the day, as they put the Falcons down 6-1.

Anchorage plays Quinnipiac here in about 15 minutes from this post. Will be nice to get a read on the Bobcats offense after losing 11 seniors from last season.

Go 'Nooks!

Game Day - Nanooks Take On the Air Force Falcons

Game Day

Kendall Hockey Classic, Round 1, Game 1

Alaska Nanooks vs Air Force Falcons
5:07PM AKST - Sullivan Arena, Anchorage, Alaska

Live | Live AudioKCBF 820 Sports | 820 AM Fairbanks

Live Internet Video ($9): AmericaOne | Live TV KFXF Fox 7 Fairbanks

Twitter: @NanookHockey

Line Charts:  Alaska | Air Force

Tonight, Jared Larson said it best as the Nanooks begin their quest for a championship. I've said it before, I'll say it again: This team is more focused and motivated team from a year ago. And seven new Nanooks will don the jersey for the first official game of the season. The Linnell-Erickson-Basara line that was so impressive in the exhibition game is back together again tonight.

Not sure what about these three that clicked so well last week, but I want to see more of it this weekend. You probably can't tell, but I'm excited... And the Morley brothers will team up with newcomer Jared Larson who compliments those two really well with his size. That's half of the lines for tonight right there. As expected, John Keeney reassumes his role as the starting goaltender, and Davis Jones listed as the primary backup behind him.

Should be a good game tonight. For those of you following online, the line charts for both Alaska and Air Force are linked above for your analyzing pleasure.

Go 'Nooks!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Game On! Nanooks Regular Season Opens in Anchorage's Hockey Classic

It's finally here... The return of college hockey, and the Alaska Nanooks as the "greatest game on the planet" nears its first puck drop of the collegiate season. Three seniors, seven juniors, nine sophomores, and eight freshmen seek their stamp on Alaska Nanooks history in the inaugural season as a member of the WCHA.

For those of you that don't follow me on Twitter, the government shutdown has left the Air Force Academy (all of the service academies, really) without an operating budget. Meaning all travel had been officially cancelled. Just last week, the Air Force/Navy football game in Washington D.C.--a nationally televised rivalry--was on the brink of cancellation until United Airlines stepped in and donated a jet to get the Falcons to D.C.

Obviously football is not their only sport, and their hockey team found themselves in a similar situation until our friends at UAA stepped in to help split the cost with the Air Force Academy Athletics Corporation, a non-profit that operates financially independent of the Academy to the tune of about $11,000.

So with Air Force officially in town, we are all systems go for tomorrow. The Blog packs up and ships down south to cover the tournament in the morning. Promptly after the routine Buffalo Wild Wings trip, I'll head to the rink for a pre-game post as we get set to face Air Force in a rematch from last season's 3-3 tie at the same tournament.

I'm not really sure why the Nanooks are playing Air Force first instead of Quinnipiac on Friday evening. I guess the folks down south think it gives them a fighting chance thinking they have an edge playing them first. Typically you would schedule them on a Saturday to statistically draw more fans. But since that's been enough of an issue lately to close over 50% of the seating in the arena due to attendance, I'm not really sure where their minds are.

But that said, I'm looking forward to this tournament. As I alluded to with the exhibition win, there is just something about this year's Nanooks that has me excited for these first couple of weeks and what they have in store for us. Three of the first four games this season are against top 20 teams according to USCHO, and will be a great way to get this season rolling.

And don't count Air Force out. They are a gritty team. They work hard, and they press hard defensively. They don't give any space, and if the Nanooks are going to make plays on this team, they need to create those chances in transition game and make those stretch passes cleanly. The 'Nooks should be the better team here, but by no means should Air Force be overlooked. That's not going to happen tomorrow. I think our guys' heads are in a better place, and I think they have the confidence to dictate the flow of the game.

After Air Force comes Quinnipiac on Saturday night. Officially the 2nd best team in college hockey last season, losing to Yale 4-0 in the National Championship. Ironically just three weeks after the Bobcats took out Yale 3-0 in the ECAC championship, and their two meetings in the regular season. But after losing 12 seniors (yes, that was not a typo) from last season, Quinnipiac has a lot of doubters in the college hockey media world. But 12 guys does not make a full roster, and there is a lot of talent still there. Matthew Peca and Kellen Jones to name the two top returning scorers, both NHL draft picks, along with Connor Jones contributed a combined 25% of the total offensive production for the Bobcats last season.

Quinnipiac finished last season 30-8-5, and put together one of the greatest unbeaten streaks in history, a run of 21 straight games before St. Lawrence and goaltender Matt Weninger put together a defensive shell in the 3rd period that Steven Stamkos couldn't crack. I watched a replay of that game on FCS last season, and was one of the better hockey games I've seen in a while.

The Nanooks have their first tests of the regular season this weekend, and its going to be some fun hockey to watch. Fox 7 is airing the Air Force game live tomorrow at 5PM and replayed at 10PM. Then the Quinnipiac game will be tape delayed at 10PM due to college football obligations. The games will also be streamed online I'm told, but I believe details are still being worked out on that front. More to come on that later.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Nanooks Maul UBC 8-1 in Exhibition Opener

After the Nanooks got up 2 goals in the first two minutes, I have to give credit to UBC, they shored up the D and protected their net much better, taking away the shooting lanes. UBC's breakout also was very patient, and efficient. 

