Monday, March 2, 2015

Nanooks Triumph Over Adversity, Sweep Alabama-Huntsville

This weekend was an interesting road series in Huntsville, Alabama taking on the UAH Chargers for the second series of the season. A bit of a homecoming of sorts as well for former Charger and Nanooks assistant coach Lance West, who was ceremoniously introduced by his alma mater. 

But on the ice, the Nanooks had an interesting series. I was a bit surprised of the results as the Nanooks found themselves down early both nights. 

Friday night took some fight as UAH changed the tide of the game going up 1-0 on the power play with under 2 minutes to go in the first period. This power play came shortly after a man advantage opportunity for Alaska had lapsed, in which Colton Parayko had rang the post and nearly cashed in himself. A shot from the point by Carlson got through and ping ponged off of two legs down low and just sat in the crease. Tyler Morley tried to clear it but just missed the puck with his stick, but Kestner got a stick on it down low to somehow barely tip it past Cahill, who did not get his pad in place to hug the post.

That same taste of karma from the hockey gods continued into the second. In the early goings, Tyler Morley setup a good play to Parayko at the point with Perry all alone in front of the net. Guerriero had no chance of stopping that puck, but the post did, and it bounced off his back but somehow stayed out. Later on, after the Nanooks had a 3 on 1 rush that Tyler Morley and Garrick Perry nearly hooked up for the tying goal, but mistimed the pass and rand out of room. Perry had a minimal chance but it hit the outside of the cage. Seconds later Ben Reinhardt for the Chargers makes a stretch pass play again to Josh Kestner who gets a clean breakaway and made a couple of nice moves to beat Cahill on a defensive miscue for the Nanooks. 

Down 2-0 at this point, the Nanooks continue to keep coming. The shots on goal at that point were staggering a staggering 28-6 not quite at the halfway point of the game. But the flood gates opened.

Marcus Basara busted the goose egg after Peter Krieger made some nice moves behind the Charger net and getting to the slot to take the shot. The defense followed Krieger, but Basara made a quick heads up play to get to the rebound and cash in to cut the lead. Then early in the 3rd, Tyler Morley gets possessed on a shorthanded rush and speeds into the zone leaning into a defender to drive the net and just rips a backhand that was way too hot to handle to tie the game. I he got a bit fired up during the second intermission.

My favorite play of the game came off the faceoff draw on a power play as Tyler Morley won it back to Parayko, who sent it back to Morley down low below the goal line as Basara found a soft spot in the slot to get open and roofed it for the game winning goal. Sparrow would add a dash of salt in the wound on another faceoff play of his own in almost the same fashion. Sparrow won the draw back to Atkinson to get it behind the goal line. Vieth got to the puck despite two defenders giving chase, and hit Sparrow on the door step, who roofed one from point blank (again, not a rookie move) to seal the deal.

Saturday was somewhat the same story. Just a few seconds into the game, a strange shot from behind the goal line snuck between the post and the back of Cahill and trickled in the net. But Tyler Morley cashed in just past the half way point of the period. Basara made a play in the corner and the defenders collapsed on him, but Tyler Morley broke towards the net, got the puck and backhanded one five-hole to tie it up on the power play. Seemed like the coaching strategy for the game was to collapse on Basara after he burned them for two goals on Friday. Seemed that way all night, but it didn't work there..

Another power play chance presented itself, and Tyler Morley made a beautiful cross ice pass to the point to Parayko, who waited patiently for the lane to open to get a shot through, ripped it, and took the first lead of the night. The Chargers came right back though down the ice less than a minute later as Max McHugh caught Cahill sleeping. McHugh just crossed the blue line and ripped it, nobody screening him... Can't fault him for the next one though as McHugh got a stick on a puck off a shot from the point to redirect it low for the 3-2 lead 6:32 into the second period.

It stayed that way until 6.9 seconds on the clock when Trevor Campbell came through in the clutch. Again, patience for the shot to go to find the lane despite the time crunch.

The third period had exactly nothing. UAH stepped up defensively and limited the shooting lanes. Parayko had a shot at the game winner with about 2 minutes left, but rang the left goal post. But redemption came in overtime just 15 seconds in as a Charger player failed to clear the puck past the big man who one-timed it from the point, high over the goaltenders blocker. Beautiful shot.

Now the fun begins. The Nanooks have gone unbeaten in their last 6 games. Second best streak in the country with Bemidji. Now the 'Nooks have the Seawolves to contend with in Los Anchorage. After getting the sweep in our barn back in mid-January, the fugly Seawolves didn't win a single game until Saturday's fluke against Bowling Green. Revenge is a dish best served cold. 

1 comment:

Squarebanks said...

This has set up to be an intriguing weekend of hockey, and all the pressure is going to be on UAA because they're playing for their season. Nobody in the conference is really talking about it since it involves (in all likelihood) the two teams who are staying home. The only way they squeak into the playoffs is a sweep of UAF and praying that either Huntsville or Lake State get swept. Three points won't do it for them, either. Let's say UAA manages to win Saturday's gametime we will all know the results of Huntsville or LSSU, and if those results fall UAA's way then Sullivan Arena is going to see its first de-facto college playoff game in most (all?) of their players' lifetimes. Should be fun.

I think UAA probably gets the trophy this year since all they have to muster up is one out of four points on home ice, but if we can knock them out of a playoff spot, well, karma is a bitch and I'd be plenty happy with that outcome.

Have fun out there and stay loose, boys. The pressure's all on them.