Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Weekend Wrap Up - Nanooks Take 3 of 4 From Bemidji State

Big weekend for the Nanooks to wrap up 3 points to head into break. Watching Friday's game, I think the 'Nooks really deserved a better fate than a 3-3 tie. But the boys didn't play it close on Saturday's game and put the pedal through the floor in a 5-1 win in which the bounces were finally going the Nanooks' way.

First let's take a look at Friday's game, and what better way then to actually show you some highlights.

Matt Friese and Alec Hajdukovich hooking up again in the first period early, as the history for these two continues to mount. Last season, Alec assisted on Friese's first goal of his career. Then in Anchorage Friese assists on Alec's first career goal. Now Alec returns the favor again. It would go the other way again on Saturday yet again. Entertaining statistics when you think about it. Ward's goal for BSU was a snipe. Can't fault Cahill for that too much, Ward is the leading scorer on their team for a reason and he showed why.

Hochhausen's play off the turnover to go ahead 2-1 was a thing of beauty too. What a snap. He's an impressive kid, and I like the way he plays. He's got some grit and he grinds hard. Love it.

BSU's defensive captain Matt Prapavessis tied it early in the 3rd on the continued power play from an unfortunate call to Basara for cross-checking late in the 2nd. Needless to say, penalties were an issue this weekend as well, but for both teams. Langseth as a CCHA vet I kind of expected a bit of a looser game, but I thought the little things just kept getting whistled. At least it went both ways.

Anyway, Perry's go ahead goal was the raw definition of a bad beat. Parayko earned that, and the players recognized it and got up on the play quick. A read that Bemidji's defenders didn't make with the exception of one: Matt Prapavessis. He gets so knotted up in impending doom and just falls over. Now its a 3 on 0 from the blue line in on the goaltender. No chance. Morley to Perry with Hochhausen trailing. Pass-Shoot-Score. 3-2.

Sadly the 'Nooks allowed the late tie. From? Guess who? Matt Prapavessis. Nearly the same damn play off the draw from the beginning of the period. Same side, same shot, high glove, with 1:40 to go on the clock. Ugh... Cahill played a good game for the most part, and I know that's a tough shot to track through traffic, but its a play that needs to be made.

On to Saturday's game, here's some more highlights.

Just a dominant performance. Davis Jones owned the Beavers that night, stopping 25 of 26 on the night, and putting up the wall on all 8 power play tries the Beavers had. A performance that ultimately landed him the nod as the WCHA's Rookie of the Week. Hajdukovich and Friese hooked up again as this pair seems to be rolling along and clicking. Beautiful play by Perry for his second goal on the weekend just driving the defender wide and straight up outworking him to get to the net. Then a quick wrister top shelf for the 2-0 lead. Then in the second period, just getting on a power play off the faceoff draw, the puck trickles to the high slot and Quinn just ripped a rocket high glove side for the 3 goal lead. I had this tweet out there just after the goal was scored that summed it up nicely.

What a beauty.

 The d-men kept rolling as Colton Parayko caught a pass crashing the net from Colton Beck who forced a turnover in the corner off the forecheck, finds Cody Kunyk going to the net, but just misses him on the pass but Parayko was coming down and picked it up. Goaltender didn't even have time to react as Ray made the quick deke backhand to forehand to bury the shot and the 4th goal on the night. Then Shawn Hochhausen with the long stretch pass up ice to Nolan Youngmun who gets behind the defense with 48 seconds to go in the period to go up 5-1.

While that closed out the scoring, the 3rd period was not to be without its theatrics. Beaver freshman forward Philip Marinaccio, with just under 3 minutes to play, with the game already out of reach, pulled the dirtiest play you can pull as a hockey player - taking the blade of his stick and spearing Trevor Campbell in the family jewels. A play that got him immediately thrown out of the game with a major and a game misconduct, and a play that I hope gets reviewed by the league. As a man there is nothing you can do or say to anyone else that makes actions like that justifiable. You know what they say about karma...

