Thursday, November 5, 2015

If History Keeps Repeating Itself...

The Nanooks should sweep this weekend, right? Swept, Sweep, Swept... SWEEP!

Next road series, let's worry about a split. But for now... Keep it rolling.

Last weekend at MSU was a bit of a mess. Friday wasn't as bad as the score made it seem. The Nanooks gave the Mavericks the opportunities they needed on special teams. MSU capitalized and cashed in. Saturday was a much better outing for the 'Nooks. They dictated the pace at points, but in the end they didn't have an answer for their defense.

Northern Michigan, as a team, doesn't look much different than MSU. Similar size, similar schemes. Let's take a closer look...

Looking at their roster, they are hoarding goaltenders. I'm amazed they're carrying five on their roster. Tolvanen has seen the vast majority of the ice this year. Dahlstrom, who returns as a junior this season has essentially been replaced by the Finnish freshman. The numbers tell the story. 1.99 goals against average, and a .942 save percentage over eight games for Tolvanen. That's pretty amazing.

The flipside is, Tolvanen is 2-2-3. That tells you that NMU is struggling to score. To some extent, they are. They have been shut out twice after all. But NMU has built their team around defense. And when you consider they've only given up more than three goals just once, that's pretty impressive. Looking at one of their two shutouts though, it was a 65 minute goal-less game against Bemidji State last week. Tolvanen had a 46 save shutout that night for NMU, who mustered 22 shots the other way in the tie.

Looking at the rest of their roster, their scoring comes from everywhere. 20 players have registered points this year. 12 players have scored the team's 19 goals this season. 10 of those 19 goals come from three players. John Seimer, Robbie Payne, and Darren Nowick. Seimer and Payne are both pretty aggressive grinders. They get to the dirty areas and will work for the puck. Watching Saturday's game with Bemidji, they play dump and chase and win. They're small, fast, and strong. A dangerous combination. Nowick was paired with senior Gerard Hanson--whose seven assists lead the team in points, despite having no goals to his credit--and they're getting off to a pretty great start themselves.

The Nanooks just need to get things going. Passes need to click, especially on the power play. This team is far too good to be 2-4-0 right now. I really like the line combinations that Dallas has put together. Ryker Leer with Tayler Munson and Marcus Basara seems to be jiving right now. The best line of the weekend in Mankato in my opinion. Krieger-T. Morley-Huysmans will keep other teams honest. Watching MSU press harder defensively when they were on the ice was quite apparent.

Stay out of the penalty box. The Nanooks are at the bottom of the country in PK percentage. Granted, there haven't been many chances just yet, but MSU was deadly on the power play last weekend. NMU has a slightly better average when you look at the numbers, but that doesn't really matter with the point I'm making here--which is quite simple. Don't give the opposing team any advantages.

A penalty here and there is bound to happen--especially in this league. But unnecessary penalties can sink the ship. Keep it floating...

This is going to be a good series. Northern and Alaska have always played each other well. The last couple years have gone the Nanooks' way. Let's see what this weekend's series has in store.

Go 'Nooks!

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