This weekend means something....
Even if it doesn't mean conference points, playoff implications, PairWise rankings, or any of that other crap, it means something more than just another series. For seven seniors, this will be their last hoorah as a college athlete. For these seven seniors, this is about taking down the #1 team in the country in front of our own fans.
But the memories our guys choose to create this weekend look to be positive. But how can they not be, now that Justin Woods has completed his treatment? Not only that, but today (2/12) is his birthday! I'm tremendously proud of our community for raising so much for Justin. Nearly $90,000 total between the GoFundMe campaign, and the silent auction during the first set of Governor's Cup games and at the Ice Dogs series. I know it can't be close to covering the costs of his treatment, but I hope it has helped him and his family get through this difficult time.
The Nanooks have already done what no other WCHA team has done, beating the Mavericks in Mankato. Something only four other teams in the country have done on any ice. At 23-5-1, the Mavericks have the best record and the top ranked team in all of college hockey.
I could go on and on about their players, record, offensive and defensive prowess. But that means nothing to me. They're not invincible. They play a sound game, and typically mistake-free. If that can be countered with equal caliber play and motivation, this is going to be a great series. It really comes down to that, nothing more.
On a side note, Fairbanks native Stephon Williams returns home in his junior season stopping pucks for MSU, but has never played a collegiate game on the Carlson Center ice. Nor has he ever beaten the Nanooks. He's been a perennial starter all season long, but Austin Vieth bagged the OT winner on Friday, and he was pulled on Saturday after allowing 2 goals on 8 shots through two periods on Saturday. Last season, Cole Huggins played every second of the series split in Fairbanks between the pipes. Stephon played on the state championship winning Lathrop team with Alec Hajdukovich and Tayler Munson years ago. Tayler had 3 points during that Friday night win earlier this year as well. Maybe they have him figured out? Maybe its about teaching him a lesson that he shouldn't have left.
To our seven seniors--Justin Tateson, Trevor Campbell, Garrick Perry, Sean Cahill, Nolan Youngmun, Jared Larson, and Nolan Kaiser--it's been nothing short of a pleasure watching and getting to know you guys over the past four years. The end of this season won't be the last time I'll be writing your name or mentioning you on the blog, either. This is a big weekend for you guys. For me, it feels like last year was your first year here, but it's already over? Your time here goes fast. I'm proud to see the effort all of you have put in to the program. This weekend is about celebrating you guys, so please enjoy it. And even though you'll take off the home whites for the last time, that Nanook crest lives on with you. You'll always be a Nanook!