To get back on a happy note, the 'Nooks take 3 out of a possible 4 points out of the weekend as the WCHA closes up for the holidays. The 'Nooks return home January 3rd and 4th against Minnesota State before embarking on the annual 2-week roadie to Bowling Green and Northern Michigan. Then 8 of the final 10 games will be spent on home ice as the 'Nooks look to turn it on in the second half and rack up some points.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Game Day Preview - Nanooks at Bemidji

Game Day

Alaska Nanooks (6-8-2, 3-7-0 WCHA) vs Bemidji State Beavers (5-8-5, 5-4-3 WCHA)
7:37PM CST (4:37PM AST) - Sanford Center, Bemidji, Minnesota

Live | Live AudioKCBF 820 Sports | 820 AM Fairbanks

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

Twitter: @NanookHockey

The guys have made it to Bemidji, Minnesota for the final series of 2013 as they get set to take on the Beavers in their home rink, the Sanford Center, tonight and tomorrow. Alaska coming off a split, including their first win in the last 6 hoping to build momentum going into the break. Bemidji salvaged a pair of ties to a Michigan Tech team that seemed to outplay them a bit both nights.

Bemidji is a new team for me. I have not yet watched them play a full game, however I did catch the final period and one overtime win they had against Lake Superior State the weekend I was on the road with the 'Nooks in Ferris State. Bemidji is a solid team, they play strong in the neutral zone, not real fast in transition but methodical--they don't seem to make a lot of mistakes. Seems like their big downfall though is puck movement in the offensive zone, finding the passing lanes and getting guys open. These opinions/assumptions are based on about 40 minutes total of watching them play, these are merely just observations.

From the Nanooks side, I liked the way they played Saturday's game against Anchorage. They were aggressive, physical, and they attacked early. When they came out of the gate like that, the 'Nooks buried two goals on 'em early, and were outshooting 8-1 11 minutes into the game. The penalty trouble aside, the 'Nooks owned them early and late. If the guys can stay out of the box, and keep the same energy, they can take over the game.

Bemidji's scoring is pretty evenly spread, save for one forward who 13 points--11 of which are goals. Cory Ward, a sophomore is second in the WCHA in conference goal scoring with 8. He's also tied with Cody Kunyk in goals scored overall with 11. Could be an interesting kid to keep your eye on this weekend.

A pivotal series for the Nanooks if you ask me. No secret that they have struggled recently, but I'm hoping that slump is over. They looked solid in Anchorage. And if they can get it together, get a big sweep here to go into the break, they could be staged for a second half run and get themselves back into this thing. A 4 point weekend would get the 'Nooks up to 10 points in a possible tie with Anchorage and with 2 games in hand.

No word on goalies for today. With Saturday's performance, I can assume Cahill will get the nod. Jones has not gotten a start in a while either, but I think coach Ferg would stick with Cahill. More on that later.

Tonight's game will be broadcast live on Fox 7 in Fairbanks, in addition to WCHA TV

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Video Highlights of Saturday's 5-4 Victory

The video below is a compilation of highlights courtesy of CBS 13's Jaime Schwartzwald. His hard work and passion for Fairbanks sports is a blessing. Be sure to check out his top notch sports coverage every weeknight at 6 and 11 on CBS channel 13. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Nanooks Battle Adversity to Even Governor's Cup Race, Take Down UAA 5-4

Well the first period looked like the Nanooks managed to get the transmission out of 3rd gear. Early on yesterday, I thought we were skating circles around them but moreso tonight. Another quick goal, this time for Beck. Then a quick second goal on a transition turnover created by Erickson, battled for by Friese who won the battle against Derek Docken and sent a saucer backdoor for Hadukovich who banged it home. Great play in transition for that group, and the start to what I though was a great night for Hajdukovich. He has really played well of late. And he gets rewarded with his first collegiate goal in the biggest regular season series of the year. Big one for him.

That began what was a series of unfortunate events for Alaska as they battled penalty call after penalty call. The first of the game a bench minor for too many men on a bad change. Blake Tatchell collects a rebound on a flurry in front of the net and scored to cut the lead to 1.