But, the Nanooks still dominated the first period of impressively fast hockey. Playing Regina last year, it was quite uneven. However, UBC plays a similar style and pace of hockey and they made the 'Nooks work for it. 

On Campbell's goal, Brandon Morley made a nice read to pick off an outlet pass to keep the Nanooks in the offensive zone. Getting it to Campbell,
Trevor rushed in and created an angle on the goaltender and sniped one in. 

Quite honestly, I didn't actually look up to see Basara's goal until the puck had already hit the net. It was described to me as a shot high blocker off a nice pass from Linnell across the crease. It's preseason for me too...

The Nanooks played a pretty clean game, all said and done. I was a little disappointed to see some defensive breakdowns late in the game, leaving Davis Jones alone with an undefended forward in his crease. 

Jones did see the majority of the shots in the game as UBC had 15 in the final period. I felt like UBC was a bit of a different team late in the game. Not so much that the 'Nooks slowed down, but that UBC started pouring it on more. Definitely started to get a bit chippy there towards the end as well. 

As far as the 'Nooks go, get your popcorn ready for the Morley brothers show. The two of them together spell danger for all who oppose them. Brandon, like his brother. Is so quick and shifty, he can change directions on a dime. Watching him on the PK units tonight was a lot of fun. Jared Larson complements them well with a bigger body, not that either of those two are lacking in the physical department either. 

Also, the rookie line of Linnell, Erickson, and Basara is going to be one to watch. I don't know if this line (or any lines really) will stick, but Erickson and Basara had some good chemistry going on too. My favorite play of the night was Erickson breaking out of the box and getting a breakaway goal on a beautiful setup by Trevor Campbell. It's been a while since I've seen a play like that, executed that well. 

Other than that, not much can really be inferred at this point. Let's hope the guys keep their spirits up and get some good work in this week, because the games count starting Friday. I'm hoping this whole shutdown thing doesn't impact Air Force getting up here. I got my tickets all ready to go, I'm shipping down Friday morning. 

There's just something about this team... I can't put my finger on it yet, but something special is going to happen this year...

Game Day: The Nanooks Host the UBC Thunderbirds in Carlson Center Opener

Game Day


Alaska Nanooks vs UBC Thunderbirds
5:37PM AKST - Carlson Center, Fairbanks, AK

Live | Live AudioKCBF 820 Sports

Live Internet Video ($8): AmericaOne | Radio: 820 AM Fairbanks

Twitter: @NanookHockey

Tonight, the UBC Thunderbirds venture to Fairbanks to take on the Nanooks. Last night, the Thunderbirds faced off against our friends down south as ACC required two power goals to defeat UBC 2-1, including a goal on a 5 minute major penalty. 621 Anchorage fans packed the new 750-seat Wells Fargo Center to witness the victory.

Penalties were rampant last night, with 14 total being called. Anchorage took 9 for 18, while UBC had 5 for 21 including the 5 minute major accompanied by the misconduct. Officials are trying to make the game as clean as possible, I get that. But the game is an exhibition, and the officials will likely be more strict to set the tone for the regular season. So be prepared if some of the calls are a But after finishing last season 4th in the nation with an 89.9 percent penalty kill, practice makes perfect.

It should also be noted that UBC scored the only even strength goal of the night last night, either indicating that UBC's defense and goaltender are really good. Or Anchorage's offense/defense, not so good. Shots for the evening were 28-25, with a slight edge for ACC.

On the Thunderbirds, they finished with their best season in Canada West last year under head coach Milan Dragicevic before falling to the Calgary Dinos in the quarterfinals. Finishing 18-14-3 last season, they gave Denver and Colorado College a run for their money in their respective exhibitions last year. then-#8 Denver tied 2-2 last season before Colorado College (20th at the time) edged a 3-1 win over UBC in Colorado Springs. Air Force was not so lucky.

The moral of the story is, UBC is clearly competitive. My fun jabs at UAA aside, UBC is clearly a skilled hockey team with some key players, some with connections to guys on the Nanooks' roster but I'll get to that in a bit. During the offseason UBC added Nick Buonassisi to their roster, citing good offensive speed with an aggressive forecheck. Last night, that paid off as his linemate Matt Wray made a play to keep the play alive in the offensive zone on Jordan Kwas then Nick made a pass (admittedly aided by a favorable bounce) to Greg Fraser for the goal. Doyle Woody--who's journalistic opinions I actually value--also praised UBC goalie Matt Hewitt's 26 stops in the loss.


If you didn't see my tweets earlier this week, head coach Dallas Ferguson has named the captains for this season tapping Colton Beck to lead the team as the 2013-2014 Captain. Fellow seniors Cody Kunyk, and Michael Quinn will don the 'A', as well sophomore defenseman Colton Parayko.


Just like seasons past, you can't play a Canadian team without a few connections. Just for what I could easily find from their roster,

  • UBC forward Jessi Hilton played two seasons with Kunyk for the Sherwood Park Crusaders in the AJHL.
  • Marcus Toye and Justin Tateson played two seasons together on Drumheller Dragons in the AJHL.
  • Nanooks defenceman Nolan Kaiser played with UBC forwards Matt Wray and Cole Wilson for Camrose in the AJHL.