What a weekend for the Nanooks coming into Anchorage with two strong opponents in Wisconsin and Maine, and head coach Dallas Ferguson getting his 100th career win at the helm of the Nanooks program. Big night for him, glad to see him get to 100 in style.
Tonight the Nanooks started off fast, but couldn't get much flow as they were feeling them out. Same kind of thing as last night, but the 'Nooks picked it up and generated some chances. But Maine did make it interesting with the first goal, a 3 on 2 rush up the middle. Jones came out to the top of his crease to make the initial save as the defenders took away the passes. Jones had it in his chest but couldn't hang on as Blaine Byron got a stick on the rebound and beat Jones to the post. Parayko and Froese collapsed down to the crease but couldn't get it frozen.
But that didn't change the team's focus. The Nanooks came right back with a goal of their own just over a minute later, and wouldn't you have guessed it, it was Peter Krieger. Just as I noted in the preview. Krieger had a nice rush up the middle that was stifled by the defense, but the puck made its way behind the net then setup nicely by Perry behind the net back to Krieger who was all alone in the slot and buried it high glove side. Just a beauty.
And just a minute and eight seconds after that, Josh Atkinson took a shot from the left faceoff circle that had eyes. I think it was deflected in front by Erickson, but the goal is currently credited to Atkinson. Good shot and buried high blocker side.
The 2nd period was full of action, but not a lot of scoring. Maine had some quality chances with sustained pressure, but the Nanooks defense held. Davis Jones a big part of that, especially on the penalty kills. But the 3rd period would get a little wild.
Colton Sparrow opened the scoring at 1:39 into the 3rd after Garrick Perry forced a turnover at the Maine blue line and went 2 on 1 with Sparrow flanking left. Perry put the puck on net, and got a solid rebound to Sparrow on the backdoor who tucked it in for the 3-1 lead. But just about a minute later, Hajdukovich forced his way past the Nanooks blue line to get the puck out and found himself 1 on 1 with a Maine defender. Atkinson trailed on the play and played the give and go to Hajdukovich crashing the net for the 4-1 lead.
It wasn't over yet though, Maine's Devin Shore would make things interesting with a good bounce from Davis Jones' left side. The puck took a strange turn and made inside Jones' right pad as he hugged the left post, and it had just enough on it to trickle in to make things interesting at 4-2 with about 3 minutes to play.
Maine would pull Romeo with 2:37 to play for a 6 on 5 advantage. The Black Bears mightly tried and knocked on the door many times, but the Nanooks defense kept slamming it shut and getting the puck back to the outside. Had some troubles clearing it, and some guys were clearly starting to run out of gas. But Brandon Morley made a nice read at the line as Sparrow came crashing up to get the puck past the defenseman. Morley brought in the bouncing puck and took a shot from the center red line as the defense came crashing down on him. The puck went 100 feet and just inside the post to close out the scoring.
Maine kept trying. Down by 3 with 45 seconds to play, they kept their goaltender on the bench, and had Marcus Basara not lost his stick, it would have been a 6-2 final as he tried to fend off Ben Hutton to let the puck trickle in after Garrick Perry cleared it out.
Great way to start the season 2-0 for the 'Nooks. Seawolves game against the Badgers is just getting started. With the Nanooks gaining a +4 goal differential, that forces the Seawolves to win by 3 goals over Wisconsin, or by 2 and a shutout. Should be interesting. I have my ballot in hand for the all-tournament team. Already have a couple of names to write down... Expect a follow up with all-tournament considerations.