That would be the first of 9 penalties in the game, 8 of which gave Anchorage the advantage, Including a major and misconduct to Tyler Morley for a big hit behind the Nanooks net. Couldn't see who took the hit but he spent a bit of time down on the ice as Morley got the gate. A lot of people in the UAF crowd yelled for diving. I'm not personally a fan of making such assumptions but nonetheless it was a big hit and he got the boot. 

But the calls continued as penalty after penalty assessed against the Nanooks forced several 5 on 3 situations.

While the penalty kill stayed strong early, after the first 5 on 3 ended, Anchorage was able to get the tying goal just as both players were able to get out of the box. 

After seemingly being able to escape the 2nd period and salvaging a tie, I'm sure everyone was hoping that the intermission would allow the 'Nooks to regroup a bit, aided by a bit of an extended intermission as the clock started late. 

But the 'Nooks unfortunately found themselves down 4-2 early in the 3rd after 2 quick scores 33 seconds apart within the first 3 minutes of the 3rd. 

Coach Ferguson then called a timeout to rally the troops and regroup. What followed was a feat to behold. And it was the skill players stepping up and making plays. The first was Colton Parayko joining the rush as Basara pulled out his camping chair in front of the net. Parayko's stick skills force two defenders to chase, but he still managed to get it to Basara who just had Gunderson to beat to bring it to within one. 

Then Trevor Campbell springs Cody Kunyk who tears through the Seawolves D and finds Colton Beck staring at an open net. Tape to tape and Beck buries it to tie. A must watch highlight.

Then Cody Kunyk buries the game winner with 2:47 to go seals the game winner as the Nanooks earn their first win in 7 games, evening the Governor's cup series 1-1. 

Alaska heads to Bemidji next weekend with some momentum as the Nanooks try to stay in the mix with the rest of the league before heading into the break. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Gangchorage Escapes With a 3-2 Win

Sad day down here in Anchorage. The Nanooks whipped the Seapups in everything but the score in a surprisingly civil game among the fans. Didn't see any incidents. The UAF student section was noticeably louder than theirs, but not a lot of energy from ours as the game wore on.

As soon as Basara scored that first goal 15 seconds into the 1st, I thought the 'Nooks were going to run away with it. I expected the slump to be over, but not so much. Dylan Hubbs with the breakaway evened the scoring through the first including the snarky tug of the jersey to the Nanooks fan section and as he passed by the Nanooks bench.

I think the 'Pups got the better of the play throughout the second period as they took the lead on a goal John Keeney may want back. Coldwell took the shot and the puck was rolling on him a bit, just seemed like it took a funny bounce over Keeney's blocker on the power play.

Tyler Morley knotted it up before the end of the 2nd and it gave the Nanooks a lot of momentum to open the 3rd. But the boys just couldn't capitalize. And the 'Pups put the dagger in the net with their first of just three shots on goal they had during the entire period. This one 9:35 in. Nanooks were outshooting them 4-0 before that goal.

I'm sure the team is frustrated too as the Nanooks losing skid continues through 5 games, and 1-7 in their last 8. The boys played well enough to win, but just couldn't get it done. The fight was there, the urgency was there, but couldn't get one through.

The snake venom needs to wear off soon. This bite hurts quite a bit...

Monday, December 2, 2013

From Behind the Green and Gold Curtain - A Guest's Perspective

It is rivalry week for Nanook Nation, as both hockey and men’s basketball make the trek to Anchorage this weekend to take on the Seawolves of the University of Alaska Anchorage. I’ll let Britton get into the details later on in the week, but hockey takes on UAA at 7:07 PM Friday and Saturday nights, and men’s basketball takes on UAA at 7:00 PM on Saturday. Nanook sports fans can send the UAA athletic department a thank you note for scheduling hockey and basketball rivalry games at the exact same time on Saturday by using this link:

As one of many ‘Nooks living behind the green and gold curtain in Southcentral Alaska, I would like to offer a sincere thank you to those of you from Fairbanks who are making the trip to Anchorage this weekend. As we all probably have noticed, our hockey team has been in a bit of slump the last few weeks, and there is no better slump buster than smacking around our archrival on their home ice.

