Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Impact of a Player

Before I get this going, I have to get something off my chest...



OK, on to some analysis.

On the last road trip, the Nanooks faced a tough Michigan Tech team just after splitting with an equally talented Bowling Green team at home. The Nanooks found themselves in a hole early by 4 goals. Enter Davis Jones... The Nanooks responded, and with a vengeance. With the game tied 5-5 late in the 3rd, the game ended in the final minute with Michigan Tech netting the game winner. Next night, the Nanooks weathered quite a few storms, which might be an understatement. Davis Jones was on fire, and came up with 48 saves on 51 shots, with the last shot being the OT game winner for MTU.

But the Nanooks had some offensive success. With 10 goals in 4 games, the Nanooks 2.5 goals per game average was the highest it has been since just after the winter break. A time when I had hoped the Nanooks offense would get them over the hump and get the season turned around.

Then Tyler Morley gets hurt.

The teams leader, leading scorer, and a guy who simply makes others around him better goes down, and the team's struggles continue. Now I'm not saying the team struggled without him in the lineup. Sure, losing your leading goal scorer hurts, but there's 24 other guys active on the roster to get the job done.

And in those 4 games, the Nanooks put on their best showing, despite a 1-3-0 record to show for it.

And then Captain Morley returns for the Nanooks in resounding fashion in a win-and-in playoff situation coupled with an opportunity against the arch rival Seawolves to not only retain the Governor's Cup for a 7th straight year. But to also keep them out of the playoffs in the process.

And with a 4 point weekend, Captain Morley said ACC would not put their fingers on the cup, nor even get a sniff at the playoffs for a second straight year. With the Nanooks season extended, the boys head to Houghton this week for a rematch amidst a really familiar set of circumstances.

2013...one week before the playoffs, the Nanooks sweep Michigan State. Sparty comes back for the playoffs and wins in 3.

2014...one week before the playoffs, the Nanooks split with Anchorage (including that 7-2 Seawolf beatdown). ACC comes back for the playoffs and wins in 3.

2016...two weeks before the playoffs Tech sweeps in Houghton (not to mention swept the 'Nooks in Fairbanks back in November), and look where we are headed.

They say the past shapes the future. With 4 games already under the belt this season against each other, there's not much different circumstantially than last week. The Huskies have won 14 of the last 15, and amassing 27 goals in the last 5 games, including 9 goals in the final game they played at Bemidji the week before the series against the 'Nooks. Last weekend during the rivalry series in a home and home with Northern Michigan, the Huskies dispatched the Wildcats soundly with a cumulative 9-1 tally. 

Beating the Huskies isn't going to be an easy task. But with Davis Jones playing lights out, and the return of Tyler Morley and John Mullally will make this weekend even more interesting. And if the Nanooks can play with the grit they showed against Anchorage, expect some great hockey.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Long Road Home

A bit of a lapse in posts for a while, I know. Things have been pretty crazy, but I did get a couple of videos up over at the YouTube channel. I need to invest some time getting all of the graphics and stuff done for the channel to make it look better, but for now its a good spot to throw videos and embed remotely here.

Obviously, not a great run the Nanooks are on right now. Sitting solidly in 9th place out of a playoff spot, but the standings are very tight through the middle. Not a lot of points separate the Nanooks and the rest of the field which is sort of the saving grace right now.

Check out the interview in the video embedded here.


There's a lot we could discuss about what the Nanooks really need to do, but getting down to it: It's finishing plays, and playing with poise. The Nanooks are losing games by inches. Coach Ferguson touches on it in the interview, but in the game with Wisconsin, momentum was a huge key the Nanooks couldn't capitalize on. After scoring a goal, they couldn't hold the Badgers off and it was either tied again, or they took the lead back. One of those series where the final score really didn't indicate the type of games that were played.

Ferris State is quite a familiar opponent. A lot of time has passed since the last time the Nanooks squared off with them, but their game hasn't really changed. But getting the Bulldogs on the big ice of the Carlson Center is always a big advantage for the Nanooks.

I will be out of town this weekend and won't be able to watch the games. Raleigh Johnson of the Ice Dogs fame will be manning the PA from the ice in my stead. Hoping to enjoy a fun trip out to Arizona for a week.

Also a big shout out and well wishes for Donald Dunlop over at the UAA Fan Blog. He's run into some unfortunate health issues and is having to leave the state to get himself taken care of. We've often poked fun at one another, but this is just a friendly rivalry. Nothing but the best wishes from me as he gets through this. Cheers, buddy.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Time To Ring in 2016 With Offense

The Nanooks closed out 2015 with a bang. Hell of a good weekend for the boys down in Anchorage ending a seven game winless skid and culled any momentum ACC had coming off their sweep in Houghton.

The Nanooks need to get some momentum going of their own here after the holidays and get some offense going. Getting guys like Marcus Basara and Alec Hajdukovich back on the score sheets just before Christmas was big. Alec had either been a healthy scratch or on the 4th line for a few weeks, and Marcus had not scored a point in the previous 6 games.

The Nanooks took down Anchorage with defense and a stellar weekend from Jesse Jenks, who has likely cemented himself in the starting role. The kid has the calm nerves of Chad Johnson, its unreal. But the last series the Nanooks faced with the Beavers in Bemidji saw a 1-1 split with a total of 16 goals scored on the weekend.

The first series after the break has gone very much in the Nanooks' favor though in recent years. Swept Ferris State last season at home, split with Mankato to start off 2014 at the Carlson Center, and swept Michigan at Yost the first series of 2013 in the last season of the CCHA before going on to sweep Notre Dame in South Bend. I'm sure John Keeney remembers that road trip very well.

Coach Ferguson had the players back in town on the 26th and held the first practice that night. The guys have had some time to get things going in practice without the burden of school on their minds. Hopefully they can rally and start to separate themselves from the bottom of the standings with a much needed 4 points here at home this weekend before playing 6 straight on the road.