A much better start for Alaska today. The Sun Devils are not a slouch team by any means. They had some chances to get something going, but the Nanooks had possession on lock down. Davis Jones was barely touched, and at the end of the 1st, there was still fresh ice patches in the Nanooks end.
The goal in the first was a thing of beauty. Jack Weiss hustles to the boards to keep in a clearing attempt after Huysmans made a nice play in front of the net to begin the sequence. Weiss passed down low to Krieger who made his way below the goal line. As all of the defenseman cleared the slot to pressure the puck carrier, Krieger caught Tyler Morley virtually alone to the net coming down. Morley put it on the backhand and buried over the pad of Pashovitz to begin the scoring.
But after that, it seemed ASU got things figured out and started to put pressure on the Nanooks in the neutral zone and slow down the transition. The Nanooks plan for a speedy attack was drained. The worst part was as the game slowed down, ASU got the pace up and forced the Nanooks into more mistakes. Everything that was working in the first went by the wayside.
It was unfortunate, but in the end the Nanooks sealed their fate with two unfortunate turnovers. The timing of the last one, with 34 seconds to play in the 3rd, was just frustrating. The Hockey Gods didn't bless the Nanooks tonight, if you will...
Alaska did have lots of elements of the game that they could control. The first being special teams. When you get extended power play time--over 3 minutes of 4 on 3, 5 on 3, and 5 on 4 advantages amidst the major and a couple of minors--you have to take advantage. Otherwise just the PK is a huge momentum swing in the other direction. And that's exactly what happened... Secondly, not trusting your defenders. Too many forwards I watched tonight tried to stick handle rather than trust their defenseman. That exact thought is what doomed the Nanooks tonight. Both goals were off turnovers by Nanook forwards. As the game wears on, the Sun Devils figured that out and started leaving the points open. Then it was 3 on 5 in the offensive zone for the majority of the 2nd and 3rd periods.
It's hard for me to look at positives in these situations, but there are a few. One was Jack Weiss. The Freshman looks like he's a Junior on the blue line. Smooth, makes plays with his feet and makes smart decisions. What a find he turned out to be for the coaching staff.
Secondly, was improvement. The guys knew they didn't get a good start on Friday. Coming out of the gate fast and setting the pace was paramount tonight. And they did that. The 'Nooks couldn't keep it going, but judging by the first period alone, the assumption that the 'Nooks would steamroll the Sun Devils would have been justified. But they did earn their victory tonight.
Next week, the Nanooks open their regular season at home as the hosts of the Brice Alaska Goal Rush. Alaska and UAA will each meet American International College, as well as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.