When you look at other rivalries around the country, the best rivalries are organic in their hatred for the other institution. UAF-UAA is somewhat unique in that it goes beyond the universities and into a deep-seated hatred that Anchorage and Fairbanks as cities have for each other. The closest example of a similar rivalry is Washington’s Apple Cup between UW and WSU. That rivalry pits the big urban school from Seattle against the smaller agricultural school in a tiny town on the border with Idaho; it is east vs. west, urban vs. rural, and almost two different ideologies competing against each other.

UAF vs. UAA is rural vs, urban, north vs. south, and a small town comfortable in its own skin against a city trying to be a suburb of Bellevue. As any fan of the Seawolves will remind you, Anchorage does have more people than Fairbanks. Because UAA puts more emphasis on its athletic program than UAF does, it isn’t too surprising that they own most of the all time win-loss records against the Nanooks. Let them have this one historical data point over us; for a school that hasn’t had a winning hockey season since Nirvana was topping the charts, letting them hold on to victories from the 1980’s is the least we can do.

Which brings us to this weekend. Drive or fly down to Anchorage, and support our great university. If you live in the Anchorage area, get down to Sullivan Arena or the Wells Fargo Sports Complex. Like any good older sibling, we’ve helped our younger brother move up in life. And also like any good elder statesman, sometimes you need to smack down an upstart. Remember, every Nanook in the Sully or WFSC means there will be one less Seawolf in the building.

Last but not least, be courteous to our fellow Alaskans. Their fans like to refer to us as UA_, dump bears, bearflanks, Caribou Tech, and bust out signs that says “You can’t spell failure without UAF”, among other things that can’t be mentioned on a family website. Remember that two wrongs don’t make a right. Stay classy and let them be tacky. Open the door for them, smile and make eye contact, buy them a beer in the beer garden, and let them take their comeuppance with dignity.

Remember, they’re Anchorage, but we are Nanook Nation. GO ‘NOOKS.


[Blogger's note] Jason is a UAF alumnus and current Anchorage resident. As president of the Southcentral Alaska chapter of the UAF Alumni Association, the Fairbanks-Anchorage rivalry runs through his veins. Feel free tocontinue the discussion with Jason in the comments. Thank you Jason for contributing.    --Britton

Weekend Wrap Up - Closing Out Tech

OK, so I don't think anybody had the 'Nooks chalked up getting swept at home by Tech in their preseason guesses. I sure didn't.

While this isn't panic time yet, the reality is the 'Nooks have lost 6 of the last 7. 4 straight losses now mark the most with coach Ferguson at the helm, and the odd thing is over this past 4 game streak, the 'Nooks are averaging 3.5 goals allowed per game. A lot of which have been big plays. A team that once prided themselves on defense have been able to produce much more offensively this season, but seemingly foregoing what they've been known for since coach Ferguson took over.

I think part of that is goaltending. The three that have started thus far have not had that breakout game to really emerge themselves as the starter. All three have started at least two games now, with Sean Cahill getting his first action between the pipes this past weekend. None of the goaltenders have really had that impressive standout game that we've been bit by. In close games that the Nanooks have lost lately they've simply lost the goaltending battle. And in those tight games, it comes down to which tendy can make that one extra save. Sadly that just hasn't been our guys.

I'm also a bit disappointed with our fans the past few games. I realize the student section was missing a few due to the holiday, but with over 2,000 fans in the arena it was dead quiet at points this weekend. There were 7 fans from Michigan Tech that made more noise than our entire damn arena. They even tried to get the student section riled up and they just sat there...!!! It hasn't been that long, but the days of the Carlson Crazies when I was a student have apparently faded.

As an aside, I have to give props to those guys for buying every stuffed husky Fred Meyer had for sale. The official count I was told was 42, just shy of $400 worth. That was a pretty classy move.

On a positive note, there is still a lot of hockey left to play. And what better way to break a slump then to spank your rival and make them cry in their own house! It's rivalry week as the Alaska Airlines Governor's Cup series returns to a 4 game series and begins this coming weekend in Anchorage. Last I had heard, there were 3 motor coaches booked with members of Nanook Nation headed down to the Sully, and they usually get up for this series. Should be a fun one down there.

I have a guest submitting a post tonight for the rivalry, should be a fun change of pace to read someone new.