Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Drive For Five

This year's senior class has never seen the Governor's Cup raised by the team in green. Four in a row now for the 'Nooks, and the three captains celebrating their final regular season games this weekend have no intentions seeing their arch rivals raise the cup on their home ice. It's just not going to happen.

The Nanooks have won now six games in a row, and eight of the last nine. The visiting Seapups have had a Cinderella season under first year head coach Matt Thomas, but his squad has had trouble getting wins on the road this year. The pups are just 3-9-2 on the road this year. Having defeated Alabama-Huntsville once (tied the other), as well as an upset win over Wisconsin back at the beginning of January. Their most recent road triumph, a 5-2 win over Lake Superior as ACC jumped out to a 5-1 lead on 3 goals scored in a span of 4:22 in the second period seemed to get the Lakers' attention as 40 minutes in penalties would be assessed in the next 3 minutes of the period.

ACC does get the misfortune of playing their final two series of the season on the road. Last weekend, they were off but watched the same Ferris State team that swept them the week prior in sound fashion down in Big Rapids, get swept in about the same manner up in Fairbanks.

The last series between these teams played in Anchorage provided a bit of a wake up call for the Nanooks. Despite jumping out to a lead just 15 seconds into the first game, our guys failed to get much of a rhythm going. A lot of back and forth play, but couldn't get much going at all. Saturday was a bit of a different story, and arguably one of the turning points for the Nanooks this season.

Getting into some penalty trouble early in the 2nd as Tyler Morley was tossed with a major and a misconduct for checking from behind. 3 minutes into the major, Atkinson takes a costly minor for the same thing that gave ACC the full 5 on 3 for 2 minutes. While it wouldn't go in as a power play goal, the guys barely got back into the play when the equalizing goal was scored. Tied 2-2 into the 3rd, the 'pups go up 4-2 on 2 back to back goals just 33 seconds apart.

But a fantastic play by Colton Parayko took that game over as Basara buried to cut the lead to 1. Then this happened.

Then Kunyk got the game winner as 3 unanswered goals brought the Nanooks ahead to win the game to end the 5 game losing streak.

Right now, the Nanooks are firing on all cylinders. They are playing like a team, and every line is really getting into the groove. Can the Nanooks extend the win streak to 8? Let's hope so.

With the Governor's Cup series tied at 1-1 thus far, if the teams do split, the cup is ultimately decided by a shootout, which has no bearing in the WCHA at all. Simply just for the cup.

And to reiterate, the Nanooks have solidified a playoff spot regardless of what happens. A sweep of the men in green gets Alaska 3rd place regardless of what else happens. If the Nanooks sweep, Northern sweeps UAH, and BG/BSU and LSSU/FSU splits, Anchorage misses the playoffs entirely. The absolute worst the Nanooks can finish is 7th. Such an interesting series coming down to the wire here.


Squarebanks said...

Easily the most fascinating Governor's Cup series in years. The last time I think there was this much intrigue from the Nanooks' side was 2010, when our guys distinctly remembered going 0-fer against UAA the year before. Then Andy Taranto and Dave Shyiak's water bottle happened, and the rest is history.

As for what happens this weekend, that's why they play the games. I'd love to see a sweep (obviously), but watch for UAA to bring the house and the kitchen sink to try and get a W. I think they will come out physical and try to get us off our game from the start. This feels like a Nanook tie and a Nanook win coming up, but whatever happens it's going to be entertaining.

Word on the street is that UAA is bringing up a student bus and a decent fan contingent. First time in years they've bothered to come to Fairbanks in any number, if that's the case. After their pathetic attendance showing for the GC games in December at Sully, it's nice to see them acting like they care about this rivalry again. It's good for the state all the way around.

Go Nooks. 5.......

Britton said...

Indeed. About 40 students or so now I hear. ...not bad.