Thursday, February 27, 2014

Nanooks Look to Burn the Bulldogs in Tropical Fairbanks

What a finish the WCHA is poised for as we come Into the final 4 game home stand for the Nanooks. Currently Alaska sits in a tie for 5th place behind Tech and Anchorage, who have a two game advantage over the rest of the league, and both are off this week. The Nanooks would pass both with a win this weekend and tiebreakers in hand for 3rd place. 

This makes things even more interesting with Anchorage staring at the Nanooks for the final series of the season. Which could turn into not only a series for home ice, but Anchorage may be fighting for a playoff spot depending on this weekend's results. There will certainly be more implications than just the Governor's Cup.

But that's for later, on to this weekend as the Nanooks welcome Ferris State for vengeance of the sweep that was handed to the Nanooks in Big Rapids back in November. But the Nanooks are a lot more solid than they were 4 months ago. In fact a lot has changed since then. As my good friend mmf has so graciously summarized, every aspect of the 'Nooks game has improved drastically since.

Our goals against in conference has been a vulnerability early on, 2.83 (6th) total.
…the first 14 games = 3.21
…the last 10 games = 2.30
Ferris is #1 at 2.12

Overall our conference “goals for” average = 3.33 (3rd).
…the first 14 games = 3.00
…the last 10 games = 3.80
Ferris #1 at 3.50

Alaska Power Play = 20.2% (2nd)
Ferris #6 at 17.0%

Alaska Penalty Kill = 84.5% (3rd)
Ferris #4 at 84.2%

The Nanooks conference record, 11-11-2
...first 14 games = 5-8-1
...last 10 games = 6-3-1

Big difference there across the board, and the Nanooks have a lot to be proud of there, but it's not over yet. Sean Cahill has also really come in to his own. He's been solid between the pipes, staying in good position, and making all of the saves that he's supposed to. Seems like the coaching staff has finally settled on a goaltender in Cahill, who has 4 consecutive wins under his belt now, which I hope equates to confidence coming into this weekend. 

Don't get me wrong, Ferris State is a tough team, but they're not invincible as Mankato proved at home last month. But Ferris is coming off a sweep of our adopted siblings to the south down in Big Rapids. Two games they never trailed in from start to finish. 

The Bulldogs have, like the 'Nooks, benefitted from distributed scoring across the lineup, but one person  I personally don't want to see get loose is Cory Kane, who has 7 points in the last 4 games. Justin Buzzeo also leads the team in scoring but has just 2 points in the last 5, all against ACC. 

All the Nanooks need to do is stick to the game plan, bring all they've got, and take Ferris to the wood shed and put those hockey sticks to good use. If they can keep the offense rolling, and keep the defense solid, everything should fall in line. They just simply have to outwork the Bulldogs--just play Nanook hockey.  If you ask me, the guys are in good shape, and seem poised to make a run here as home ice for the playoffs are well within reach. 

For those that haven't heard, if the Nanooks do end up hosting for the playoffs the series will be played  on Thursday, Friday, & Saturday 3/13-15 (if needed) due to the opening ceremonies of Arctic Winter Games on 3/16. 

If anyone is looking for some pump up music for this one, I've been rocking out to Back For More by Five Finger Death Punch lately. It's heavy and great motivation for me to keep pushing at the gym lately. Hope the players' can jam to this too. Here it is fory our listening pleasure. Minor language.

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