Friday, January 17, 2014

BG Wrap-up and NMU Preview - Nanooks Need to Be Better

A few days late, especially as the boys are getting ready to take on Northern Michigan in a few hours. So almost a week late, I suppose. Better late than never, I'm told.

Long story short, the 'Nooks need to be better. I thought they played a more complete game on Saturday, but to be held to one goal offensively is disappointing. The offense is better this season than I think it ever has been, but it has come at a sacrifice of defense. What has become a staple of the Ferguson era, the Nanooks have been as high as the 2nd best defense in the country. The season the Nanooks made the tournament, they were allowing 1.8 goals per game and scoring 2.2. 

Certainly not the flashiest offense in college hockey at the time, but dat defense. At the time of the tournament was 5th best in the country with Scott Greenham in the net and guys like Joe Sova, Aaron Gens, and Scott Enders in front of him. And Dion Knelsen, arguably the best two way player this program has had, continued to keep the 'Nooks in games they probably didn't belong in. 

This season, the Nanooks have scored 3.15 goals per game prior to the BGSU series (2.9 after scoring only 1 goal in 2 games), the highest offensive scoring mark the Nanooks have seen since Ferguson took over. But it has come at a sacrifice of defense. The Nanooks are now allowing 3 goals per game scored against them, statistically the worst in the past few years. 

What we have been witnessing as of late is what happens when the Nanooks hit a defense and a goaltender that keeps the offense in check. Conversely the same thing that happens when we don't have a defensive answer for them. You can point to more offensive-minded defensemen, you could point to the absence of a veteran goaltender, but more offensive production should not come at a cost to defensive stability.

Bowling Green's statistics aside, the Nanooks scored just one goal in two games to salvage a tie in the second game. However, John Keeney and the defense played phenomenally in my opinion. I think coach Ferguson made a statement with the team, electing to sit Nolan Huysmans and Jared Larson for J.D. Peterson, and Matt Friese. A bold move, but the 'Nooks did salvage a tie. If the move lights a fire under these two, expect some good waves to be heard through the roster. If they can balance that defensive showing with some smart offense, us fans may get to witness a run to get the 'Nooks up the standings.

What better way to start against Northern Michigan, a team that has had the 'Nooks number throughout the years. Northern is 29-9-10 all time vs the Nanooks, and 16-1-7 in Marquette. The Nanooks lone win ever came 10 seasons ago, a 2-1 thriller in February of 2004 with Wylie Rogers in net, Corbin Schmidt in uniform, and Kelly Czuy with the game winning goal.

It's been a long while, and the Nanooks are due. What better way to spark a run than rewriting history? Getting the second and third wins EVER in the Nanooks' program history. AND the Nanooks are 2-1-1 in the last 5 games against Northern. The Nanooks right now sit as the odd man out of the playoffs in the 9th spot, but just 1 point behind NMU and 6 points removed from 4th place Bemidji, whom the 'Nooks play at home next weekend.

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